Trainer Spotlight on Ashley Donadt
How long have you been training Dressage?
I've been riding dressage for 18 years (I was hooked at the young age of 10!) and I started my own training business two years ago.
What's your favorite memory from your time as a trainer?
Overall, it's the little steps forward each day and anytime I've been able to make a difference for the better in my horses or students. Being able to witness and help them reach their epiphany or "aha!" moment is one of the things I love most about teaching and training.
Tell us about your favorite horse that you've trained or owned.
This is a tough question, I love them all!! But, I'd have to say one of my favorite horses that I've owned was an Appaloosa/Quarter horse gelding named Irish. He was my first dressage horse, when I was 11, and he was fifteen coming straight out of the pasture. Naturally, he had his own ideas regarding trading the good life bossing around his herd 24/7 for the life of learning dressage with some little girl. It wasn't easy but he became my best friend and I learned so much from him. He was opinionated, with every trick in the book, and nicknamed the "bratty brown pony". He taught me patience, determination, unconditional love, how to sit a buck, and the difference between making a horse do something, and making them want to do something. He stayed in my family until he passed away at 28 yrs old.
Tell us about a favorite product that you use for riding or grooming.
For riding, I love my saddles made by Custom Saddlery! I've ridden in a wide variety of saddles, and I can honestly say Custom Saddlery provides a great fit and feel for every horse and rider. For grooming, along with a good old fashioned curry comb, my favorite product that I recently started using is the Epona Tiger's Tongue Horse Groomer. It's great for pulling out the little loose hairs and dust to promote a healthier, shinier coat, and I think it feels great to the horses as well.
Are you currently accepting new clients for training?
Yes. I'm currently based at Fairbanks Ranch Equestrian Center in Rancho Santa Fe and accepting new clients.
Give us a Dressage training pro tip that we can share with the CDS San Diego membership.
Use your half halts - A little tip for what to feel during a basic half halt, is to think of slowing the horse's shoulders down in order to allow and activate the hind legs to catch up with their shoulders. For a stride or two, slow the horse's shoulders down using your core and a little rein aid (being careful to not shorten the horses neck while doing so) and activate the hind end from your seat and leg, followed by a release or giving feeling. The horse should not feel trapped or tense in their body. The goal is to create a better balance to ride forward with, so that the horse feels like an airplane taking off, with the front end lifted. This gives more engagement from the hind end, and ultimately puts less stress and strain on both your bodies.
Thank you to Ashley for her responses! Contact Ashley Donadt at www.donadtdressage.com.
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