• Sue Puetz

A Girl and Her Horse

Meet nine-year old Annika and 11-year old Rocket, short for Royal Red Rocket. This duo participated in the Central Texas Dressage Society (CTDS) competition this weekend at the Williamson County Expo Center.

I asked Annika how long she’s been riding. Her response was ‘since I was a baby.’ She has three brothers who also ride but while she’s driven to ride, “they ride for work”. She reported that she has jumped on Rocket and has ridden sans bridle, halter, reins and saddle just to prove she can.

Her other equine interests are trail riding and camping, western, pleasure, eventing and Pony Club. She is also passionate about donkeys and has shown them in various venues, including the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo.

An interesting story about Rocket: he was purchased off Facebook for $1,000. He had spent eight years on a 50-acre pasture. At that time, he could not bend his neck correctly to the right. Annika’s mom explained that Dressage is similar to the theory of teaching ballet to football players. It teaches horses and humans how to go together as a team. Rocket has definitely responded to Annika’s dedication and persistence and now carries himself much better as he develops his athleticism with dressage.

Annika needed permission from CTDS to compete Bitless at this schooling show. The US Dressage Federation (USDF) will be voting this year on the use of bitless bridles in rated dressage competitions. Annika and her family also maintain their own horses hooves barefoot. Annika is learning how to trim barefoot from her mom and other equine professionals, as hoof care is a holistic approach to the horse and includes proper diet and living environment. Annika's dream is to become a pro rider and/or trainer.

Annika is much more than just a horse-woman. She is home schooled and her favorite subjects are Math and Science. Her current focus for horseback riding is to GO WITH, a concerted effort to maintain harmony between horse and rider.