Melanie Delduco

Our Interview with Melanie:

1. How long have you been riding Dressage?

I have been riding since before I was born because my mother rode dressage while she was pregnant with me. I rode when I was younger, but did more of the hunters and pony club. I fell off when I was about 7 or 8 and quit riding until I was 10. That’s when I officially started my dressage career and I have stayed far away from the hunter/jumpers since. Quite frankly jumps over 2 foot scare me a little.

2.What is a typical day for you at the barn?
I live on a farm and my horse are there, so when I wake up I get dressed and head right out to ride. I have 2 horses currently and I ride them everyday. When is school, I come home around 2:15 in the afternoon and ride. When not riding my horse I’m usually hanging around the barn with my friends or doing something on the farm.

3. Do you turn out your horse before you ride?
It depends if the horses are on day or night turnout. It doesn’t matter to me if my horse is out in the field or in their stall before I ride, I just grab them where they are and tack up.

4. Do you warm up your horse before schooling him/her?
Yes, of course, I like to let them walk around a little to warm up and stretch their muscles before I put them together.

5. Do you follow the Dressage Training Pyramid on a daily basis?
I can’t say I follow it exactly everyday. I know the different levels of the pyramid and work on them while I ride and I work to make my way to the top. However my focus is not on the pyramid while I ride everyday.

6. What is a schooling session like with your horse?
I start by walking on a loose rein around the arena in big walk because Spanky likes to get behind the leg. Then I pick him up and do lots of leg-yields across the ring and a little bit of half-steps in the leg-yield. Then I pick up my trot and let him get nice and supple, doing circles and leg-yields getting him off my legs. After a few minutes of trot I go right into my canter and do all my canter work because he is much easier to ride in the canter than the trot (he’s insanely bouncy in the trot, my abs kill ;)). Then I give him a nice long relaxing walk break and move into my trot work. My canter and trot work usually consist of collection, lateral movements, forward-backs, and getting him to sit down and bring his shoulder up.

7. Do you give your complete attention to your trainer when in a lesson ?
I think I give all the attention I’m not using to ride my horse to my trainer. My trainer is very funny and I have no problem listening and performing the tasks he asks me to do.

8. How long are your breaks in you’re schooling sessions?
I take short breaks, for example 1 laps around the arena, if Spanky or myself need a quick break to catch our breath or relax. After my hard working sessions I usually give him a few minutes to relax his mind and stretch out.

9.  Can you name the most important moment in a lesson that has taught you the most?
I think the most important lesson I have learned is that if you mess up, forget about it, and try again. If you get stuck on mistake you made you won’t be able to make it better next time and learning from that mistake will make the next try better.

10. Do you volunteer at horse shows?
We run so many horseshow at our farm that I’m roped into volunteering for pretty much all of them. I am able to scribe, score, secretary or ring steward at a moments notice.

11 .Are you a working student for a Dressage Trainer?
Currently I am not, but I have been for JJ Tate and for Tim Mellott. I was with JJ for a short time a few summers ago and with Tim in Wellington 2016. I also was part if Lendon Grays Winter Intensive Training Program in Wellington 2015.

12. Who are your grooms for you at your shows?
My mom is my groom usually because she drives me there so she helps. My mom is also  usually showing at the shows with me anyway so we groom for each other and help to make sure we’re both on at the right time and looking sharp. Occasionally I’ll persuade a friend to come help which makes things even easier.

13. Do you trail ride and how often?
I trail ride at least once a week. The trails around our farm are ok, there are lots a huge hills, so I like to take my horses up and down them frequently. Also Farihill MD is not far from my farm and there are thousands of acres to trail ride through. We go there about every other month, more in the summer.

14. What are your goals for 2017?
For 2017, I plan on competing at PSG and possibly moving to I-1, to continue working on completing my scores for my gold medal. Possibly going to NAJYRC, if I qualify this year and if I don’t end up going, I plan to gain the CDI experience anyway. My trainer thinks that Spanky has the ability to take me all the way to show the U25 Grand Prix, so I plan to keep working towards that goal and strengthen our skills to make it there.

15. What is your favorite musical freestyle you have seen?
Not to brag, but I love my musical freestyle. The music is She’s a Maniac and Footloose. Spanky absolutely loves his music! Every time the music is turned on he gives me a spicy little head toss and springs into action. But, one of my all time favorites is Debbie McDonald’s Respect musical, that was amazing to watch.

16. If you could clinic or train with anyone in the world, who would it be?
I would love to clinic with Debbie McDonald. I think she is an amazing instructor and rider. She gives me so much inspiration to be as good as she is. Debbie is also same height as I am and thats gives me encouragement that you don’t have to have long legs to do fantastically in the dressage world.

17. What can you tell other junior riders about reaching their goals in dressage?
Find a horse that you love and an instructor that can make you laugh because if you take this dressage world to seriously all the time, you’ll never have fun learning to ride. Dressage takes a lot of discipline and hard work, but if you are driven towards your goals and have a great support system you can always make it.

18. What is your horse’s personality like?
Spanky is 19 years old, but likes to act like he’s 4. He loves to spook and spin around and cause drama. Any little thing that can give him an excuse to get happy he takes. When he’s not acting like a stallion, he is perfectly content doing his job, he loves to work. He’ll stand in the barn like an angel for hours and gets so excited when I give him treats he tries to bite me. Spanky always needs his sugar cubes immediately after I tighten his girth too, otherwise he’ll start complaining.

19. Please tell us who you would like to Thank for being your best supporters:
I would like to thank my Mother for everything. Spanky was her FEI horse till she gracious gave him to me 2 years. She has given me everything I ask for, and is always there cheering me on, helping my improve. I would also like to thank my Grandparents for buying me my first real dressage horse, a QH/Paint mare named Macy, in 2010 and for all the fanatic show clothes they’ve given me over the years. Especially my grandma, Karen, for keeping my white clothes clean, she’s the best at getting out any stains. Also to my friends and everyone who has believed in me to become the great rider I have. I couldn’t have come this far without all of them helping my along the way. And also my current trainer Tim for telling me that I sucked therefore forcing me to learn to actually ride and I have come so far in the past year under his instruction.

20.  What is your favorite quote that you love and want to share with others?
Good, Better, Best, never let it rest, till your Good is Better, and your Better is Best.