Emily Goldstein’s fancy OTTB might possess all the right stuff. It’s been only three years since Siouxperlucky went into training for a second career, but showed so much natural talent that he’s now on track to compete for the bronze medal in classical dressage.
“I never even thought about us doing classical dressage until one of my trainers, Carol Herron, a Prix St. George rider, was looking at him one day. She was always remarking on how well he moved, and she said she thought he had the potential to go into upper level dressage,” Goldstein says. “I had always thought of him as a jumping horse, and never even thought of pursuing dressage outside of what we were doing at three day Events.”
Dam: His Laura, by His Majesty
Foal date: March 12, 2006But the suggestion to switch gears was a light-bulb moment for her. By coincidence, the jumps on cross-country were starting to look just a little bit scarier to her, and yet in the dressage ring, her $2,500 OTTB with the workmanlike nickname Mo, was mastering the fancy footwork as though he’d been born to it.
“He’s definitely built for it. He’s very uphill and has really nice gaits,” she says. “I took a clinic with (accomplished International Grand Prix competitor) George Williams once, and he didn’t think Mo was a Thoroughbred at all. This happens a lot. People always think Mo’s another breed, I love telling them that he’s my off-trackie.”
An off-trackie she’s had for only three years, is kicking a little butt.
Since deciding to double down on the classical dressage, Mo has gone into full training with USDF gold medalist Barbara Strawson and has began racking up the scores necessary for a bronze medal. In the past year, Goldstein and Mo captured their first bronze medal scores at recognized show, Dressage by Chance, held at By Chance Farm in Union Bridge, Md.
“Competing at that recognized show was a real highlight for us. I knew a lot of the people I was competing against. They had very fancy Warmbloods and trained with my trainer. But we were able to place first in one class and second in another class, and we were competing against some really nice horses,” she says. “That day I also got the TIP (Thoroughbred Incentive Program) Award as well.”
The victories put them on the path to make the leap to Second Level, a “really big step,” she says. “In Second Level, you ask for more balance, more power and a whole different level collection-wise,” she says. “This is where we’ll start doing much more technical and difficult things.”
She adds, “The lengthenings, for example, take a lot of push. He’s still learning, and he’s an athletic and squirmy horse to ride. He’s so wiggly that it’s really hard for me to put him together.”
But when he does come together in that perfect frame, the result looks effortless in a way that completely belies the grit and fortitude it takes to train a horse for the beautiful dance in the dressage ring.
Likening her full-on training to “boot camp” for dressage, Goldstein is riding six days a week with Strawson. Some mornings she watches Strawson ride, but mostly she is showing up every day, getting her “butt kicked,” and being grateful for the opportunity.
Working a weekly administrative job, and riding other people’s horses for pay, Goldstein is bootstrapping her effort all the way. “Barbara also worked out a very generous plan with me, which allows me to work off some of the costs at her barn,” she says, noting, “I’m doing everything I can to make this happen. I normally don’t make enough money to have my horse in full training.”
Drawing inspiration from both Strawson and her coach Carol Herron, the Prix St. George rider who was the one to first to encourage the pair to aim for classical dressage, Goldstein says she is amazed how far she and her green OTTB have come in so short a time. “When I first started riding Mo, he was so green he didn’t even have steering,” she says. “Now we’re working at our Second Level and will hopefully go for the Bronze Medal. I’m thrilled and excited to be doing all of this with my amazing off-trackie!”