William Woods University junior Addie Miller rode university-owned horse Oedse K to two national championship titles and two world championship titles recently.
They competed at the International Friesian Show Horse Association (IFSHA) World and Grand National Championship Horse Show Oct. 29-Nov. 2 at the National Equestrian Center in Lake St. Louis, Mo.
Miller, who is from Watertown, Minn., became interested in working with “Desi,” as the 12-year-old Friesian is called, when she first saw him during a prospective student weekend at William Woods, prior to her freshman year.
“It’s funny, because I remember thinking, ‘Oh man, I’d be so lucky to ride that horse,’” said Miller.
Upon becoming a student, Miller rode “Desi” a few times. But this summer she got the opportunity she’d been dreaming of—the chance to work with the horse consistently when she leased him.
Together they competed and won at shows all over Wisconsin and the Great Lakes Region, including Tanbark Cavalcade of Roses and Summerfest. The pair also qualified for the Grand National show at the Baroque Horse Festival in Elkhorn, Wis.
When the fall semester began, Miller was able to continue working with Desi in preparation for the show.
“I did a lot of mouthing him and making him roll over at the poll since he’s always resisted the curb bit,” said Miller, speaking of training techniques that encourage the horse to flex its neck and drop its nose. “I slowed him down a lot at home because I knew he’d step up at the show, and he did.”
The pair competed in four classes, and took home two National Championships and two World Championships in Country English Pleasure Amateur and Country English Pleasure Open. They were the unanimous choice from the three-judge panel in the Country English Pleasure Open World Championship class.
“I cried every time I won,” said Miller. “I’ve worked really, really hard. Before that, I had never shown at a national show, or any really big show. I worked my whole life to get to this point and finally did—and on a donated horse, to top it off. I was really glad that all my friends were there.”
According to Miller the show was completely different from Saddlebred shows that she is used to; they played pop music rather than organ music and there were a lot of dressage and costume classes.
“I want to say it wasn’t as much pressure, but at the same time it was. It just wasn’t as amped up as a Saddlebred show,” said Miller.
Miller feels that she learned a lot during her time working with Desi, especially about the training differences between different types of horses.
“I imagined that all saddle seat would pretty much be the same, but it’s so different between the breeds. It’s really different when you’re training Friesians. You do a lot more calming and relaxing and getting the roll-over, whereas with Saddlebreds you’re pushing them and getting them amped up most of the time,” said Miller.
Miller is grateful for the chance to work and compete with Desi, and she feels that having a “project horse” (working with a horse one-on-one for an extended period of time) is a great experience for any equestrian science major.
“It’s good because you learn how to fix problems. You get more time to fix them instead of just the half-hour in class,” said Miller.
However, according to Miller, it’s hard when it’s over.
“I’m having a really hard time right now letting him go, because he was mine for so long,” said Miller. “You really get attached. However, if you’re going to be a trainer that’s something you really need to learn. So it is good.”