Team Tate Student Danielle Vitosh at Hannoveraner Verband Blog4

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!

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Tryon CDI September 2017

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!

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Team Tate Student Danielle Vitosh at Hannoveraner Verband Blog3

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)

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Team Tate student Danielle Vitosh at Hannoveraner Verband Blog2

No one get excited here. You won’t always be getting blog updates 2 days apart, but I held off making a post 2 days in a row. I know everyone is just dying to hear how it’s going!

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.

My lineup.
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)

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Team Tate Student Danielle Vitosh at Hannoveraner Verband Blog1

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?

Auf Wiedersehen

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Eight week in Germany (Team Tate Groom Marina Lemay)

I’m sat about 38,000 feet above the Atlantic as I write this, chasing timezones back to Chicago, IL for the National Developing Horse Championships and, thus, ending my 2-month stint in Europe. airplane_1_webThe moment is definitely bittersweet because, although I’m terribly excited to be heading back home to greet my goofy dog and awesome friends, I’m also leaving behind an unforgettable experience and newfound friends. My final week in Verden was predictably crazy… On Monday, the Elite Auction dressage prospects arrived, followed by the jumpers on Wednesday. Somehow, there was still a sense of structured chaos in all seven stables, thanks to the usual rigorous schedules and meticulous organization on the Verband’s behalf.

Photo_horse_webEach day, the horses were either photographed for their official catalogue’s conformation picture (I can still picture full-grown, serious German men dancing around with purple umbrellas and squeaky toys to try and get the horses’ attention!), free-jumped, or ridden for subsequent videos. In short, it was a week of nonstop braiding and thorough grooming of some exceptional quality horses.

A few stuck out more than others, and I’ll definitely be keeping tabs on one in particular, a 5-year-old Vivaldi – Hohenstein called Let’s Dance who blew me away on many levels. Jumping_horse_webOn Wednesday, I even got a pleasant surprise visit from Richard Malmgren who happened to also be in Germany, and we had a great, lengthy chat over a delicious dinner! Even if these last few days have been incredibly exciting and busy, I’m definitely relishing the downtime I’m spending in all of these airports and flights (19hrs total travel time, yikes!) It’s in fact given me the opportunity to think, which is usually not a good sign! 😉 It’s made me reflect on my little voyage and what it all boiled down to for me. Not to get all philosophical, but it’s brought me to question why we do what we do and what drives us. Happiness is, in my opinion, the center of it all, and can basically even be summed as the proverbial “meaning of life”. This may seem painfully obvious, but finding, creating or living happiness is what we should all seek, I think. horse_1_webHowever, the definition of happiness is different with each individual, as it should be, because we all have varied perceptions of what makes us happy, based on our tastes, experiences and personalities. I’ve recently come to appreciate and further understand the nuances between two closely tied notions, that of success and comfort. Both could easily be linked with happiness. But, I believe one precedes the other, in most cases. Comfort is fantastic, yet can sometimes lead to a rut, if exploited. For instance: comfort is a slouch versus a healthy posture; it’s sleeping in until noon instead of getting work done; it’s living in your parents’ basement until you’re 30 because outside responsibilities can seem overbearing; it’s feeling you don’t need to try for your spouse anymore because you’re “so comfortable”.

Sometime, we need to push ourselves well out of our comfort zone or make sacrifices in order to get the ball rolling and achieve our goals, regardless of how that success is translated (health, personal, spiritual, financial, professional, relationships, etc.) Pushing yourself outside of that comfort zone can be compared to working out (the age-old “no pain, no gain”), traveling to an intimidating location to eventually make memories that will last a lifetime, taking up a job that might not have all the perks you’d wish it to have in order to get some long-term benefits, risking a gamble on a project horse, and so on.

My bottom line is: embrace and relish comfort, but don’t abuse of it. Be mindful but challenge yourself and don’t be afraid to take a leap of faith. The worst that can come of it is a learning experience. 😋

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Seventh week in Germany (Team Tate Groom Marina Lemay)

With next week seeing the arrival of the October Elite Auction horses, these last few days have been quite mellow. Perhaps to let us get some rest before the craziness unfolds once more! I’m loving the auctions, here, because they’re so riveting and I end up learning something new every day, but a little bit of down-time never hurt anyone! We’ve enjoyed many half days lately and I’m certainly going to miss these long lunch breaks when I head back to home! With all of this free time on my hands, I’ve decided to, once again, explore around a bit and try to discover some fun foreign tidbits. For starters, I’ve noticed that most of the arenas here have a watering system that isn’t like most of what I’ve seen in the US.

Indoor_water_webA scheme of metal beams runs across each arena’s ceiling space, with a motorized pipe being slowly inched down the long side. Small valves spray down a shower of water as it moves, leaving every inch of footing dampened. No annoying puddles or violent jet-gun sprinklers here! German ingenuity hasn’t ceased to amaze me during my time here. In fact, another resourceful design that I mentioned in my first blog post are the awesome German trailers. Or, floats, as they sometimes call them. Böckmann is the brand of choice for just about everyone and their mother and you’re likely to see them everywhere, often being towed by a Mercedes stationwagon or, alternately, a Ford Fiesta! If you’re not hauling a two-horse bumper-pull, most Germans seem to like large vans.

The compact 2-horse trucks are popular, with a nifty tack-room in the back (the horses load from the side) and the option to add a small trailer hitched to the back of it, but the big trainers tend towards huge rigs with luxurious living quarters and oodles of storage space (my inner OCD loves it.) Brands like Fiat, Man and Mercedes are what I’ve seen a lot of, and most can accommodate six to ten horses. Lorry_webI’ve even see some trucks have a mechanized system that loads your tack trunk for you in a massive hidden compartment. Clearly, they know how to travel in style. In fact, they also know how to horse show pretty darn well. From the few venues I’ve been to so far, I’ve noticed a clear pattern in how Europeans seem to operate during competition weekends. They’ll all arrive in droves on a Friday, park their rigs in a cramped parking lot, and have fun little barbeques in the evenings! On Sunday afternoons, everyone’s gone in a flash, leaving in a massive caravan of pure efficiency. Black_horse_webNeedless to say, there are a few things I wish we could implement into our American way of horse showing! As for the Verband, there’s only one thing I wish they’d consider changing, and that’s investing in a leafblower! 😉 Sweeping the entire grounds of the facility daily is quite the undertaking, even for a large staff!

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Sixth week in Germany (Team Tate Groom Marina Lemay)

I don’t even know where to start! These past few days have been a bit of a whirlwind. Last Sunday, we decided on a whim to go to the Elmlohe Reitertage, a huge competition for both dressage and show jumping.

Jumping_1_webThe venue is located about 1h15m north of us, so the transport situation ended up being a bit of a joke. Since we don’t have a car, we took the train to Bremerhaven (about an hour’s commute) and completed the journey with a taxi trip, which ended up costing a whopping €30 on top of the train fare. The show was incredibly fun, though, with lots of great food vendors, top riding, and beautiful grounds in the heart of the countryside. I’m told the afterparty at Elmlohe is legendary, but because we had to worry about how to get back home, we didn’t stay long enough to witness any of it. Finding a way to call a cab to pick us up was an ordeal in and of itself, but thanks to the lovely show management, we successfully got to the train station after some trepidation. Stadium_webObviously, since we don’t speak any German, Gonzalo and I kept running into a plethora of issues during our adventure, ranging from overzealous ticketmaids harassing us to boarding the wrong connection, and it ended up taking us about five hours to find our way back to Verden (don’t laugh!)
The rest of the week went by smoothly, with preparations being made to set up everything for the upcoming Internationales Dressur und Springfestival Verden 2016, a massive show that somehow seamlessly combines top level competition (young horse championships to Grand Prix, pony classes and a CSI**, to boot), fair-like entertainment to cater to all tastes (winged horses, fireworks, unlimited bratwurst, fashion boutiques and so on), delicious eateries galore, and an overall celebration of the horse as a top athlete. It’s quite the event.

mare_foal_webOver 100 foals and about 10 broodmares were to be presented and sold off on Friday and Saturday nights. Suffice to say, I lost my cool a time or two when hordes of baby horses flooded the barns. There was even a baby Shetland! (for charity, of course.) Since the Verband is so great, they actually let us spend a fair bit of time watching the classes and auctions, which was fascinating! The auction-topper was a De Niro – San Amour I colt who hit €90,000! I even got to groom for Juliane, one of the dressage riders, who showed a superstar 4-year-old mare called Susii, and ended up qualifying for the championship and holding her own in a tough crowd (umm.. literally!?)Rearing_web

I also need to iterate how this was one of the most fun shows I’ve ever been to (perhaps Dressage At Devon aside!) The party on Saturday night was indescribable, with acts including tandem Friesian carriages, Iberian performances, a dog show, barrel racing, an Icelandic pony parade, and a quadrille with some of the Verden Summer Auction 4-year-olds, to name a few.

Canter_webThe electric atmosphere, the sheer volume of spectators, and the coliseum-style stadium all added to the surreal appeal of the night. If you ever have plans on coming to Verden in the summer, I strongly recommend coordinating the dates so that you can enjoy this spectacle!

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