Thallia Blight – Secretary

thalia-blightThallia Blight’s original career focus was veterinary medicine; after graduation from the Ohio State University she worked for a local small animal practice, and then in the marketing department of a veterinary supply company.

From 1996 to 2004, she worked for a large nonprofit organization, as the administrative staff member who managed the recordkeeping and accounts payable for a $7.2M grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. She created and maintained their grassroots network database of more than 2,000 health advocates in Ohio. The organization nurtured community coalitions throughout the state, providing educational materials, hands-on assistance, and grants for public awareness projects. Thallia organized state and regional meetings, workshops, and
conferences; she also gave presentations on lobbying rules for non-profit organizations. In collaboration with the Ohio Department of Health, she assisted with the advertising campaign for community groups and local boards of health in the “Eat, Breathe, and Dine Smokefree” including the creation of the Media Tool Kit they used. The efforts of the coalition were successful in the passage of 2006 public referendum mandating smoke-free public places, a law in Ohio, a law which in 2016 remains unchallenged.

From 2004 to the Present: Thallia has been a Program Manager at the OSU College of Pharmacy in the Doctor of Pharmacy program. Her job involves daily communication with students, pharmacist-preceptors, instructors, and clinical site staff members. She is the primary person responsible for attending to educational contracts, and monitors the health requirements compliance for more than 500 students that those contracts require. Thallia also assists in the coordination of the internship scheduling for the program.

Thallia has served as a board member, officer and spokesperson for several advocacy organizations. She is an active volunteer with her local USDF gmo; and has served as a scorer, scribe, and steward at their shows for many years.

In the mid-1990’s she was involved with the local cable access television station as a volunteer videographer and producer for educational programs including:

  • Technical Director of the monthly interview program “Not for Writers Only”
  • Producer and Videographer, “Give Habitats a Hand” in collaboration with the Columbus chapter of the National Geographic Alliance.
  • Director and Producer, “A Rainy Day of Yore” – a documentary about the Ohio State University Renaissance Festival.
  • Director and Producer of the video short, “DogsTrotting”

Thallia’s first formal riding lessons were in saddleseat equitation as a pre-teen horsecrazy girl. She moved on to western pleasure thanks the generosity of a family friend who also taught her the basics of showmanship. It wasn’t until she was in college that she discovered dressage. After riding in the Equine Affaire “Ride with the Best” clinics in 2013 taught by Cliff Swanson, Thallia helped organize a WDAA Train the Trainer event in Ohio that same year. She has been an active spokesperson for Western Dressage, giving presentations to college clubs, 4-H advisor workshops, and equestrian organizations. She has also coordinated presentations about the sport at the Equine Affaire in Columbus, Ohio for the past three years. Since 2012 Thallia has been blessed to be the human partner of Finest Five, a talented Paint mare whom she leases from her instructor. Thallia and “Five” have shown at the first three WDAA World Shows, and have won three WDAA World Championships at Basic Level.

fiveMagic Has No Score
By Thallia Blight

You might not know from looking at her, but Finest Five turned 26 years old in April (2016). She still has a lovely head, a nice topline, wellmuscled hindquarters, and a bright sorrel overo coat that gleams like burnished copper in the summer sun. You also might not realize her true age when she is out in the paddock. From the moment she is turned loose, she thinks and acts like a three-year old: galloping around, bucking and charging the other horses, head and tail held high, with a few nice little rollbacks for good measure.

My introduction to classical dressage happened when I was a freshman in college. There was a recognized USDF show at the local fairgrounds and the first performance I witnessed was a Grand Prix musical pas de deux. The only word I could find to describe the imperceptible communication between horse and rider was Magic and I have been seeking that Magic ever since.

I am a passionate advocate for Western Dressage because “WD” has been the best thing to happen to me in a very long time. My attempts at competing in classical dressage were mediocre at best. A western saddle made all the difference; with a more secure seat, excellent instruction, and this delightful equine partner, I have become a competent horsewoman. Magical moments are more often within reach, and I have accomplished more than I ever thought possible. Thanks to Finest Five, I have two WDAA World Champion jackets in my closet. In a way I’ve come full circle, as one of them is for Musical Freestyle. I also have a pretty yellow third-place ribbon from the 2015 Suitability finals, and a nice white fourth-place one we earned competing against 35 others riders – most of them professionals – in a Basic Open class.

Like many other middle-aged horsewomen, I have had my share of heartaches. WD came along just as my mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease was intensifying into the final stage. My schooling sessions with Five were a refuge from the feelings of anxiety and defeat that I often experienced as my mother’s caregiver. Simple things like a lovely lead change, or a balanced turn on the haunches, were small successes to be savored.

People were surprised to see me competing at a local schooling show last summer, two days after my mother’s passing. I was amongst friends, enjoying the sunshine, focused on trying to capture a fleeting moment of Magic with Finest Five. We were so attuned to each other, this mare and I, that our transitions required only tiny cues of my seat and hands. Our leg yield to the right was a bit sticky, but when we reached the letter M, I exhaled and Five gave the smoothest lope transition we have even had in the showring. The judge rewarded us with an Eight, but I’d call it Magic.

At this stage in her life, Five is the equivalent of a 72-year-woman. She has been on and off the show circuit since she was a yearling, but she still has a zeal for competition. Hot temperatures and a lack of sleep may take their toll on her energy level but she won’t let it show and is as keen as ever to “show the youngsters how it’s done.”

Here, now, in 2016, her needs as an “elderly gal” are a concern for me. As her human partner I am the one who must say “Whoa, Five” and let her know she does not have to try so hard to please me. That being said, playtime is an important part of her life, and I cannot imagine keeping her shut up in her stall just to prevent a little more “wear-and-tear.”

So after putting on Five’s fly mask and giving her a generous spritz of fly spray, I walk her out to the paddock so she can enjoy some time outdoors. With her usual enthusiasm she pushes past me toward the gate. Once inside, I unclip the lead, and click my tongue a few times. Off she goes, showing me her best lengthened lope. Is it a seven? An eight? No, it’s Magic

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