Lexington, Ky.—Nov. 11
Just a few years ago, you could find Russian Gold and Kimberly Maloomian taking home top ribbons at some of the biggest hunter shows in the country. In 2014 they took home the low amateur-owner, 18-35, championship at the Devon Horse Show (Pa.).
Shortly after that the Brandenberg gelding (Rubinstern Noir—Texas Lady) came in with a fat leg. While the swelling went down after a walk, and he was sound for work, Maloomian decided to have a veterinarian take a look. The ultrasound results weren’t pretty, so “R.G.” started 1½ years of slow rehab.
Since R.G. had to retire from jumping, Maloomian thought she’d give dressage a try.
“It actually started as a joke with my sister-in-law,” she said. “He was bred to be a dressage horse, so it was like ‘Oh, let’s see if he can do it. That’ll be fun.’ He wasn’t ready to retire, so it was a fun new adventure for us. I started June of last year, and I had no freaking idea what I was doing.”
Maloomian took her first lesson with Lynne Kimball Davis and had no idea the trainer was well known.
“I walk into the ring in all my show hunter stuff, and she’s like, ‘How can I help you?’ ” said Maloomian. “I’m like ‘I’m going to do dressage!’ I had really fun doing that, so I decided I’m going to sign up for a horse show because that’s what you should do when you’ve only had one lesson.
“So I signed up for a show, and I was like ‘Jess, I should probably have another lesson because I don’t know what I’m doing,’ ” she continued. “So she said call Jodi [Pearson-Keating,] she’ll come over. I’m sure she’s like, ‘Alright Jess, I’ll do this as a favor. She’s never going to catch onto this.’ And then all of a sudden she’s coming over every week.”
Bitten by the bug, Maloomian purchased a dressage saddle at the end of last year. She competed at the Great American Insurance Group/USDF Region 8 Dressage Championships (N.Y.) at first level, and earned a wildcard spot at the U.S Dressage Finals at the Kentucky Horse Park.
“I really wanted to do Dressage at Devon [Pa.] because I was like this would be the coolest thing ever if the horse goes to hunter Devon and dressage Devon, but nobody told me that you have to be at fourth level to go to that,” Maloomian quipped. “So I was so bummed when I found that out, so then Jodi was like, ‘You got a wildcard you can go to Kentucky,’ so I was like, ‘Well I can’t go to Devon, so yes let’s do that!’ ”
She and R.G. earned a 65.34 percent in their adult amateur first level championship.
Maloomian still shows in the hunters on other mounts with Mitch and Amanda Steege, and she fits in her dressage shows in between. R.G. might be her only horse showing in dressage, but she takes dressage lessons on all of her mounts.
“I would say [the hardest part about dressage is] really understanding getting the horse underneath you,” Maloomian said. “Because we all think oh they’re using their hind end this is great. They’re really not when you’re doing hunters and stuff like that. They’re using it to jump, but it’s not really underneath them. I do it with all my amateur horses now, the lessons and it’s really helped them be stronger behind and better jumpers. Getting that feel down [is difficult]. They’re forever yelling at me to sit in the saddle and hold onto the reins.”
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