Q: Tell us about yourself.
My name is Monika Zillinger. I am 16 years old. I live in Armstrong, BC, Canada. My horses name is Diva. She is a 9 year old Hungarian Warmblood. We are training and showing FEI Juniors this year. I don’t have any great accomplishments as I have not had the greatest luck with horses. I qualified for Youth Nationals at FEI Children’s with my previous mare but we had to put her down with a pasture injury.
Q: When did you decide to ride dressage and when did you start riding:
I started riding before I can remember. My mom used to sit me on her horses. My brother and I shared a little pony when I was about 5 and at 8 I got my first horse. I was in pony club for a few years and slowly drifted to dressage. I started taking private lessons and became hooked on the challenge!
Q: Who are you training with?
I take weekly lessons from Jan Jollymour. I also go to clinics with Christina Seidel and Albrecht Heidemann.
Q: How often do you train:
I ride Diva 2 or 3 days on, 1 day off usually adding up to 5 days a week. At the moment I only have one horse but I usually have at least 2.
Q: What is your warm-up routine?
I walk for about 10 minutes switching between long and low and round but still a stretchy frame. I then trot and canter in a stretchy frame, doing long leg yields and changing directions a lot. After a break I begin collecting her through transitions.
Q: Tell us about your horse and his/her personality:
Diva is a 16.2 HH chestnut mare! We bought her as a retraining project but did not realize just how hard it would be! We brought her right back to the basics, teaching her to stretch, blow, take the contact and generally just relax. Diva lives up to her name and has to have everything her way. She tells me when I am doing something wrong! It took me a year just to understand and learn to ride her. She definitely is not a steady eddy and I am constantly working on whatever challenge she throws at me!
Q: Do you go Trail riding?
I love to go on a short loop after my ride but Diva is not a confident trail horse so we don’t go as often as I would like.
Q: What are your goals with this horse?
My goal this year was to qualify for Youth Nations! Which I did!!! Next year we are hoping to go to NAJYRC. We decided to make this year a developing year for both Diva and I. Hopefully next year we will qualify! After that I don’t know…
Q: Who is your mentor and why:
I have two Mentors! Christina Seidel and her Daughter Lindsay Seidel-Wassenaar. They were my coaches in Alberta before I moved to BC two years ago. They have always been so helpful, encouraging and inspiring. Lindsay has taken my mom’s old horse to North Americans 3 times! They have always gone under the philosophy that we have to learn to ride and train our own horses even if it takes longer! It is easy to send a horse to a trainer and then play the “dumb monkey” at shows! They taught me how important it is that I learn to ride Diva and I am so thankful they did!
Q: What can you tell other junior riders about reaching their goals?
In the whole first year with Diva, we thought about selling her every week! She was so difficult and we didn’t have the right help when I got stuck. She wasn’t even saleable, she was so awful. I was told that she was much too difficult for a JR and that I should get a new horse…But I stuck with it and we switched trainers. Now I am so grateful to have a super talented mare that I can ride and succeed on! I would have to tell other juniors to stick with it! I did, even after many tears, I am glad I did!
Q: What is your favourite dressage movement:
My favourite movements to watch are half passes! To ride, I love the extended trot mostly because Diva’s were awful and she would go rein lame but now they feel amazing!