A brief Bio of Emily:
My name is Emily Goldman, or Emmy as my friends call me. I am 18 years old from Scottsdale, Arizona. I have been competiting in horse shows since the age of 7 and have found my passion in dressage for the past 3 years. While leasing my first serious dressage mount, DF Desert Thunder, I was Region 7 Champion at first level 2 years in a row, was second level reserve champion and finished third overall in the country for USDF horse of the year standings. This past September, I found my “forever” horse Wrigley, an 8 year old Hanoverian gelding. Within our first 2 shows together, we have qualified for state and region championships at second and third level. I am spending this summer working on fourth level, which I hope to show in the fall. My immediate goal is to become one with my horse, who is teaching me to become a great, sensitive rider! My hope is to qualify and show at NAYRC before I turn 21, hopefully within the next year or so. Long term goals include USDF Developing Horse and other national competitions.
When did you first start riding Dressage?
Around December of 2008. Before then, I had been competing in Western Pleasure and Quarter Horse all-around divisons, which is a far cry from dressage! When my quarter horse went lame, I was at a loss of what to do with my riding life. I had always wanted to try dressage and was fascinated by the technical aspects of it. To this day
I am angry with myself for not starting earlier! I became a working student for a local trainer and began taking as many lessons and absorbing as much information as I could. From that moment on, I knew I had found my passion!
Who are you training with?
I train 5 days a week with Julie Sodowsky of Phoenix, Arizona. We have been working together for a couple of years now, and we share a very close, working relationship. Aside from being a judge, Julie has been training and showing horses for over 30 years. She and I are on the same page when it comes to care and preserving the quality and safety of our horses, and keeping them as happy as possible in their work. She has trained me to become an extremely balanced rider. Her one on one approach works very well with my learning style. It is a joy to work with her!
Who is your biggest influence in your riding?
Definitely my trainer, Julie Sodowsky. She works with a variety of different clients and horses, proving the statement that dressage is for everyone. She is everything I aspire to be as a rider. The knowledge she has passed on to me is priceless. It seems as if she has an answer for every different scenario. Her comments are constructive and if I am having a problem, she helps me get to the root of it so that it can be prevented. She truly understands horses and the way they work.
What is a typical day in training for you and your horse, and what exercises do you
work on more than others?
A typical warm up for Wrigley and I always starts with a free walk at least twice around the arena in both directions to help him loosen up. When I move him up into a trot, I typically have to just go around a couple of times to encourage him to step
forward and underneath himself. He tends to be a bit lazy in the beginning of our rides! We then move on to some light leg-yield work to see how responsive he is to my aids. I like to use a lot of three and four loop serpentine work for bending
exercises, later incorporating walk and canter transitions. This helps keep him supple and loose throughout his ribcage. After this we go on to our lateral work, starting with shoulder in to haunches in and then progressing to half passes. We always make sure to focus on the walk, which is one of the most important gaits and the easiest to not pay attention to. Sometimes we practice walk pirouettes and turn on the haunches, but most importantly focus on keeping his walk rhythmical. Most of our canter work comes after this. Currently we are focusing on more collective work and beginning
tempi changes and half-pirouettes. It is so much fun! To reward him for his good efforts towards harder work, I like to end my rides with a 20 meter stretch circle and finish on a loose rein at the walk.
What is the most important training tip you can give others?
If dressage were easy, it wouldn’t be an Olympic sport. It takes an extreme amount of dedication, persistence and commitment to succeed in this sport, and it is an unique talent that not a lot of other people can do. Everyone learns at their own pace and achieving personal goals at a show or even riding at home is more important than winning a blue ribbon. I used to get so down on myself because I started so late, and that a lot of girls my age are showing at higher levels then me. Dressage is an individual sport for that reason. You will get to where you need to be if you just keep at it!
Tell us about your horses personality, what he/she likes and doesn’t like?
Wrigley is a very personable horse who loves to be the center of attention! He is always very curious as to what is going on in his surroundings. Everyone loves him! He is such a sweetheart and very willing to please. He is extremely sensitive, which is by far my favorite part about him. He lets you know what works and what doesn’t, and always responds to a softer aid then a harder one. He isn’t a horse that can be pushed. He picks up on negative emotions and gets frustrated when things aren’t going right. He is a bit green at shows and new places, and gets nervous when horses come
by him in the ring. He can sense another horses tension and responds to it. It is really amazing how intelligent he is. He loves apples, sugar and cuddling after a long day. I can honestly say I’ve never met a horse quite like him.
Who is your favorite rider?
I look to classical dressage riders for inspiration. Hilda Gurney is a wonderful horsewoman, and in my opinion a prime example of what this sport represents. I have been lucky enough to work with her a couple of times, and hopefully will continue to train with her as much as I can.
Is it your goal to be in the Olympics someday?
Of course! That has been my dream since I was a little girl. Right now I am focusing on being the best rider I can be, and hopefully someday the right circumstance will present itself.
What is your favorite Dressage movement?
I love riding canter half-passes. When I first started learning them, I felt like I was flying. A good flying change is also an incredible feeling. Any sort of collected canter work is really fun for me. Feeling all of that compressed power underneath me is probably the most amazing feeling in the world.
Do you like riding to music?
I honestly am not a fan. I find it a bit distracting. When I’m riding, I am off in my own world where nothing else matters but me and my horse. I tune out outside voices and activities, unless of course my trainer is giving me a lesson. I do however look
forward to creating a freestyle!
What can you share with other riders the most important part of learning dressage?
Patience is a virtue. This stuff is hard, we all can’t get it right on our first try! Persistence is the name of the game. Also, don’t think you understand something until you fully feel it being done the correct way. Someone can tell you how to do something a million times, but until you truly feel all of the pieces coming together, it’s just words.
What can you tell other juniors about reaching their goals in dressage?
There is always more than one right way to do something, so do what works best for you. Learn from your mistakes, and don’t be afraid to make them. Be a sponge. Attend every clinic you possibly can and absorb every little bit of information you come across. Reward yourself for you successes and concentrate on fixing problems thououghly. And most importantly, never lose sight of your passion. This is what keeps us going through the setbacks we all come across. We do this because it is what we love, and love fuels all!
What are your goals with your horse in 2011?
I would like to get to know my horse inside and out, and become one with him. We have only been together 8 months, and I would like to just keep developing as a team. The journey is what it is all about! I hope to be showing fourth level soon, maybe even begin working towards young riders!