The United States Lipizzan Federation sponsors an annual award for USLF-registered Lipizzans competing in Working Equitation. According to the United States Lipizzan Federation, there are only about 1150 Lipizzans in all of North America, marking them as a rare breed. Judging by the performance of the Lipizzans, like Arria, competing in Working Equitation, the sport seems quite well-suited to them, capitalizing on their athleticism, work-ethic, and courage.
This year, that award was won by Arria, a 16-year-old purebred Lipizzan mare shown by her amateur owner Ellen Chappell, of Oregon.
Ellen explains how she first got involved in Working Equitation. “We attended a Northwest Lipizzan Club Play Day at White Horse Vale in Golden Dale, WA, in the summer of 2015. It was a fun weekend of WE obstacles and dressage at the home of Arria’s breeder. Arria immediately perked up with the obstacle work. The following December we did our first WE schooling show where we won the Introductory level. A full year later, in 2017, we did our first approved WE show coming out at Novice.”
Arria and Ellen quickly mastered the skills expected at the Novice level and moved up to Intermediate A toward the end of the 2017 show season, competing at that higher level in the 2017 WE United National Championships, where they placed third in a very competitive class of seven, with entries from the United States, Canada, and Australia.
“Arria loves the obstacles,” Ellen says. “She is a horse that likes a job and finds straight dressage a little boring. Being a Lipizzan, she is smart and athletic and has a natural ability to collect. This is a good fit with WE. It is a thinking horse and rider’s discipline which helps to develop both members of the team. Also, WE is fun! The people I have met have been great and supportive of each other.”
As is evident to all who watch the two compete, Ellen and Arria have developed a very strong partnership. “It has taken a while,” Ellen laughs. “She is 16 years old, but I love our connection. Through WE, we learn and develop together as a team. She is generally tolerant of my mistakes and a kind, loving mare.”
In addition to Working Equitation, Ellen and Arria enjoy trail rides, classical dressage clinics, and camping at the Oregon Coast. “I am fortunate to be able to have my horses at home,” Ellen reflects. “I also enjoy caring for them.”
Ellen says she has quite a few people to thank for supporting her journey in this sport. Those people include, “Cari Schwartz for her encouragement and knowledge sharing. Michael Godding for his fantastic instruction and willingness to come from Australia to work with us. Makenzie Holley for her training and help with my mares. Nuno Matos for his coaching and Southridge Farms for hosting the Pedro Torres Academy of Working Equitation, USA. And the USLF community for encouraging me to get the mares out.”