Lori Berger is a western dressage rider. She rides a Julie Goodnight PEAK Performance™ Wind River saddle.
Circle Y (CY): We love horse stories. Tell us about your horse and what discipline you ride.
Lori Berger (LB): Lexi is a 16-year-old Saddlebred/Shire/TB cross. We ride western dressage. I have had her since she was 4.
CY: Have you always western dressage or did you switch?
LB: I was a traditional English dressage rider and trainer for many years, and Lexi was schooling 3rd/4th level. She developed a neurological condition, ideopathic headshaking syndrome, which made working in a high, compressed frame uncomfortable for her. Western dressage was the answer to our prayers!
CY: What a relief about the western dressage! Which saddle do you ride in and why did you pick that saddle?
LB: I ride in Julie Goodnight’s Wind River PEAK Performance™. I picked it after speaking with Julie and explaining that I was looking for a saddle designed with women’s anatomy in mind, that would put me in a correct dressage position. I wanted a rounded skirt to avoid hip interference in lateral movements, and I like the Flex 2® tree that conforms to my horse’s back.
CY: What is one of the best horse lessons you’ve learned?
LB: That top performances happen when the horse loves her job. Brilliance isn’t possible with a horse that is unhappy or just going through the motions. Find a job that your horse loves and you will be amazed by what they offer you.
CY: Any tips you’d like to share about horse care, special before-competition rituals, etc.?
LB: Horse care: My mare has 4 white socks and a white tail, and I have tried all the expensive whitening shampoos. What has worked best is Suave coconut shampoo! It’s inexpensive and I get compliments on her tail all the time. And she smells fantastic!
Pre-competition rituals: Taking the time to find a quiet space and meditating for 10 minutes. Focussing on breathing, clearing my brain. It slows things down and levels out my energy so that I concentrate better during my ride.
CY: Do you have any special stories, facts, or tips that you would like to share with us?
LB: We had given up on Lexi ever being able to function in the show ring because her headshaking was so bad she would almost go down. We had tried different drugs, nothing worked. After a few months off I decided to just throw a western saddle on her and trail ride. I also discovered Guardian masks, which are made for headshakers. It cuts down UV light (which is a trigger for many headshakers). Riding her in a lower, more relaxed frame and reducing her light sensitivity completely changed her attitude. I had never ridden western before but liked how English and western traditions both stem from the early Spanish schools. We played around with it, and only a year later went to the WDAA World show and earned 3 world titles!
“I ride in Julie Goodnight’s Wind River PEAK Performance™. I picked it after speaking with Julie and explaining that I was looking for a saddle designed with women’s anatomy in mind, that would put me in a correct dressage position. I wanted a rounded skirt to avoid hip interference in lateral movements, and I like the Flex 2® tree that conforms to my horse’s back.”
All photos are used with rider permission.