Rider of the month for June is Christine Stephenson. Here is a picture of her and her interview in case you missed her profile in June:
Christine Stephenson and “Markant”
Q: Tell us about yourself.
A: My name is Christine Stephenson. I ride and train in Laguna Hills, California. I am a USDF Bronze and Silver medalist. I participated in the 2006 FEI Junior Team Championships and was on the silver medal team. In 2008, I was part of the Region 7 North American Young Rider team. Our team won gold and I placed 8th individually. In 2009, I was again part of the Region 7 NAYRC team and won a second consecutive team gold as well as a 4th place in the freestyle. In 2009 I participated in the USEF National Young Rider Championships and placed 4th with an average over 68%.
Q: When did you decide to ride dressage and when did you start riding?
A: I’ve been riding horses for my entire life. I started bareback on my moms old quarter horse and tried just about every discipline. When I turned 11, my mom surprised me with an off the track thoroughbred. I really wanted to jump, but he was always little too nervous and tended to refuse more jumps than he would actually go over. With the encouragement of an eventing trainer at my barn, I eventually switched to dressage. I realized that it suited us much better and eventually fell in love with the sport.
Q: Who are you training with?
A: In 2004, I moved my horses to the Nellie Gail Equestrian Center in Laguna Hills, Ca. I was lucky enough to begin working with “S” judge Janet Curtis. She pushed me extremely hard and helped me progress through the FEI Junior and Young Rider programs. I still work with her currently. In the last two seasons, I have also begun working with Steffen Peters in San Diego, Ca. I feel very fortunate to work with such a kind and experienced trainer.
Q: How often do you train?
A: I’m at the barn every day and ride dressage 4 to 5 days a week. I normally have one lesson per week and sometimes more right before competitions.
Q: What is your warm up routine?
A: Before I start any work, I walk my horse on a long rein for 5 to 10 minutes to get him loosened up. My warm up consists of testing my horses lateral suppleness and his reactivity to my aids. (Forward and back, moving off my leg, flexing left and right… etc) I don’t do many “test movements” early in the warm up, but instead focus on the quality of my horses gaits and his suppleness. When he’s really listening and completely responsive to my aids, the movements are no problem.
Q: Tell us about your horse and his/her personality.
A: My horse Markant, “Mark”, is a 1994 KWPN gelding. He is trained to Grand Prix and previously competed on the east coast under rider, Tami Crawford. Mark is one of the happiest horses I’ve ever met. He’s been a great teacher and I’m having a lot of fun with him. He’s extremely smart and sensitive which can make him tricky to ride. I’m lucky to have a talented horse who will teach me to be an even more thinking and feeling rider.
Q: Do you go trail riding?
A: I love trail riding and try to go out as much as possible. I think the change of scenery is good for my horses mental health. Sometimes I ask him to trot and canter up hills to strengthen his hindquarters. Other times I’ll just walk on trail to cool out after riding in the ring.
Q: What are your goals with your horse?
A: I’d like to qualify Markant for the 2010 USEF “Brentina Cup” Championships in Gladstone, New Jersey. I’d also like to work towards earning my USDF gold medal.
Q: Who is your mentor and why?
A: My mentor is absolutely my mom. She’s always been my number one fan and a constant supporter of my riding goals. She and the rest of my family, are the biggest reasons I’ve become the rider I am now.
Q: What can you tell other junior riders about reaching their goals in dressage?
A: My best advice to upcoming juniors would be to always show your appreciation for your parents and trainers. They are a big part of the reason you’re able to work towards your dressage goals. Always work hard at the barn and don’t forget to be thankful for those who help you along the way to your successes.
Q: What is your favorite dressage movement?
A: I love the tempi changes and piaffe passage tour. They can be a bit of a metal work out and I always love the challenge.