Julia Warstler: Young Rider in the Spotlight

By Stacy Gormley for DressageDaily.com

Young Julia Warstler is growing up in the riding spotlight. The 14 year old Michigan native has been focused on the sport of dressage since the tender age of seven and has been climbing the ladder of success ever since. She purchased her first pony, Zippity Do Dah at the age of 8 at a hunter barn in Ohio and got right to work. The pony had poor muscling and needed some topline development, but soon they were on their way. The pair began showing at the lowest level and gradually added to their training each year. In 2005, “Zippy” was a confirmed fourth level pony. Being only 13 years old last season, Julia was too young to try out for the Junior Dressage Championships, though in skill, she was more than ready.

In 2000, Julia and Zippy were introduced to FEI rider, Suzie Dutta. Suzie immediately recognized her immense talent and took her on as a student. The Warstler Family soon began making the seasonal trip to south Florida to work with Suzie and show in Wellington. "Suzie is am amazing trainer!” said Julia. “She believes in me and challenges me in a positive way to go as far as I am capable of going and I am very grateful to her for that."

Winters were spent in the Sunshine state while summers were spent in balmy Michigan. Julia soon began showing year round and gaining herself quite the reputation among the judges at horse shows.

By Stacy Gormley for DressageDaily.com

When Zippy had reached the top of his ability and Julia’s feet had likewise almost reached the ground, Julia made the tough decision to sell him and progress to a bigger mount. Zippy was sold to a young girl in California while Julia and Suzie Dutta started their hunt for Julia’s next super star. Dutta found Integrity, a 6 year old Holsteiner gelding (x Lavalleto) in Lars Petersen’s barn in January of 2005 for Julia. The horse had recently been imported from Denmark and was in training with Lars working at third level.

2005 was a year of training and learning for Julia and Integrity. Julia had to learn how to ride a big horse and Integrity needed some strengthening. "The most difficult part about graduating up to a bigger horse for me,” commented Julia “was the strength that I needed to develop to ride a much bigger mount. I have to strengthen almost every muscle in my body, but mostly my seat and my abdominals."

Julia took Integrity home to Michigan last summer and hooked back up with Suzie this fall at Dressage at Devon. Julia and Integrity then spent three intense weeks with Suzie working on getting Integrity fit, strong and in front of the leg. “This season we have really stepped up to the plate. We have been working hard and have spent a great deal of time getting used to each other. There is a huge difference between riding a school pony and a large, green horse. Integrity has definitely made my legs, abdomen and seat stronger.”

The dynamic duo has already put in a stellar season winning all of their Junior/third level classes with scores near 69%. Goals for the 2006 season include trying out for the NAJRC, to be held in Lexington, VA at the Virginia Horse Park for Region 2. "The experience of training a horse up the levels can be a little frustrating at times,” Julia concluded, “but is incredibly rewarding when you feel the work you have put in paying off in their training and showing."