In 2012, Ayden Uhlir and her horse, Sjapoer, a 13-year-old KWPN(Contango x Jenia/Wolfgang) entered the Festival of Champions in first place (with no drop score). They were the only Junior division horse and rider team to score above seventy. At NAJYRC they won an individual Gold Medal, took the Freestyle bronze medal, and helped to bring Region 9 its first ever Junior division team medal, a top honor bronze. The 18-year-old Texan continues to work hard with Jeremy Steinberg. An ever ambitious person, Uhlir works for the dream in a prepared and attainable way. She said, “This year we hope for a repeat performance in the Young Rider division. I am a senior in high school and I just turned 18." Accepted next year to four schools, University of Washington, Seattle University, Washington State and Cornell, Uhlir said, "I intend to go to school at Seattle University and study sports psychology. I decided against Cornell at least for now so I can stay and train with Jeremy."
When asked what she will strive for in the future, she replied, "After young riders in 2014 it will be the Brentina Cup and in 2015 the Pan Am Games and 2016 a run for the Olympics. I have also applied for the International Dream Rider Program this fall and hope to help develop a "graduate" program with Genay Vaughn for Lendon and EDAP.” In 2012, she not only won the Junior Regional Championships, the NAJYRC Junior Bronze Medal, but also the USEF Dressage Style award and the USDF Nomination for the Youth Sportsman of the Year award. She said, “It was an amazing year for me.” Only a stepping stone for a bold and confident future, Ayden continues to work on the foundation through the Young Rider Program for a strong future.
She said, “My first year with Sjapoer was one of learning and growing together. He is like driving a Ferrari. He has all the power, beauty and qualities a driver could ever dream of wanting. He also has all the sensitivity and back cracking spook of a horse with power and his own (easily distracted) mind. But our spirits connect. Sjapoer and I met in Holland on a side trip from a riding vacation in Spain. My previous trainer Bre Dorsett and I went to Epona (the place in the USDF Connections magazine this month). We went to ride with Raphael Soto. We decided to add on a few days in Holland to look for a JR/YR horse for me. The minute I saw him I knew he was the "One." It was in his eyes.”
She continued, “I believe being chosen the KWPN FEI Horse of the Year was the feat of so many not just myself and Sjapoer. I owe great thanks to my trainers Jeremy Steinberg and Shauntel Bryant and previously Bre Dorsett. I owe thanks to the farrier, massage therapist, chiropracter, vet, grooms, my parents, my grandmother, and my sponsor Schleese. I wouldn't have even had a saddle to ride in if they hadn't loaned me one for the Festival of Champions.”
To follow Ayden on her journey visit her Blog on the website: http://aydenuhlir.com/