Here is Stephanie’s Bio:
Stephanie Freeland grew up in Zionsville, Indiana and began riding at the age of 4. She started out riding Saddleseat and switched over to dressage at the age of 10. Her first dressage horse was an 8 year old ex barrel racing Quarter Horse which she retrained in the sport of dressage. She competed him up to second level and qualified for Dressage Seat Medal Finals. Since then, she was given the opportunity to ride Soltaire, a Dutch gelding who she has competed to Prix St George. Stephanie spent time as a working student for Catherine Haddad-Staller and trains with Ken Levy at home.
Our Interview with Stephanie:
1. How long have you been riding Dressage? I have been riding dressage for 10 years.
2. Have you always ridden Dressage? I actually started out riding saddleseat and showing saddlebreds. My first horse was a great all around horse, so we dabbled in everything from barrel racing to jumping, but I fell in love with dressage after my first dressage lesson with I was 10.
3. How many days a week to you go to the barn and ride? I ride my horses 6 days a week, but I am at the barn 7 days. I spend time grooming and hand grazing my horses on their day off because I think it is important to the relationship and partnership with your horse.
4. What is a typical warm up and cool down for you and your horse(s)? A typical warm up for any horse I ride is to walk on a completely loose rein for 10-20 minutes to loosen up their joints and stimulate the synovial fluid in the joints. I then go into a rhythmic and stretchy working trot to allow the horse to move out and swing over his back. At this point, I test the horse off of each leg and forward and back and pay special attention to any holes that I need to fix before moving on in the training session. In the canter, I always start out in 2-point and a forward stretching canter with my FEI horse. Once I sit on him, I test him forward and back and I am a huge fan of schooling leg yields and shoulder-ins in the canter. I also try to do as many transitions between and within the gaits as possible, especially canter trot and trot canter transitions to really get the horse working over his back and topline. I adjust my warm up based on what the horse feels like it needs to proceed in his training session.
5. What is the importance of transitions in your schooling? Transitions are everything and so important to test your horse and his responsiveness.
6. Do you follow the Scales of Training on a daily basis? Yes, always a firm and important guideline to follow in the training of any horse.
7. Do you work on each level for the year before moving to the next level? I really try hard to show at a level that is challenging for my horse and I, but is not going to overwhelm him and push him beyond his limits. If we are ready to move up a level, then we do but I am cautious to make sure that the horse is ready and it won’t ruin his confidence.
8. What kind of saddle do you have? I have a Stubbed Genesis Special. It was a saddle designed by Catherine Haddad Staller and is similar to a Stubben Tristan. I love the saddle because it has no knee roll and is such a close contact saddle.
9. What is the most important Dressage event you have been to? I was lucky enough to participate in two USDF Region 2 Championships, one of which was held at the Kentucky Horse Park and the championship classes were held in Rolex Stadium. That was a cool experience!
10. How often do you show? I tend to do one recognized show a month from May-October and sometimes do a few schooling shows with some training or younger horses in between.
11. Do you braid your own horse’s mane? Yes
12. Who grooms for you at your shows? I don’t have a groom because I enjoy doing the work and I think it is important for the partnership between the horse and rider, but I am very lucky to have help from my amazing horse show mom! She is the best!
13. Do you trail ride and how often? I absolutely love to trail ride! I trail ride as much as possible, depending on the weather and footing. It is so good for the horse’s brain and a change in terrain is good for them physically, too!
14. What are your goals for 2016? My goal for 2016 was to earn my USDF silver medal, which I accomplished in June with my FEI horse, Soltaire.
15. What is your favorite musical freestyle you have seen? One of my all time favorite freestyles is Tinne Viltelmson-Silfven and Don Auriello. The music was composed perfectly for him and the musical transitions between the movements are timed perfectly! It is just a very well choreographed and well composed freestyle, plus I love Tinne and Don Auriello’s partnership!
16. If you could clinic or train with anyone in the world, who would it be? Catherine Haddad Staller! I have been lucky enough to ride with her and be her working student and she is such an incredible rider, trainer and horsewoman? I would also love to train with Hilda Gurney.
17. What can you tell other junior riders about reaching their goals in dressage? Put in the time and enjoy the ride! Good things will come if you work hard and are dedicated to your horse and your sport. Celebrate the little successes with your riding and training because it is the little things that add up and make the big picture! Also, remember we are all in this for our love of the horse, so enjoy your time with your horse and work hard to build a strong partnership between the two of you.
18. What is your horse’s personality like? Soltaire is a big puppy dog! He loves to lick and he would climb in my lap if I let him! He loves his work, I have never met a happier horse in my life! I really think he would climb in the car and ride home with me if I let him! Ellie May is my sassy little diva. She has so much personality for such a little pony! She has really come out of her shell the more I work with her. She is so personable and although she may be an opinionated pony mare, she is very cuddly and loves to have her ears scratched!
19. Please tell us who you would like to Thank for being your best supporters: I can’t thank my parents enough for being the best supporters out there! They come to every show and clinic and they have believed in me even when I don’t believe in myself. They understand my passion and would do anything to help me. I would also like to thank my trainer, Ken Levy for being there from the beginning and helping me get to where I am now. He has tirelessly worked with me until I get it and I owe everything to him! I would also love to thank Catherine Haddad-Staller for teaching me so much over the times I was at her stables. I learned so much about horsemanship, riding, training and the horse business from her. I have never met someone so generous!
20. What is your favorite quote that you love and want to share with others? “I am learning everyday to allow the space between where I am and where I want to be inspire me and not terrify me”