Glenda Nelson can’t remember a time when horses weren’t a big part of her life.
At age 10, she started competing in the Hunter/Jumper world in California on her first horse Candee. “She was rather large and stout and built like a tank. But she moved pretty good.”
Glenda could “do anything with this backyard horse” – from jumping to riding in parades.
Fast forward a few decades and Glenda was gifted with Joe, a Buckskin gelding. Soon after, posts about Working Equitation started popping up on her Facebook page. And three of Glenda’s trail riding friends got interested at the same time.
They went to Montana for the International Camp and Cup in the summer of 2022 and were hooked.
“There were riders from all over the world. I met so many people who are now friends. And that’s what appealed to me: there is a lot of camaraderie, it’s fun and there is not a lot of politics. And you don’t need an $80,000 horse to do well.”
She adds, “It’s very challenging. But it’s a little safer than other equine sports I’ve done in the past. Now that I’m older and more breakable, I can’t afford to fall off.”
In between jumping with Candee and trail riding with Joe, Glenda participated in a wide range of equine activities: from breezing race horses to competing in endurance events. When she moved to Idaho at 18, she fell in love with Arabian horses at the barn she rode at and the owners encouraged her as she entered Arabian shows in both Western and English pleasure – including helping to outfit her in the appropriate fancy attire for both disciplines. She fell in love with the breed and purchased a beautiful little Arabian who didn’t like arena work. Instead, Glenda entered him in 25-mile endurance events and, “Dang if he didn’t either win or was the best conditioned horse in every event.”
When she was 21, she and her then-husband sold everything they owned, moved to New Jersey and worked at Los Alamos Dressage Center for six months.
But then, Glenda says, “I became an adult and got an adult job [she is a nurse] and only rode for pleasure.” She also taught all four of her daughters to ride. And has always maintained a herd of horses, many of whom she’s bred and trained herself.
Back to the present and post Montana.
When Glenda, now an active USAWE member of Region 1 as an amateur, and her friends Rachel Stout, Kris “Lola” Ford and Kim Shinn returned home, they said, “Wouldn’t it be fun if we could do something like that?”
They planned for 10 months and put on Idaho’s first WE Cup and Camp in July.
The event included a two-day Working Equitation Clinic (including a First Timer program) and two USAWE Licensed Shows. They invited riders to join these events “while enjoying friendship and fun among the Ponderosas in Idaho City.”
Nationally ranked WE instructors, trainers and competitors Trisha Kiefer Reed, Howard Peet and Erica Peet led the clinic to help riders learn and build WE skills, specifically in WE dressage and Ease of Handling training.
Erica, who has an “r” Judge Card and travelled from Illinois, judged the shows, which offered participants the ability to earn qualifying scores for Zone Championships and the “WE Under The Big Sky” Buckle Series.
“The hardest part of putting on this event was not knowing how to do stuff. We learned by doing,” Glenda says. “I worried about pulling it off because we had people coming from as far away as Alaska and a guest clinician from Germany, Conny Mertens, who donated her time, and we wanted it to be worthwhile.”
She adds, “Rachel, Kris and Kim were more dynamic in putting on the event than I was. But each of us fell into our special niches. And we got our husbands involved in building the obstacles.”
“On the first day of the show, it was very hot. We got about 45 minutes behind. The next day we were on the money. The timers for the speed round were accurate to 1/100th of a second!”
Glenda says that in addition to competition and education, they wanted to offer fun stuff, so they did, including a massage therapist for people; Beemer sessions for horses; and position in the saddle assessments by Laura Hedrich, who was a groom for Debbie McDonald at the Olympics in Spain who works with the US Olympic Team. And Conny led riders Pilates in the mornings.
Now Glenda and her Idaho colleagues will return to Montana for the 2023 Western Zone Championship and Rated Show in October.
And, looking further ahead to next spring, Glenda will bring home a new filly, CDC Artemis – born at the end of July – whom she purchased en utero from Caballos del Corazón in Oregon, known for their Andalusian/Canadian Warmblood crosses.
Glenda is already: “Imagining our future together – the view through her ears, teaching her to jump a course of fences, walk over a bridge, open a gate, canter when I just think of cantering, eating cookies out of my hand, coming when I call her, riding that first dressage test, doing flying changes, galloping on the beach.”
While she has a lifetime of equine memories, Glenda always looks forward to making new ones.
Treasure Valley Working Equitation Facebook page: Working Equitation Team Idaho