Amanda Bailey and Faulkner Impress a Tough Judges' Panel at the USEF/Markel Young Horse Championships

Amanda Bailey, a wife and mother of a 20 month-old daughter from Jonesboro, Arkansas, proved to the nation at her first USEF/Markel Young Horse Championships 2006 that you can have your cake and eat it too. On her four year old German bred Hannoverian gelding, Faulkner (Friendship x Wiesenbluete) they took third place honors in a class of the top four-year-olds in the country.

With over 14 Grand Prix riders, and young horses coming from 21 states, the young professional not only held her own, but excelled under the critical eyes of the judging panel, consisting of Axel Steiner, Lelo Fore, and Janice Foy.

 

Amanda describes Faulkner as "the ride of my life", whom she purchased from HW Farm and Irene Hoeflich as a three year old after viewing just four, 20 second video clips. She had sold her 1/2 blind fourth level horse, Paladin (Graf Gottard) and was working with a limited budget. "It was a risky experience because I was operating off of complete trust." The first time she saw her new horse was when he stepped off the trailer at her four stall barn. Going from known to unknown wasn't without its challenges.

"Faulkner is a big horse for me, he can be a difficult ride due to the way he's built, but he has a fabulous mind." said Bailey. The pair persevered against odds and they qualified for the Young Horse Championships with an 8.36 in St. Louis, the pair's second show.

But behind every great horse rider combination is a team of dedicated support group. Bailey is from a state, Arkansas which is known more for Division I football than FEI dressage. In the Bailey camp it’s a family affair. The pillars of the team, her high school sweet heart and husband of ten years, (who gave the horse his moniker), her Mom, and coach and fellow mother of two, Tami Crawford. "Having a child changes everything, and competing at this level, you need a strong support from everyone, and I got that from my husband and Tami."

Growing up as a typical horse crazy kid, Bailey came to dressage late in her life while in college. Bailey originally had met Crawford after one of her yearly sojourns to Dressage at Devon, as a spectator. She saw Crawford ride and discovered that she was from Tennessee. "After I learned that she was nearby, I had to meet her, and so after Devon, I called and got to meet her." Crawford, who is located five hours from her Arkansas home, has been "simply inspirational" says Bailey, " She is the most positive happy, genuine person, sincerely cares about her students and has taught me that you can have a family and be successful as a dressage rider and competitor."

The Young Horse Road to Devon

 

As judge Axel Steiner described each element of her presentation ticking off big scores; 8.6 for the trot, 8.5 for the walk, canter, and submission, and a whopping 9 for overall general impression, Crawford, who was part of the crowd cheering was quick to give Bailey much of the credit. “Amanda takes her job seriously and has a very focused and methodical way about her training. She is a total pleasure to work with. I am so proud of her today!”

Her biggest fan is her 20 month old daughter, has been bitten by the horse bug. "No pony yet, but we'll see." Bailey says with a smile. Turning to the future, Bailey and her team will be making the 20 hour trip to Dressage at Devon to compete in the Materiale classes.

No longer a spectator, Bailey will soon know the feeling of riding in the legendary arena of one of the United States largest and oldest and most reputable dressage shows at Dressage at Devon later this month. And of course she is aiming for a comeback for the 2007 USEF/Markel 5-year-Old Dressage National Championships to be held again next September at the Kentucky Horse Park, the future site of the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games.

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