Minnesota Pair Overcomes Great Odds to Compete at the US Dressage Finals

Alexandra Lynch
Reporting from Featured
Saturday, November 8, 2014 :: Posted 10:20:29 AM CST


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Mollie Reynolds and Ribaldi

Lexington, KY – November 8, 2014 – After her 16-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Ribaldi was faced with multiple health and anxiety obstacles, odds were against Orono, Minnesota, native Mollie Reynolds ever showing at a big time dressage competition. This talented pair, now competing at this weekend’s US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan, proves that with hard work and dedication, all things are possible. 

Reynolds purchased Ribaldi after Missy Ransehousen, who has served as the U.S. Paralympic coach, imported the gelding as a mount for one of her students. With his spooky and unpredictable behavior, Ribaldi was too much for Ransehousen’s student to handle. After scoping out Ribaldi, Reynolds fell in love, but knew he wouldn’t be an easy ride.

“There was kind of a magical combination of things that needed to happen to compete at a big competition like [US Dressage Finals],” Reynolds said. “I needed to be a better rider. He needed somebody that could be his leader, and it became fairly evident that that wasn’t the case right away.”

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Mollie Reynolds and Ribaldi

After spending long hours with trainers in her area, Reynolds felt as though things with Ribaldi weren’t progressing as they should.

“For a while, things were not evolving in a good way, and I felt like we needed to change the conversation,” Reynolds said.

She did research to explore her options and came across a Buck Brannaman clinic. She felt that if she started thinking from the horse’s perspective and worked on her horsemanship, things would progress.

“We really just had to break things down and put them back together,” Reynolds said. “He came out of all of that a completely different horse.”

She continued, “It was a lot of letting go. It was a lot about being his leader. I think Sarah Travis, my current trainer, also teaches from the horse’s perspective. It is changing the conversation from ‘I want you to do this’ to ‘I want to do this’. We also did a lot of work for a long time on a long rein. It was really to develop the trust.”

Working though Ribaldi’s anxiety was only one hurdle of many the pair had to overcome. The horse has faced a few physical setbacks that put a pause to their training.

“He had a cyst on his iris which I think contributed to the spooky behavior,” Reynolds said. “The ophthalmologist said that it cast a shadow in his eye. Three years ago, he had a right hind injury that caused him some trouble, and last year, he also had a soft tissue injury in his left hind, leaving him on stall rest for seven months.”

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Mollie Reynolds and Ribaldi

Reynolds has been with her horse every step of the way and had to learn to balance a full-time career as an advertising specialist at Target with full-time training.

“I train about four times a week,” Reynolds said. “He lives close to me, which is nice, but it’s a lot to balance. Riding makes me happy. Sometimes I have a fairly stressful job, but I never leave the barn stressed. I just leave the barn happy.”

The odds weren’t in their favor, but the talented pair was dedicated to competing at the US Dressage Finals and didn’t let anything stop them. They qualified from Region 4 for the Training Level Adult Amateur championship. After competing in open warm-up classes with scores up to 67.800 percent, they will go down centerline for their championship ride Sunday morning.

“Just being here is incredible,” Reynolds said. “I never thought I would get here to this point, it feels great.”

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