Clear Fork student excels in all things equestrian


Golden making waves in competitive horse riding

By Zach Jones - zjones@civitasmedia.com



Photo Courtesy of Judy Golden Valerie competes at horse shows all around the region.


Photo Courtesy of Judy Golden The ninth grader spent the better part of her childhood riding various styles and horses, but it was not until recently Golden entered the world of Dressage competition.


Photo Courtesy of Judy Golden Dressage blends the principles of other horse disciplines into a carefully choreographed performance.


A bond between a horse and their owner can be strong enough to last a lifetime, just ask Clear Fork freshman Valerie Golden, who has been riding horses for as long as she can remember.

“My mom says I could ride before I could sit up,” joked Golden a competitive Dressage rider who has travelled the country hitting numerous of horse shows. “My parents have always had horses, and I just naturally got into it. It’s what I love to do.”

The ninth grader spent the better part of her childhood riding various styles and horses, but it was not until recently Golden entered the world of Dressage competition.

According to the University of New Hampshire’s Equine Studies department, the Dressage training style can trace its origins to the Ancient Greeks, who began humane horse training to improve their battle performance.

Dressage has since developed into modern form of competition that stresses artistically coordinated movements between rider and horse.

According to the University of New Hampshire’s Equine Studies department, “In its most basic stages dressage helps the horse and rider communicate with each other and develop balance, strength, flexibility and accuracy.”

The style blends the principles of other horse disciplines into a carefully choreographed performance.

“It’s like perfected dancing moves with your horse,” Golden said. “Every move has to be practiced and rehearsed.”

The high schooler had steered clear of the style until receiving her most recent riding partner, Listo, a 19-year old Andalusian from Spain.

“He had been training strictly in Dressage when I got him,” explained Golden. “I had been doing jumping competitions but then started training with him. It was completely new to me. It was like a foreign language.”

Despite the initial struggles learning the discipline, Golden has excelled in Dressage with Listo, who currently sits at the style’s Prix St. George level.

“It’s three levels away from the Olympics,” she said of the horse’s rank. “He will probably never make it there (the Olympic rank) because of his age, but I would love to get there someday.”

The Prix St. George level is seventh in a series of 10 levels beginning with introductory and ending at Grand Prix. Each level can be individually designated to both a horse and rider, Golden is ranked at the second level.

“It usually takes two or three years to train a horse through each level,” the Clear Fork freshman said. “My goal is to make it there with Listo before graduating high school.”

Golden has been training with Listo for two years now, riding him daily at KKM stables with trainer Karen Graves, who is responsible for getting the 19-year old Andalusian to the Prix St. George level.

“She’s been helping me a lot,” she said of her work with Graves. “I took me awhile to get me to synchronize with him, but Karen has showed me how to get everything down. Every movement that is made controls a horse. We have to be completely in sync. If I look right, he has to go to the right.”

The level of synchronicity proved to be a challenge for Golden at first but has since become a source of friendship between her and her horse.

“It’s more than just riding,” she said of her relationship with Listo. “We have formed an incredible bond together.”

In addition to learning Dressage and managing Listo, Golden has had to learn how to balance her daily practice time with her school work and high school athletic career.

Currently, the Clear Fork freshman juggles her riding time with basketball practice with the Lady Colts.

“It’s tough to fit it all in, but I still find time to ride at my house every day,” she said.

As for her future, Golden stated she would possibly like to compete on a collegiate equestrian team but is currently enjoying her time at Clear Fork. She is aiming to make it to regional Dressage competition with Listo.

Photo Courtesy of Judy Golden

Valerie competes at horse shows all around the region.

http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/39/2015/10/web1_Val-and-Listo-at-VA2-1-3.jpgPhoto Courtesy of Judy Golden

Valerie competes at horse shows all around the region.

Photo Courtesy of Judy Golden

The ninth grader spent the better part of her childhood riding various styles and horses, but it was not until recently Golden entered the world of Dressage competition.

http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/39/2015/10/web1_Val-and-Listo-in-VA33.jpgPhoto Courtesy of Judy Golden

The ninth grader spent the better part of her childhood riding various styles and horses, but it was not until recently Golden entered the world of Dressage competition.

Photo Courtesy of Judy Golden

Dressage blends the principles of other horse disciplines into a carefully choreographed performance.

http://aimmedianetwork.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/39/2015/10/web1_Val-and-Listo-at-VA-1-3.jpgPhoto Courtesy of Judy Golden

Dressage blends the principles of other horse disciplines into a carefully choreographed performance.

Golden making waves in competitive horse riding

By Zach Jones

zjones@civitasmedia.com

Reach Jones on Twitter @Bellville_Jones or via email at zjones@civitasmedia.com

Reach Jones on Twitter @Bellville_Jones or via email at zjones@civitasmedia.com