Wilmington, Ohio – It was only this past year that Daniela April Morgan crossed over to the adult ranks and already she's gathering adult amateur awards. At the June 19-21 Cincinnati Dressage Tradition III, the 22-year-old college senior earned the [#26523 override="Markel" title="Markel"] Adult Amateur High-Point Award for her 74.20 percent in Intermediaire I competition. "It was a beautiful ride," saidPresident Chris Federer. "We're excited to present Daniela Morgan with the Adult Amateur Award from her FEI test ride. Congratulations Daniela!"
Morgan earned the award, sponsored by [#26523 override="Markel Insurance" title="Markel Insurance"], Mary Phelps Agent, with the help of her 19-year-old gelding Atache 4, whom Morgan calls "amazing for his age." She and Atache have been together since she bought him five years ago and the road to the high-point award hasn't been an easy one. When she got him, she was told he didn't have many show miles, but his rider at the time was a professional who handled him well. Morgan was not. "I bought him because he seemed like he'd be a good schoolmaster, and he has been. But at the time, I was a First Level rider and he figured me out real quick. I'd ask for things and he'd say, 'Yea, we'll see.' I didn't have enough experience or authority to take control."
Morgan's lack of control meant Atache was in the driver's seat and, in the show ring, he really gave her a ride. "The first few years, I'd come out of the ring in tears. It's taken a lot of years and much patience to get to this point. He's still a handful, but I've learned to ride him." At the Cincinnati Dressage Tradition III, she knew she had a good ride. "But I didn't think it was that good. It was like, 'Wow.' That was my best score ever. I've had some 70s before in the lower levels, but never a 74. I was so excited," Morgan said.
A native of England, Morgan came to the U.S. with her parents when she was 12 and she has spent most of that time in the Midwest region, but she did get the chance to spend some time training and showing in Florida when she attended school in Miami. Her most consistent trainer has been Grand Prix rider Sophie Flanagan. "She's originally from France and fortunately, I speak a bit of French so if she yells at me in French, I can translate it," Morgan said with a laugh. She has also taken clinics with a number of top riders, including Ulla Salzgeber, Lars Petersen and Silke Rembracz. "I find that if you get the right clinician, clinics can be one of the best ways to train because you learn from watching everyone."
Morgan has been around horses since she was two because both her mother and grandmother rode. She started riding seriously at age eight. She'll graduate from college next year and is hoping to head to law school. Her real passion, however, is riding, but she's realistic enough to know she needs a good career to help pay the bills. What saddens her most is that she must now sell Atache. Her parents, Bob and Heather, have been very supportive of her riding, but can't afford to keep her going past college. "My parents aren't being unfair. I have three horses and my father said they'd help with one and the one I'm keeping is an 11-year-old Oldenburg gelding I've had since he was four." That horse has had soundness issues over the past years and Morgan doesn't feel it would be right to put that responsibility on someone else. Hence, she's keeping him so she can take care of him even though she realizes it will likely limit her riding career.
"I really love riding and I'd like to keep moving along in dressage, but I do think sometimes that in this sport, you have to have the money. I'm a person who can't do things half-way. If I do something, I want to give it my all and do my best. My parents are very proud of me, but I know my riding has been expensive. When you train and go to shows, the bills do add up." But until Atache sells, Morgan plans to forge ahead with him, perhaps even getting into the Grand Prix ring. "Maybe we'll take him to Grand Prix. He's working on the movements and so we decided to try and put the Grand Prix on him. But, at 19, we'll only try and see what happens. I don't want to push it with him if it becomes too much. "
DressageDaily’s Mary Phelps, a [#26523 override="Markel Insurance" title="Markel Insurance"] Equine Specialist is sponsoring the high-point Adult Amateur Award at each show in Cincinnati Dressage Tradition's series of shows and Federer said the show is honored to have Markel's support. She said she'd like to encourage more riders to compete for the Markel Adult Amateur Awards during upcoming shows and Cincinnati Dressage Tradition has a whole series of shows and events throughout the summer that are held at the beautiful Roberts Arena show facility. The facility offers over 500 permanent stalls, three outdoor rings and two indoor arenas. Next on the show agenda is the July 30-August 2 Cincinnati Dressage Tradition Pony Cup Summer Show, which includes a breed show. A fall performance and breed show is scheduled for September 18-20.
Photo Credit: Bob Tarr