Page 62 - 2309_full

This is a SEO version of 2309_full. Click here to view full version

« Previous Page Table of Contents Next Page »
By Jan Westmark-Allan
Katie Riley is not only a dressage rider
and trainer, but she is the senior trainer
at Cesar Parra’s Piaffe Performance
Farm. As Cesar’s “right hand gal,” Katie
has been given incredible opportunities
in the dressage world, from coaching
Cesar at international shows, to riding
and training with the best of the best.
While Katie spends her days teaching
and training, she also has a variety of
“super horses” to ride and show. “I am
riding a fve-year-old and an FEI level
horse, both of which I am really excited
about. I’m also riding a seven-year-old
that we have had since he was four,”
Katie said.  “I feel like a proud parent
with him growing up.  He will be ready
for Prix St. Georges very soon.”
Katie said she enjoys riding so many
horses because each horse is different
and she falls in love with their individual
personalities.  “I have been blessed with
riding some very special horses over
the years.  Probably one of my favorites
from the past was the stallion Adonis. I
won my frst CDI class ever on him and
he taught me so much. I am forever
grateful for the time I had with him.” 
How did you go from being a
Pony Club rider to being the head trainer
at Cesar Parra’s farm?
My mom blames my horse obsession on herself
because she would take me in the stroller up the street
to see horses when I was little. I started taking western
lessons when I was young and by the time I was in sixth
grade I was cleaning stalls in exchange for riding in Pony
Club and doing lower level eventing. At that time I thought
dressage was boring.  Kelly Weiss steered me toward
dressage when I went to him for a jumping lesson because
I was having issues controlling the horse between fences.
That was the beginning! I met Cesar years later when he
came to the United States and was living and training in
Maryland. I was so impressed by the job that he did with
the horses he had in training that I knew I would learn a
lot working for him.  That was 11 years ago and, wow, was
I right!
What is it like being Cesar’s “right hand gal?”
One of the things I enjoy most about my job is
that it’s different every day. In a given day I will teach
lessons, manage the offce, coach Cesar and ride several
horses. I also travel on horse shopping trips and have
successfully matched horses and riders that have gone
on to international and national success. It’s a busy job
but I’m so fortunate to get to do what I love with a group of
fantastic people and horses. I have traveled all over the
world riding and coaching; I have ridden and trained with
some of the very best in the dressage sport worldwide; I
have been taught not just how to ride but how to teach
Five Questions for Katie Riley
others to ride and I ride amazing horses every day.  I am a lucky
What do you like about being a trainer?
I think the training process is absolutely fascinating and it’s
one of my favorite parts of my job. I really love the feeling when
a horse all of a sudden “gets it” and learns a new skill. I am so
proud when a student conquers a skill that has been giving them
a problem.  And I love coaching and helping to develop riders,
whether it’s at home or shows.  Seeing progress is so much
fun! I recently traveled with our younger riders and they learn so
quickly and really absorb information.  Their improvement from
show to show was tremendous and it was a fun thing to be a
part of.
What are your plans for the future?
I look forward to competing more internationally in the
future. I would love to show in Europe and would be thrilled if I
could one day represent the United States in competition. In the
meantime, I am working hard and enjoying every day!
If you weren’t a dressage rider and trainer, what do
you think you would do?
If I weren’t riding, I think I would be either a teacher or
a psychologist. I really love the challenges and rewards of
teaching, and knowing that you have had a positive impact or
infuence on another person’s life is an amazing feeling.
Katie and Fireblade compete
Photo by Susan Stickle