USDF Education Programs Coordinator
With 48 hours to decide whether or not to make the trek from Elgin, TX, to Lexington, KY, for the inaugural US Dressage Finals Presented by Adequan, Marsha Lewis had quite a bit to consider. She and her colorful partner Pedro, a ten-year-old Appaloosa Sport Pony, qualified by placing in the First Level Freestyle at the Great American/USDF Region 9 Championships, but she'd never thought they’d actually be going.
|Helping hands: Ruby and Zoe Lewis help their mother, Marsha Lewis, with Pedro, the family's Appaloosa Sport Pony. Marsha and Pedro will compete in today's First Level Freestyle championship at the US Dressage Finals. Photo by Ashley Barnes for USDF.|
As a mother of two young girls, Ruby, 5, and Zoe, 2, and a lecturer at the University of Texas at Austin, Lewis thought it was crazy to even consider making the trip to Kentucky. Yet with the encouragement from a friend who had also qualified and the enthusiasm from her family, at the eleventh hour she nominated.
(“It may have been the last entry USDF accepted," Lewis quipped.)
Lewis and her mother, with Ruby and Zoe in tow, made the trip to the Kentucky Horse Park while Lewis's husband, a small-animal veterinarian, stayed home to care for their six other horses. The drive was not without its obstacles. During a dark, rainy stretch in Arkansas, their running lights went out. With some determination and a pair of tweezers, Lewis located and replaced the burnt-out fuse and got back on the road.
Asked what it meant for her to compete in the inaugural US Dressage Finals, Lewis became emotional.
“I do everything myself in the back yard,” she said, “and Pedro, he’s an amazing pony. He was a rescue. He can do anything. Pedro had no training at all when I got him. I certainly never thought we’d be competitive at Regionals, let alone a national competition. I may not be able to do this again as my children get older, and it’s just something I made happen.”
Lewis's advice to those riders who didn’t make the trip out to Finals? “Just go for it. Enjoy the experience. For me it’s also about my kids enjoying this too. They’re the ones with the big futures; they’re horse-crazy. I want to show them that anybody can do this, even out of your backyard farm.”