Elisabeth Austin Living a Dream as 2010 Exquis World Dressage Master’s Youngest Rider

Liz Austin and Olivier credit: sharonpacker.com
Liz Austin and Olivier credit: sharonpacker.com

Wellington, Florida – Just two weeks ago, Elisabeth Austin was on her Facebook page expressing her excitement that she’d be at the Exquis World Dressage Masters watching many of the world’s best riders compete. And then, she got the call inviting her to join them. “It went from me going to the Master’s to watch everyone, to me being in it,” Austin said. “It was so amazing to be able to compete with these fabulous riders at the Masters. It’s been a dream come true and a huge honor.” The 25-year-old rider, who turns 26 in a week, is the youngest competitor in this year’s competition. But she doesn’t feel out of place. She already went through that back in 2006 during a training and show trip to Europe. “I competed against many of the best in Germany in 2006 and I felt out of place. This time, I felt a little more like maybe we deserved to be here, even though we’re up against riders with years more experience.”

Her partner in the Masters competition is her long-time mount Olivier. The Dutch Warmblood stallion is by Idocus and out of Rowillie, her mother, Madeleine Austin's, foundation broodmare. Rowillie was by the Holsteiner stallion Porter. "He has the most ridiculous personality and is always into something. He knows about a dozen tricks, and also has quite the vocabulary. Cookie, hungry, yummy... you get the trend,” Austin said. She said earning an invite to the Master’s with Olivier has made her “really, really proud of our breeding program and our horse.”

Elisabeth Austin and Olivier credit: sharonpacker.com
Elisabeth Austin and Olivier credit: sharonpacker.com

It’s also, Austin said, “pretty cool being the youngest competitor here. It’s just been an amazing opportunity, one of the most amazing that I think I’ve ever had.” Surprisingly, Austin said she didn’t feel nervous as she stepped into the ring on Thursday for her inaugural Maters’ ride. “He was a little bit naughty before he actually went in the ring, because something was bothering him. He sort of stopped and got a little bit funny and at that point, all my nervousness stopped and I thought, ‘Okay, this is what I have to go in there and ride with. I went on a little gallop around the arena and thought, ‘Let’s get going and do this.’ And we did.”

Olivier’s up mood may have actually helped Austin get around the ring. It’s when everything seems perfect that she actually worries. “I feel that I operate best when everything isn’t perfect, because I think, ‘Okay, I’ve got to pull out all the stops and lay this down.’ I was really, really pleased overall with my ride. I feel like we did a pretty good job. We really stepped up the plate competing against some pretty amazing company.”

Steffen Peters gave her a bit of advice as she made her way toward the ring. “He said, ‘You have absolutely nothing to lose so you just go for it.’ And it was very, very true. I was the unknown and I just came in and tried the best I could. Anne Gribbons (USEF Dressage Technical Advisor) wanted me to have as close to a clean test as I could. We did a prep show last week and she wanted me not to make the same mistakes I made in that show. I didn’t and that made me really, really happy.”

Elisabeth Austin and Olivier credit: sharonpacker.com
Elisabeth Austin and Olivier credit: sharonpacker.com

After the Masters competition, Austin and Olivier will take a short break and prepare for the Palm Beach Dressage Derby CDI in March. The young rider is hoping to qualify to compete in the U.S. Selection Trials for the World Equestrian Games in August. “Right now, we have about a 66.00 percent average for the Selection Trials. We have met all the qualifications. So now, we have eight months to improve on everything. I’m starting to feel more of the self-carriage in the ring, that we have at home and it’s becoming consistent in the show ring, so that’s very positive. I’m learning how to ask for things more in the ring and it’s a great feeling.”




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