August 2015 - Rigdon & Blake Stables
Written by Kim F. Miller
Tuesday, 04 August 2015 20:59
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Dressage trainers launch big dreams from a new San Diego base.

by Kim F. Miller

In a graduation speech recently gone viral, comedian Jim Carrey told students not to be afraid of making “an outrageous request of the universe.” For top dressage riders in America, outrageous requests usually involve finding the financial and moral support required to realize international dreams. That’s been the case for competitors and trainers Rebecca Rigdon and her husband David Blake, who’ve had their request fulfilled in large part by Rebecca’s longtime supporters, the Dick family of Kansas.

David & Ikaros. Photo: Kim F. Miller

The purchase and refurbishing of property in Encinitas is the first manifestation of their dream. The 14-acre facility, formerly the base for show jumper Marc Grock, will be the couple’s private training base for themselves and their clients. “We started talking to Becki and Gary (Dick) about a year ago,” says Rebecca of the process of getting their own facility. “For both David and me, it was one of those things that seemed too good to be true and we really wanted the Dicks to be 150 percent sure they understood what they were getting into.”

David & Rebecca with La Fariah.

Well before moving from her native Kansas to San Diego six-and-a-half years ago, Rebecca began working with the Dicks’ two daughters, Jena and Tessa. She took them through the Junior and Young Rider dressage ranks, and both daughters moved to San Diego with Rebecca. The younger daughter, Tessa, was 12 when she began riding with Rebecca and Jena was 15. Tessa is now in her mid-20s, with an 18-month-old son and will serve as the ranch’s manager and, hopefully, ride a little in her slivers of spare time.

After a lifetime of raising her family and volunteering fulltime, Becki Dick told Rebecca she was ready to indulge a passion on a level similar to her husband’s investment in motorcycles. “She said it was her turn to support a cause that she chose, and that she wanted to see David and me learn and grow, that she believes in us and wants to see us reach our Olympic goal.”

David and Rebecca had been based at Steffen and Shannon Peters’ Arroyo Del Mar stables and their departure has its share of wistfulness. Working alongside an Olympian is inspiring, of course, but the appeal of having their own place was compelling. “We have a great group of clients and, selfishly, we are looking forward to having them all to ourselves and working with them in a smaller environment,” David explains. With 10 grass pastures, four small sand turn-outs and access to an additional 10 acres for trail riding, “I’m really looking forward to letting the horses get back to being horses like they were trail riding through the hay fields on my mother’s farm in Kansas, Freedom Hill,” Rebecca adds.

Rebecca & Versace.

Fine Footing & Fun Spaces

They’re bringing Arroyo del Mar’s high standards with them. That starts with new dressage court footing from Premier Equestrian that was expertly installed by Dave Martin with Footings West, and 20-meter wide mirrors meticulously crafted by Kim Applegate.

After looking at eight to 10 properties, the former Highland Farms emerged as the perfect choice. Grass pastures are plentiful and with 29 stalls, it’s just the right size for Rebecca and David’s clientele base, plus their own horses. They’ve invested considerable sweat equity into a facelift before the August 1 move-in date. Some improvements are cosmetic – like a black and white color scheme – and others are comfort and convenience oriented, like decks off the property’s two barns and office, adding a shower and an industrial strength washer and dryer. Fun additions include a firepit and BBQ.

Our guys are working so hard to pull this farm together,' Rebecca says. 'At the end of the day they make the farm successful.

Pinching Themselves

Rebecca and David’s clientele includes Junior, Young Riders, amateurs and professionals. Horses in their program run a similar gamut, from youngsters and in-development prospects to Grand Prix stars that are for sale. Fortunately, David’s top mount, Ikaros, isn’t up for sale, so he’ll be continuing his international goals. Rebecca’s top prospect at the moment is a 6 year old mare, La Fariah. “Our goal is to get a very good group of top young horses that we can cultivate up through the levels in hopes of having the next international Grand Prix prospect,” Rebecca explains. “We really love to work with young horses and we look forward to developing more of them and finding investors who want to be part of a team, both our team at the stable and the U.S. team, ideally.”

Rebecca and David both have long resumes and are committed to continuing their own education. They work with Guenter Seidel weekly and pass on his lessons to their students.

Rebecca has been ranked on the USEF’s High Performance Developing Rider List since 2010 and she and several of her students are USDF bronze, silver and gold medalists. She has high hopes for La Fariah to excel on an international level, and just debuted Versace at Grand Prix. Owned by Becki Dick, Versace was bred by Rebecca and trained together with Tessa. Rebecca is a former USEF judge, and has been an auction rider with young horses and newly approved stallions for the Holsteiner Verband.

David is equally talented with young horses, having trained as part of the USEF’s Young Horse Program. He took Catapult to a 6-Year-Old Young Horse Championship victory and Lord Albert to World Breeding Championships at Verden and has brought  his current star, Ikaros, along to Grand Prix success, both at home and in Europe.

So maybe their requests aren’t so outrageous after all. Either way, David and Rebecca are grateful and excited to be embarking on this chapter of their dressage dream. “It’s so awesome,” Rebecca laughs. “I still keep having to pinch myself!”


For more information, visit www.rebeccarigdondressage.net or www.davidblakedressage.com or call 785-550-7329.