Baldwin girls dress up for dressage
The three girls lead their horses through the gaits again and again walk, trot, canter.
Almost every day, it's the same routine for Jena Dick, Morgan Grissum, and Tessa Dick. At least part of the day is spent running their horses through their tests, or series of gaits. And the next day they come back and do it all over again.
The Baldwin youth spent countless hours this spring and summer at the White Horse Equestrian Center, northwest of Baldwin, working on dressage.
All of that time and work were spent so they could compete at the Youth National Arabian and Half-Arabian Championship Horse Show, sponsored by the International Arabian Horse Association, in Albuquerque, N.M., July 22-28.
"You have to do a lot of work to go to Nationals," Grissum said.
Grissum, Jena Dick and Tessa Dick were three of more than 1,000 participants competing in 90 classes.
Grissum placed in the top 10 at Nationals in the Training Level 13 and Under Dressage Class. She tied for third and was only tenths of a point away from the championship.
Grissum's mother, Kathy, said all three girls competed well.
"I was really pleased. They worked hard." she said. "Even if you don't make the top 10, it's an awesome feeling for the experience."
She said she was especially pleased with Morgan's performance.
"It's pretty impressive," she said. "I'm so proud of her."
At Nationals, competitors must take their horses through tests, a series of gaits that vary in speed and stride, and are given points for each movement.
Kathy Grissum said dressage, which is one of the more difficult disciplines to learn, is training the horse and rider to work from the lowest level to the highest level.
"It's a complete balance of horse and rider," Kathy Grissum said.
But it's not easy to learn. She said dressage, which focuses on balance and posture, is a precise training.
"Dressage training takes a long time," she said. "It's not something that's done quickly.
"But once you can master dressage, you can ride about any discipline."
Morgan Grissum, 13, Tessa Dick, 12, and Jena Dick, 15, have all been riding and learning different disciplines, in addition to dressage, for about seven years.
As part of their training the girls are required to groom their horses as well as clean out the stalls and make sure to take time to practice. Kathy Grissum said they can spend up to 30 hours a week taking care of all of the required responsibilities.
"It's basically a full-time job," she said. "There are times they have to give stuff up to do this."
But Jena Dick, who placed fourth at Nationals last year, said the hard work pays off.
"You work really hard to do something and then you actually get to do it," she said.
Her sister, Tessa, said all the time she spends training is worth it.
"What I like about dressage is you can feel the accomplishments your horse has," she said. "After a real good ride, you feel really confident about Nationals and you get really excited."