As always, after spending some time getting settled into my new routine in Wellington I realized there was something missing. You can’t be in Wellington for long without quickly feeling the urge to hop on a horse, and I am no exception. After spending some time looking around at trainers, I stumbled upon Paradigm Dressage and trainer Leif Aho.
I initially went to scope out Paradigm’s barn as they are one of the few places in Wellington that offers pasture board. My goal is to have a horse of my own by the end of the year, and I’m not a huge fan of keeping horses in stalls all the time with limited turnout. What I found when I visited the barn to audit a Mary Wanless clinic was more than I expected.
It became obvious after watching a few riders’ lessons that their emphasis on correct biomechanics and treating the horse fairly mirrored the principles of my trainer in Texas. Luckily for me, the Paradigm team gave me a warm welcome and immediately made me feel at home. Their 80-acre property and beautiful outdoor arena is a calm oasis during the bustle of the season.
I’ve had my first three lessons on an amazing Friesian mare named Zoey. She definitely made me feel my lack of riding time the first time I rode her! She’s trained to Third Level and is very sensitive, so it’s a different experience than riding my boy Thistle. After spending the October-February solely focused on developing Thistle, it’s nice to focus on my position. Every time I wobble or feel off, she immediately slows down. Whether that’s out of caring for her rider or laziness, only she knows, but I’m enjoying her all the same.