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Although the basic concept remains the same, today she uses multiple loops to adjust her rein length as needed. She also uses a converter that connects both snaffle and curb, allowing her easy control over a double bridle with a single rein to handle.

“My horse Lily doesn’t need much curb, so I keep that rein loose and mostly ride on the snaffle,” she contin- ues. This adaptive equip- ment has all been approved by the United States Dressage Federation, a point she must document for each test she rides.

She says she never wor- ries about getting hung up on the rein if she comes off a horse. First, she tries really hard to stay in the saddle since she has had her share of inevitable falls. In addition, she says, the strap will simply slip from her arm under pressure. In fact, it has slipped off during a test, making her wish she had a way to make it even more secure than it already is!

A Special Partnership

Soliloquy (Lily) is a Hanoverian cross and registered Canadian Warmblood now 18 years old. The pretty chestnut has been Holly’s partner for three years. Lily was owned by Patty Keene, who, like Holly, worked with Tucson trainer and instructor Pat Baker-Hutter. Holly had the opportunity to ride the mare, then lease her and ultimately purchase her. Together, they have found tremendous competitive success.

In Arizona, they won the Prix St. Georges, Fourth Level and Fourth Level Freestyle State Championships in 2008. In addition, Lily was the 2008 Canadian Warmblood Association Fourth Level Horse of the Year and Holly recently earned her USDF silver medal. She was also ranked seventh in the nation for young riders at the most recent United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) Festival of Champions, was nominated for USEF Junior Rider of the Year in 2007 and was named Del Mar CDI Young Rider Champion in 2008.

The pair didn’t start out with such success, however.

“Before Lily, I had never ridden a horse that well trained – or that hot,” Holly says with a laugh. Their first tests went anything but smoothly, she continues, with more than a few ending when she excused herself from the ring. Her first competitive goal with her new horse was to simply complete the test!

Despite those early hur- dles, Holly says she was never discouraged with her new horse. “She taught me the aids and how to ride an upper level test,” she says, explaining Lily was schooled to Prix St. Georges. “My trainer reminded me that upper

level horses are simply controlled explosions. She said that’s how all the Olympic horses behave. So when Lily was very hot, I was just excited to have the chance to ride an upper level horse. It brought me one step closer. I was having so much fun with this awesome new horse,” she says. “And,” she adds, “I was determined to figure her out!”

To do so, Holly had to learn Lily’s quirks, both to understand them and to make quick decisions about the best ways to approach them. “Some days I warm her up for 15 minutes before a test and some days I need an hour,” she explains. “I always trot straight from the warm up to the show ring so she won’t have a chance to tense up. Lily is very dramat- ic sometimes!”

Another time, she recounts, an attempt to get Lily used to the flowers around the show ring backfired. “At home, we put a pot of flowers by R. After that, she always had to look at R at the shows!”

So what made their partnership gel? “She had to learn to trust me and I had to learn to trust her,” Holly explains. “That’s just the way she is – she takes a long time to trust, but once she does, she gives 200 percent!”

Lily was a successful jumper in California before

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