2013 Florida Journal Vol. 2

in Blog,Training Journal

January 17

Today it was all about purchasing any kind of supply for horses and humans. Groceries, for both horses and humans, and anything we may need later. We had to rent a car because mine was hauling behind our horse van, so that was another task but we accomplished everything while the horses slept hard in between their hand walks.

January 18

Another sunny day in paradise. Still not much sleep.

The feed. I’m still working on what is best for my horses’ feed program. In Europe, it was different – it was silage and even though we are in the US, it is once again very different. Some grains we have in the West may not be available in the East. The hay/alfalfa we have in Oregon is high in protein and offered in 1st and 2nd cuts, sometimes 3rd as well. Here you can get up to a 5th cut and still the nutritional value is only half of what the Northwest offers. In addition, the shelf life is reduced and may keep only a couple of weeks to a month before it begins to mold if not properly stored. Needing to maintain their weight, I constantly monitor them. How much water do they consume? Are they eating the new hay? Offering electrolite replacements. How is their overall body tolerating the heat, bugs, and humidity? Jennifer is very diligent at asking the right questions while I’m riding and searching for answers for their well being. A true friend and good vet.

And then there’s the bugs. I hate spiders. Ask my uncle Norbert. Hate ’em. Snakes. Not fond of them either. This is another reason why I hesitated for years to travel to Florida. Tomorrow it will be  1 week since we arrived and only one minor bug incident (so far), so things are looking positive. The flying bugs are eating up dear Alexiss. She has always been first choice for insects out of my herd so it was expected. Already though it’s improving. She has fewer bumps and is toughing up to the reaction of a bite. Competition horses need this practice.

Lexi-Pasture-Florida Lexi exploring the new landscape


Fortunately, it appears Jaime will be arriving with our supplies which means I can actually sit on/ride my horses tomorrow. For now, we explore on foot!

We needed exercise and my horses needed to get out and see the vegetation of Florida. Soooooo, we took off on foot. Jen walked Alexiss and I took Verona off on a trail walk. It was such a wonderful experience. We encountered everything sans alligators and wild boars, even though they both DO exist in the area. With the sun and natural sand footing, it was hard to beat.

The people are so nice here. Much like the area we live in, it is horse country. They understand the need to stop or slow for a fractious horse. They completely get it here.

January 19

Finally! I get to ride my horses.

In the mornings, the stable apartments (8 of them) are in full swing by 6:00am. It’s a busy barn with students, working students, four trainers with students, boarders, and haul-in lessons. There are 48 stalls. There is the A barn, the B barn, and the new temporary barn for winter training. We are in the A barn (Anne’s barn). The hours and management style are nearly identical to home. It makes things easy and most everything is stress free because of the similarities.

I rode the horses easy, spending time with relaxing in newer venues – the outdoor ring, the indoor, the trails, and the open grass fields (my favorite).


Knoll-Florida The main barn at Knoll Farm


January 20

Finally! I feel human and my horses have their land legs, weight, and energy level back to more normal. Actually, me too! Today was all about organizing – my favorite type-A thing to do. Just ask my staff. Even in sarcasm, it is an essential trait needed for good dressage because in dressage everything is about perfection.

I spent the entire morning cleaning/unpacking and now I can actually locate something if needed and will be able to become more efficient on my own.

My dear friend and veterinarian Jen has departed back to the cold Pacific Northwest and I am left with just one more day of having my groom, Jaime. After that I’m on my own and really looking forward to the daily care of these two magnificent mares. We bond and I can pay attention to the small things. It matters to them and they respond completely different when I personally tend to them.

January 21

It’s an early start today. We need to return the auto tow, return our rental car, do laundry, move supplies from the van, and repack the tack trunks all after I ride the horses.

Team-at-Epcot Making time for a little fun at Epcot before Jen & Jaime head home


January  28

It was short work with the horses, as I needed to pack and drive south to Palm Beach for the Global Dressage Forum US. I passed on watching the Masters and the Trainers Conference because it was more important to me to ride my own horses and after the years of watching so many World Cup events and CDI’s in Europe, I’ve seen what I need to see for now. The GDF however is something I have experienced in The Netherlands on multiple occasions and found every one of them fascinating. The best in the world meet, discuss, debate, eat, drink (a lot), and laugh. They always become a bit tempestuous, but resolve in the end.

Here in the US, it is enormously different. There are tables on the floor level where I was invited to sit, but I opted for a bleacher seat for an elevated and much better view. I counted 7 screens and an enormous stage that distanced the viewers from the lectures in such a way that any feeling of personal connection was lost. It was easy to lose your attention and therefore spectators were engaging in their own conversations. In Holland, there are only seats together theater style and we are forced to sit together. Kings and queens of the sport mixed with the rest of us. Following each presentation, the lecturer is found in the lobby in a designated corner where everyone is allowed to go and ask a question one on one. It’s special. It’s personal. It’s a feeling of intimacy with the sport.

Today we heard from Steffen Peters, Arthur Kottas, and Rudolph Zeilinger for training and Grant Moon and Juan Samper. They all did a good job but to my surprise Steffen was I think sounding like the voice of a future Master.  After training with him for a year 13 years ago, I see how he has matured and is even more humble and in love with horses. He articulated his feel in a way that even non-Grand Prix riders could understand. His heart is how I would say “all in” to the sport. Anne looked like a movie star.

GDF-Seminar Presentation at the Global Dressage Forum


January 29

Day two of the GDF America style. After a long day and night yesterday, I made it in time to the riding center mainly in anticipation to see Ingrid Klimke’s presentation. I was joined by Conrad Schumacher as Ingrid was sitting for her interview. She is my all time favorite rider as we share the lack of excitement of the typical training of dressage horses. It was her father who personally taught me the importance of hacking horses outside and the use of caveletti and trot poles in work while I rode at his farm in Munster, Germany, just a few months prior to his unfortunate death. I will be forever grateful for that experience.

When Ingrid took the stage she was at ease. She had an opportunity to talk about horses and she wouldn’t stop! It was obvious her passion for the sport was bred, trained, and thrived in her complete being. She was pretty, she was funny, and she was real. She shared stories of her childhood on horseback as a Klimke, training philosophies in general from her young horses to her present Grand Prix mount, and future goals and dreams. She talked about important training issues and it was then I was elbowed by Conrad with “the look” verifying the importance of what he has taught me. Fortunately, I have done my homework. He will be happy.

It was when Ingrid  sat on a young stallion during her riding demonstration that she drew complete respect. Far too often, riders in our discipline believe they can ride, but Ingrid walks the walk. She is balanced and athletic, with femininity. She commands with subtlety and demands invisibly. She is All.

Florida-Beach-Gull Blue skies… We’re not in Oregon anymore!


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