Saugerties, New York – Completing a Grand Prix test in competition has been a lifelong dream for P.J. Rizvi and it’s a dream that took her decades to achieve. “When I was young, I was too sick to ride. When I was in my 20s, I was too broke. In my 30s, I was too pregnant. That makes me in my 40s,” Rizvi said. And so, now in her 40s, Rizvi rode through her first ever Grand Prix test in competition at the Centerline Events HITs-on-Hudson. Not only did she finish the test, she won it. Rizvi owns Breaking Dawn, a 12-year-old KWPN gelding that previously had been competed with success by Canadian Olympian Ashley Holzer. And while Holzer is a veteran competitor, Rizvi is not. “I think I can count on two hands the amount of times I have shown at any level,” she said. Until the Centerline Events competition at Saugerties, Rizvi had never shown at the Grand Prix level and her only goal was to get in the ring and finish the test. But she and Breaking Dawn did more than that.
They won the East Coast Rider’s Cup FEI Grand Prix with a score of 68.457. “I was very, very, very surprised I won,” Rizvi said.
“Unbelievable” is the word that Holzer, Rizvi’s coach and friend, used to describe her win. “I told her to ride the Intermediate but she said then she’d have to memorize two tests and was afraid of doing that. She had already memorized the Grand Prix so wanted to do that. She has never shown Grand Prix before and I tell you, she’s probably shown in dressage only five or six times in her life. That she won the USEF Grand Prix is unbelievable,” said Holzer, who is based in New York.
Rizvi admits that she stressed the whole week before the show about her upcoming Grand Prix ride, but once she started down centerline, her nervousness disappeared. “I remembered what Ashley and Jackie told me, ‘ride him like you own him.’ Our other inside joke after a six-hour SCARY MONTY PYTHON fox hunt in Ireland, is to remember going down centerline that ‘you probably won't die doing this test, so relax, sit tight, and enjoy your ride, and smile!’" And that is exactly what Rizvi did – smile all the way to the winner’s circle.
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