Meet Western-Style Rider Steve Messa, Wasabi Ventures Stables Co-Owner Club Member

What attracted you to horse riding?

I had a friend who was a dressage rider. Dressage is basically an art form of horse riding. It’s almost like ballet on a horse. The goal is to train your horse to be as obedient and flexible as possible. The rider’s performance is judged on several criteria.

When I saw my friend’s dressage performance, I was very fascinated. I visited the barn, and she had two horses there. One was her horse for dressage, and the other one was her older horse. The older horse was a mare named Rosie. I got to ride her and had a bunch of lessons. I rode Western-style, so I didn’t do dressage. Dressage traditionally involves more English and French riding styles, while Western-style riding is more for ranching.

Dressage is an artistic expression of horse training in which a horse and rider perform a series of prescribed movements from memory

I went through the basic training of learning how to trot, walk, stop, and canter. I really developed a relationship with Rosie, almost like a friendship. That’s when I realized how special horses really are.

Horses are very special creatures, like dogs. The bond between a dog and its owner is very emotional and special. It’s the same exact way with a horse. The differences are horses are much larger, and you can’t see their emotions on their faces. But as the rider and horse learn and grow more comfortable with each other, the horse opens up, and both start to get a sense of each other.

What aspect of horse racing do you enjoy the most?

Watching the horses. To me, horse racing is all about the horses. The horses get to do what they love best, which is run and release all this powerful energy. I also love the way they’re treated in the industry.

What issues in the industry would you like to see addressed?

There are often criticisms about the horse racing industry, but it’s no different than — for example — the NFL. This is an institutional form of entertainment in which athletes can get hurt, but I think that possibility transcends virtually everything that we do. The race horses are treated very, very well. They’re probably treated better than horses that are not in the racing industry.

There is talk of drugs being used in the horse racing industry. Drugs have no place in any sport. The industry needs to take a stronger stance on illegal drugs. Human athletes choose to put things into their bodies that are not good for them, but the horses don’t have a voice, so we need to make sure that the right people are in place to advocate in their behalf.

I think there are valid concerns in the industry, but with certain protections and the right people in place, those concerns can be addressed.

Why did you join the Wasabi Ventures Co-Owner Club?

Being a startup founder, I can’t own my own horse right now. All my money and time goes to the business, so owning a horse isn’t practical. It costs money to house and feed a horse. Moreover, you must dedicate time to ensure that your horse has a high quality of living, and spend time with it. That’s what really interested me about the Wasabi Ventures Stables Co-Owner Club. It allows me to develop a connection with a horse again, without the time commitment or sole financial responsibility associated with owning one.

Western-style horseback riding involves using steering signals with your hips and saddle position, while lightly touching the reins on a horse’s neck with just one hand. A heavier, wider saddle is used than in dressage.

The second reason is the entertainment and thrill of being involved in a growing sports industry. Instead of zero connection to the industry and sport, there’s a real connection. I’ve never seen a program that manages to create such an intimate level of connection like the Co-Owners Club.

As a startup founder, seeing this new venture grow so quickly, getting in at the ground level, and being involved as Wasabi Ventures Stables grows to something bigger is exciting.

Who is your favorite horse?

My favorite horse is the mare I grew up riding, named Rosie. She’s now 30 years old. Rosie was an absolute sweetheart. She was a very caring, interested, and thoughtful horse. She loved peppermint, carrots, and apples. Rosie’s the only horse I’ve ever had a personal connection with.

Would you like to learn more about the Wasabi Ventures Stables Co-Owner Club? Sign up for our informational webinar on January 25, 2017: http://bit.ly/2iv5x2k.