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Allison Brock: Never Count Yourself Out


Making it “big” in the horse industry is a dream for many aspiring equestrians. A lofty goal for a kid from a family well-versed in all things horse, as even the most well-mounted rider can have a hard time breaking through and making it to the top of the sport. This is an even harder pinnacle to reach when you’re the only horse enthusiast in your family. Add in the fact that you live in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, and that dream seems like it can only ever be a dream. Not so for dressage star Allison Brock, a kid from the island of Oahu, who has made it “big” with an Olympic medal to boot.

Allison waving to the crowd at the 2016 Rio Olympics

From a state where riding the waves on a surfboard seems a more natural fit, Brock had another type of riding in mind for her sport of choice. A self-proclaimed “horse crazy kid,” Brock got bit by the horse riding bug at an early age. “No one knows where my passion for horses came from, my family isn’t horsey at all,” admits Brock. Luckily for Brock, her grandmother recognized her love for horses and gifted her with a month long lesson package for her seventh birthday. After that first month in the saddle, there was no looking back for Brock. Horses were destined to be part of her future.

At age 9, Brock was able to ride and show and Aradian who was a second level dressage schoolmaster. From this moment on, she knew dressage was her discipline of choice. However, she did have the opportunity to dabble in a few other disciplines along the way. “One of the great things about growing up on the island is that we weren’t specialized in our discipline of choice,” shares Brock. “I had a very well-rounded horse education because I tried everything out while I was in pony club.” Although Brock tried out a variety of disciplines, she always came back to dressage.

Brock has loved dressage from the early days on her Arabian. “I love the connection you feel with the horse underneath you as they perform all these controlled, yet complex movements,” says Brock. Although she admits if she had strayed from dressage, she would most likely be a reiner today. Brock explains, “Reining is similar to dressage, it’s a high level precise discipline where both horse and rider have to be skilled.” Luckily for Team USA, Brock stayed the course with dressage from the beginning.

Although one would assume the riding scene in Hawaii would lack the sophistication across barns in the continental United States, Brock says that wasn’t the case. “Growing up, the group I rode with consisted of 18 kids around the same age, five of whom grew up to be top level professionals,” remarks Brock.

Brock left the island life behind at age 17. Just after finishing high school she moved to Gilbert, Arizona to be a working student at Colter Slocum’s consignment training barn. From there she was a working student for Jim Eldridge, Linda Landers, Lauren Sammis and most notably Sue Blinks.

Blinks was working towards a spot on the 2002 U.S. Dressage Team for the World Equestrian Games with the horse Flim Flam when Brock began working for her. Through this partnership, Brock began working at Deer Meadow Farms. Working with Blinks exposed Brock to the hard work and dedication it takes to make the U.S. team, something that would come in handy later on in her career. Additionally, Brock was able to be around dressage stars Debbie McDonald, Klaus Balkenhol, Christine Traurig and Guenter Seidel. The opportunity to be around such industry leaders and watch them train, helped shape Brock as a professional. “I often refer to my time with Sue as my ‘college education’,” admits Brock. “I learned so much about the business from her.”

Not only did the working student position with Blinks provide an educational foundation for Brock, it was the stepping stone for the next phase of Brock’s career. In 2014, Blinks decided she was going to leave Deer Meadow and move to the West Coast. At the time, Brock was 24 years old and had worked at Deer Meadow for three years. When the owners of Deer Meadow, Fritz and Claudine Kundrun, heard Blinks was moving on, they offered Brock the job of head trainer. Brock was floored by the opportunity. “I wouldn’t have been offered this job if I was just a 24 year old rider off the street, but the Kundruns knew me and trusted me,” believes Brock.

Allison Brock competing

The Kundruns’ decision to keep Brock on and promote her to the head trainer position, has been beneficial for all parties involved. Although she rides and trains all of the Kundruns’ horses, it’s Rosevelt who has been the most recent standout star for the Deer Meadow’s team. A 15 year old, dark bay Hanoverian stallion with a flashy blaze, Rosevelt “Rosie” has changed the quickness in which Brock judges horses, especially FEI prospects.

Rosevelt was in Sweden training with Jan Brink as a six year old the first time Brock laid eyes on him. Although the Kundruns had already bought the stallion off a video, Brock wasn’t sold that he was going to be an FEI level mount. “The first time I met him I thought he was really nice and cute, but I had a hard time believing he would be a Grand Prix level horse,” admits Brock. In fact, since he was still struggling with his lead changes, Brock left him in Sweden to continue being a highly sought after stallion.

That all changed when Rosie turned seven and Brink called Brock to report on the stallion’s progress. “Jan called me and said ‘Ali, I think he’s going to be a good horse for you,’” says Brock. So she packed her bags and made the trip across the Atlantic. After riding him for two months in Sweden, Brock decided it was time for both her and Rosie to head home to the States.

In 2010, Brock competed Rosevelt as an 8 year old in the small tour and had quite a bit of success with Michael Baristone coaching them. Then in 2011, Brock had the opportunity to train in the UK with Kyra Kyrklund and Richard White, so she packed up Rosevelt and stayed with them until the end of 2012. It was the training opportunity of a lifetime. “I literally arrived as one rider and returned as another after spending so much concentrated time with Kyra and Richard,” says Brock. “They turned me into a legitimate Grand Prix rider.”

However, it wasn’t smooth sailing after Rosie figured out his flying changes. Once he got the changes down it took another year and a half for him to learn his tempi’s. “I really think most people would have given up, but I had good counseling from Kyra and Richard, who were always encouraging me to stay the course,” believes Brock. “I used to be a lot quicker to have a black or white opinion on what a horse is capable of, but Rosie taught me not to have preconceived notions about what a horse is or isn’t.”

Brock returned home to the U.S. at the end of 2012 and started developing Rosie in the national Grand Prixes under the tutelage of Michael Barisone. “Michael has been with me as a part of this horse’s development from the beginning of our partnership,” shares Brock. “I fully credit him to helping us achieve our goals all the way through to the Olympics.”

In 2014, they won the Grand Prix Special Big Tour as their first big breakout international show and haven’t looked back. Rosie and Brock’s partnership continued to grow and flourish allowing them the chance to compete for a spot on the 2015 Pan American Team, in which they were named the Reserve team member, and the 2016 Olympic team. Brock spent the majority of 2016 focused on Rosevelt participating in Olympic Selection competitions. The duo won over the selection team with their consistent high quality performances. They were given a spot on the team along with Laura Graves, Kasey Perry-Glass and the legend himself, Steffen Peters.

Brock admits the team was nervous going into Rio after hearing all the news reports about how unprepared and unsafe the host city was. However, as soon as they arrived her apprehensions were put to ease as the horse venue was spectacular. “It really felt like a mini show, because you looked around and knew all of the competitors,” shares Brock.

Walking into the Maracanã Stadium during the opening ceremony was the experience of a lifetime for Brock. “To hear the roar of the crowd when we walked in was simply incredible,” says Brock. The cheers helped pump up the U.S. team as they went to work on the job at hand, representing the U.S. in hopes for a medal.

The team did just that, securing a medal for the first time in 12 years for team dressage. “I was so proud to represent the United States,” notes Brock. “You’re part of something so much bigger than yourself when competing for Team USA.” The bond the team developed is part of what made them one of the best dressage teams the U.S. has ever sent to an Olympics. “After our Olympic team experience, we will be bonded forever,” believes Brock.

Brock says the Olympics and medal ceremony was a surreal experience, “I look back at photos from the Games and I still can’t believe I was part of it.” Lucky for Brock, she was the first member of Team USA to receive her bronze medal. “When they put the medal on my neck it was REALLY heavy,” shares Brock. “I looked at Laura, she cried, I cried. The whole moment was emotionally overwhelming.”

Allison waving to the crowd at the 2016 Rio Olympics

However that wasn’t the end of Brock’s Olympic experience. Much to her surprise, she made it to the individual freestyle final. Brock admits she wasn’t prepared to compete in the freestyle. “I’d never ridden my entire freestyle prior to Rio,” declares Brock. “I definitely learned a life lesson, never count yourself out, always be prepared.” The duo ended up moving up in ranking after the freestyle and ended up finishing in 15th place overall.

Once she returned home from the Games, Brock has been in high demand. Lots of dressage riders are clamoring for the opportunity to work with Brock. While Brock teaches several other professionals on the side, her passion is giving clinics to up and coming kids interested in dressage. As such, two of her favorite clinic venues are the Pony Club Festival and Lendon Gray’s Dressage4Kids. She wants to spend her time giving back to and influencing the right people. “Kids are the most important benefactors of my time,” explains Brock. “They are sponge-like and absorb everything.”

Brock isn’t just giving back to those starting out in dressage; she’s giving back to the sport as a whole. Earlier this year, Brock was selected to be the equestrian representative on the U.S. Olympic Committee’s (USOC) Athletes’ Advisory Council. The four year term requires Brock to attend quarterly meetings. “It’s an opportunity for athletes to talk about what’s going on with their federation, their sport and tell the USOC what we want and need,” notes Brock. As a result of this position, Brock is also on the Board of Directors for the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF). “Taking the one USOC position has spiraled into numerous positions, as I’m also part of the USEF Selection and Grants committee and International Disciplines Council,” explains Brock. Brock doesn’t complain about the added responsibilities. In fact she says, “I feel if you’ve been lucky enough to represent your country you should give back in some form.”

These added responsibilities come at a slower competition period for Brock. Following the highest of highs winning Olympic bronze, Brock’s program has entered a transition period. Rosie took some time off following the Games and is still working towards getting back into competition condition. “The last six months have been tragic after we lost two up and coming prospects and had to retire Schumacher,” states Brock. “I’m working on rebuilding our program and hope to buy another two horses to add to the barn.” Used to ten horses in training at Deer Meadows, Brock currently has five in the barn, four of which can be ridden regularly.

With four European trips under her belt so far this year, Brock continues to look for her next diamond in the rough. Once she finds her next prospect(s) she likes to take her time at home developing a relationship before she even considers competing. “When I get a new horse, it’s more important for me to focus on training, than competing,” asserts Brock.

Regardless of which horses Brock chooses to bring home to Deer Meadow, one thing’s certain; they will be eating Triple Crown feeds. Since 2001, Brock has been feeding Triple Crown to the horses in her care. Mainstays in Brock’s feed room include Triple Crown Low Starch, Triple Crown Senior, Triple Crown 30% Ration Balancer and Triple Crown Safe Starch Forage.

“I tailor my nutrition program based on allergies and each horse’s workload,” says Brock. “As energy requirements go up, based upon the competition schedule, I feed more grain.” One thing she really appreciates about Triple Crown products is how her horses are getting a good nutritional value from grain without a lot of added sugar. She also loves how palatable both the feeds and forages are. “My older horses have thrived on Triple Crown Senior, I actually feed it to my younger horses at times too,” explains Brock. “I’ve also had horses that lived exclusively on Safe Starch Forage and looked amazing.”

What impresses Brock the most about the Triple Crown line of feed is the quality control. Every bag of feed she opens looks the same. “I really like how the ingredients are printed on the bag, rather than a bag tag which can easily be swapped out for cheaper or different ingredients,” shares Brock.

The consistency of Safe Starch Forage is what shows Brock the commitment to feed quality from the company. “You can really see how consistent the feed is with the forage,” she says. “I don’t know how you do it, but I never have to worry about quality.”

Likewise, the U.S never needs to worry about the quality of performance Brock is going to bring when she suits up for Team USA. An underdog when starting out in the sport, Brock now is among the big dogs. Southern States looks forward to seeing what the future holds for Brock and her mounts.


Horse Feeds from Southern States

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Legends CarbCare Performance 50 lb
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Legends CarbCare Performance 50 lb
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Legends CarbCare Balancer Pellet 40 lb
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Legends CarbCare Balancer Pellet 40 lb
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Legends GastroCare Supplement 40 lb
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Legends GastroCare Supplement 40 lb
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Standlee Premium Western Forage Alfalfa/Timothy Cubes 40 lb
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Standlee Premium Western Forage Alfalfa/Timothy Cubes 40 lb
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Standlee Premium Western Forage Premium Timothy Pellets 40 lb
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Standlee Premium Western Forage Premium Timothy Pellets 40 lb
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Standlee Premium Western Forage Premium Alfalfa Cubes 40 lb
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Standlee Premium Western Forage Premium Alfalfa Cubes 40 lb
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Standlee Premium Western Forage Premium Alfalfa Forage (Chopped) 40 lb
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Standlee Premium Western Forage Premium Alfalfa Forage (Chopped) 40 lb
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Standlee Premium Western Forage Premium Alfalfa/Timothy Chopped Forage 40 lb
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Standlee Premium Western Forage Premium Alfalfa/Timothy Chopped Forage 40 lb
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