The bond between riders and their trainer and a patient, loving Arabian horse is something that cannot be broken. What makes this bond even more special is one person who is not only your teacher or trainer, but someone to be a constant stream of positive energy and encouragement throughout your journey.
Rebecca Richard grew up around Arabian horses, with a mother who bred and owned them for 40 years. Her stepdaughter, Taylor, has been riding for six years and is currently 13 years old. This is a family that is no stranger to the breed.
Rebecca says her trainer is the crucial piece in helping her get her seat back, training her and her stepdaughter for shows, and working with her horse, Vasari AF, who was given to her after suffering from abuse by a local farm.
“I was told when I got him, ‘You have to put a chain on his nose, he is hard to handle,’” Rebecca said. “What’s hard to handle with him is he gives kisses and hugs, and will go anywhere you ask him to go. Not a crazy Arab, but a loving, dedicated boy to me and Taylor.”
Rebecca has post-traumatic stress disorder and lives with a traumatic brain injury since serving overseas. She now has no short term memory and uses a service dog to get through each day. After attending an Arabian horse show for a Leadline class for Taylor, she saw a woman riding a grey Arabian in Western Dressage. She spoke with Terry, a retired Army officer who understood Rebecca’s physical limitations.
Terry encouraged her to speak with Kriss Phelps from Crescendo Training Center LLC. And soon after, that’s exactly what she did.
“Kriss has this way of reading people, and on multiple occasions, while I was having one of my ‘events’ she spoke kindly and just seemed to
understand the horrors I was remembering,” Rebecca said.
When Rebecca began riding Vasari AF (who was sent to the farm for training) she could only ride him for a few minutes at a time. She said she would at times start crying while on his back because of the flashbacks. She said Kriss never pushed her, but instead, encouraged her to stay positive.
“She always adds at the end of a lesson, ‘Nice ride! You did great!’”
“Within two lessons, Kriss had her [Taylor] cantering, and last month Taylor took sixth in Dressage. Kriss has always encouraged Taylor to be positive and always moving forward with her riding,” Rebecca said.
Last year, Rebecca attended Sport Horse Nationals, something she had on her bucket list. Vasari is now eighth in the nation for Level I Western Dressage.
“Kriss and Terry kept it from me most of the afternoon. Then, once the final scores were in, they took me to see the results. When I saw
Vasari's name I broke down in tears while Kriss just hugged me and told me, ‘See good things do happen to good people,’” Rebecca said. “And I got to take my first victory lap at the awards ceremony. He placed because of her; I now ride him by myself because of her. Taylor has confidence and more love for Arabians because of her.”
Rebecca is looking forward to many more moments with Taylor and Vasari both in showing and trail riding, with Kriss by their side.