Lexington, VA — While the 600-acre Virginia Horse Center in Lexington, Virginia got to show off its beauty and 4,000-seat coliseum to the Andalusian and Lusitano world at the recent International Andalusian and Lusitano Horse Association (IALHA) National Championship Show, competitor Amanda Johnson got to show off her beautiful mount, Dulcineya. Johnson, of Franklin, Wisconsin, had high praise for the PRE mare owned by Kimberly David of Haslett, Michigan. “Dulcineya is just an incredible animal, a true diva, and I can’t wait to see what her potential is.” In the midst of earning winning scores throughout the competition, Johnson also received what she called “a wonderful surprise” from Custom Saddlery.
The IALHA National Championship show committee and judges chose Johnson as the winner of the Custom Saddlery Most Valuable Rider (MVR) Award. Custom Saddlery— who is proud to be the Official Saddle of the U.S. Dressage Team— sponsored the MVR Award to honor a well-rounded equestrian with excellent scores in the show ring, as well as strong horsemanship, sportsmanship, and teamwork skills. As award winner, Johnson received a Custom Saddlery MVR ribbon, a beautifully embroidered saddle pad, and a $150 gift certificate to Custom Saddlery.
Like Custom Saddlery, Johnson values every part of competing in dressage—realizing that it’s especially important to have a great attitude toward her horse and other competitors at a show. “It’s simply more fun to be friendly and create a positive atmosphere,” she said. “We are here to compete, but having good sportsmanship and a positive attitude towards your horse and others helps the experience be fun and enjoyable for everyone.”
When it was Johnson’s turn to enter the show ring, she was all business. Johnson and Dulcineya rode to victory in both the First Level Dressage National Championship with a score of 72 percent, and the Second Level Dressage National Championship with a score of 67 percent.
Johnson said that Dulcineya (Santiago x Amoria De La Corazon, by Guarapo) is a Grand Prix hopeful and will enter full training later this year. Johnson is already familiar with Custom Saddlery, as Dulcineya previously competed successfully in a Custom Icon Flight saddle. Before Johnson, Dulcineya was ridden by Johnson’s working student, Keegan O’Brien. O’Brien and Dulcineya captured multiple National Championships in the junior exhibitor and amateur division in dressage, dressage show hack, and English show hack. Johnson has big plans for Dulcineya’s future. “I plan on competing her at the upcoming GAIG/USDF Region 2 Dressage Championships with the hope of qualifying for the U.S. Dressage Finals in November. Past that, start training for the FEI levels,” she said.
Johnson began riding dressage at a young age, and at age 21 achieved her USDF Gold Medal— the second youngest rider ever to have done so at that time. She now runs her business, Amanda Johnson Dressage, LLC, out of Sunflower Farms in Bristol, Wisconsin, where she also offers boarding, horse sales, and riding instruction to riders of all ages and levels.
Johnson has trained and shown many horses to the Grand Prix level, and has students that have achieved their Gold medals and competed at the North American Junior and Young Rider Championships, the USEF Festival of Champions, and the Markel/USEF Young Horse Championships. In 2007 and 2008, Johnson worked at Tempel Lipizzans in Old Mill Creek, Illinois, as Assistant Trainer to Jochen Hippenstiel. There she managed and trained up to five Lipizzans, started young stallions under saddle, and rode in performances.
Johnson’s successful weekend at the IALHA National Championships was made even better by sharing victories with Dulcineya’s owner, Kimberly David, who also rode the mare to several wins. Howard Peet also rode Dulcineya to win the Senior Mare National Championship. David said, “This win made history, as she is the first Purebred mare in IALHA history to win Senior Mare twice.”
Custom Saddlery is thrilled to offer the Custom Saddlery MVR Award at dressage competitions across the country to honor riders like Johnson for their talents and contributions to the sport of dressage. The Aiken, South Carolina-based company has partnered with the U.S. Equestrian Federation as the Official Saddle of the U.S. Dressage Team through the 2016 Olympics. The company sells more than 20 innovative and unique dressage saddles and saddle accessories, along with professional saddle fitting services.
To learn more about Custom Saddlery and what it can do for you or your horse, visit www.mysaddle.com or call 1-800-235-3865.