The Much Longer Bio of How a Horse Crazy Girl Made Her Own Way To FEI Level Dressage
Elizabeth "Beth" Robison first went for a pony ride when she was 3 years old over 35 years ago and was hooked with an enthusiastic "let me go!" and a grin. Not being born into a horse family didn't deter her; every horse book, magazine, toy, imaginary situation was a chance to practice "training" and learning more about these wonderful animals. The family dog was trained extensively to lunge, jump, and everything else you'd want to do on a pony when you're 8 years old. At the age of 13, Beth's parents decided to relent and gave her a modest budget of $1000 to find a horse and a place to board it in Houston. A horse was found at a horse trader for $900 and a saddle was purchased for another $350. Four years later, hundreds of endurance trail miles and cross country jumps later, Beth and "Kathleen," an appendix Quarter horse mare, were schooling preliminary level eventing and showing at training level at schooling shows when Kathleen was sold as Beth went to college in 1997. All this was accomplished on her own teenage work budget, hard work, training with trainers Elaine Sullins and Nancy Lindsey, and without the active support of her parents participation. There were many wonderful boarders that helped trailer the pair to Pine Hill in Bellville, TX for many years and many volunteer bucks were spent to support this path. During these years, Beth was exposed to many dressage trainers at this time such as Lurena Bell, Debbie Bowman, and Pam Fowler Grace but as her teenage focus was on eventing she simply thought of it as a lovely outing to hear more about this "dressage" stuff at the time.
As college loomed closer, Beth knew that she enjoyed training horses and the value in taking a horse from "nothing" to "something" and wanted to pursue this pathway either via the working student route or an equestrian college. Her parents, like many others, insisted on a regular college instead. Not really having it in her heart to go, Beth went and managed to muddle through five years of college before calling it quits to re-evaluate where she was going career wise. During this time, she trained and tuned up many horses and began working periodically with professional dressage trainers including Susan Shiba to gain experience with warmbloods and other more "dressage" type of breeds. Additionally, she worked with many reining horses (including several purchased from Carol Rose's ranch) and purchased a horse awaiting slaughter to train in eventing. This horse was 17.1 hand, 6 year old thoroughbred previous hunter, "Athos" in 2001. Beth was hoping he'd be the break she was looking for to get back into eventing but after several years of struggling financially and through her own injuries as well as Athos', she put riding on the back burner to focus on paying off debt and moving forward. Beth also began training and trialing in various dog sports during this time and growing a small business. She learned how to professionally train dogs and clients as well as present and compete dogs in many events including conformations, agility, and obedience during this time. These experiences would later allow her to make the transition to serious horse competitors much easier.
Although she was working four jobs at this time, Beth still found time to ride Athos in the dark most nights bareback and with a halter. She met her now husband in 2004 and he encouraged the horse training at this point and they purchased a nice 2 year old AQHA gelding that was well broke under saddle but a terror on the ground. "Mason" became the first in a long line of horses that Beth would retrain from "problem horse" to "amateur friendly" horse and soon found her niche. As much as her budget allowed, she retrained and sold several nice horses throughout the years once they were ready to show. Beth began working for Texas A&M University in 2004 as well which allowed her to have weekends off and expand her dog showing and training business. 2007 was a big year for her showing dogs as well as giving birth to her wonderful son at the end of the year and beginning a family. Between 2007 and 2014, Beth focused on showing her dogs at local and national levels while honing her colt starting and problem horse restarting methods. In 2014, Beth realized that she wanted to pursue horse showing aggressively as an amateur to see if she could make the switch to competitions successfully and decided to focus on that aspect as well as young horse development instead of solely fixing problem horses. She also finished her Wildlife and Fisheries Degree from Texas A&M University in May 2014 after withdrawing 12 years prior. This also marked the year that her dog training business really began to take off at an exponential rate with students from many backgrounds doing exceptionally well at shows and in their training.
2015 brought about some large changes as she inherited a large sum of money due to a loved one's death and decided to pursue the dog and horse training in earnest. It was overwhelming at first but we went for it! Much of the money was for paying of debt and regular investments naturally, but a significant portion was used to expand the DogJoy dog training business and to invest in pursuing more serious horse training activities. Jade ISF was bought as an investment horse as well as CS Atmospheric in May and August 2015 respectively. Beth began training with Lurena Bell in August 2015 when she realized she needed someone that could help her get to the top while working with her system of retraining horses. Lurena instilled confidence and pushed Beth to do more than she ever had before which was a wonderful experience after so many years of struggling.
The first recognized dressage show that Beth attended was October 2015 at the Great Southwest Equestrian Center where she and Simon qualified at Training level for Regionals in two weekends. Beth learned the difference between just going through the movements and actually riding a test in these two weekends. Jade was restarted to correct some foundation issues and CS Atmospheric took the winter off in 2015/2016 to work on some foundation issues as well due to an overly rainy winter. Early that spring, Beth took a lesson on a schoolmaster of Lurena's to hopefully gain some perspective on what certain movements felt like to aid in training her own horses. What she learned instead was that she would progress much faster and to a much higher level if she could ride a schoolmaster in tandem with her own project dressage horses. The search for a schoolmaster resulted in the wonderful and saintly KWPN gelding Nirvana, a then 21 year old trained through Grand Prix movements and shown through I1 previously. Nirvana came to Cirrus Sky Farms in May 2016 and work began on reconditioning him and learning to ride and train the 17.2h horse under Lurena's instruction. That year was the most difficult and exciting year of training horses for Beth ever and her hard work and dedication has resulted in qualifying scores from Training level through 2nd level between the months of August and September 2016 and 2/3 of her bronze medal.
With almost a year of training and partnership behind them, Beth and Nirvana debuted at 3rd and 4th level in January/February 2017 and earned the necessary scores to finish up Beth's Bronze medal and half of her Silver. Beth is competing PSG and I1 in 2017. Additional project horses are currently being looked at as Cirrus Sky Farms begins to expand and improve in 2017. Our five year goal is to be professional level in both dog and horse training, continue working on young and project horses, and have a breeding program to produce excellent young horse prospects and utilize that as our sole income.
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