I embraced United States Pony Club and 4H, and spent every day absorbing as much as I could. By 14 I was a work-study student at Dornhof Farm in Shaftsbury VT, where they specialized in 3-Day Eventing, and importing show horses from Holland and Germany. Through the auspices of Dornhof Farm, I traveled to Germany and Holland and worked at a sale barn during my 17th summer.
Eventing led to my love, or should I say obsession, with Dressage. I purchased Beaujolais, a 2-year old Clydesdale Thoroughbred cross gelding in 1992. We worked with Jenny Meyers of Meygas Farm in Salem, NY to give him a strong foundation of French Classical Dressage. Over the years Beau and I competed in Training and First Level recognized Dressage Shows on the East Coast.
After moving to North Carolina in 1997, I purchased Lord Chancellor, a Hanovarian Percheron Thoroughbred cross gelding. At 5-years old, Lordy had a light start under saddle. For the next nine years, we progressed through the levels to ultimately compete at Fourth Level, while working with a number of the top Dressage trainers.
And then in 2005, a good friend Nicole invited me to attend a Natural Horsemanship event in Fletcher, NC. I remember telling her, “I do not need ‘circus’ tricks.” I had seen just a snapshot of Parelli Natural Horsemanship with balls and barrels and was not interested. But she persisted.
From Day One I was hooked! I remember watching Pat and Linda Parelli play at liberty with their horses Remmer and Casper. When Pat said “If you want the truth then take everything off your horse and what you are left with is just that…. the truth”. This statement hit me hard. I knew I loved my horse but I also knew that if I took everything off him in a wide open place he would not chose to stay with me. He would leave.
It was that moment that changed my journey from a ‘normal’ horse person to a more ‘natural’ one. I left the weekend with a home study course in a box, and my plan to blend normal and natural horsemanship together.
I began to incorporate some natural horsemanship strategies into our training as Lordy and I continued to compete very successfully. However, in late 2006 Lordy suffered a severe colic attack that required emergency surgery. I remember the day like it was yesterday. And during that time I reflected back. I realized maybe my hardcore training schedule had become too stressful for him. With what I know today he did give me signs, I just didn’t know to look for them.
After a short time off, my wonderful daughter Emma Rose was born in 2008. And later that year I restarted my natural horsemanship focus, and became immersed in the Parelli Natural Horsemanship program. I attended the very first Fast Track 4-week course at the Parelli Center in Florida and after an intense 4 weeks, I was honored to receive a scholarship to enter the Instructor Program. I continued my studies at the Parelli Center in Pagosa Springs Colorado, and back and forth to Florida and Colorado, where in 2012 I earned my 3-Star Parelli Professional Instructor rating. I also had the privilege to study directly with Linda Parelli.
As my professional relationship with Parelli Natural Horsemanship was complete in 2016, I now enjoy blending numerous forms of horsemanship studies together to create a unique approach to enhancing relationship, communication and riding performance. I feel strongly there is something to learn from everyone as long as you keep your principles in check.
Over the years I have been dovetailing Dressage and Natural Horsemanship together and experiencing amazing results for both horses and people. I am excited to announce the creation of “Dressagemanship™” and the sequential training program it represents.
Currently, I live on a small private farm in the Lake Wylie area of South Carolina (on the North Carolina/South Carolina border) called Kneadful Balance Farm, with my husband and daughter. I enjoy restarting off the track thoroughbreds and developing warmblood /draft crosses. Bottom line is I love helping horses of all breeds. My current partner is a 2015 Warmblood cross mare named Sabrina, as she was a Halloween baby! We are enjoying the journey each day seeking Dressagemanship™ balance in everything we do.
3 Gold, 1 Silver and 4 Bronze American Warmblood Society Medals
NCDCTA 1999 Reserve Year End Champion at Training Level
USDF Bronze Medalist
In 2006, 7th year end place in the country at Third Level dressage
NCDCTA 2006 Horse of the Year Third Level Champion
Qualified yearly for GAIG/USDF Regional Championships Training through Third Level.
3 time recipient of the Dover Adult Amateur Medal Award at Second Level
Parelli Natural Horsemanship Level 4
Manolo Mendez Classical Dressage Trainer
Walter Zettl Classical Dressage Trainer
Karen Rohlf Dressage Naturally
Stacey Hastings USDF Gold Medalist, USDF Certified Instructor through Fourth Level, “L” Graduate Dressage Judge
Elaine Hayes USDF Gold Medalist
Sally Swift Centered Riding
Pat and Linda Parelli