The Thursday morning dressage test rides at an FEI event usually lacks a bit for spectators — even more so if it’s 32 degrees and in the secondary arena away from the bleachers and the cameras. But for North Carolina-based Whitney Weston and Rock On Rose, performing the Breezeway Sporthorse and Diagnostic Clinic and Friendship Mobile Veterinary Imaging and Sports Medicine CCI2*-S test ride at the Setters’ Run Farm Carolina International, was the time to shine.
It’s been over six years since “Lusty” has gone down the centerline at an event, and in her prime, she was never known for her suppleness and relaxation.
“She has quite the history of tension and shutting down in the dressage ring,” explained Whitney. “I assume she was horrified to go in circles that she thought were beneath her.”
Bred by Bruce Davidson Sr. and piloted by top riders including, Bruce, Buck Davidson, Tim Bourke, James Alliston, Boyd Martin, and finally Whitney Weston, she burned around some of the biggest courses in the country, including the Rolex Kentucky CCI5* in 2010, where she finished 11th with Boyd in the irons.
At 17 years old, Lusty had educated Whitney at the upper levels, but had swung and missed at a few attempts to get to Kentucky. Not really obtaining the ability to keep the lid on for the lower levels, Whitney decided to see if she could breed the next generation of cross country machines.
After three beautiful babies and aging out of her breeding career, Lusty had no desire to become a pasture puff. Whitney had paused her own upper level dreams to build a riding school, so she decided to find out if her redheaded dressage dragon had mellowed enough to go back down the centerline.
In 2022, the pair made their USDF debut earning the scores necessary at First and Second levels towards their Bronze Medal. But Thursday was the first day that they’d busted out the shadbelly, testing Lusty’s ability to hold it together in the shadow of a cross country course.
“She was so good,” mused a smiling Whitney. “There were a few moments that I could tell she thought cross country would be coming in a couple of days, but I just kept telling her that all we had to do were some circles. She’s much more open to allowing me to ride her… but I still know that if I press for certain things, she could have a meltdown.”
Much to Lusty’s dismay, she will be headed back home instead of sticking around for the cross country, but for a moment Thursday morning, she got to relive her eventing dreams.