These talented sisters are teaming up to turn their riding into a career.
There’s no sibling rivalry between Nataly and Amanda Szadyr when it comes to riding. The two up-and-coming riders from Oakland, Mich., dominated their respective divisions at Dressage At Waterloo, held July 18-20 in Grass Lake, Mich.
Amanda, 23, showed her 9-year-old, Hanoverian gelding Ravel (Ravallo—Walissa) to multiple wins in the adult amateur division at third level.
Imported from Germany less than a year ago with the help of Kalman de Jurenak and Christian Heinrich, “Ray” is helping Amanda become a better rider while still having fun.
“[Ray] is trained a lot higher than I know, so it’s given me a really good opportunity to learn the upper level movements. He has the ability to get good scores and present movements very nicely,” said Amanda. “He has a very patient personality, so it allows a person who doesn’t know all the movements to learn them. He’s not a schoolmaster, though, because you can’t sit up there and be incorrect. You have to learn how to coordinate your body and aides,” she continued.
Ray isn’t all business, however, and keeps Amanda entertained with his puppy-dog antics and penchant for trouble.
“He’s always in your pockets, and, like Houdini, he gets out of his blankets and stuck in other horses’ blankets. He’s very funny,” said Amanda.
Younger sister Nataly, 17, evented at the novice and training levels for several years, but she began competing in second level dressage this year with Lousiana. Known as “Juliana” around the barn, the 8-year-old, Oldenburg mare (Landsieger I—Frilanka) was imported from Germany at the same time as Ray.
“We only went over to Germany with the intention of buying one horse—Ray,” said the girls’ mother and trainer, Karyn Szadyr. “Then we saw this absolutely brilliant green mare.”
The striking mare, Juliana, became Nataly’s horse and inspired her to focus more on dressage than eventing. Although Juliana has a great demeanor and amazing talent, her greenness required Nataly to work especially hard.
“When you use every ounce of your strength, she’s brilliant and so fun to ride. But if you’re not up to speed and you don’t have her on the bit, she can spin circles,” said Nataly.
Bred from a jumping bloodline, Juliana had only six months of dressage training when the Szadyrs bought her.
Waterloo was the pair’s second show at second level, and Nataly was extremely proud of her young mare’s progress.
“I worked my butt off every ride at that show, but it paid off,” said Nataly. “[Juliana] loves that show ground. She’s matured and did well in the warm-up. With 15 horses in the ring, she handled it very well.”
Nataly and Juliana qualified for the Great American/USDF Region 2 Championships (Ohio) at first and second levels. She hopes to start competing at third and even fourth level in 2009. Amanda will join her sister at the regional championships and also expects to begin fourth level next year.
Nataly and Amanda are moving quickly up the levels, but have their sights set on even more ambitious goals. They want to manage Bit By Bit Equestrian Center, where they live and train, when their mother retires.
Amanda wants to focus on the business and showing aspects of the farm, while Nataly aims to build her skills breaking and training young horses. The two believe they can run a successful business together by bringing their individual strengths to the table.
Nataly will head to Germany in September 2009 after she graduates from high school to focus on her riding rather than attending college. De Jurenak and Heinrich, who helped the Szadyrs import their horses, will then re-evaluate Nataly’s riding and decide where she should train overseas.
“We will send her over there for a year or so first to learn on different horses. Then we’ll send [Juliana] over to polish her up, because she has international movement in her,” said Karyn.
Amanda, meanwhile, will travel back and forth from Germany to the United States every few months to hone her riding skills while helping her mom run the farm. She takes lessons with retired instructor Gabor Soltunyi and monthly clinics with Jan Ebeling of California, riding as many horses as possible to improve her skills.
“To be a well-rounded rider, you need to be on numerous horses, so my sister and I ride lots of other horses around the barn,” said Amanda. “I’m also trying to get more people’s input and advice, because that’s how you get good.”
Amanda attended Oakland Community College for a few years to get her business degree to help run the farm, but has since taken time off to ride.
“We’re focusing on riding,” added Nataly. “It’s my passion, and I’d love to have my own facility and be as good as I can be. It’s going to be a big part of our future.”
Double The Fun
In the FEI levels, Milo Mott carried off many honors, claiming the top places with both her Grand Prix mounts, Imperial II and Marquis.
Mott, 45, enjoys focusing on herself and her own horses after 15 years of running a boarding and training program. She and her five horses now reside at her small farm, Bel Cheval, in Holly, Mich.
Marquis, with whom Mott won two Grand Prix tests Saturday (62.91%) and Sunday (65.20%) at Waterloo, has been her partner for five years now. She discovered the 14-year-old Danish-bred Oldenburg gelding (Mago—Pippi) while living in Denmark for four years.
“He’s just the best and has no quirks. He’s always solid,” said Mott of her veteran mount.
Marquis is getting a run for his money, however, from his stable mate Imperial II, who won Friday’s Grand Prix test with a score of 62.91 percent. Mott has had Imperial, a 13-year-old Hanoverian gelding (Forpriest—Winetta), for a little over a year.
“I’m just starting to know him more,” said Mott. “He’s very hot-natured, but can do everything beautifully.”
Like Marquis, Imperial was imported from Denmark, where Mott does a lot of her shopping. With an eye for talent, Mott finds and imports all her horses herself from Europe.
Although Mott owns several horses, she’s currently concentrating solely on the Grand Prix with Marquis and Imperial in hopes of qualifying for Dressage At Devon (Pa.). She’s no stranger to achieving her goals, having already qualified both horses for the Region 2 Championships and qualifying for Devon in 2007 with Marquis, who placed ninth.
However, Mott tries not to push herself and her horses too hard or let herself become stressed about qualifying for certain events.
“You never know how you’re going to set your goals. I try to ride the best I can and get good scores. But mostly I just enjoy riding,” she said.
Mott was certainly pleased with her horses and her riding at Waterloo. From Friday to Sunday both horses received increasingly good scores, culminating in Sunday’s win on Marquis with a score of 65.20 percent and second place on Imperial with 64.79 percent.
“Both horses were very well-behaved. I’m very proud of both of them,” said Mott. “I was happy and the horses seemed happy too, but mostly just to get back on the trailer!”
No Worries For Laurie Moore
In the small tour, Laurie Moore took a well-deserved break from her up-and-coming horses to ride No Worry to multiple wins in the Prix St. Georges.
Moore, 44, got the ride on Sally Alksnis’ 13-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding (Giorgio—Illusion) when he was bought last September from Patrick Burssens.
No Worry, known around the barn as “Nigel,” joined 10 other horses at Waterloo from Moore’s boarding and training facility, Timberlane Farm, in Lowell, Mich. Moore trains several competitive show
riders and has an “eclectic” group of clients that range from beginners to adult amateurs and seasoned dressage riders.
When not showing, Moore added a fun twist to her routine by helping the young riders in her barn host a monthly “pony week.” During this time, the teenagers teach basic riding skills to beginner riders on ponies.
Moore’s amateur client, Alksnis, rode hunters her whole life and has just made the transition to dressage in the past year.
“[Nigel] was purchased as a schoolmaster for Sally, and she’ll start showing him at third level in August,” said Moore. “She loves dressage and never knew how much there was to learn.”
Moore has enjoyed her time spent riding Nigel, who is proving to be a great amateur mount—nice and experienced, but not without some effort.
“He is a very wise horse—very forward, powerful and has a beautiful, natural extended trot. You just sit, turn and off he goes. He’s just a really nice, calm horse. He has a very good brain, but a lot of go. He’s not one you have to push at all,” said Moore.
Waterloo was Moore’s second show with Nigel, having previously shown him at the KDA Spring Warm-Up (Ky.) in May with similar results.
“Each day at Waterloo he got better and better. On the first day he was very strong and eager, on the second day he listened better and by the third day he was great like he is at home and scored 70 percent,” said Moore. “In my last ride on Sunday, there were moments during the test when I just thought, ‘Well this is as easy as can be.’ ”
Moore and Nigel’s third win of the weekend certainly felt easy compared to showing several young horses. She rode Letizia, a Westphalian mare (Laomedon—Pagena) who she recently imported as a project horse and co-owns with Elizabeth Crosby, to the win in the FEI 5-Year-Old test (76.40%).
Moore also placed well in the USEF 4-Year-Old test with Cynthia Hunting’s Zonnerhall (75.00%) and in the Developing Horse Prix St. Georges with Robyn Weston’s Willow (64.24%).
Moore hopes to qualify these younger horses for the Markel/USEF Young Horse Dressage Championships (Ky.) in September.