Victoria Retamoza, better known as Tori currently rides at WANAJA Farm in Goshen, Kentucky. Tori has her USDF Bronze Medal, Silver Medal and Silver Freestyle Bar. She has been around horses her entire life, her dad is a Thoroughbred trainer and her mom operates a boarding facility. Tori spent this past year off from school to expand her knowledge of Dressage. Tori was a working student for KYB Dressage for four months and then came back home to KY to work as an apprentice trainer and barn manager. Tori now attends Spalding University and is a full time student. tori bought an FEI Schollmaster iin December of 2010, so she could compete at NAJYRC.
This is Tori’s last year competing as a Young Rider (2012). Tori has been lucky enough to ride and audit with top clinicians including Michael Poulin, Angela Hecker-Jackson, Albrecht Heidemann, Bo Jenna, Colleen Kelly, Jeremy Steinburg, and Alex Gerding. Tori enjoys volunteering for her locaL Dressage clubs and is currently the Kentucky Dressage Association JR/YR Chairman.
Our Interview with Victoria:
1. When was the first time you saw a rider and horse performing Dressage?
The first time I saw dressage performed was at a class ‘A’ Arabian Horse Show when I was ten years old. I originally began riding dressage with Arabians. Unlike most young children, I was taken with Dressage. Once I saw it performed, I knew it was the discipline I wanted to concentrate on. The horse and drider looked beautiful and became one in the arena! I wanted to have that same connection with my horse.
2. When did you first start riding Dressage?
I began riding Dressage at ten years old at Stonehurst Riding Club in Crestwood, KY. The funny thing is that I came to that stable to get Western lessons with my AQHA gelding Twist Ahead Buddy. SRC is a National Arabian Show Barn that concentrates on many different Arabian disciplines. Not much was offered around our area for Western riding so that is how I ended up at an Arabian barn with my Quarter horse. During my horse’s “Western” training, we discovered he was too nice of a mover for Western. This led us to try jumping with him and he hated it(so did I)! It turned out that Dressage was our thing!
3. Who was your first trainer and who are you currently training with?
My first Dressage trainer was Adrienne Hancock-Leong, owner and operator of Stonehurst Riding Club. I currently train with Angela Hecker-Jackson.
4. What training advice has been the most influential in your riding?
Experience has taught me the importance of having a forward-thinking happy horse. Dressage is a sport of partnership, you and the horse have to communicate and understand each other. Your horse must want to go forward, and the horse has to love his job. the horse and rider must have a true bond with each other. The horse must be agreeable, and dthe rider has to convince him that what she wants is actually his idea. Riding must be fun for the horse! The rider will never get anywhere constantly battling with the horse to make him do something he does not want to do.
5.How do you warm up your horse and why do you think it is important for warm-up?
Every day I warm my horse up di+erently because each day he comes out di+erently. Some days he need a longer warm up than others. I do not believe in drilling the movements time and time again, because once a horse knows the movements he does not forget. What I want in my rides is for the horse to send his forward energy from his hind leg to my hands, allowing a proper steady connection. I believe having a proper supple connection is key to a wonderful ride.
6.Do you follow the Pyramid of Training scale?
I do like the training scale, and I try to follow it in each of my rides. It is always a good idea to have the Dressage Training Pyramid memorized and to use it as a checklist during the ride.
7.Do you include rest breaks in your training sessions?
I include periodic rest breaks, not only for the horses, but also for me, as well.I think it is good for both the horse and rider to take a moment to relax, especially after a challenging exercise. It is also important to see how easily your horse picks back up after the breaks. Hopefully, the horse will be ready to rock and roll as soon as he feels the rider pick up the reins.
8.Do you watch your peers ride in lessons and what do you learn?
I love to watch others ride! I am a visual learner and learn a ton by watching other people ride, especially in lessons! Most riding is based o+ of feeling what yourinstructor is talking about. When you watch a lesson you are able to see what the trainer sees from the ground and hopefully will better understand what eyes from the ground see.
9.How often do you show?
I do not show any during the winter months. I use the winter as a time for training. During the summer I campaign my horses pretty hard. It can become hectic at times, but I love to show. It is a great feeling seeing your hard work pay off.
10.Who grooms for you at your shows?
I am my own groom, for the most part! My mom helps me out here and there, but my dad just hangs around, except to hold my horse for me occasionally.
11.Do you braid your own horse?
I do my own braids! It is something that gets better with time, and each braider has her own braiding style
12.What is your horse’s personality like and what is his/her favorite goodie?
My Schoolmaster LuCarlos is such a goofball! He has no idea he is eighteen years young! He thinks he is a <ve year-old! He loves to play with the three year-olds across the fence! His favorite treat is, no question, The Carrot! He is obsessed with carrots and could eat a dozen bags in one sitting without taking a breath.
13.Do you trail ride and how often?
We do not have “trail rides” at my barn. Our facility is eighty acres of beautiful farm land which all boarders are welcome to roam. I think it is important to have a horse that can be ridden in very diverse situations! Many times you see horses who act up in the outdoors because the rider only rides them inside, or the horse acts up because the rider only rides them outside and when he brings him into the indoor, the horse spooks. We have both a beautiful indoor and outdoor dressage arena. We also have lovely hills that I love to ride horses on to help build their hind-ends and teach them balance.
14.What are your goals for you and your horse?
This will be my last year as a Young Rider, and my goal for LuCarlos and myself is to make the NAJYRC Region 2 Young Rider Team again! I also hope to qualify for the Young Rider National Championships.
15.What is your favorite Dressage music freestyle performed?
I recently watched Ste+en Peters and Ravel’s Freestyle from the World Dressage Masters this year, and, WOW!, how amazing are they? They make freestyles look e+ortless! Ste+en and Ravel are truly dancing!
16.Who is your favorite rider?
I think Ste+en Peters is an amazing rider! He is incredibly talented and creates a magni<cent partnership with each horse he rides. He is subtle in his riding, yet communicates marvelously with his horses.
17.What can you tell other junior riders about reaching their goals in dressage?
Goals are incredibly important to have! I believe that with hard work, dreams do come true, and things always work out the way they should. Opportunities come, and that is where the magic begins. Have huge goals/dreams that seem almost impossible to reach! Never lose sight of them because you are the only one who can stop yourself from reaching them. Don’t ever say “never” because wonderful things will happen in your life that you never imagined possible. Keep your eyes on the prize, and you will get there! I promise!18.What can you share with other riders the most important advice of learning Dressage?Stay open to knew ideas and train with multiple trainers. No matter who your idol is, you will never ride exactly like them. Take bits and pieces from what others advise and make them your own.