NAME: Erin Alberda
DISCIPLINE: Para Dressage
1. When did you start in your discipline?
I began riding when I was 9 years old. My disability onset in college, and I quit riding for a number of years, but started again in 2004, and became involved in Para Dressage
2. How did you get into riding?
I was a horse-crazy kid! I begged my parents until they finally signed me up for some lessons! I continued being a bit horse-crazy into college, competing in hunters, until my disability onset. A few years later, I was able to get back in the saddle at a therapeutic riding center (Little Bit TRC in Woodinville, WA).
3. Do you have any lucky riding attire?
I am a bit superstitious about my show attire...can't wear anything new! I do have a lucky stock pin that belonged to a close friend who passed away.
4. Do you have any advice for younger riders aspiring within your discipline?
Strive for excellence, do not be limited by what you think you can or cannot do - it is all possible and within reach.
5. Who is your equestrian idol?
I have so many!! Robert Dover, Lendon Gray, Carol Lavell, as well as my teammates & Para riders who have helped me get where I am today - Hope Hand, Lynn Seidmann, and Margo O'Callaghan.
6. If there was one other discipline you could compete in, what would it be?
I am hoping to learn driving. Reining also looks like a lot of fun!!
7. What characteristic or quality do you value most in a horse?
Temperment -horse that enjoys the work, and loves being at shows as much as I do!
8. Where will you be in 5, 10 years?
Hopefully running a successful acupuncture practice (I finish my degree next year), riding as much as possible, and loving life!
9. What are 3 things you are most likely to find in your refrigerator?
Peanut butter, jelly, bread...apparently a key staple in my diet!
10. What is one thing you always take with you to horse shows/on the road?
Lots of coffee.
11. What is the coolest place in the world horseback riding has taken you?
USET headquarters at Gladstone for Festival of Champions...simply amazing to ride in the same arena as so many of my "equestrian idols"!
12. Given the chance, what horse other than your own would you like to ride/compete on?
Leslie Morse's Tip Top - LOVE watching that horse go!
13. What is your favorite horse show?
Favorite venue is Devonwood Equestrian Center in Oregon
14. What is the best/worst part about riding and showing?
The best part of showing is how much fun it is - it's like a big fancy-dress party where everyone gets a chance to show off the results of all their hard work! The worst part is the expense involved - I sometimes wonder if this prevents people from enjoying the experience. Riding is a joyful activity for me, even on my worst rides.
15. What have horses and showing taught you?
Riding and showing have given me back a freedom and grace that I thought I had lost for good when my disability onset - it has taught me to see myself as something other than my diagnosis.
16. What have been the biggest rewards of your career?
I think my career is just getting underway - but I have had the opportunity to meet so many amazing people already, that's definitely the highlight.
17. What are you most likely to be doing if/when you’re not riding?
Sleeping, studying, or fundraising
18. How do you unwind after a long day in the saddle?
Hit the books!
19. How do you juggle your riding career with your life as a mom/dad?
20. What excites you most about the 2010 Games in Kentucky?
I am so excited that Para Equestrian is being included, and that it is going to take place here in the US - so many people are going to have a chance to see the world's best competitors, and learn about new disciplines, such an incredible opportunity.
21. Have you ever ridden any other disciplines?
I rode hunters until my disability onset.
22. What music are you currently listening to?
Any and all - I like things I can sing along to, or imagine riding a freestyle to!
23. What do you think when you think about possibly riding in next year’s WEG?
It would be both an amazing and humbling experience, to be sharing the stage with the worlds best. I try not to think about it too much, as I need to stay focused on getting there first!
24. What are you doing to try to get there?
Training, training, training. And fundraising. I am working hard to ensure my horse will be ready for our big year ahead, and hopeful that I will have sponsors & funding in place to help it all come together!
25. What impact do you think having WEG in the US will have on horse sports in this country?
I think it will have a huge impact - people will have the opportunity to see the highest caliber equestrian athletes in so many disciplines, and that can only generate more interest in US Equestrian sport, as well as inspire our future equestrian athletes to aim high, and train hard.