A Western Dressage Journey To Remember for Charlie & Rosie

I stumbled across Western Dressage in a very modern way: Facebook. This is not atypical as I am 17 years old. I began seeing articles about this new discipline and was intrigued by the whole idea, and saw it as a great opportunity for my 14 year old chestnut AQHA mare: Clever Move (Dantrick (TB) X Rowdy’s Pretty Lass), aka “Rosie”.  I’ve owned this wonderful mare since 2008. We began classical dressage training in 2009 and picked up Western Dressage in 2013.

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Chestnut AQHA mare: Clever Move (Dantrick (TB) X Rowdy’s Pretty Lass), aka “Rosie”

Our journey began in 2007 when I first rode Rosie, a horse that wouldn’t stop, soften, bend or really do anything. I remember crying all the way home after I rode Rosie the first time. My mom encouraged me to keep working with her as there were no other horses for me to ride. I kept working with Rosie and quickly bonded with her. I became even more attached and actually empathized with Rosie after I became aware of her past. Rosie had been sold at a series of auctions starting in Tennessee where she was born and making her way to Illinois where she was picked up by a horse broker from Texas in the fall of 2006. The instructor I rode with at the time needed a horse for her lesson program and traded a pony and $200 for Rosie.  By the winter of 2007, my instructor had determined that she couldn’t keep Rosie as a lesson horse and offered to sell her to my mom. I will never forget that Christmas when I learned Rosie could stay with me forever!

Jumping to 2013, I became aware that the Western Dressage Association of America had their first World Show. I decided that I wanted to make it to their 2014 World Show as I saw it as an opportunity to take our showing performance and abilities to the next level. With this decision came many months of planning and preparation.  My mom and I first had to make a financial plan. Now my part in this meant I had to get a summer job. Together, and with some assistance from my grandparents, this became a reality; and, lets just say I got my Christmas and birthday presents early! Finances aside, I had to commit to myself and to Rosie to make sure we were able to work consistently, including lessons with Susan Hancock of La Vernia, TX as much as possible. I have ridden with Susan for many years; and, I can honestly say Rosie and I would not be where we are today without her.  When we first came to Susan, I was looking for a discipline that would help me and Rosie grow together and that we could both enjoy.  Susan always knows how to break things down for me when I’m struggling and she knows how to challenge me to reach my goals. I also knew I needed to show Western Dressage at every opportunity possible in order to get feedback from different judges. Fortunately, there were several dressage schooling shows in the area where I could do this. Additionally, the Alamo Dressage Association hosted a Western Dressage clinic where I was able to ride for Pam Fowler Grace. While everyone in attendance benefited from Pam Grace’s working knowledge of Western Dressage, her comment that she thought Rosie and I were ready for the World Show was a confidence booster for me.

With the way paved for me to make it to the WDAA World Show, things took a turn for the worst six days before we were scheduled to leave for Tulsa when Rosie was kicked above the stifle. While Rosie was examined by Dr. Robert Ball at Bracken Equine Clinic, I was on pins and needles. They assured me that nothing was wrong with the joint, and up until two days before our departure when I knew with certainty that Rosie could walk and trot soundly. So, on Wednesday night, with the truck packed tight and the trailer loaded, my mom, grandparents, Rosie and I began our journey to Tulsa knowing that I could compete in at least 2 classes.

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Charlie & Rosie clean up at the WDAA World Show

After 10 hours in the trailer, Rosie and I finally arrived at the WDAA World Show. I was both relieved we had actually made it to the WDAA World Show and I was beaming with anticipation as I encountered more diversity in people and horses than ever before. I was stalled next to several riders from Canada and I met riders from across the country. I saw many different breeds of horses – everything from ponies to drafts, including several gaited breeds and even a companion mini donkey. My first two days at the World Show were mostly spent letting Rosie rest with frequent hand-walking tours around the barn.  When I schooled Rosie Friday afternoon, I was thrilled to learn she could canter soundly. This meant we would be able to show in all of our classes!

Being at the Built Ford Tough Expo Center was absolutely amazing. I rode in several of the arenas, but my favorite was the Ford arena as it was very spacious and it had a jumbo-tron hanging from the ceiling. Rosie and I placed top five in all of our classes including a World Championship with a score of 70%, as well as a Reserve World Championship with a score of 68% from ‘S’ judges. I received a trophy jacket for my World Championship win; and, I earned a trophy buckle for being the Level 1 Junior High Point winner.

This was definitely an experience I will cherish forever, and without the support of my family and friends, it would not have been possible.  Nor would any of this have been possible without Rosie and her superior work ethic. Rosie and I have been defeating the odds for a while and still do today; she was never supposed to amount to anything, but she has. Rosie has been the greatest horse I could ask for. She has carried me through the ups and downs of life, and has always brought her ‘A’ game, being my rock star.

The WDAA motto is “It’s all about the journey.” Thank you, Rosie, for taking me on a journey that I will never forget!

Written by Charlie Sokolov – November 17, 2014

2 Responses to “A Western Dressage Journey To Remember for Charlie & Rosie

  • To Charlie and Rosie, a beautiful story. Tears are streaming down my face for you and the wonderful home and love you have given this mare. They should all be so lucky. And to think that Western Dressage has done all that for you, and you for yourself, at such a young age is priceless. Way to go girl, give Rosie a heartfelt hug from Inola, Okla. and all she has done and means to you. I too am thankful for a discipline that has opened so many sensible doors for horses and riders.

    • Charlie Sokolov
      3 years ago

      Thank you Paula Walker 🙂 I love your comment. You can keep up with Rosie and I
      on Facebook. Im under ‘Charlie Sokolov’ & on instagram as clevermove124
      Rosie has her one Facebook as ‘Clever Move “Rosie” ‘