LeAnn and her OTTBs
My name is LeAnn and I met Tori a few years ago at a dressage show. She was coaching my friend, and when I encountered some unexpected challenges with my young Thoroughbred, Tori stepped up and coached us to a good warm-up. I truly appreciated her helping us during a difficult moment especially when I wasn't a client at the time.
Fast forward a few years to another young off-track Thoroughbred named Byron Bay who lacked basic training because I had been busy with other projects. I moved Byron to Wanaja Farm and began taking weekly lessons with Tori. In a short time, Tori trained us from banging into the arena walls because he didn't steer and I wasn't giving him clear aids, to a steady pair who understand and enjoy each other.
My goal with Byron is to develop a well-rounded, relaxed horse who is willing and able to do a range of activities from competing in shows and hunter paces to sorting cows and trail riding. I consider dressage to be the foundation for all these activities and key to his long-term mental and physical soundness. Tori is the trainer who can help me achieve my goal.
There are so many things I like and admire about Tori. She patiently follows the training scale and is fair to Byron. She knows there is more to correct training than having the horse "on the bit." She doesn't use draw reins or take other short cuts to achieve fast - but ultimately incorrect - results. She is positive and encouraging with me but holds me accountable to ride better. She makes me laugh, and sweat during our lessons. Byron and I have already learned so much from Tori and look forward to our journey ahead.
Sara and her Dutch Warmblood mare Josie
I have been riding with Tori since moving to Kentucky in 2018. I was welcomed at Wanaja Farm like I had always been a part of the barn family, even though I was only trailering in for lessons. Tori created an atmosphere that allowed for discussion of our progress, goal setting, and expanding my knowledge of dressage in every lesson.
When I made the decision to purchase a safer and more suitable partner, Tori was able to help guide me through the process and with her connections, find the horse of my dreams. I now have a lovely dressage partner and because of Tori’s encouragement, have ridden with top clinicians and started showing!
What I appreciate most about riding with Tori is her attention to detail and dedication to finding beauty in every movement. I am thrilled with the progress Josie and I are making and I’m so thankful to have Tori and Wanaja Farm helping to make my dreams come true!
Shannon and her Mustang gelding Brave
My name is Shannon and I have been Tori’s client since April 2017. I grew up riding at my neighbor’s farm so a majority of my riding history was in informal settings. I tried to get serious with riding in 2013 but life events and a few bad experiences kept me from really focusing on my riding goals. I knew before I got married that I wanted to have my own horse but I was nervous about this idea because I was lacking confidence and was not the most skilled rider. Through a rescue, I heard about a beginner friendly mustang gelding that was in need of a home. After much thought, I decided to trust my instincts and adopt the horse. Since I had taken a few months off of riding, I knew in order for this to be a smart, well thought out decision that I would have find the perfect barn and trainer. I wanted to start my journey into horse ownership with a trainer that would encourage a safe and successful relationship with my horse from the very beginning.
For me, the most important thing was finding a trainer that would be able to help me build my confidence and encourage safe practices. I knew immediately after my first lesson with Tori that we were on the same page. In a few short months, I have gained back a lot of my confidence. As I mentioned, my experience was very informal so Tori is constantly working with me to help with my equitation. I know that I make a lot of mistakes, as I am still learning dressage (and horse ownership in general) but I never feel self-conscious during our lessons. I have learned more in four months than I did in my previous 23 years of riding. Tori has also helped lay the dressage groundwork with Brave. Since he is a rescue, we are unsure of his past but we can guarantee that he did not spend his younger years in a dressage arena. Tori does at least one training ride a week when I am out of town and I love coming back for my next lesson to see what she has taught Brave. It is wonderful to see that Tori is always conscientious on how and when to push Brave. She has completely transformed Brave and helps remind him that he is capable of accomplishing any given task.
If you read Tori’s other reviews, you will notice that she has the ability to help riders of all experience levels. I strongly encourage individuals of all levels to consider working with Tori. I feel very lucky that I was able to find her!
Nancy and her Arabian mare Silver Marz
My name is Nancy and after a forty year break from horseback riding I decided that it would be a good time to get back in the saddle when I moved to Louisville several years ago. Initially I took lessons at an eventing stable but it was not a good fit so I kept looking for a more satisfactory stable and instructor. A friend recommended Wanaja Farm about the time I purchased my own horse about 5 years ago and I have been riding and taking lessons there ever since.
My instructor, Tori Retamoza, is an amazing rider and instructor. An USDF Gold Medalist, she excels in both training horses and teaching riders of all ages. Her expertise, patience and communications skills are outstanding and in my own case helped me gain the confidence to enjoy riding again. Having taken lessons from several other local instructors, I feel Tori is superior to all of the others I tried. And I could not be happier at Wanaja Farm.
Under Tori’s training, my horse has progressed from a skittish, untrained mare to an award winning show horse. She has consistently won blue ribbons at competitions at Kentucky Horse Park and Spring Run. I am amazed at what Tori has been able to accomplish with both me and my horse and very highly recommend her and Wanaja Farm to anyone interested advancing their riding skills.
Anna and her Arabian gelding Ima Celebrity Too
My name is Anna, and I’ve been training with Tori for 6 years. When I first started horseback riding, at age 8, it was hard for my grandma to find a quality training facility for my newly found interest. At age 9, we found Wanaja Farm, but it wasn’t until around age 10 that I met Tori. Becoming more passionate about Dressage as a sport, Tori has helped guide me in my training for many years.
During the beginning of my love for horses, I didn’t have one myself. It wasn’t until the end of the summer in 2014 that I got my own horse, and that’s when my fondness for riding horses became my passion, which was greatly influenced by Tori. For the past 6 years with Tori, every lesson has helped me improve, if not physically then mentally. Dressage is a very maturing and humbling sport, and every time a lesson ends with Tori, I feel stronger and healthier in my body and mind. I praise Tori for her many abilities on and off any horse, and I definitely consider her as a role model.
The atmosphere when having a lesson with Tori is one incomparable to anywhere else, at least for me. There is never a day that I feel uncomfortable riding in Tori’s presence, and I never feel embarrassed when I make mistakes. When mistakes happen, she just helps me learn from them. Asking questions to Tori is as easy as asking questions to a friend, as opposed to the feeling of asking an instructor a question and the awkwardness that comes with it. And, in the end, she always praises me and makes me feel accomplished even if our lesson wasn’t the best.
At the end of the day, Tori is the person that fuels my passion for riding and influences my improvements in my Dressage skills and abilities. In this way, I am greatly rewarded by the sport, and don’t think there is much in the world that could make me as happy as riding my horse does. With the help of Tori, I am able to learn and grow with my horse, which is something I’m incredibly thankful for.