2015 In Review

Coco working on half stepsCoco and the gang at SandhillsCoco flying changes

Here we are in 2016 and I am still trying to comprehend all the accomplishments of 2015. Coco turned 7 years old and began her climb to the FEI ranks. We started the year out at Sue Smithson’s show, March Magic. The sleet and chill didn’t dampen Coco’s enthusiasm and may have intensified it because she did well in all her classes at fourth level with an ultimate win of the Custom Saddlery Stakes Class with a 71+%. Winning money is fun. I need to do those classes more often. ūüôā A month later we competed at Janine Malone’s Williamston Spring Dressage where we debuted at PSG. There were green mistakes but as always she gave her best effort placing well and earning a 67% on the second day. We continued doing well through NCDCTA’s Capital Classic where we earned a 70% at PSG. Unfortunately we soon became aware of something not being quite right and on further investigation we discovered Coco had developed ulcers. So we suspended showing and began treatment. Once she was cleared we got back to it and set our sights on the Regional Championships in Lexington but it wasn’t to be because of a sprain ankle. However, we did begin working with Lars Petersen and were able to participate in two clinics in August and November where Lars continued to help us with our FEI development. Lars is very excited about Coco’s future and with good health and proper planning we hope to qualify for the Developing Horse PSG Championships in
August and prepare for our first experience at a CDI.

Ellie regional championshipsEllie and East Coast

Emilio national championships

Emilio East Coast

In addition, I was honored to train and campaign Iva Knapp’s two Arabian horses, Emilio BFA and Kameram Rhapsody. Both horses did a wonderful job. Emilio a purebred Russian Arabian Stallion was high score third level horse at the Lexington Spring Show with a 70+% with Gary Rockwell. Both Ellie and Emilio won all their Regional and East Coast Championships at second through fourth levels. The highlight of the year was Emilio’s Second Level National Championship at the Arabian Sporthorse Nationals in Raleigh, NC. He also was the highest scoring purebred Arabian in the third level class where it was a very deep class with both purebreds and half-Arabians. Ellie was Top Ten in the Nation at both Third and Fourth Level.

Julie and Romie winning their bronze medal

Tracey and Orrie trotting

My students also did well. A big shout out to Julie for her USDF Bronze Medal. She and Romie did it at their first show at third level. Tracey and her mare, Orrie got back to it after an injury and made great progress. Bob and Monty began their dressage journey after retiring from the event world. He earned some nice scores in intro and training level. I began working with Tempe and Jager this summer. They earned their USDF Bronze Medal and are shooting to debut at fourth level in 2016.¬† I am really looking forward to this team’s future. Not all the goals were met in the competition arena but each and every one of them were well deserved and I am very proud of all my students.

arena 3

Widening and rebuilding.

arena 5

Mr. Tillman’s co-pilot was very helpful in the process.



Using lots of fill to renovate.


Laying down the base.


All the screens have been rolled and pressed. Now for the sand.


Sand delivery,


Sand all down.


Rubber delivery.




Finished product with the sand and rubber.

The Ups and Downs

Old Man Winter has bowed to Maiden Spring. The flowers are blooming, the insects are buzzing, the birds are building nests and as Equestrians our dreams and goals grow clearer into focus. This new season has had its ups and downs with some injuries and ailments that have slowed things down. However, not all is doom and gloom and plenty of good things are happening.

Coco’s and my partnership continue to grow. She is such a lovely mare with a big heart and wonderful talent to match. I am delighting in discovering her many facets. Yesterday I enjoyed the loft I was attaining in her passage steps when doing the exercise of medium trot to collected trot to passage on the 20 meter circle. Her piaffe is quite green but shows much promise. I will be working with Tami Batts for a couple of weeks while my arena is refurbished and then heading to a Felicitas Von Neumann Cosel clinic at the end of June.

Went to my first show of the season with Iva Knapp’s mare, Elle. The judges were high level and the competition stiff but Elle was such a good girl for her first show of the season, first time ever in a coliseum and a new rider. Our first PSG test went not as well as I had hoped but with deep, heavy footing I rode conservatively and scored a 58% and a second place. Unfortunately, the second day the footing proved too much and she became irregular. Luckily no irreversible damage was done and we will hopefully be back in June showing at the Blue Ridge Arabian Show.

Emilio continues his Iwrap injections and rehab. We are hoping he will be ready to show later this season. Time will tell.

Julie and Romie are back to riding and planning on earning Julie’s final scores at third level for her USDF Bronze medal. She is also hoping to qualify him for Nationals which is in Lexington next year. She is also hoping to ride her Polish Arabian gelding, Dusty at Training and First levels.

A big Congratulations to Lynne Prado and Silverado who continue their winning strike with upper 60’s and 70 % at Training Level. Just last year this time Lynne had just graduated off the lunge line. She has done fabulously under Elizabeth’s training. I am so proud of this team and wish them continued success.

Big news on the farm is that June 9th the work to refurbish the existing dressage arena will begin. The original arena has some fatal flaws that we have begrudgingly dealt with over the years but soon that will all be history. The arena will be about the same size of 200 ft. by 72 ft. The footing will be sand and rubber. Will post photos as the progress is made.

Care, and not fine stables, makes a good horse.
– Danish Proverb


Coco Win Arrives

Coco Win Arrives

Well after much searching and often finding myself¬†either¬†going down dead ends or getting trapped on a round about that just doesn’t have the exit I am looking for I have found my next equine partner. Coco a beautiful bay 6 year old Hanoverian mare of old¬†distinguished Holsteiner¬†bloodlines such as Landgraf I and Calypso and Hanoverian bloodlines such as Waldmeister and Ferdinand¬†arrived at my barn a month after her long journey from Hamburg, Germany. She quickly settled into the routine and did well in turn out considering she had not enjoyed turn out in a month. Many thanks to Sharon Clark of Rigbie Farm in Maryland who oversaw Coco’s quarantine. She was very much on top of what needed to happen during the 18 days that Coco was there and kept me in the loop. Because of our unusually cold, snowy winter my riding has been hampered but it has just given Coco a bit more time to recuperate from her long trip and feel more at home without the added pressure of training. I will take some time to get to know her and begin developing our partnership before venturing out. I am looking forward to what the future holds for us. I will definitely be keeping you posted.

Jane and Falki enjoying an unseasonably warm and sunny lesson.

Jane and Falki enjoying an unseasonably warm and sunny lesson.


Despite the many days of frigid temps and snow and ice covered ground the last three months, we have gotten in many good days of riding with the help of layers and layers of clothing, a lot of sport psychology and pure stubborn perseverance. We have savored the days we have had with sunshine that kept us a bit more warm than the actual temperatures would allow and really celebrated the one or two times we had one of those Carolina winter days where one could ride in short sleeves. I believe we have had two of those since Christmas. All over from friends as farm north as New York and as far south as Georgia everyone is saying ‘Enough is ENOUGH!!’ We are all looking forward to Spring and eventually Summer. Hopefully as the official day of Spring approaches we will see the beginning of warmer, drier weather.

‚ÄúI believe that everything happens for a reason. People change so that you can learn to let go, things go wrong so that you appreciate them when they’re right, you believe lies so you eventually learn to trust no one but yourself, and sometimes good things fall apart so better things can fall together.‚Ä̬†¬†
‚Äē¬†¬†¬†¬† Marilyn Monroe



2014 Starts Off With a Bang!!

Julie Hart and her mom, Cathy Kennedy

Julie Hart and her mom, Cathy Kennedy

Happy New Year Everyone! Despite the wet weather and cold temps here on the farm seems the 2014’s momentum can’t be dampened. We welcomed a few new people to our family. Iva Knapp and her lovely horses, Emilio and Elle joined us the middle of January. Emilio is a 7 year old Russian Arabian Stallion who has been competing third level and we are hoping to debut at fourth level later this year. Elle a 10¬† year old Half Arabian mare by Rolling Stone has been shown Fourth Level and PSG. We are hoping to secure her scores for the Regional Championships and Nationals at PSG and I1 later this year. Iva and her horses are a wonderful addition to our team and we look forward to a successful show season.

We welcome Jane Ridge who is enjoying lessons on Falki. Jane has been out of riding for a few years and is slowly getting back into it. Also we welcome Ines Kausche who is taking lessons on Falki while searching for her next horse. She unfortunately suffered a tragic loss last year when her beloved mare, Sorette had a career ending injury.

Long time student and friend, Julie Hart is hoping to secure her USDF bronze medal this year on her gelding Romanov. Romanov (known as Romie) clinched fourth place last year at the 2013 Arabian Sporthorse Nationals in Lexington, Va in the Open Fourth Level Division with a 67%. So he will be ready to carry Julie toward her debut and goal at third level. Julie was out of the showing mode last season due to the demands of caring for her mother in her final stages of cancer and the ultimate loss when her mother lost her battle to cancer this past Spring.¬† Cathy was Julies’ greatest fan and we will all miss her enthusiasm and laughter.¬†Julie¬†is also hoping to continue developing her young Polish Arabian gelding Dusty who was in the Top Five at East Coast Championships last year in the Sporthorse Undersaddle.

Isenbeck more affectionately known as Nudge left at the end of January for his new home. He has moved to Raleigh where he is now with his new owner, Dana. Dana just fell in love with him when she tried him and couldn’t wait to have him with her. She has given him a new stable name of Issac. Which seems to fit him quite well for he is always thinking and is a quick study. We wish Dana and Issac many enjoyable hours together¬†and hope to see them going down centerline soon. Thanks to Liz Long for allowing me to have such a great horse in my barn to train and represent for sale.

I am a PM Delegate for Region 1 so I enjoyed attending the 2013 USDF Annual Convention in December in Lexington, Ky and will be heading to Philadelphia area in the middle of March for the Region 1 Spring Meeting. I am also looking into the possibility of NCDCTA hosting a L Program Continuing Education Program on Freestyles. The material has been revised and is very educational for anyone wanting to learn more about freestyles. In addition to all these activities I have been accepted in to the USEF “r” Judging Program. So as soon as I hear when my training program starts I will begin the process of becoming¬†¬†licensed as a “r” dressage judge.

So 2014 promises to be an exciting and busy year. In the midst of all this activity I am continuing to search for my next equine partner. So hopefully soon I will the new owner of a promising young horse. To all my students, clients and friends: Good luck this season! May all your dreams come true and your goals be met!

‚Äútake a deep breath. Keep your body fully in the present and your mind in the recent future. Don’t let the past get in your way.‚ÄĚ
‚Äē¬†¬†¬†¬† Linda Kohanov,¬†¬†¬†¬† The Tao of Equus¬†¬†¬†¬†

An Ode to the Schoolmaster

Recently I have been employed to sell a wonderful schoolmaster. He is not the first schoolmaster I have had the pleasure to sell and I expect he won’t be the last. I remember a time when finding a quality schoolmaster especially those at¬†FEI level¬†that could help a student learn correctly the higher level movements such as flying changes, lateral work, etc. and develop confidence was a much sought after and often difficult task. As the level of dressage education continues to improve in our country and our entries in the FEI divisions grow at shows so does¬†¬†the availability of schoolmasters. However there is a resounding complaint amongst trainers and brokers that horses beyond 12 or 13 years of age are hard to sell. Buyers of who are mainly adult amateurs are clamoring for the 6 to 10 year olds. Their reasoning being they want to have a young enough horse with which¬†they can have many years of enjoyment and go up the levels with as their training progresses. So the question that continues to plague me is where is the disconnect between those buyers who in reality need a schoolmaster with the mileage, knowledge and proven track record¬†to teach them how to ride the more advanced movements correctly¬†and what they actually purchase.

First let’s look at¬†some definitions of¬†the word¬†schoolmaster. According to Horse Glossary Definitions ”¬†The horses that dependably, quietly and obediently carry learning riders during lessons may be called school masters. Quite often these are older horses whose competition days are behind them. But their knowledge makes them the ideal mount for someone who wants to learn new skills. A retired school master may make the perfect first horse for a beginner. The Oxford Dictionary states “an experienced horse that is used to train or give confidence to inexperienced riders or horses.” Dictionary.com states that a schoolmaster is¬†“anything that teaches or directs”.¬† The underlining theme in all the definitions is “teach”. As elementary as this sounds it seems to be a major factor missing when¬†many¬†are looking for their next horse. It is a near impossible task to teach something that oneself has not yet mastered thus the fault in one’s thinking that a young, inexperienced horse will progress with them up the levels as they both learn.

Some buyers state their budget is such that they have to buy a younger, inexperienced horse to maximize their dollars. Well let’s examine this a bit closer. Young, inexperienced horses require training and lots of it to teach them their job. Some skills take longer to learn than others. The same applies for inexperienced riders who hope to move up the levels. With the two combined the expense of training and retraining due to mistakes made by the inexperienced rider is even more and can be staggering for most limited budgets. The inexperienced rider on the schoolmaster spends their budget on lessons teaching them how to utilize the horse’s knowledge and an occasional tune up for the horse. Their budget goes further toward their riding and showing¬†goals because they aren’t required to¬†ride down levels to match the horse’s limited experience but often find they¬†ride up the levels quicker because again the horse’s mileage and knowledge enables the rider to master the skills needed for the next levels.

Another argument buyers have for buying the younger, inexperienced horse is that there will be more¬†years available to show and learn. One can’t deny that this argument is valid on the surface¬†but again it goes to the goals of the rider and their budget.¬†A sound, healthy¬†schoolmaster of 15 or 16 years of age will have normally if cared for and ridden correctly a good 3 to 5 years of competitive showing left. After that one may find the ribbons and competitive scores¬†aren’t as plentiful but the ability to show and meet rider goals are very much in play. In that 3 to 5 years a rider can move up several levels and learn the skills required to ride another horse at those levels. Often with younger, inexperienced horses riders with limited knowledge get stuck at difficult levels and stagnate there never getting past the obstacles. This can be both frustrating for horse and rider. With this dilemma goals are not met and riders find they feel defeated.

Trainers and instructors get caught in this web of frustration also. The student needs lessons to continue to develop as a rider. The trainer needs time to confirm the horse’s new skills. At times there aren’t enough of hours in the day or days in the week to accomplish both without horse or rider or both suffering. The student may find he or she has to spend time watching the trainer ride the young horse and even show the horse for a time before having the privilege of¬†mounting up for a lesson.¬†Although there is an educational value to watching the only real way to improve as a rider is to ride. While an instructor may get on the schoolmaster to demonstrate an exercise or tune him up there is little time spent on the student’s part just watching the training process. Thus more hours spent in the saddle learning and showing. The instructor feels less pressure to sacrifice the horse’s training for the rider’s training.

I have spoken to a number of riders who have purchased schoolmasters and not one of them has ever regretted the decision. Often they paid more up front for the schoolmaster but the timely¬†“pay back” gains in goals met and learning were such that they felt they could never have realized them without the schoolmaster. As with any horse purchase getting professional guidance is a must. Not every schoolmaster is a good candidate for every rider so it takes time to find the right one. Being realistic about one’s riding ability, goals and budget is critical. Often an instructor will know of schoolmaster horses a student should try or know reputable brokers who have such horses.

So here’s to all the schoolmasters available and the buyers in need of a good teacher may they find each other and enjoy many years together.