Not so long ago, Alana Andrews was living in New York City and competing in hunter/jumper competitions. But then a horse-buying trip to Europe changed her life, and this weekend she found herself leading the victory lap at the Great American Insurance Group/United States Dressage Federation (USDF) Region 7 and California Dressage Society (CDS) Championship Show, being held September 27-30 in Burbank.
A Trip to Spain Did it All
“My mom wanted me to go to Spain to look at horses with her, and she asked me to bring my riding clothes so I could sit on a few horses to try them out,” Andrews remembered. “So I got to ride all these amazing Grand Prix-level Spanish horses, and was having the time of my life. All of a sudden I was like, ‘Uh oh, I think I love dressage.” I came home and sold my jumper, found my new horse online and imported him, and moved to Los Angeles where I had previously gone to graduate school and now work in finance.”
With her new dressage partner, a lovely Lusitano gelding named Caju, Andrews started showing in dressage competitions just last summer at First Level, and quickly progressed. This summer, the pair earned a reserve championship at the Southern Region’s CDS Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC) in Del Mar, which gave Andrews the confidence to think bigger, including attending the CDS Championship Show for the very first time. “We were doing so well and getting very good scores, so I thought, ‘Well, why not try Regionals?’ And I’m so glad I did. I’ve had so much fun here this weekend, and I just love the dressage community here on the West Coast.”
Her Lusitano Proved His Worth
But winning any title at the CDS Championship Show, including today’s Great American/USDF Region 7 Third Level Adult Amateur Championship, is no easy feat. Andrews and Caju found themselves as the last of 12 combinations to trot down centerline and they had their work cut out for them, needing a score of more than 68% to win. But when the final points were tabulated, their mark of 68.205% was enough. “I never thought we’d be in this position,” said an elated Andrews. “As a Lusitano, Caju’s very good in the collected work but he also has very good gaits, so I feel like we’re very competitive even against the fancy warmbloods as long as I ride well. Plus I feel like our partnership has really blossomed this summer. He’s so good in the connection and over the back, and that proper training and development is what I always strive for, and is what I find so addicting about dressage.”