Brooke Wadsworth had a magical week at The Event at Rebecca Farm with her Friesian Sport Horse, Morpheus. The pair caught our attention after they scored an impressive 13.6 on their dressage test in the Senior Open Novice E division. No that isn’t a typo, they really got a 13.6! Of course, I had to catch up with Brooke to meet the handsome Morpheus and find out how the pair accomplished such an impressive performance.
Brooke raised Morpheus, a very handsome 17-hand, 7-year-old Friesian x Hanoverian cross (Ziare van Bluffview – Fleur de Lys), from a foal at her farm in Utah. She said her three young kids have helped her raise him and that he’s like taking the family golden retriever to a horse show. When I met up with them, Brooke and Morpheus were sharing oatmeal for breakfast before getting ready to run cross country!
Brooke rides as an adult amateur while running her business, Wadsworth Wellness, and raising her kids and horses alongside her husband. She trains regularly with Lindsay Wagner in Utah, and with Hawley Bennett-Awad in California when she gets the chance. She told me that Morpheus didn’t initially like dressage very much because he was big and had a hard time coordinating his body.
So she took things slowly, allowing Morpheus to develop his strength and coordination, saying “just like a person, if we’re not very good at something at first, it’s frustrating. It’s not our favorite thing. But with that consistency and building that foundation, building up his strength, his balance, his understanding of the movements, his understanding of the aids, my improvement in the saddle… it’s been fun to see him start to learn to really love it and understand it, and find his happy place. He used to not think it was the best and now we’ve really figured it out!”
Brooke was generous enough to share a picture of her dressage test with us. You can see for yourself that she and Morpheus got TWO 10s and SEVEN 9s… blink your eyes and read that again! They scored a 10 on the initial entry down the centerline and right-hand turn through the corner – talk about a first impression!
I asked Brooke how she prepared for her dressage test, and her response was phenomenal in its simplicity: “Before coming, I broke the test into small working sessions. I really believe horses work best like we do — break down the problem and get really good at something before moving to the next, instead of throwing it all on the table. So what’s interesting to me, and I’m proud of him for it, was that we practiced a lot coming up the centerline and just making that first right hand turn.” Brooke said the movements they got 9s on were also sections of the test that she practiced methodically. She emphasized that she didn’t drill him, but worked in short 20-minute sessions on his understanding of her aids and responses to them.
For Brooke, mental preparation is also a big part of her success. “I had a long drive all by myself to think about and run that test exactly how it was going ride. How the saddle was going to feel, how my seat was going to feel, how we were going to prepare before the movement. So I just think a lot of mental visualization helped and I believe horses see what we see in our heads and where our eyes look.”
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Brooke went on to say that she has been working hard on her body language and position. “Sometimes you hear riders or coaches say ‘even though he’s not easy to ride, make it look easy’. I just want it to actually be easy.”
Readers should also know that Brooke does not have an arena at her own farm. She spends countless hours trail riding, and her horses just get to be horses most of the time. She hauls to a nearby rodeo arena to practice dressage, which she means she shares the space with the cowboys. Side note: I’ve shared arenas with cowboys and they tend to be a wild bunch, even by eventing standards!
These experiences have exposed Morpheus to a lot of different kinds of things, so that when he arrived at the big atmosphere at Rebecca Farm, it didn’t faze him one bit. Brooke said she had a lot of confidence in him, even though he is young and hasn’t been to very many events yet.
To me, Brooke is a perfect example of what I love about our sport. The time she has spent with Morpheus, and the strong relationship they have, is evident when you see her with him. He is calm, peaceful, and enjoys his job. They adore and trust each other, and their performance at Rebecca Farm showed off her horsemanship, dedication, and preparation.
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Brooke said, “I’m still fairly shocked by the score. But it’s nice when you do put in a test that you feel like ‘wow, I really don’t know we could have done any better’.” She and Morpheus jumped a double-clear on cross country, and we should add that this was the pair’s first Novice! They competed Beginner Novice together at Golden Spike in Utah earlier this year. Their show jumping round added 8 penalties for dropped rails, which didn’t even come close to knocking them out of the top spot. Congratulations, Brooke and Morpheus for winning your novice division on a final score of 21.6!
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And yes, there is video! We’d like to extend a very grateful thank you to Ride On Video, who provide multiple completely free live streams from events on the western side of the country each year and can always be counted on at shows to film every rider for those memories. They’ve graciously provided us early access to Brooke’s dressage video, so enjoy! If the embedded video below does not work for your browser, click here.
If you competed at Rebecca Farm, you can order your video here — I know they’ll appreciate your support!