Sailor Malia Boden is 11 years old and lives in Canyon Lake, CA. Riding horses has always been a dream of hers since she was very little. When she was very young she spent a lot of time at Eastvale Equestrian watching her mom ride their horse, Java, and dreaming of riding dressage one day. Java and Sailor share the same birthday and always have had a very close connection. Sailor did a little bit of lead line riding when she was 4 and 5 years old on a pony named Hunter. She then had to take a break from riding.
Sailor was in gymnastics from the time she could walk and at 5 years old she joined her gym’s All Star Cheerleading team. She loves being a cheerleader and this is her 6th cheer season completing with University Allstars. Cheerleading and all her flying and tumbling give Sailor great body awareness, fitness, strength, and dedication. These attributes have transferred right over to her riding.
Sailor began taking lessons with Susan Hoffman Peacock, Owner and Trainer at Eastvale Equestrian, in December 2013, on Danny and Blitz. Shortly after she started riding at Eastvale Equestrian, Sarah Yawata arrived as a working student of Susie’s. Sarah began working the ponies and being Sailor’s primary instructor. All 3 “S’s” (Sailor, Susie, and Sarah) are such an amazing team! Sailor is really blessed to have this time with the trainers and ponies.
Sailor is a passionate student in all she does, horses, school, cheer and life. Sailor has 3 dogs and two cats and aspires to become a small animal veterinarian as well as learn about 3 day eventing and be on a horse team (Dressage or 3 day eventing) in college.
Our Interview with Sailor Boden:
When was the first time you saw a rider and horse performing Dressage?
When I was very young I used to sit with my mom’s trainer, Susan Hoffman Peacock, and watch her dressage lessons.
When did you first start riding Dressage?
My mom’s horse was too much for me to ride when I was really young, so I was lucky enough to ride a little pony at the barn named Hunter (lead line). I showed him once on my 5th birthday in a lead line and unattached lead line class. After that I had to take a break from horses. Then almost exactly a year ago I began taking lessons with Susan Hoffman Peacock on her two ponies, Danny and Blitz.
Who was your first trainer and who are you currently training with?
My first trainer was Susan Hoffman Peacock and shortly after I began riding, her current working student Sarah Yawata arrived and she became my primary trainer. Suzie owns both ponies that I ride, Blitz and Danny.
What training advice has been the most influential in your riding?
Sometimes the most important training lessons are not the fun or easy ones. It’s so important to have a plan for your ride each day, but to be flexible and ready to make any changes to the lesson plan as necessary. And always be prepared to work through challenging situations as that is when you and your pony or horse will grow a deeper connection and trust. I also suggest making sure you spend a lot of time grooming your pony or horse before and after your ride. This is a very important part to forming a bond and making sure your pony or horse is happy.
How do you warm up your horse and why do you think it is important for warm-up?
Warming up the horse as well as rider are very important. We often lunge the ponies before getting on. This gives them a chance to warm up their bodies, and me a chance to make sure they are happy with the way I have put on all their tack and to see what their mood is like. Once I am on I do a small warm up routine where I walk around the arena and pay close attention looking to see if they are feeling more stiff one direction or the other. I also take this time to make sure I’m warming up my back and they are listening to my aids.
Do you follow the Pyramid of Training scale?
Yes, Sarah and I talk about the Pyramid of Training scale. It helps me understand the importance of the fundamentals and it helps me understand why some things are more difficult than others. For example, without proper rhythm and relaxation it is difficult to maintain a good consistent connection with the pony or horse.
Do you watch your peers ride in lessons and what do you learn?
Unfortunately, due to my school schedule I am often the only one riding when I’m at the barn. But whenever the opportunity arises I take time to watch other riders and their lessons. I try to be close to the trainers so I can hear their suggestions to the riders and see the corrections as they happen. This helps me learn more about dressage skills and also helps me learn about the horse from the ground.
How often do you show?
In 2014 I was fortunate enough to get to show at 4 shows and entering in a total of 11 tests between both ponies. I plan to show at least every other month, more often if possible.
Who grooms for you at your shows?
I usually show both ponies and the schedule is pretty tight, so everyone pitches in and grooms, even my dad! My dad often is the go to guy for holding the pony that is not being ridden at the moment.
Do you braid your own horse?
I don’t braid the ponies yet, but am looking forward to learning soon.
What is your horse’s personality like and what is his favorite goodie?
Blitz is spunky and loves to show his flashy gates at the shows. Danny is younger and generally calmer, but takes more strength to ride. One fun fact I’m learning about both ponies is that as I’m getting better, they are raising the bar with me! They are continuing to rise to the occasion and provide new challenges that are resulting is strong growth and better test scores. Both ponies love carrots and they will love you forever if you bring them carrots.
Do you trail ride and how often?
I have only been trail riding twice, but we were just talking about taking the ponies along with a group of horses out for a trail ride soon. I look forward to the fun change with the ponies.
What are your goals for you and your horse?
My short term goal is to continue to do better at each show as I move up to Training Level in 2015. My major goal is to go to the USEF Dressage Pony Rider National Championships with Blitz!
What is your favorite Dressage music freestyle performed?
My favorite Dressage music freestyle performance is Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro’s World Equestrian Games in Normandy from 2014. It starts out so whimsical and has such powerful moments. The music is so perfectly fit to the horse and rider, I could watch it all the time and never get tired of it.
Who is your favorite rider?
My favorite Olympic rider is Charlotte Dujardin. I like to watch her riding style, as she is a beautiful rider, seems to never give up on her horse, and she seems like she has a great personality. It’s nice that she has a lot of videos online so I can watch her riding regularly.
What can you tell other junior riders about reaching their goals in dressage?
Don’t ever give up on your dreams and believe in your pony or horse. I try to ride at least twice a week, as consistency helps me stay on track and continue to grow. I also try to keep fit so that my body is able to handle the demands of riding and so I am always working on my body awareness. This helps me be able to make the corrections Sarah or Suzie ask me to make right away.
What can you share with other riders the most important advice of learning Dressage?
The most important thing about dressage to me is the fundamentals. I spent a long time working on my seat in lunge line lessons with Sarah and still do them sometimes as needed. Being patient and realizing that learning about your seat, and the feel of the gates gives you the beginnings to a great dressage future. I love dressage because it gives the rider such an amazing understanding of horse riding and you can use it in any other horse discipline. I also think it’s so important to remember that dressage is a beautiful art and each person gets to show their own connection with their horse as well as their own talents at their own pace. Be proud of your accomplishments, as riding dressage is a journey, not just a destination.