What Does it Take?– An Inside Look at the Life of Working Students: Katrina Sadis

Road to Young Riders with Working Student Katrina Sadis

Wellington, Fla.– July 17, 2017 – At only 18-years-old, Karina Sadis has positioned herself at one of the top dressage training programs in the country as a full time working student while pursuing her dreams of being a serious competitor in the sport. Sadis, originally from Ann Arbor, Michigan, made the decision to move to Wellington, Florida, two years ago to gain more experience in the equestrian industry by working with Marcus Fyffe Dressage.

Operated by Olympian David Marcus and international Grand Prix competitor Nicholas Fyffe, Marcus Fyffe Dressage provides quality care for horses and clients and training for all levels. The two riders agreed to accept Sadis’ application, and ever since, she has exceeded their expectations.

“Talent isn’t enough to make it in this sport. We support Katrina and other riders like her because she is not only talented but she’s also very smart, dedicated, driven and hard working. She has quickly become an important part of our team,” David Marcus said. “I am impressed by the amount of maturity she has in her understanding of the sport. She has everything it takes to rise to the occasion and be a top international rider.”

She recently graduated high school by completing online classes while balancing her job as a working student and competing her Lusitano gelding, Zepelim. The pair qualified for the Region 3 Adequan/FEI North American Young Rider Championships and they are heading to Saugerties, New York, to vie for a medal July 18-23.

Katrina Sadis with Nicholas Fyffe and David Marcus

Check out what she had to say about her experience as a working student, her advice to other riders with big dreams and how her position helped her prepare for the prestigious national championships!

What is your favorite aspect of being a working student?

Being around horses all day is pretty great! David and Nicholas have a great team of people behind them and I like being a part of that and learning from everyone.

What would you say to an aspiring working student?

I would say to find someone whose training and management you really admire and work hard to make yourself valuable to them.

What does an average day look like for you?

I get to Stillpoint Farm in Wellington at 6:30 a.m. and help muck out stalls, do turnout and help with other miscellaneous barn chores. Then I start grooming for David and Nicholas. Later in the day, I have a lesson on my horse, Zepelim. Sometimes, when they travel to clinics or competitions, I have the opportunity to ride other horses.

We usually finish at the barn around 4 p. m. Then I go ride my pony, which I keep at another barn, do homework when I’m in school, rest, and repeat!

How have you grown as a rider because of your position as a working student?

Because I know what the end goal is, I think I have a better understanding of the development of a dressage horse. I think my aids have become more refined and I’m more aware of how my position is influencing the horse – positively or negatively.

Why did you make the decision to move to Wellington to become a working student?

I realized that if I wanted to do horses as a career and be really good at it, I needed to be somewhere where I would learn as much as possible from some of the best people in the industry. Just being at Stillpoint Farm and Marcus Fyffe Dressage, I’ve learned so much watching the talented riders. I’ve stayed inspired to keep progressing.

What has been one of your proudest moments?

I think I’m most proud of the development of my own horse. When I was training with Nicholas before NAJYRC in 2015, we barely had clean flying changes. Now, just last month, we scored 70 percent in our second-ever Intermediate I and we are schooling some of the Grand Prix.

What has been one of the hardest lessons to learn?

Patience. No matter how bad you want them to, the horse can’t feel amazing every second of every ride. They all have stiffness and bad days and you just have to chip away at it while being empathetic to how they’re feeling.

What has been one of the funniest moments at the barn?

One time David was teaching me and I accidentally turned the headset off somehow, so I just kept riding and thought he was mad at me while he thought I was just ignoring his suggestions. It took at least five minutes for either of us to realize!

What are five things you have learned about horsemanship or horse care as a working student with Marcus Fyffe Dressage?

1. Attention to detail: The horse needs to be well-groomed and the tack needs to be on correctly everyday.
2. Truly knowing your horse and what is normal for their body, legs and behavior.
3. The communication between the rider, groom, vet, farrier, etc. is very key for success.
4. The importance of consistency in what you expect from your horse everyday both in the saddle and on the ground.
5. Fairness in training and handling. You can be disciplined with the horse when needed but you have to be twice as nice when you get the correct response.

How has that helped you grow as a rider and helped you qualify for your second team to NAJYRC?

I think I’ve learned how to improve the overall quality of my horse to get better results in competition. I used to just focus on riding the movements but I didn’t really understand how they helped to improve the horse. Now I understand how to improve the athleticism of the horse using the movements.

How did you prepare for NAJYRC?

David and I worked a lot on building my horse’s strength to improve the quality of his gaits. As we got closer to NAJYRC, we started doing more test riding so that I really felt confident to keep the quality within the movements. I also visualize my tests a lot before every show and I take notes after my lessons so that I avoid wasting time having to relearn things.

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