This time I will try to tell you bit about our history. How we became "we". As you might already know I am Para-Dressage rider Lilli Vehmas from Finland and my horse is a Lipizzan mare Maestoso Madam aka Masu. I haven't been a Para-Dressage rider all my life. I was injured in a horse related accident in 2013 and almost exactly one year after that I fell off from my horse and that made my injuries even worse. Our story with Maestoso Madam began in a past life. That's how I see it. I had completely different life before 2013. Life before whiplash-, partial spinal cord- and traumatic brain injury.
Horses came to my life way before Masu ever did. I fell head over heels in love with this magnificent animal when I was just a little girl. I can't even remember life before horses came along. I started riding before I even went to school.
My childhood favorite pony was Shetland pony Patrons Tekla aka Jasni
There has been a short period in my life without horses. When I was a young adult I didn't have anything to do with horses. I felt utterly incomplete. Something was missing. That was easily mended and horses made comeback in my life. Before I got to the point it was possible to get my very own horse I used to rent horses and groom other people's horses. During the years I was drawn in to dressage. I can't pin point the moment or the reason why it happened. For some years I groomed horses for Finnish top level dressage rider Kira Kanerva.
When I decided to find my own horse I was looking for proper dressage horse, stallion or gelding, schoolmaster that could take me further. And what did I find? 4 year old Lipizzan mare that had been broken in couple of months before I found her. Maestoso Madam aka Masu was born in Hungary 2002 and was imported to Finland 2006 during the spring. We found each other in that same year when the dark, gloomy and wet Finnish fall arrived. Due to Masu being so young and knew only the very basics with rider so it was obvious choice that Kira Kanerva would be perfect trainer for her and later on compete with her. So in 2006 Maestoso Madam entered my life and changed it completely. Masu was a bit of an ugly duckling when she was four. Lipizzans tend to develop slowly so she was still growing. Masu was funny looking creature with incredible movements. It was a done deal when I saw her trotting.
Maestoso Madam and Kira Kanerva in regional show (Riihimäki, Finland) in July 2007
Masu and Kira first entered in smaller shows and almost every time they were placed. Regional shows took place in 2007 and prize ribbon after another kept on coming. They started to enter the national level shows when Masu was five and they did extremely nicely for years. They took their first national level placement in the Spring 2008. Masu and Kira participated in cup final for 6 year old dressage horses. In 2009 they took victory in open class. I cried my eyes out. I was so proud of my little black beauty!
It was about time for me to take over even more. Kira had made me a magnificent dressage horse and for that I'm forever grateful to her. I took lessons from some of the very best of trainers you can find in Finland. We were situated in Helsinki at that time and it was quite easy to get good coaching because so many good dressage trainers are close by.
Couple of years later we moved bit further from Helsinki and eventually I ended up living in a small house in a lovely village in the middle of Southern Finland. For a short while Masu was for sale but luckily no one realized what beautiful piece of gold was available and she came to the countryside.
What it comes to the style of riding looking back now I'm so glad I have been always trying to maintain the lightness in Masu. Never ride with a strength because you are bound to lose that fight with horse. Less is more. More than ever now because of my injuries.
In 2013 we started to be more serious about our goals. During the summer we were training hard and at the end of the summer we made our record result in a small unofficial competition 70,56%. The level of the test was really similar as FEI tests for ponies are and in US what you call second level. I had planned to make the next step in to the regional shows and third level dressage during that fall. That step never came because I was injured in early days of September 2013.
My last test as an able-bodied person. We made our personal record in the pouring rain.