Claire Richardson’s determination in training her horse has led her to victories in dressage


Claire Richardson

Claire and her horse, Frank, showing off some of their dressage moves.

Most girls have a phase from toddlerhood to young childhood in which they are completely enthralled with horses, ponies, and everything equine. However, senior Claire Richardson took her childhood dreams and made them a mature and competitive reality. Ever since the age of two, Claire has aspired to be an eloquent rider atop a regal horse, and she began to see the tangible effects of her goals when she turned six years old.

Claire bounced between disciplines throughout the early days of her riding career but finally settled on the distinguished area of dressage, which involves exhibiting the grace and unity the rider and horse have when they move together as one. As it’s a very technical sport, dressage can be challenging, but Claire refuses to back down.

“Ever since I was two, I really liked horses,” Claire said. “When I was finally old enough, I started taking [riding] lessons. I had done other [disciplines] before called saddle seat, [but] my horse isn’t built for it. I wanted to try something new, so that’s what I did.”

Claire eventually bought her own horse, who was better equipped for dressage than saddle seat. Although many riders Claire’s age choose to purchase a horse that has already been professionally trained to a high level, Claire decided to bring adventure into her life when choosing her horse, Frank. 

Along with the help of her trainer, Claire chose to train Frank herself and grow together as a team with him. However, training a horse is no easy task. It can be difficult to teach a person, much less a 1000-pound animal. Presumably, it was not all sunshine and rainbows for Claire and Frank; they had their fair share of rough spots.

“There’s been plenty of times where [I’ve wanted to give up],” Claire said. “There was a period over three months where it felt like nothing was happening, and I wanted to quit so badly. But we made it through, and it was a big learning moment.”

There was a period over three months where it felt like nothing was happening, and I wanted to quit so badly. But we made it through, and it was a big learning moment.”

— Claire Richardson

The road was rocky, winding, and certainly not paved, but Claire stayed on track, leading her to the destination she was seeking. Alongside many difficult times, Claire has also found lots of success.

Competition is a huge aspect of the equestrian world, bringing horse lovers from many different areas together. It is also the prime opportunity for riders like Claire to showcase all of their hard work. Claire is no stranger to such shows, and she has claimed victories in her times competing.

“Two years ago, I went to youth nationals with the horse that I owned and mostly trained by myself,” Claire said. “We got in the top ten in one of our classes, which was really cool, and one of the judges actually placed us first in the card.”

While competing and riding a horse that has already been trained is the easiest way to victory right away, Claire has found that training her own horse has helped her gain a better understanding of Frank and will be beneficial in the long run.

Such difficulties and challenges also bring resilience and determination that can be applicable to other areas of Claire’s life. Even when she moves on to other places in life, the lessons she has learned through her hard work with horses will benefit her throughout her entire life.

“[Training your own horses] definitely teaches you a lot,” Claire said. “You’re bound to make mistakes, but you learn through them. [Frank] tries to give off this tough-guy persona, but he’s actually very sweet.”

Claire hasn’t been alone in her journey though. With the support of her family, lifelong trainer, and many close friends she has made, Claire has been able to achieve her goals.

While there are some negative stereotypes about the equestrian community, Claire finds it to be very warm and welcoming, rather than stringent and peculiar. It is free of judgment and is always willing to lend a helping hand.

“They’re very supportive and very loving,” Claire said. “We’re almost like a family.”