Austen grew up eventing on lesson ponies in central Indiana, where she gained a love for attitude-laden chestnuts of all makes and models. Her family couldn't afford to own horses, so she worked off riding in exchange for grooming, barn work, and general peskiness. Before heading to college, she competed up to novice level in unrecognized horse trials and had jumped a few training fences.
With Ernie. Age 7(ish).
At Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College, Austen competed on the hunt seat team and used her questionable equitation and general stickability to ride a lot of unsuitable horses in rather iffy ways. In the show ring, she was far more likely to "get it done" than win a ribbon.
After college, Austen finally had the ability to pursue her dream of competing a horse of her own. She purchased Logic Lane (Guinness), an 11 year old thoroughbred, in 2009. Thus began her lifelong love of trying to color coordinate outfits with a vibrant redhead.
Though she had dreamt of getting back into eventing with Guinness, arthritis from his racing years ended his jumping career just a couple of years into their partnership. This fact was particularly hard on Guinness, who has an intense love of jumping.
While initially worried his advanced fetlock DJD would end his riding career, Austen was bolstered by Guinness' continuing love of work and soundness on the flat. Austen had always loved dressage. She and Guinness took a lesson from Todd Bryan that started them on the path to real dressage.
After a move back to Indiana, Guinness and Austen started working seriously in a dressage program. They moved up the levels from Training to Third, gaining most of Austen's scores towards a Bronze medal.
Today, Austen hopes to hold her old buddy's brain and body together enough to finish up the scores for her Bronze medal. Then, she might force this truly ancient animal to keep chugging, hoping to go back and finish off her USDF Rider Performance Awards at 1st and 2nd level. After all that, she promises him much less dressage and much more cross country galloping, a preference he has clearly indicated.
Austen plans to continue to move up the levels of dressage, with an end goal of getting her Gold Medal and trying to be competitive. She hopes to stick with thoroughbred types, showing off their athleticism and love of working in the dressage ring.