Steamboat Springs Even Routt County's English horse riders still have distinctly Western characteristics.
This year, for the first time in her riding career, Beatrice "Trixi" Marienau decided to start riding in regional United States Dressage Federation competitions with one of the quarter horses her husband, Mike, used to move cattle around their ranch outside of Oak Creek.
Dressage is an English riding discipline similar to Western reining competitions, in which a rider is judged on his or her ability to guide a horse through series of maneuvers.
"It's like ballet with a horse," Marienau said.
You won't typically find a quarter horse at the competitions, but Marienau thought she had something special with a certain versatile mare named BQH Charmin.
"I like (the quarter horse's) mind, and I could even say, soul," Marienau said. "Once you have them as a buddy, they'll go through fire for you."
After acquiring Charmin at age 2 from Walden breeders Gordon and Peg Brocker, the horse was kicked by another hard enough in the hind quarter, ripping muscle, that veterinarians thought she would never be sound again.
But Marienau forged a relationship with Charmin by helping bring the lame horse back to health. So much so that, perhaps, Seabiscuit would be a better name for the horse, based on her recovery to unlikely competition results.
Marienau found out in December, once the nationwide results were tallied, that Charmin earned the USDF's 2007 All-Breed Second Level Reserve Champion Award in the quarter horse division.
Marienau humbly downplays the significance of the national award, citing the few numbers of competitors who compete in dressage with quarter horses. She will, however, admit how unique of a quarter horse she's dealing with.
"A quarter horse is not built or made for dressage, but to get a qualifying percentage for a quarter horse, it's quite a nice deal," Marienau said of Charmin, who also took eighth in the all-around standings at September's Rocky Mountain Dressage Society Championships.
Many of Marienau's students also think they're dealing with a unique riding instructor.
"I teach singing, I've taught skiing and even some horseback riding, so I can appreciate how great (Marienau) is," said Keri Rusthoi, one of her students. "She never says anything negative and having to lead you through the steps from the ground, she's just awesome."
Now Marienau, a German-born rider, hopes to get back on the traditional European breeds to start competing at dressage events sanctioned under the FEI (International Federation for Equestrian Sports), with hopes of making a name for herself, and her horse, on the next level.