May 2017 - Dressage Life: An Aspirant’s Perspective
Written by Genay Vaughn
Friday, 28 April 2017 21:50

The World Cup Finals were a whirlwind of inspirations.

by Genay Vaughn

Being a spectator at this year’s World Cup Finals in Omaha, NB, was a lot of fun, with some of the best dressage and show jumping combinations in the world. Riding in the World Cup is definitely on my list of goals for the future, so being there this year to experience the competition and the atmosphere was amazing

I had quite a journey getting to the World Cup, even as a spectator. My journey began in Wellington, Florida, where I trained with Debbie McDonald and competed in the FEI Nations Cup. Then my horses and I flew back to Los Angeles, and I trailered them home to Sacramento, where I had one day at home before flying to Omaha.

While I was away, my horses “DW” (Donarweiss GGF) and “Whinny” (Winchezter) got some rest while I got even more inspired by the incredible World Cup riders and their horses.

One of the great things about watching the World Cup is the “up close” view you have of all the different styles of riders. Everyone has their own way to the top, and everyone’s style is unique. Edward Gal is slightly different from Carl Hester, for instance.

I loved seeing how quiet certain riders were – their aids were almost invisible, and they were so in tune with their horses. Watching Laura Graves’ changes, you don’t see her move her leg. Edward Gal’s piaffe was another inspiration: his horse is really reactive and he’s so quiet. I would love to have all my aids be that invisible one day. I’m working on it. Watching the world’s best is definitely inspiring!

It’s a great learning experience to watch riders in training, as I was able to do in Wellington, and then see them again at the World Cup.

In Wellington, I would be at the warm-up ring with Debbie while she coached Laura Graves and Kasey Perry-Glass. Because we all rode in Debbie’s program, I could relate to their style, even though their horses are different from each other, and different from mine.

Dressage Life: Genay Vaughn is a full-time college student and active dressage competitor who also trains young horses and teaches students at her family’s Starr Vaughn Equestrian in Elk Grove. Last year she took the first step toward her lifelong goal of representing the United States in international competition when she was selected for the first-ever United States Under-25 Grand Prix team to compete in Europe. Her current equine partner is the Hanoverian stallion Donarweiss GGF (De Niro – Hohenstein – Archipel), owned by Starr Vaughn Equestrian Inc., bred by Greengate Farm, and approved AHS, ISR/OldNA, CWHBA, AWS,and RPSI. Find Genay on Facebook at:

At the World Cup, as I watched them from my seat in the stands, I could imagine what they were thinking because I had seen them working on the movements and tests so often. And I have to say they were amazing! It was exciting to watch riders who had been so supportive of me in Florida representing the U.S. in the most prestigious competition of the year.

I was so happy for Kasey and Dublet and so proud of their accomplishments. Both of us being from the Sacramento area, we have known each other for a long time, and it’s been wonderful to see her make the U.S. team for Rio and now the World Cup.
I had tears in my eyes when Laura nailed her two-tempis on the circle and then her one-tempis on the diagonal. She and “Diddy” (Verdades) were flawless!

Watching Debbie McDonald, U.S. Equestrian Development Coach, and Robert Dover, U.S. Dressage Technical Advisor/Chef d’Equipe, and all the riders’ support staff cheer for them just made me more determined to pursue the training I need to be selected for a U.S. team one day.

It made me want to go home and train … but there was more to experience before I returned to DW and Whinny.

The World Cup venue was really great, it was easy to get around, and the people were friendly. We saw people from Wellington, from California – from everywhere, really.

Watching the jumping was so much fun. It was exciting, and so cool to see how many different styles of horses there were, from horses built like a greyhound to a big-boned stallion. There were quite different riding styles as well, some very round and others not at all. Some of the jumpers could be dressage horses, they were that collected. They definitely had more different body types than the dressage horses.

Of course, the vendors were amazing! There was everything you could imagine and more. I made DW his own double bridle at a booth where you could put together a bridle from all kinds of components. DW’s new bridle is a normal double, but with a cut-back around the ears because he has sensitive ears. He got a patent noseband for a little bit of shine, nothing crazy … but you could go all-out if you wanted.

Next year, the World Equestrian Games will be held in Tryon, North Carolina, so the U.S. will again have the best in the world right here at home. Well, across the country from us in California, but still in the U.S. Experiencing the best riders and horses in the world, as I saw in Omaha, is really something special.