My Clinic with Janet Foy and Catalina

I went to a clinic a week ago with Catalina.

Janet Foy was the clinician a well-known FEI judge.  I had never met Janet nor had I ever saw her teach so I was not sure what to expect.  To be honest I was a bit skeptical that my horse was ready for a judge to teach me.

Not all judges ride and teach and while they may be good judges, that doesn’t mean they can teach.  I was pleasantly surprised at how good of a teacher Janet was and how sympathetic she was with my green mare.  Catalina is by UB 40 and it helped that Janet knew her father.  Before we started the first day I gave Janet the history of the mare and what she knew and didn’t know.  As a professional I’m able to give a brief but helpful summary to clinicians and I think this is very helpful for them.

Often in a clinic the clinician is seeing riders and horses for the first time, it’s very hard when you only have 2 days to learn something new.  While no trainer wants to hear about the last 10 years of your life or your horse;  letting the clinician know your strengths and weaknesses helps them know what to expect and where to start.

Catalina was a bit nervous as she has not traveled much in her life but she was such a good girl and  gave me 100% of herself.

We worked on suppleness and getting Catalina to give a bit more in her poll. This is a tight and sensitive area for many horses but especially Catalina.  We worked many circles in trot.  In canter Janet wanted me to ride more straight lines. Janet explained getting the horse to give in the poll is often easier with the neck a bit lower than your show frame.

Janet worked with me on not always keeping the horse in a “show” frame but asking for more bending and more stretching of the neck than what we would want in the show ring.

I  explained one of my weaker scoring areas in the show ring has always been my shoulder-in.  While I’ve had plenty of 7 and 8’s I felt I was capable of scoring higher in the shoulder-in, but the complaint I get from judges is often not enough bending.  Keeping the horse on 3 tracks and getting some bend is very difficult.

Janet explained that I needed to soften my outside rein more.  In general throughout the whole clinic she wanted my outside rein softer to allow for more inside bending.  I’m not alone when I say I’m often afraid to lose my outside straightness and connection so I hold  it.  The horse can’t bend if you can’t ease up on the outside aids including the leg not just the rein.

Rather than take my outside rein Janet had me use my inside aids to put the horse more onto the outside rein and then make the outside rein soft and then let go again.  She said I was one of the few riders she has seen that she had to say do more with the hand rather than less.  Now take this with a grain of salt. We all must have quiet hands, however at home in training Janet wanted me to be braver about stretching Catalina’s neck and being quicker to make her supple and let go. (not hold her so much)

Where the improvement showed the most in my reaction being quicker to supple her was in the canter. I had told Janet that Catalina has spent the first 6 years of life mainly trotting as her canter was so weak and hard for her.  I had to train her to do  everything in trot. We later found out she had positional collapsing of her throat meaning only in canter and only in a frame in the canter she was not able to get enough air.

She had successful throat surgery last year and is now developing a beautiful canter.  Because I never forced her or used draw reins during her first 6 years of training Catalina never got scared to canter and is now learning to trust she can stay in a frame at the canter and get plenty of air.

Since Catalina did not go to Florida this past winter she lost some strength so now the canter needs to get stronger as she builds up her back and hind quarter muscles again.

The second day of the clinic we worked more on haunches-in to shoulder-in.  This exercise was meant to help put the horses body on the right lines. Taking the shoulders in after a small angled haunches-in put the haunches on the line of travel and prevented them from falling out, that allowed me to ask for more inside bend.

Once we mastered the shoulder-in work,  we worked on half-pass at walk and trot.  This was the hardest for me.  Although Catalina has always done easy half-pass Janet again wanted more body bending in the half pass and was hard on me about my preparation for half-pass. Janet explained riders often make the mistake I was making which is that we just drift or slip into half-pass without preparing for the bending required in half-pass. She also gave me a tip that in dressage the judges don’t want to see the rider opening their outside rein. (something I’m known for doing) and it has hurt my score slightly when I’ve done it although no one explained how not to do that.  The reason I open my outside rein is because the horse isn’t staying out to the outside rein enough.  Janet had me use my inside leg more to keep the horse on my outside rein.   Keep in mind this is advanced work as when you use the inside leg to outside rein the horse in that moment still has to stretch up to the outside rein and not drift out.  The way I do this is when using my inside aids, I try to keep energy coming out of my outside toe (toward the mouth of the horse, and keep my outside knee soft so my outside leg is still there supporting the horse but in such a soft way the horse still feels they can bend and stretch the outside of their body. (never block with your outside leg)

So back to our last exercise which was half-pass work.  Janet had me do shoulder-in to half-pass and then shoulder-in and half-pass down the long side.  She only wanted a few steps of half-pass at a time but with a lot of body bending. Readers should note again this is advanced work as the rider must understand going from shoulder-in to half-pass requires the horse to cross their front legs in different directions so give your horse a step or two to make that switch.  Because Catalina goes sideways so easy Janet had me using a lot of inside leg and keeping her onto my outside rein. She wanted me to replace my inside rein with my inside leg which created more body bending around my inside leg. This was new for Catalina and she had to work hard to stretch and body bend that much.  This is why we only did a few steps at a time.  Once Catalina gets use to body bending more I will add more steps but in training its quality over quantity so less is more when beginning something new to you or your horse.

Another very helpful tip was on my position in half-pass to the left.  Janet had me turn my body more onto the line of travel.  So in half-pass left my right shoulder needed to come forward more and my left shoulder back and down.  This was super helpful and the way she explained it made it easy.  We all need our positions checked on a regular basis.

My mom just arrived home from coaching in Wellington for the winter and right away  made some corrections to my position. She wanted my seat wider and my chest more open with my lower back soft (not arched) sounds easy but it isn’t.  Position is very important and must be worked on daily.

I would recommend Janet Foy as a clinician and I would ride with her again.

enjoy bits and pieces of my lesson with Janet Foy

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Catalina our 7-year-old mare will be starting her show career this summer.

Our first clinic is early May with Janet Foy.

Then  we start at Waterloo at the end of the month.  If anyone needs some coaching let me know as I will have a few babies in the lower levels and some extra time to meet at the ring.  While Catalina is schooling 4 th level work in trot her canter is still green as she did not canter for the first years due to a positional throat issue.  At canter in a frame she was having some closing of her throat tissue and so we did  throat surgery which was very successful and now every day she is cantering better and better.

I have no doubt this will be a special mare with a long career as she is very sound and has a heart that wants to please and try each and every day.  This mare never says no when I ask for something. This alone makes her very special.

So my plan is to start her in intro classes and training level until I know she is confident and happy and relaxed in the ring and from there we will move her up.


It’s very important when developing young horses for the future that they learn to love going into the show  ring.

I’ve had some horses ( expensive ones) who school marvelous at home and then in the ring they are nervous and unhappy.  This can come from being over faced, pain related, or just bad training in general.  These horses are hard to fix because corrections in the ring are not so possible as at home.

The way to avoid this is to show a few levels below the work you are doing at home until the training is confirmed and the horse is relaxed and trusting of the show ring.

Your horse must have complete trust in you and you as the rider must trust them completely for success.

This brings me to my order if importance in picking out horses for sport.

1. Character is most important.  Without that nothing else really matters.

2. Quality, quality is something I’ve had to really up my standards on because the sport of dressage and show jumping has gotten so much better over the years to win you need BOTH good riding and good horses.

3. Character and quality doesn’t always mean you will get what we call “heart”. So I also look for heart.  While a trainer can certainly influence this and give a horse heart through lots of positive reinforcement the reality is some horses are just born with it.

The ones that have huge hearts like my mare Catalina should never be over faced or scared.  They can get over faced easily because they try so hard,  so know when to stop and not be too greedy.  I’ve become very good at saying “tomorrow is another day, and we will go back to the drawing board”

Finally as we approach show season for those of you that spent the winter in the North, take great care to be sure you give your horses time to get fit and strong again.

Without  strength we must do short periods of good work which strengthens them without injury.  My favorite strengthening exercises are anything with lots of transitions. The transitions help strengthen the hind end of the horse.  They are like mini squats for people.

Ask often expect little or nothing, reward generously.   This is an old saying my Dad used a lot which will never become outdated!



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4 year old Francesca by Kevekko out of K. Zauberhaft

I have had Francesca since she was a yearling.  She is big and very pretty. We backed her last year and the process was slow.  As a 3-year-old she started out a bit girthy and cold backed.  Some of you may know exactly what that means but let me describe it as I have experienced it.
A girthy or cold backed horse means the horse feels more discomfort when the girth is tightened.  My feeling is that it’s a combination of the pressure on the belly as well as the pressure of the saddle on their back.  In my experience it’s the pressure on the back from the saddle bothering them more than the girth.
So you should think of it in three categories.

1.  A girthy horse who gets nervous when the girth begins to be tightened

2.  A cold backed horse means you can tighten the girth up and they seem fine but when you get on they put a hump in their back and walk off with a tightened walk gate and sometimes if not lunged they will even buck.

3. A girthy and cold backed horse: this horse is both tense and sensitive to the girth being tightened as well as holding their backs and walking off tight in the back when the rider mounts.

So how do we handle these horses and can this sensitivity to the girth and saddle be taught to go away.

First and foremost if you have an unbroken horse you will know they are cold backed and girthy before mounting as they usually show you how they feel when the saddle is put on. You will see the hump in their back on the lunge line and you will see the look in their eyes when you girth the saddle up.

If you own an older trained horse that is cold backed do not tighten the girth too much in the barn, and go slow tightening the girth as you walk into the ring.  I should note some of the best horses I’ve had have been cold backed and/or girthy.  If the horse has been properly treated by their handlers one only needs to take more time getting the saddle on and a bit of extra time allowing the horse to warm up on the lunge or a long walk before work.

So what do we do with a baby or an older horse that is cold backed?

An older horse is easy.  You just take a few more minutes in the tacking up process and plan more time for the walk warm up or lunge.

However for a horse that has not been backed yet you have to be very careful and very thoughtful each and every day.  For the most part horses are either born girthy or cold backed or not.  Don’t plan on completely eliminating this behavior.  What we don’t want is for your horse to learn other bad habits like bucking, or being afraid of the girth being tightened.   This means you must have great patience as with cold backed horses I’ve found that some days are completely symptom free and some days the horses are quite girthy and cold backed.  So in saying that I mean if your 3 or 4 year old horse is acting more cold backed on a particular day,  take your time and don’t over face yourself or your horse.  Time and patience and giving your horse a warm up routine they can depend on is critical.

Getting back to Francesca.  Last year when she was 3 we always lunged first and taught her to lunge very well before we backed her.  We taught her to free jump and also do jumps and cavalettis on the lunge line.  The jumps help loosen the horses back.  Within reason and  keeping good manors allow your cold backed horse to buck on the lunge. I encourage a few bucks with these horses as they need to get the kinks out of their back before they can get loose.

This year as a 4-year-old Francesca’s girthy and cold backed behavior has almost completely gone away.  Because we went slow last year I’m able to go faster this year.  She is ready to accept the next stages of training because last year we took great care to never teach her she could buck someone off or get scared and run away.  We have built a trusting relationship with her and continue to do so.  As with any sensitive horse they must trust the handler and rider completely.  That means the horse needs to be able to depend on a regular routine.

I say handler also because a lot of us busy horse trainers must rely on stable help and grooms to care for our horses and get them to the training ring.  Their job is very important as they set the stage for how the horse feels entering their training session.  I’m very particular that my horses are saddled and bridled the same way every day as that is how they stay happy and confident.  This is obviously most important with an impressionable youngster.

One last thought positive reinforcement is always what we are after.  Keep things positive by setting up your training sessions for success.  If you’re not sure you can try the next step of training stay where you are until someone qualified  can help you from the ground.










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Evekko’s first month in Wellington Florida

We are very proud of our coming 5-year-old who is now training in Wellington Florida.

With much to learn and his first show season ahead of him,  I have partnered with Marcel Van der Burgh to ride him.

My current plan is for Evekko to qualify for regional finals in the 5-year-old division if he is ready. If not we will keep him in an open division and go to finals that way.  The most important thing to me this year is that he has good experiences and learns to enjoy travel and showing.  My real goal all along is to be competitive in the 6-year-old classes next year with me riding so all our training will be with that goal in mind.

Enjoy the video link below.

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Evekko our 5-year-old arrived safely in Wellington Florida about 3 weeks ago. We originally were planning to bring Evekko to Florida next year.  However with  the inconsistency in  training here in Michigan we made a choice to invest in his future sooner.

I was fortunate that the trainer I sent him to had spent a few days riding him this past summer.  Because I wasn’t able to accompany Evekko to Florida this year I wanted him to go to a rider that knew him.   Most  importantly,  I wanted my mom to be able to check on him and continue to direct his training schedule.

Evekko went to a barn with trainer and friend;  Marcel Van der Burgh.

Prior to January 1st.  Carole was already directing Evekko’s schedule and training exercises.  I rely on Carole to give me the curriculum and homework.  I then go to the drawing board perfecting those exercises.  Typically when Carole and I work together she coaches me about 2-3 days a week.  The rest of the week I work on what we have started in the lessons.  My goal is always to work on what we start in the lessons so that Carole can come back and say “that’s much better, lets move on to the next thing” 

The reason I share this with you is because when you are with a trainer or coming home from a clinic, it’s important to work on a few things you have learned while it’s fresh in your mind.   In this way you and your horse can come to an even better understanding of what the trainer was saying.
I rarely acquire a “feel” for a movement or exercise  immediately.  Often it takes weeks or even months for the light bulb to go off.  We all know what that “ah ha” moment is like.  If we don’t at first have it we need to seek it.

I always say follow your trainers advice and teaching in great detail,  because no system will work if you don’t stick with it.  After coming to a full understanding of things I may opt to give a particular exercise my own personal twist,  but it’s extremely important with horses to keep things simple.  So if you are working on something new to you (the rider) don’t expect you or your horse to perfect things right away.

” Rather; expect it to take time and then you will be happy for all the little improvements along the way.  Horses respond best to positive reinforcement, so if your horse gives you a little of something new, reward him so he stays confident during the learning process.

I’m now on my way to wellington to see Evekko and get some sun.  I am planning to ride and spend some quality time with him grooming ano grazing him.   My only diversion from the barn will be taking my three sons to see the final practice of a The Detroit Tigers as they are stationed near wellington for the winter.

I believe it’s important for riders and trainers to participate in some way with other sports. I’ve been able to do that through my kids and recreational skiing.  I have found over the years that doing different things with our body makes us better riders and trainers.  We can’t put all the pressure on our horses for success but rather find your successes in all the small achievements as you climb toward your ultimate goal.




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Summer of 2013 pictures of Evekko

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Training and weather

For those of you who are in a cold climate state like Michigan, I don’t need to tell you how hard this winter has been.

I’ve recently made a decision to send my 5-year-old Evekko to Florida. He will leave Monday and stay for the rest of the season.

I will go and visit him a few times.  This will only be his third time ever shipping anywhere.  To ensure a safe and happy travel on this long trip I’ve booked him a box stall.
Box stalls allow the horse to be loose and are best for long trips.  They can move around and even lay down if needed.  While many horses do fine in cross ties,  if possible I always prefer a box stall for a trip over 15 hours.

I’m excited for him to see the world and see all the outdoor activity in Wellington.  His training will be more consistent than what I can give him in the bitter cold.

At Evekko’s age it’s important  moving forward that he does not have any more unneeded breaks.   In other words; there is a lot of ground to cover in the next few years.

I’m spending my last week with Evekko with a plan.   He will be ridden and jumped a few days this week to keep him quiet and relaxed.  Jumping is great for him when he is fresh as it gives him an outlet and something to focus on.  In the cold weather all horses are fresher and a bit harder to ride than in the summer.  In the summer in Michigan they have more turn out time as well as time on the hot walker.  This alone helps keep them quieter.  Remember especially with a young horse, they learn better when they are quiet and relaxed.  This is why rhythm and relaxation are of top priority as you progress in your training.

I will keep you all posted on his progress in Florida.  Evekko will be stabled just down the road from a horse show grounds, so he will see so much.  When he returns in a few months he will have grown in maturity leaps and bounds.

My plan here in Michigan is to show Evekko in June and continue through the season into August.  While he is nice enough for the 5-year-old classes we will have to see if he is ready for this test.  It all depends how quickly he acclimates to the show experience.  I learned a long time ago, when starting a young horse at the shows you want to really have the ridability and not try to do anything over their head.
A horse must learn from day one that the show ring is another part of their daily routine.  Corrections must be consistent in and out of the ring.

If bad things happen in the show ring early on in a horses career it’s hard to overcome that later.  I like to show my young horses a few levels below what they are training so they associate the ring with positive feelings.  One of the best trainers I ever had said to me, a  show should be easier than your training at home. The horse should think the show is the fun part, so we always trained a little harder than what we had to do at the show. In doing that you will always feel “prepared” despite you and your horse  being nervous.  Feeling nervous is normal, feeling unprepared is not a good feeling.

So back to having a plan.  Always have a plan but with horses be  open to changing that plan. Nothing should be set in stone but a plan gives you realistic goals.

I’ve just returned from the barn and my jumping trainer came to ride Evekko.  We planned to jump him today.  He lunged quiet but when I put Jenny on he was looking quite fresh.  We decided to work through this understandable freshness (it’s freezing with gusting winds). However we changed our plan from jumping to flat work only with some ground poles.  Evekko was very good and finished in a good way with some trot lengthening.

This is a perfect example of how important it is to have a plan but be willing to modify that plan in the best interest of the horse.



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Evekko and the Konrad Shumacher clinic

I want to back track in time  to my trip to Ohio to work with Konrad Schumacher.

I took Evekko to a town in Ohio which was in the heart of Amish Country.  Not only did I get to work with Konrad which was very exciting but my young horse Evekko got to see horses and buggies and hear all the sounds of real farm animals which surrounded us in the nearby fields.

It was quite special. We were there in November and the weather was beginning to get cold.

I arrived the day before the clinic in time to get Evekko into both the outdoor and indoor rings for a lunge.  Once Evekko was settled  in enough I mounted him and did a tack walk for about 20 minutes in each ring.

When horses are fresh at a new place I have found the best way to settle them is a good lunge and then tack walk until they relax. In this way you are not overworking them or stressing  them but you are hanging out in the ring until they finally take a deep breath and realize nothing bad is going to happen.

The first day of the clinic I got up very early to make sure we could get into the indoor ring to lunge before the first rider began.

I was very happy with Evekko and he was quite well-mannered.  I mounted him and walked around.  I have always found if you can get on and walk in a relaxed and controlled manner usually every thing else goes well too.

After my morning ride I was able to use a round pen and turn him out which was a bonus because he could get some safe turn out to further take the edge off.  Young powerful horses learn best when they are quiet and relaxed and it’s our job to put those positive miles on them with out too much tension.

For my first lesson I already had an idea of how it would go.  Although I had never worked with Konrad my mom and sister have ridden with him.  I had studied his methods and teaching style  before my lesson.  I never do a clinic without first doing my homework.  Clinics go much better when you and your horse are prepared.  In a 2 day clinic you want to be prepared like a horse show and plan to learn one or two things.  Remember in 2 days nothing is going to be fixed or transformed but you can grow a lot in 2 days.  Learning one or two good things to take home is a lot and something you can master.

As many of you know I have an extensive background in jumping so the last thing I expected was to have Konrad further my education on using cavaletties.

Konrad had me do a lot of cavaletties both at walk and trot. He helped me better understand that the cavaletties will only help with the contact if I keep the contact more coming into the cavaletties.  I was softening my reins too much and so although  Evekko was obedient and stepping over the poles he wasn’t using his back or keeping the connection as well as he could.  Once I realized to keep  more connection and feel of his mouth into the cavaletties the horse took more contact in the right way and lifted his back making his trot loftier and more supple. Evekko seemed happy with my contact and the poles on the ground gave him something to think about which helped him better except the contact.

On day one we worked on controlling Evekko’s neck and keeping him round.  Konrad gave me his “stabilizing rein” which  I knew about but had never used. He wanted me to use this rein to help me stay steady in my hand and allow Evekko to have a more consistent contact to find his neck position.  Konrad made it clear this rein was NOT to pull his head down but rather to give him the idea and make it easier for me to keep a quiet position.

A stabilizing rein is basically one side of a draw rein strap. The strap goes from the girth centered under their belly, up through the flash nose band, and then to the right  hand. I believe Konrad usually puts this one rein in the right hand.  The strap is only through the nose band so no pressure goes on the horse’s mouth.  In this way your contact to the mouth  remains just the way you want it so when the stabilizing rein is taken off the horse feels the same pressure on his mouth and nothing really changes.

Konrad explained to me that since his canter wasn’t  yet confirmed I should canter more on the lunge line at home for a while.  He also said when my horse breaks from the canter to the trot, in that moment do not push him immediately back into the canter but rather regroup the trot.  Otherwise the horse can take this as a punishment and get nervous.
The second day I started with my stabilizing rein and worked on walk trot and canter but in his small 14 meter box.  Konrad makes a square with poles about 14 meters big and he wanted me to ride the box with no movement in my hands but rather getting to my four points of the circle with just my seat aids and legs.  This exercise helped Evekko get better on my aids and find consistency in his trot. The box also allows the rider to use more leg without having the horse run forward.  The dedication to the 14 meters keeps the horse packaged and organized.   I also believe this exercise increases your horses focus and strength by asking them to repeat an exact measurement.  Konrad had me do many transitions within my 14 meter box.

I also worked on a serpentine.  At home I almost always finish my horses with some kind of serpentine, so again I thought I would be pretty good at this.  Konrad took my skills of the serpentine to a new level when he demanded I do not move my hands an inch and yet he wanted me to get exactly to the points of the wall each and every time. He wanted me to use my core, seat, and legs to direct the horse.  Again this put the horse better on my aids and allowed him to come through  his body more into my contact.  The major theme of the whole clinic was do not move your hands, and we all know how hard this is to do.

The last exercise I did was a leg yield away from the railing to a turn on the forehand.  This was done at the walk. You don’t want to try this with a young horse if they are too fresh as it’s very concentrated work and hard for a young horses mind.  We added this into Evekko’s lesson about the middle to end of our session so he was relaxed and ready to learn this new exercise.  Since the clinic Evekko has gotten much better  about the turn on the forehand and leg yield.

the following is an outline of how to ride this leg yield to turn on forehand exercise,

1. Walk out of the corner of your ring along the wall

2. begin to leg yield your horse to the quarter line.

3. when you reach the quarter line, begin a half turn on forehand from (away from) your outside leg. So if you leg yield off the wall in direction left your turn on forehand is going to be away from your right leg.

4. Once facing the opposite direction on the quarter line, walk ahead and go to the other side of the ring and repeat from the other direction off the other leg. If your first leg yield was from your right leg, then the next one should be off your left leg.

5. If you are riding a trained horse you should not have a problem but if you are on a young horse be patient as this also tests their patience and control.  Sometimes they can get a little agitated.  Konrad said “don’t do the turn on forehand if he’s not ready” in other words if Evekko got a little upset or felt restricted he wanted me to go slower with my aids and not get rushed.

I’m looking forward to working with Konrad again and hoping we can even get him to our farm here in Michigan in 2014.




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Evekko our 4 year old by Kevekko

Evekko is one of our most talented young horses in the group.

They are all nice horses but Evekko  has a natural piaffe, a strong back and great character for the Grand Prix.

Like his father he is a bit short in the back making him easy to collect. He has a great canter and also loves to jump.

Evekko is being trained to be an FEI dressage horse but his jumping days help him better understand his body and give a nice release to the technical work of dressage training.

It’s so important that a young horse have some variety to their work week to keep the riding ring a fun an interesting place.

Horses have to be taught to be submissive and obedient, but this can not be done by force but rather repetition and positive re-enforcement.

positive re-enforcement means when they do something wrong you repeat the question, and when they do it right you reward by going on to something else or at least another variation of what you are doing at that moment.

The best reward a horse can get is to have the rider cease their aids and stop asking that question. Having said that this is why we need “eyes on the ground”.

As riders we need to ask the horse to give us their best but not ask them to do more than they physically or mentally can do. For this reason timing is everything and there is a fine line between pushing a horse to the next level and pushing them too much where you would then loose ground.
In everything I do in my training I try to push the horses harder when I have someone good on the ground to help me and when I’m alone I make sure I never lose ground.
As riders we must know our limitations.

I have great success with my young horses but I’m always careful not to ride them too fresh or put them in a bad spot so we are always taking little bitty steps forward and one day it all comes together.
The age I most enjoy when I start a baby from scratch is 8 years old.  This is the age horses really get fun if they have had a good beginning.   If you are training a baby, think everyday about where you want your horse to be when they are 6, 8, 12 and so on. Your plans and exercises should all be directed toward the future.

Most important relish in the little victories and you will enjoy the process of riding and training a young horse.




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Update on the young horses

Hello again


I would like to update you on Catalina, our 6 year old mare by UB-40.

This mare has been so special to me because she has a huge heart.  Where she has lacked in some areas physically she has made up for in leaps and bounds due to her ability to be trained and her strong work ethic.


She was tried yesterday by an amateur to do a lesson package lease with Carole and I and she went beautifully.

Everything she had been trained to do she did willingly and easily for this new rider.

What was a pleasant surprise; was how well she carried a tall rider. While this mare only stands 15.3 she is wide and a big mover making her the ideal horse for both a short or tall person or someone in-between.

Catalina had throat surgery to fix some airway limitations in August and is now back in work and doing so much better with her canter work.

My goal now is to allow her some time to get fit to the canter work and then start focusing on her counter canter work in preparation for teaching her the lead change.

Because Catalina  has such a quick hind leg and natural jump to the canter I believe she will easily make clean changes.

I also plan to travel and show Catalina in 2014 along with some various clinics.

My mother Carole Grant has been so helpful in training Catalina with me and when she was 4 years old we did a Debbie McDonald clinic which was a wonderful experience.


Our next clinic will be with Janet Foy May 3&4 right here in Michigan.  I am very much looking forward to this first 2014 outing.

I’m looking forward to her continued progress and will keep you all posted on her.


While all our young horses are for sale, we have long term plans for all of them.  The beauty in this plan is that none of our young horses are pushed too fast and all our training is geared toward making them FEI Horses someday.

What’s the difference you may ask?  The difference is our young horses are taught many things to educate their minds and bodies so that they have a good understanding of “the basics” which allows them to move along in lateral work and collection.

We don’t just ride these horses and try to make them look fancy, we cross train over cavaletties, we teach them all the basics of in hand work and teach them all the beginning stages of piaffe. I have a good jumping rider who jumps them occasionally which is great for their mind and body. They learn turn on forehand and even elementary half halts to prepare them for a true understanding of balance and collection.

A well trained and educated horse who has been trained in a steady and sympathetic way will go willingly for any rider and this is the truest test of your training.





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