Wellington, FL – Florida teen dressage star Rebecca Cohen's heart may belong to her horse Downtown, but her education will take precedence this summer as the 2012 USEF Festival of Champions Junior Dressage Reserve Champion will forego the North American Junior Young Rider Championships (NAYJRC), Maccabiah Games in Israel, and the USEF Festival of Champions in lieu of invitations to study from Colombia University's Leadership in Law program and Brown University. For the 17-year-old rider, who currently attends Palm Beach International Aacademy in Wellington, this is one season when horse sense trumps horse shows. It's a balancing act many talented young equestrians face and while Cohen is far from ready to lay down the reins to her best equine partner, her 17.2-hand chestnut Westphalian gelding, Downtown (aka, 'Daddy'), she is serious about building as solid foundation for her future as she does for dressage.
Cohen began riding at age two, choosing a “road less ridden” and foregoing hunter equitation or jumper fences favor of dressage. “Daddy is my top horse and tries his heart out. He has a big personality. While I would love to medal at Young Riders, I also plan on attending college to study law.”
As an invited member of the ShowChic Mentoring Program, Cohen has already been experiencing working life out of the saddle, assisting with the boutique’s monthly ShopTalk program and working on its fashion shows and educational events. “Being part of the ShowChic Mentoring Program, as well as working with my trainers, has helped me grow as a person and rider.”
Calling herself a “pretty normal kid” who likes to shop with friends, text until her fingers hurt, and keep her grades up, she foresees a successful legal career ahead. After all, she says, “I practice my negotiating skills on my mom!”
While this talented young rider will be far from resting on her laurels, her hiatus will not diminish her high notes since graduating from the pony and Juniors divisions: She and Daddy earned a milestone 70% score with Daddy in the FEI Junior Individual Test on last year's winter circuit, and competed successfully through the Prix St. Georges level in Wellington.
The NAJRYC may miss its reigning reserve champion and 2010 Junior Team Bronze medalist, but for this dressage rider, it's just another season of tests to pass with nothing less than flying colors.