I enjoy helping people get started in endurance and learning how to use Easycare products. Here’s a great story about both.

I met Alyssa Radtke last summer, when she visited our winery property with her fiancé, Anthony. The conversation quickly turned from wine to horses, as Alyssa enthusiastically recounted her life with them. The Michigan native and MSU graduate is an experienced dressage rider and CHA-certified instructor. But her passion is training Mustangs for the Extreme Mustang Makeover Challenge and the Mustang Heritage Foundation Trainer Incentive Program.

Dixie and Alyssa completing their first LD at Lake Sonoma in November.

Alyssa and Dixie at their first endurance ride, the Sonoma Lake 25/50 last November.

Alyssa didn’t see her first Mustang until she moved to California. The eighth-grade science teacher heard about the Challenge and knew she had to give it a try. She adopted a wild horse and put 90 days of training on the horse for the 2010 competition. She was hooked.

She has trained ten Mustangs to date as part of the programs. It was Mustang #10 that won over Alyssa. The petite mare, who Alyssa named Dixie, was her adopted horse for the 2012 Extreme Mustang Makeover. Alyssa knew immediately that Dixie was different. At the conclusion of the competition, Alyssa bid on Dixie and brought her home.

Although Alyssa knew very little about endurance riding, based in what she had heard about it, she sensed that Dixie would be ideal for it. So our first meeting wasn’t just a get-together over wine; she was on a mission to learn more about endurance.

Alyssa began riding with me and I coached her on getting started in the sport. Dixie was a natural. I helped Alyssa get fitted with her first set of Easyboots. Dixie and Alyssa participated in their first ride last fall and have completed three Limited Distance rides to-date. Now that Dixie is 5, Alyssa is looking forward to competing in 50-mile rides.

Alyssa and Dixie at their first endurance ride, the Sonoma Lake 25/50 last November.

Alyssa’s training philosophy comes from her understanding of horse behavior. What impressed me about Alyssa is how she applied that understanding. She committed to taking up a sport because she knew her Mustang would excel at, rather than trying to fit Dixie into a discipline she wasn’t suitable for. It’s been a year to the day that Alyssa adopted Dixie. In addition to competing in her first endurance rides, Dixie has become a spokeshorse for the the breed. Alyssa and Dixie have made appearances at the Western States Horse Expo and at UC Davis Horse Days.

Alyssa on a training ride at Pt. Reyes National Seashore.

This year, when Alyssa and Dixie hit the campaign trail for her breed, I’ll make sure Dixie is wearing her Easyboot Gloves.

Footnote: Alyssa just picked up her 11th adopted Mustang for the 2013 Extreme Mustang Makeover, which will be held in Norco, CA in May.