Winston-Salem, North Carolina
Owner of Three Wishes Freestyles
How long have you been part of the horse world?
I grew up riding! As soon as I could climb in a saddle, I was there. I took lessons wherever I could, but as I spent a lot of time in my youth on the international dance stage, I didn’t get very serious about riding until college when I rode on High Point University’s IHSA team. However, it’s really my mom, I have to thank for introducing me to dressage and freestyles. I’ve been her groom and support ever since she started riding dressage, and at shows, freestyles were always my favorite class to watch. I recall asking my 16-year-old self, “How hard could creating this thing called freestyles be? I love music. I love dressage. I think I’ve got the technology and background to do this.” So, I started playing around with different dressage videos and music in my software suite at home. Six months later, I had my first client.
What part do you play in the horse world?
Cheerleader and story-weaver. Freestyles are living stories, so I partner with the horse and rider to bring that to life. Producing a freestyle is creating an emotional connection between the pair competing and the judges and audience. So how do we do tell a story unique to each combination? What does the choreography highlight? What music will make this pair larger than life, or more engaging, or get the crowd on their feet? How does the music ebb and flow throughout the freestyle? Essentially, we’re creating a living story for people to spend five to six minutes experiencing.
Once the freestyle “goes live,” then I shift and become a cheerleader. I’ll go with clients to sound checks, be there for as many shows as possible, debrief after shows to see if anything needs to be tweaked. If they need me, I’m there. The dressage world is full of amazing and inspiring people, and my hope is to contribute to that atmosphere by putting good and meaningful and inspiring freestyles out there.
What’s your favorite thing about what you do?
Oh, that’s hard. If I had to pick, I really enjoy the process of finding music for each of my clients. Everyone is so unique, and watching a client click with their music for the first time? There’s not a better feeling. I’ll have clients that will cry; a lot will get goosebumps; some will send all-caps text messages. That moment of finding the perfect score has to be one of the best feelings.
And then on the other end, watching a freestyle compete is nerve-wracking yet elating. There’s an emotional connection for every freestyle I work on, so when they compete, you’ll usually find me crying and yelling on the sidelines.
What’s your biggest achievement?
Outside of the horse world, I was a competitive Irish dancer for 15+ years with top places at regionals and nationals. All the hard work over those years gave me so much joy—as well as a fairly strong foundation for understanding choreography and music.
Inside the horse world, I get to work with every type of rider from all over the globe: team riders, amateurs and young riders alike. That span of clientele is pretty special to me. Owning a business that is accessible to all levels, with many long-standing clients, tells me I’m doing something right, and it’s a very humbling achievement. Freestyles are for all.
Bonus: I get to create my mom’s freestyles. That’s very special to me.
What are your goals for the future?
First rule of fight club is that you don’t talk about fight club. Of course I’ve got goals and wishes for my freestyles, and I’ll certainly work hard toward those! In the interim, my goals are simple: Continue to create unforgettable freestyles and be a positive voice in the dressage community. And to learn; I’m always learning.
What’s the best thing about your life?
The fact that I get to live it! Growing through rough patches, being grateful for the small things. I’m so blessed with those that are in my life and the adventures I get to have. Life itself is the best thing. And coffee.
Best kept secret about what you do?
My work process is very different than other freestyle creators. Technology has played a big role in that. Historically, we didn’t have the technical capabilities we do now; you had to find music that already matched your horse’s canter, walk or trot. You had to master the music in a recording studio. Now, I can take any score and morph it to what I want it to be. I can also pack an entire recording studio into my laptop. I can manipulate beats, edit and publish a freestyle all on one computer.
Another secret — I listen to music constantly. I’ll put on new albums while I work, do chores, etc. And if some new piece of music kicks me out of my left brain (our more logical side) and into my right (more creative side), then it’s a fairly good indicator that it’s got freestyle potential.
Photos courtesy of Collier Wimmer