Friday, July 19, 2013

Joining the Century Club--Draft

Herman and Wasim riding the test
Herman Aguayo, age 75, and his 28-year old Arabian gelding SA Wasim joined one of the most exclusive clubs in the world—The Century Club.  Established in 1996 by the U.S. Dressage Foundation, the Century Club currently has only 133 members.  To be admitted to this select organization, the combined ages of the horse and rider must total at least 100 and they have to ride any level dressage test at an event sanctioned by the USDF.   The goal of The Century Club is to celebrate those senior riders who continue to enjoy and have fun with their senior equine partners.  Herman and Wasim became the 134th pair to join the club, only the 6th in Washington state.
“Riding in the Century Club has always been on my bucket list,” says Herman. “The late Lt. Col. Eugene Dueber of Port Orchard, who is one of the original members of the Century Club, encouraged me to try for this honor years ago.”  Eugene Dueber didn’t start riding until he was in his 60s.  At age 85, Eugene Dueber won his place in the Century Club in 2001 by riding the 16-year old Arabian mare VP Medley.  Eugene gave Herman, a fellow Marine, his United States Marine Corps blue saddle pad to remind Herman about his goal to join the Century Club.  “My wife Kathy also kept encouraging me to get back in the saddle after my knee operations,” chuckled Herman.
Getting a big wave and smile from the judge and scribe
Herman started riding as a child.  He has had great success in riding Western and hunt seat and in driving.  The Aguayos have been breeding and showing nationally ranked Arabs and part Arabs for years from their Sawda Equestrian Center in Port Orchard.  In previous years, Sawda’s Pirouette, Shetan, and Nelita have all won the Tripoli Cup, originally donated by Eugene Dueber to the Equestrian Institute.  The award is given to the highest scoring Arab or half Arab in dressage in the state of Washington. Herman and Kathy are members and supporters of the Lower Puget Sound Dressage Club.  As Kathy explains, “The LPSDC is a great, low key venue for beginning riders to start competing in dressage before they move up to the A shows.  All breeds of horses are welcomed—not just the traditional dressage horses.”
Kathy presents the Century Club ribbon Herman
and Wasim

Herman’s partner in this venture was Wasim, Arabic for “handsome,” a gelding from Herman’s own breeding program.  Herman has special affection for Wasim since he was an orphan foal who needed to be bottle fed.  “He thinks he is more human than horse,” laughs Herman.  Wasim was owned by several 4-H riders until he came back to Sawda for his “retirement.”  Wasim wasn’t ready for retirement so he started dressage training at age 18 with Broox Trudeau.  In 5 years, Wasim won his Legion of Honor award from the Arabian Horse Association by earning 75 points in dressage and other events.  “Even though he has had Cushings disease for the past six years”, Herman adds, “Wasim continues to give the occasional lesson to beginning young riders.  He also keeps us on our toes by making us carefully lock all stalls and feed rooms since he can open any improperly latched gate.”
Herman is congratulated by
one of his former students
Despite having both knees replaced in operations in 2011 and 2012 and never having ridden dressage before, Herman was still resolved to try for the Century Club.  To prepare, he worked with Shannon Lockwood, a Grand Prix rider who teaches dressage at both Sawda and Chalice Farms in Port Orchard.  “Herman already had great equitation basics, he just needed to work on learning the dressage pattern,” says Shannon.  Herman and Wasim rode for 10 to 15 minutes a day.  Both horse and rider had fun.  As Kathy, Herman’s wife, explains, “Wasim didn’t want to just walk and trot.  Herman had to remind Wasim that there was no canter in the pattern they were learning.”
Herman and Kathy have always had a big heart.  They have rescued strays—dogs, horses, and children—giving them a home or extra attention depending on what was needed.   Herman has been a 4-H leader in the equestrian program in Kitsap County for 16 years.  “A horse is not like a bicycle,” Herman says.  “You can’t ride a horse and then put it away until it is wanted again.  Caring for a horse teaches kids responsibility, empathy for animals, and how to plan for the finances required to properly take care of that animal.”  Children working with Herman learn to set goals and then work towards meeting those goals.  Many achieve a sense of self worth for the first time.   Herman’s former students now include three equine vets, an Air Force pilot, nurses, lawyers, a human resource manager, a foreign diplomat, two vet techs, and several farriers to mention only a few of the success stories.
Wasim takes a bow
On Sunday, July 7, 2013, several of those former students witnessed Herman and Wasim ride their Century Club test during the Lower Puget Sound Dressage Club hosted by the Aguayos at Sawda.  Herman and Wasim, decked out in the blue saddle pad with red and yellow border gifted to Herman by Lt. Col. Eugene Dueber, scored an impressive 64.688.  This score was high enough to win a blue ribbon in most of the classes that day.  {{{Need quote from former student. }}}  To celebrate, attendees enjoyed chocolate cake and sparkling cider while Wasim snacked on his “carrot” cake.  
Taking what he has learned from preparing for the Century Club, Herman looks forward to continuing to work with the next generation of young riders.  Hopefully, Wasim will eagerly greet young and old visitors to Sawda for many years to come.  Together, Herman and Wasim certainly exemplify the Century Club motto “to do good, we must do well.”

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