Dressage at Devon was a wonderful success! It was pretty amazing that JJ had a horse in each of the FEI CDI classes offered! She and her team of horses all had top placings in each of the classes, even winning the Medium Tour with Kynynmont Gunsmoke’s Gideon! Faberge showed great form back in the show ring to place 5th in the famous Saturday night freestyles! What a special weekend!
We are down to our last two weeks here in Germany. Whoa.
This week I want to talk about connections within our equestrian community. Both types: the human and the horses.
It was stallion licensing week here at the Verband and I was surprised at how much I actually enjoyed learning about the process. It is quite detailed, time consuming, and expensive to go through the whole shebang! I’m not sure I will ever feel the need to license or stand a stallion, but it does give you a whole new respect for the breeders who do it EVERY year. I also learned that if the choice ever arose, if I wanted to find a resale or new prospect horse in Germany I would come to the Hengst (stallion in German) market and try biding on one that didn’t license. You have good odds that this is a nice moving horse, has passed a vetting, and has a good temperament. For many reasons they choose not to license some stallions, making them less valuable in the auction, BUT that doesn’t mean these guys won’t make really, super geldings. They are also not really evaluating these youngsters as sport horses, maybe slightly, but it is more of a breeding value evaluation. So maybe one youngster doesn’t have value as a stallion, but has tremendous value as a sport horse! It is now on the list of things to do and now that I have all these new connections within the Verband, I would love to be able to support their cause also. It is all about connections and helping one another. The Verband has dedicated time into me and the best way I can give back (but not abandon my effort to enhance USA breeding) would be to still funnel some youngsters into the US. Besides, bringing lines into the US that may help our sport is also enhancing our program.
Human connection. I was SUPER lucky to have JJ’s husband, Richard, join us for the licensing week. How nice it was to see a familiar face from home. Poor guy probably got hugged a little too tight the day he arrived, but he was saved from my tears that would have come had JJ come herself. They are back again THIS week towards the end to horse shop with a client in Holland and parts of Germany. He said not to get my hopes up that they will have time to see me, BUT I’m hoping so. I also connected Emily with Richard, which will ultimately connect with JJ and I think Emily is a fantastic addition to our Team Tate team. I mean, as I’ve said this whole trip, Emily is a younger me, with less relationship issues, which in a way makes her a better model. haha.
Human connection. Emily and I met breeders from all over the world through the Breeders Orientation Course the Verband let us attend. I hope these are new paths for them and for us to keep well bred sport horses in the limelight with hungry, talented, riders to promote them!
Human connection. While I was in Florida working we had many German working students come do a similar task as to what I’m doing here. We always had a blast together and have stayed friends on Facebook, but I never really assumed I would ever see them again. One of them made a HUGE effort (ok, ok, we happened to be only an hour apart, not 8, but still) to come hang out for the stallion auction. It was so great to see her again and she got along splendid with Emily too, which made it a great night.
Horse connections. Horses and my first love have taught me two things. I know what that real connection is. Right away. I will always go back to that first horse that I sat on and it felt like I’d plugged into a socket. It was this instantaneous relationship and I knew it right away. His name was Siep and in a way he was a very different heartbreak. He was a sale horse in my bosses barn and when I left he didn’t go with me. I just didn’t have the need or the spare cash for another horse. So he stayed and part of my heart stayed with him. He was goofy and a bit different (dutch) and I just felt like I understood his soul. That moment taught me exactly how I wanted to feel when I went on my next horse search and I found it. I sat on Jaeger for 5 minutes and I knew, this was my horse. I LOVE finding that click. It is beyond addicting. To know from the get go that this horse and you communicate on a special level. Rachael and I are like a good paired, married couple. I wouldn’t say it is that innocent, undying, first love, relationship, but we do meld well together through understanding and compromise. There is noting wrong with this type of relationship. We all know I hail the mare to the ends of this Earth, but she is no Jaeger. Jia is my second follow up and that one is funny because we connected from the ground. She was two when I bought her and obviously not ready to be backed, but that horse stares straight through me and I hear her every thought. Where am I going with this? Del Magica H. Now the funny part of this story is my Mom looked at the Elite horses and saw the one grey mare she mentioned her. Opps. Danielle’s weakness? She said I hope you get that mare, now we learned it isn’t that simple, however, as the Elite horses slowly dwindle to their new homes, our numbers have become manageable to ride and Magica has stayed. When I first saw Magica when she arrived for the auction I took one look at her and said, “She’s not really that pretty.” Figured I’d give her a gander still when I saw her move. Still again, not over impressed. So, I cast it off to the side. When she wound up on our list for giggles I said I wanted her. Although I have surprised myself at how much I have stepped up my riding with the Elite horses, Magica was that magic, haha, moment. That two-second connection that I knew she understood me and I understood her. This horse’s work ethic is amazing and she is just dying for a special connection. I can’t help but personally invest in this one. She is the light to my day and the one ride where it perks me up. It is going to be another sad day when she leaves or when I leave because that is one special mare. I am however, privileged and grateful to have her in my life these last few weeks. She makes the Verband feel more like a home and I am every excited to see her every day. I truly hope she has been purchased by caring, considerate, and kind people, because it would truly be a waste to see it any other way.
So it’s been a blogging hiatus, but things have gotten so crazy fast and really moving that it’s just been work, so a good blog topic hasn’t really struck my fancy.
This Friday however, Emily and I started the breeders tour program that the Verband puts on and it inspired me!
Today we did conformation judging and a history on the major lines that have contributed to the Hanoverian.
In my own way, to judge my eye versus our instructor, I premapped out my number choices on our list and then made side changes if he saw something different. My notation on my thoughts versus his was that I was much harder on the dressage horses versus the jumping horses. He also judged the gaits on the same level for dressage and jumping prospects, while I want to look at them via their job. The whole point was to inspect for breeding standards, but I found that hard as a rider, I think because I care more about functionality than purely looks. While I think we should all keep up on education of conformation, I find myself constantly keeping in mind that sometimes a big fault in conformation may not hinder in performance. I hope to take up a hobby breeding, maybe a foal or two in my life, I will NEVER do it as a business or a business hobby, so I am intrigued at trying to view it from a strictly breeding stand point, however I will always look at a breeding prospect probably based on more performance than faults in the conformation. Hey I’m not conformationally perfect myself, but I do my job and that rings number one for me!
We then spent the afternoon hearing the history of the lines. For hours. He had me for the first 2, but after that the charts of, he sired this one and this one, got a bit dull if it wasn’t a line I couldn’t personally connect to, like some of the jumper lines, but life bashed me in the head this very evening because as I watched a video from the Verband I recognized a line I hadn’t before and felt much more educated. Thanks life. Noted.
My highlights was seeing Espri, Essex’s dad and the mention of ET FRH, those lines were my first familiar bloodlines. Always will hold a spot in my heart. Not necessarily a line I’d seek out. ☺ Then he briefly mentioned Tessa’s dad, Quaterback, but I was sad that line didn’t have more of a spotlight. Rachael’s dad, Sandro Hit, stole a big part of the lecture and that was at the end, so that rejuvenated me. JJ had recommended only picking a D line for my S line mare, which our instructor mentioned too. I quickly texted her telling her she was the bomb and is always right. ☺ Her pick of Don Noblesse was on one of the slides of the D line, which was also exciting. He however, will only sell semen until the end of the year and I’m not quite sure I’m ready to jump on that in that time frame.
I always love looking at horse breeding in comparison to human. It probably sounds harsh, but really the process is or should in my opinion be taken in the same seriousness. If we paired humans, in the same emphasis we paired horses our human population would be improving. I also always relate to the mares. I think they’ve always gotten shafted performance wise because well they are supposed to have babies! If you get a breeder who happens to sell or invest in showing the mare she is probably too old at the end to be bred. It’s a sad line, but I can’t help, but look at myself the same way. I will probably have a career over kids because the timing in which kids would be easy for me is too small of a window. Ie like the next 2 years? While my girls are babies and can have time off? I’m also not exactly in the blank canvas relationship I expected either, so his timing and my timing really probably won’t match.
We’ve made leaps with our sport horse mares because now so many do embryo transfer, BUT as I feel about myself considering a surrogate….. Why would I want someone else carrying and raising my child(any foals I create will be referred to as children ☺) part of the reason I want to breed Rachael is that she would instill fantastic life habits and boundaries on a foal. Am I really going to be that crazy that I spend however many months screening transfer mares to say, yes your life habits are those that I want on my foals? Same crazy thoughts for myself looking at a surrogate. Interesting debate and thought. For now…. I’d rather retire Rachael, as she has nothing left to do in the show ring really, and let her raise a foal I’d be proud to have and let her enjoy motherhood, than keep competing her and let another mare have her foal. I feel like that is completely ripping my amazing mare off, she absolutely deserves to enjoy motherhood! We will be real here too. I am ALL about what is best for Rachael and giving her what she deserves. Don’t diss my mare. Rowdy momma, Danielle, will get you! ☺
As this relates to myself? I’m not quite as strict. Why? Because I’d probably choose to continue to compete than “retire” for kids and I’m a control freak, so relinquishing that to a surrogate? Ha, I’d feel bad for that poor woman! So, I know my time line and if that doesn’t line up, I guess I’m SOL and someone better start buying me more horses to be a mom too. ☺
Most everyone has probably seen this photo, but it’s one of the most powerful pictures I’ve ever seen. Richard is a fantastic photographer and I’m so pleased he captured this moment. It’s intriguing to see JJ, my coach, in the forefront of the picture, so that in a way she is the focus, but as with any great coach, the rider and horse are the true focus. On facebook I quoted this photo with “She is the artist and we are her canvas,” which I find to be completely true.
When I look at this picture, I see the culmination of three years: I see an unknown rider, I see a horse everyone had given up on, and an educated master with the knowledge to take the scattered marbles and put it together to make a Grand Prix team. Ultimately I see three pieces that form a successful relationship.
In the end, this is how I resurrected that mare, as JJ phrases it. I started asking her what SHE wanted, I started tailoring a program where she felt like her opinion mattered, and then slowly I said, “Hey, maybe I can make a suggestion?!” and QUICKLY RUNNING 👧 🐴 🏃 the next day to a topic she was comfortable driving the boat with. Slowly the mare who felt no value decided to partake, to tolerate, to teach, and in the end propel herself and truly enjoy her job.
I have always been an emotional rider in the sense of I’m in this for the bond, for the horse to completely meld to me because I’ve earned that trust piece by piece. Not every time is that how the horse world is going to turn, as is the case with being here at the Verband. I will admit that’s a learning curve for a rider who rides so emotionally bonded.
My coach here says, “Ride every horse the same,” and I wholeheartedly agree that the basics should be presented the same with every horse, but as I’ve always had to think outside the box, it’s hard to keep my usual personal questions I’d ask a horse in check. There isn’t time for that here. That isn’t my job here. My job isn’t to develop this long-term, committed relationship, and that throws me for a loop, and yet a great learning path by all means.
There is a comfort in my older mare who I know every nook and cranny to. When I swing my leg over her for the day (usually last because she’s my patient one), I know every outcome of the ride, I know exactly how to approach any answer she gives me, and there is a calmness and security in that. I LOVE that place in a partnership, human or horse. I’m a five-years-in kind of person; the getting-to-know-you stage is the hardest for me, horse or human (☺ ).
So this week riding has been about getting the work needed done and not being in my passive, self-help mojo, especially with the one older horse I ride here. He, like Rachael, has his own program, and my coach has really pushed me to ride true, even though I haven’t gone through my, “Hi, I’m Danielle, let’s get to know each other and then I’ll start asking questions.” That means some struggles and some slightly frustrating rides. I’m a bit of an overachiever, so I stress when I can’t get it. I’ve pondered and been concerned my rides on him have been tougher, but guess what, today I started him on my own and the coach came in the ring and said I had it. Hallelujah! She even asked what I changed overnight. I truly did detach a bit today and just said we’re starting off where we ended yesterday, and for him, that worked. Whew, huge relief. I can breathe again. I’m not failing. #overachieverprobs
Even I need to remind myself I came here to be pushed. Even if you have one, two or three hard rides, you keep trying the next day. A winner is someone who never gives up!
With that aside, I got to ride some stallions this week also, and one of them I felt like I really got along with. Mares and stallions: Guess I like horses with hormones?
The stallion and this adorable three-year old we have offset my tendency to feel like a failure. The three-year old is just one of the babies that thrives and just does. He is amazing on his own, so I’m not sure it’s really any of us. It’s like my baby Jia; you show her once and off she goes.
We ended the week with some jumping of the dressage horses. I LOVE to see the cross-training over here. I believe that is SO important. We didn’t even need to call the paramedics for the dressage riders 😉 .
On a funny note, Emily and I went to McDonald’s in Verden and ordered in German. The cashier just swapped to English. Pretty sure we weren’t that bad … Toodles!
Team Tate had a fantastic showing at the Sept Tryon show! JJ competed four FEI horses and what a terrific show it was! The Duet brothers (owned by Brenda and Claude Duet) Montana and Dakota made very important debuts! Dakota did his first Prix St Georges winning every class he entered as well as scoring a 70% first time out at FEI! He is one to watch for the future! Montana made the jump into the Grand Prix, displaying a solid start to that level, as well as winning the Inter 2 with a 67%! He is well on his way to the big ring as well! JJ’s Red Queen, Summersby, was second in the CDI Prix St George by only .5 points (68.5%), and came back to win both the CDI Inter 1 68.5% and Freestyle 72.6%!! She is really Developing and we are so excited for her future as well! And Cayman V topped the weekend off by a 5th place in the CDI Grand Prix and then won the CDI Grand Prix Special! It was their first International show together and we are so pleased with how the relationship is progressing! Thank you to all our clients, staff, owners, and sponsors for helping make these dreams become a reality!
Here Emily and I sit on our first official day off in Germany. I’ve had weeks fly by faster ie. everything from the last week of July until I left, but the week didn’t drag either. The Verband has a nice flow. The days go by quickly, but not so quick that you feel like you haven’t had time to take it all in. Settled my day off schedule nicely. Sleep in, laundry, some netflix, and food.
Horse of the week is my Quaterhall 2014 model that Emily and I dubbed Quira (like Kira). She makes Tessy mare seem super far along, but there is something about this liver, filly that has really grabbed my attention. She’s leggy, around 16.1, with a Roman nose , which I normally can’t stand, but it works for her. Anyone interested? ☺ Switched up some horses midweek for my list, so I have some interesting new feels. Rode a Flouriscount gelding, who is really fun, when he isn’t humping his back at me to start off. I got to ride a mare that, Emily, has normally been sitting on. She is by Sunday and she starts super tight via Emily. I wanted to see how quick I could unlock her. I felt like I was braver about sitting on her back even when she was pogoing in the beginning and not just floating waiting for her to relax. I liked her body type and movement as well as her feel in the bridle. Daniel and Juliana both have gotten right to the point on my seat, to the effect of I don’t sit hard in the saddle. I’m better in the sitting trot than posting, but it’s when things go awry that I like to get off their backs instead of sitting harder. Luckily if we are riding on our own it’s at the forefront of my mind and a decent amount of time I can catch it when it happens. I wouldn’t pose it as a bad habit because it’s how I’ve taken horses who have been soured and a deep seat offends them to diffusing that anxiety, but on these horses where it fixes nothing, it’s quite blatant how much of a pointless, reaction it is. So, I do find it helpful because it doesn’t get me the fix I want to and the more I can point it out to myself, the better I can get it go away. Emily and I wanted to try swapping lists this week if they don’t change it up, so we get feels for each others horses. We’ll see, maybe they’ll do it for us! Note: we do not go home and do this to Rachael most of these things to Rachael 😂 Because I don’t have horses with connection issues, I can also focus on riding with more of a feel on the mouth, which is different for me. It’s a trip to hear “take more contact, no more”, which I tend to agree, I like to ride too light, again due to soured horses I’ve had to turn around, but I don’t want my babies going that way. The two coaches have different points they both prefer to see, and luckily it’s enough of a change that it pushes you to ride well rounded. I just need to remember what coach is watching me when. On Saturday Daniel took us around Verden. A. As some history and B. So we had a better idea of the city we’ll be living in. The architecture looks like a movie set to me. We just don’t have buildings that date to 1410! Half the streets are still cobblestone and the churches have been around since 1210. We toured an old church, got a feel for the market, and he pointed out some good places to eat. For dinner, Juliana and Britta asked us to join them for dinner and we went to one of the places Daniel suggested for Emily and I. We had drinks (beer and sprite something I’d totally forgotten about since Florida) and although Emily and I’s dinners turned out, the service was terrible, it took forever, and Juliana and Britta weren’t pleased with their meals. We did get free shots as compensation. Then we went to a town favorite joint for just drinks. The complimentary shots and my prior beer was enough for me, so I just ordered a water. Which they charge you for in Europe. Bah, lesson learned. It was good company and good laughs and I’m thankfuk the girls invited us out. German words of the week. Hai-shark Besen-broom Genau-exactly, accurate or a form of conformation Prost-cheers (and look everyone in the eye)
So do you want the horse details or the living life details first? Crickets.
Honestly the lifestyle is more interesting at the moment.
First off being the foreigner is so bizarre. To not hear English everywhere is a trip. Emily and I ventured to a local Cafe yesterday and it consists of lots of pointing and guess work.
The grocery life here has me thrown for the biggest loop! First off, you don’t get bags to carry you’re food out in, so you either have to have a car, a bike with a basket, or bring a backpack( lesson learned not much fits in a backpack, bring the carry on). Germans cook, apparently a lot, because there is hardly any pre-made meals, like our grocery stores. So buy a weeks worth of food and off you go. What they have available is completely different than home too. Everything is plastic! The plastic liquids usually come in giant containers. Cans are a rarity! They do have a money reimbursement, recycle program, which is pretty cool. I like getting money back, so I’ll help out the environment. I can make pictures work, but a lot of times there are no pictures. I have a monthly regimen at home, that when I travel for a long time, I know exactly what I can buy and for how much to live on the cheap, but that doesn’t work here.
If anyone knows me, you know my love for my old VW TDI, and lately I found a deal on a Volvo wagon. My parents said they don’t know where I came from with this love of station wagons. Well folks I’m apparently European because that’s all they drive. Ha!
OK. OK. You are all dying for the horse dibs.
Whenever I head off to do a training intensive like this, I expect the worst. I expect to work my ass beyond off, for it to be a ridiculously long day, with no breaks, to be on my toes, and starving always. The Verband has blown my mind! Everyone is very nice (maybe it’s because everyone’s English is broken so they can’t tell me things in detail). They do their jobs, but no one is stressed or running around like chickens with their heads cut off, like at home, and the work day is very systematic and timed well. We even get lunch! 😲 A 2 hour lunch at that. Our long lunch doesn’t even dictate a longer day, the barn is closed up and done by 430. Hey America, take notes.
Now we negate turnout here, so there’s a huge portion of your day, but still. They use straw and clean stalls only sporadically, so there’s another time saver. However, I’m in shock. I also haven’t been screamed at (English or German) in a lesson yet. It’s all positive, with reinforcement for things you get right. Hearing SUPA always makes me jump with glee. I’m getting picked on about exactly what I should be getting picked on, but not through belittlement or negativity. The horses are all very helpful, in the fact of you either have it right or you don’t. So even if a coach isn’t standing there, on your own it’s pretty easy to make adjustments. Other than my slouching shoulders, which they just happily take advantage of, they definitely are helping me to feel more in a box while riding.
I’m not sure how the Verband feels about me putting up extreme details, but I currently have 3 horses I’ve sat on. One 4 year old I dubbed Lewi, a 6 year old who got dubbed Big D, and Doje. Lewi is a lot like the Tessy mare, but more even tempered, just big and powerful. Big D is a tank of a mare who knows she has muscle mass in her favor, and Doje is a big, little bit older boy, who really gives you a great feel, but as he is big and long he likes to be long. Packaging him and Lewi will really help with Tessy mare at home.
Interesting tid bites for home. They use these bit looking rings to lead the stallions or younger horses instead of a chain or a rope halter and it works wonders. The one stallion I lead yesterday I did without and be was a beast by the other horses. Today one of the guys gave me his bit lead and the stallion was a Saint. Then they feed 3 feedings of whole food and only 2 of hay. The horses get a good amount of hay during hay times, but it’s interesting to me that they eliminate hay during lunch. Hmm.
Education wise the program seems to be really structured around us learning about what the Verband looks for. We got to watch them make the stallion jumping videos today for a bit and we’ll be having numerous field trips as well as classroom type lectures. Really looking forward to this! Danke für lesen!
Thanks for reading (sorry I used my translate for that)
6 hours 36 minutes until the plane takes off for Germany. For WEEKS I’ve had people asking me if I’m excited…..every time I’ve said nope not yet. Why? Because I haven’t had time. I’ve crammed a busy show schedule and clinic schedule into these few weeks leading up to this trip. While it’s made the time FLY, I haven’t had a minute to sit down and ponder that I’m actually going to ride in Germany.
So with 6 hours until the plane takes off, my answer is now YES, of course I’m excited! Whew, with life out of the way here at home, my brain can finally switch gears.
My coach casually mentioned last November that I should go ride in the auction probably because she thought I was crazy to have brought my 15-ride-under-saddle, monster, Hanoverian mare to a clinic shortly after purchase. She’s known me for a couple of years now and I feel like I still surprise her, but once I decide to hit a goal, I do it! If that’s what won me a ticket on this adventure, then awesome.
I think we all dream of riding in Europe. There’s a prestigious monument that goes along with being an American rider that’s ridden in Europe. As I’ve decided I want to conquer every dressage goal, I’ve always wanted to experience it, so to see ANOTHER goal this year being checked off the list, it’s pretty amazing.
What am I expecting?
To be drilled on position.
To feel like I don’t know how to ride.
By all means, bring on the torture. I’m ready for it.
What am I most excited about?
Riding AMAZING horses (pretty much Tessa’s all day long)
Learning. The Germans win everything for a reason.
Culture. Europe is the home base for dressage, how do they do things differently?
Earning a spot in the auction. I need a goal. 🙂
I’ve had a lot of success this summer, more than I ever have in my career, and I’ve been told by several people how “lucky” I am. I want to clear the air. It’s not luck (maybe a little), but calculated sacrifices. My life revolves around how to get me farther in this sport and I make calculated decisions on how to get there even if it means not having an average life. So although it may be luck, I know I’ve made a plan, I stuck to it, I held on tight when it seemed rough, and things paid off this year. YAY!
Thanks to my parents who are staying home to run the farm, my clients for being understanding, and most of all my coach, JJ Tate, who feels more like my dressage mom than my coach. Without her, my gold medal and this opportunity of a lifetime would never have come my way. Did I mention a fantastic coach is the other big secret to success?
Team Tate Dressage went to the Welcome Back to White Fences III show with a big group of horses and students. Successful weekend with lots of fun and exciting times and great results! Enjoy the beautiful pictures from the show. A big shout out to Adam Pollak for putting together such a great show. The improvements on the show grounds are amazing!!