“Team Wahlen”

My name is Stephanie Bedford. I am a Junior Rider from USDF Region 3. I live in Acworth, GA, but board and train my horse in Alpharetta. I own and ride a 7-year old Hanoverian gelding named Wӓhlen. I ended the 2010 season ranked 3rd on the USEF national ranking list and 1st in Region 3 as a Junior. I have qualified to compete in the 2010 NAJYRC Championships in Lexington, KY, in July, and in the 2010 Festival of Champions National Junior Championship in Gladstone, NJ, in August.

Photograph 2009 (c) Lifetouch Photography

I have been riding since I was seven years old, starting out both western and bareback in Southern California. Early in 2004 I moved to Acworth and began leasing a horse and competing in 3-Day Eventing. In 2005, my mother purchased my first horse, an off-the-track thoroughbred mare named Do We Dance (Tango). Tango and I bravely competed through USEA Rated Novice before deciding to retire Tango for medical reasons. We never were never eliminated or had a fall while competing. Tango was retired and donated to a therapeutic riding program in Tennessee, where she continues to bring joy to children. She was my first horse and my angel!

The days that 3-Day Eventing was my dream

After donating Tango, my mother and I stumbled upon Wӓhlen in 2006. He was three years old and only 90 days under saddle. Wӓhlen (Val) is my first dressage mount and at age 13, I took on the challenge of “green rider/green horse”; something I rarely recommend! Wӓhlen is a US-born Hanoverian by Wonderful (by Weltmeyer) out of Kyrie, born in 2003. I have been Val’s trainer since the very beginning.

In 2007, I rode Val, then four, in the Training Level Jr/Yr Region 3 Championships earning Reserve Champion with a score of 69%. Early in 2008, we earned the Sam Hart Memorial Award at the Greater Atlanta Dressage Southern, with the high score 71.3% for all levels of Jr/Yr. Later that year, we qualified and rode in the First Level Jr/Yr Region 3 Championship.

In Spring 2009, we qualified for Second Level Jr/Yr Region 3 Championships with scores up to 68.4%. We spent the summer going back to basics with Jason Canton, my current trainer. We worked our way back up the training scale once more to find relaxation and obedience so that the upper-level work could come through. We decided not to go to the Region 3 Championships because they were held in Wellington, FL (a bit of a drive for one six-minute ride!). However, late in 2009 we re-entered competition at Third Level where I earned my USDF Bronze Medal at 17. Wӓhlen was 6-years old.

Bronze Medal Ride - Oct. 2009

Jason and I felt we were ready and could be competitive in the NAJYRC FEI Junior class in early 2010. I competed Val in March, 2010, in Aiken, SC, and won both my Junior classes. After my first competition, I was ranked 6th in the United States and 1st in Region 3. We competed in April, 2010 and I won one of my classes and came in second with a margin of .2 on my second class. After that competition, I was ranked 3rd in the US and held on to 1st in Region 3. My final qualifying competition was in May at Poplar Place Farm. I rode the Junior Team test, Junior Individual test, and the Junior Musical Freestyle tests, winning a clean sweep of all the classes. I choreographed and did the music on my own for the Freestyle, earning a 70% from Anne Gribbons. At that show, I also earned FEI Freestyle Reserve Champion and FEI High Point for the show. I am currently ranked 3rd in the US and 1st in Region 3.

The 2010 Greater Atlanta Dressage Southern - FEI Jr Individual

Val and I have been fortunate enough to ride and grow under the guidance of Jason Canton for the last year and a half. He is committed to classical training of both the horse and the rider and is fantastic with young horses. The scores we are earning reflect that attention to detail. I can’t begin to express my depth of gratitude and respect for him. Without his wisdom and patience the intense journey of training a young rider and young horse would have been impossible. He is more than just my trainer, he is my mentor and inspiration; Jason is who I want to be when I grow up!

Outside of horses I have been accepted by University of Georgia and will be attending in the fall. I will have the HOPE scholarship which is going to greatly pay for my college but I plan to keep riding all the way through, if financially possible. Equestrian is not just my hobby, it is my lifestyle. My plans for the future are lofty. Next year, I plan on competing for the Young Rider Championship. If I win that championship, I want to be able to compete internationally with other Young Riders in the world. After Young Riders, I will compete for the Young Adult Brentina Cup and someday, I will compete in the Olympics. I have worked tirelessly to make this journey and will continue until my goals are met. I train 6 days a week and ride other horses to pay for riding expenses such as farrier and supplements. I am determined to be an Olympic rider someday.

Besides my current trainer I have been fortunate enough to ride with a lot of wonderful equestrians, without whom training my young horse to a now developing horse would have been impossible. I have also cliniced with Lisa Wilcox, Karen Lipp, Scott Hassler, and most recently George Williams at the 2009 NAJYRC Clinic. I think it is important to have a multitude of different ideas being brought to discussion because horses are individuals.

I love horses, I love dressage, and I love meeting fellow riders of ALL disciplines! If you ever have any questions or just want to talk about your awesome horse or mine or anything please comment me! :D

One response to ““Team Wahlen”

  1. Elizabeth

    Stephanie, I am so glad I found this blog! Four years ago, you and your mom purchased “Do We Dance” from me. I often wondered what came of that … I am so thrilled to see that you have continued to ride. What a wonderful idea to create this chronicle. I know you’re super busy showing, but please e-mail me when you get a chance – I’d really love to hear about “Tango,” and I’ve enjoyed reading about your gelding (so adorable!) on here.

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