Dressage Demonstration

American Quarter Horse Shiney Nu Knickers starred at an educational dressage seminar.

The American Quarter Horse Journal

American Quarter Horse dressage star Shiney Nu Knickers poses with owner-rider Sheila Hatch and dressage legend Hilda Gurney. (Credit: California Dressage Society-Gavilan Chapter)

I am an adult amateur dressage rider based in Northern California, and I grew up riding hunters and three-day eventers. After a bad accident in my early 20s ended my jumping career, I switched my focus over to dressage. Three years ago, I was looking for a new horse to bring along as a project. I tried a number of horses and kept sending videos to my longtime trainer, Tracey Lert (United States Equestrian Federation “S” Judge and United States Dressage Federation gold medalist). When I sent her the video of an American Quarter Horse named Shiney Nu Knickers, she said simply, “buy the Quarter Horse.” And Tracey was right; he’s turned out to be a great horse for me.

Shiney Nu Knickers is a 7-year-old gelding bred by reined cow horse legend Ted Robinson, and is by the Shining Spark son Shiners Lena Doc and out of Kiss A Lil Cash by Nu Cash. His dam’s full sister produced AQHA Versatility Ranch Horse amateur world champion ARC Alil Cash Please. “Knickers” and I earned 16.5 AQHA points in dressage competition this year, earned his performance Register of Merit and were first in the USDF All-Breed awards for AQHA adult amateurs at First Level.  

When the Gavilan Chapter of the California Dressage Society asked me and Knickers to be a demonstration pair in the educational event “Riding the New 2015 Dressage Tests with Hilda Gurney” on December 14, I jumped at the opportunity.  

It’s not often that you get the chance to work with someone like Hilda Gurney. 

Ms. Gurney is, quite simply, a legend in U.S. Dressage: an FEI “I” Judge, a highly-respected instructor, an Olympic Team bronze medalist and individual gold and silver medalist, as well as having and three team gold medals at the Pan Am Games and six USET National Grand Prix Championships on Hall of Fame member Keen.

My task at the event was to demonstrate segments of First Level Test 1 as Ms. Gurney explained the new movements to the audience, and then ride a complete test for critique. 

I will admit it was intimidating at first. My horse and I were both a bit nervous as we entered the arena and saw the large audience, including a number of trainers and judges.  

But Ms. Gurney was very positive about my participation in the event and the AQHA sponsorship, saying, “I’m really glad to see more Quarter Horses in dressage because their temperament is so fabulous. They are the most popular horses in America for good reason.”

Even though he was a bit tense at the beginning of the session, Knickers was very obedient and received quite an enthusiastic response from the audience, and compliments on his submission during the test.  

Though the clinic was designed to demonstrate the new test movements to the audience, Ms. Gurney also provided very insightful feedback on the training and areas to work on to improve our scores, such as helping adjust my seat position to help increase the rider score part of the collectives. 

It was an amazing experience, and I am so appreciative that AQHA sponsored my test. 

The personal highlight for me was her closing comments, “Nicely schooled horse that wants to please the rider … he’s a lovely horse.” 

Learn more about earning AQHA points in dressage at www.aqha.com/dressage