Q: When did you decide to ride dressage and how long have you been riding?
I have been riding dressage since day one. Growing up at a dressage training facility, I have loved it from the beginning and was supported since I was a young girl by my mother and coach to continue with the wonderful sport.
Q: What is your warm-up routine?
With my horse Rossignol I take a lot of time at the walk to let him relax and see what’s going on around him. As I start to take up more connection I also ask for his attention and from here I spend between 15 and 20 minutes working long and low in the trot and canter. I focus a lot on transitions within and between gaits and given how responsive he is that particular day we start to play around with the more advanced movements.
Q: How often do you train?
During the summer and show season I try to ride everyday. During the school year of course this becomes difficult given the commute from my college to the barn, so I am lucky if I am able to ride three or four times a week during the school semesters.
Q: Tell us about your horse’s personality.
Rossi has an interesting personality, one that someone may not pick up on upon a first interaction with him. He comes off quiet and sweet but he’s got some spunk behind his cute face! Of course I have had Rossi since he was a green four year old, so I know him like the back of my hand! He can be sweet at times but generally on the ground he is a bossy guy and when he wants something he lets it be known!
Q: Do you go trail riding?
I absolutely love trail riding and I am a strong believer in its positive influence on horses. I try to take all of the horses I ride on a short trail ride if not at the beginning of our arena work then at the end. Each horse in our barn gets out on the trails or in the apple orchard at least once a week.
Q: What are your goals with your horse?
I have high goals for Rossignol, he has proven himself to be a quick and talented horse. I partnered with him when he was just a four year old and I was only thirteen, it was like the blind leading the blind and sometimes still is! Rossi and I take it in stride and we are always learning together. My first shoulder in was his first shoulder in, my first flying change was his first, my first pirouette was his first and the list goes on. It is a learning experience unlike any other and I hope we can make it to the top of the sport. At this point my goal is to strengthen Rossi and let out the inner international quality horse that I know is in there. Once we get that out of him I hope to further compete in international competitions and be at the top.
Q: Who is your mentor and why?
At this point in my life I would have to give this title to Kathy Connelly. I have known Kathy since I was just a little girl, and I have ridden with her through the years on and off. Kathy has a remarkable effect on others and I admire her for all of her generous qualities. Kathy always gives me kind and concise advice to help me fulfill my equestrian goals. My mother, Joy Bahniuk, also plays a strong role in my life given the everyday support she has given me with my riding since day one.
Q: What can you tell other riders about reaching their goals in riding dressage?
Reaching your goals in dressage takes time and patience. We all know how long it takes to prepare for and to move up the levels in the sport of dressage. The best advice I could give would be to set your goals at a reachable level, as you and your horse mature you can reach each goal one at a time and then once again set the bar just a bit higher, before you know it you will have accomplished a whole lot!
Q: What other hobbies do you do?
I greatly enjoy listening to music, networking online, and modeling for both runway and print work.