What is your committee’s mission?
To promote the development of quality dressage stock in the United States.
How long have you been on this committee?
Yikes – a long time – since 2007.
How long have you been the committee chair?
How did you get involved in the sport of dressage?
I evented as a kid – then when I moved to Alaska after college I figured I would work on my dressage while I was there – as there was no eventing. I got hooked and it went from there.
How did you get involved with USDF?
I went to my first USDF Convention in St. Louis years ago. It was really fun to go around to all the meetings and watch and listen. I joined the USDF University Committee first – and became chair of that committee for a few years.
How did you get involved in the committee?
Scott Hassler – who was the chair at the time – called me and asked me if I would join the committee. I was very surprised and honored as I had only been a sport horse judge a couple of years – I didn’t really know if I could provide benefit to the committee.
What is your favorite part of being involved with this committee?
Our committee loves to come up with creative ideas and then act upon them and implement them. We have had a great time over the years developing new programs and trying to enhance the programs already in place.
What unique qualifications made you an expert in the committee’s area?
I am willing to work hard, long hours to help make this organization do what it does best.
What has been your committee’s greatest accomplishment, or what do you hope to accomplish during your tenure?
We have made the US Breeders KNOWN. That is huge, as most people in the sport of dressage don’t really think about the breeder. They pour their lives into producing wonderful horses for this sport. But they are rarely remembered. We have developed competition programs with championships and awards programs to provide these breeders with a means of recognition. Our most recent award is the Breeder of Distinction Award. We also do a great deal of educational programs. Our biggest focus now is to educate the young people in our industry about the breeding aspects of the sport. Many of our breeders are getting older, thinking of retiring, etc. Most young people in the industry don’t get the opportunity to be exposed to the breeding farms and their role. We have developed educational programs specifically to introduce these younger members to this aspect of our sport. Hopefully we will cultivate future breeders from this program.
Please share a little bit about yourself and your background.
I was born and raised in Colorado. I started riding when I was about six years old. When I was a young teenager, I evented. I received my Bachelor of Science degree in Metallurgical Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines. I then went to work for Arco Oil and Gas as a failure analysis engineer. A year later, I moved to Alaska and worked in the Prudhoe Bay Oil field as a corrosion engineer. In 1996, I decided to move back to Colorado so I could focus on my riding seriously. Before moving, I spent three months at Hilda Gurney’s Keenridge Farm – that was the greatest introduction to “real dressage” I ever could have asked for. I took lessons with Hilda every day on my own horse and others, and I also got introduced to the breeding there. It was spring and 12 foals were born while I was there. I spent many nights on foal watch – it was magical. It got me hooked on the wonders of breeding horses.
In Colorado my husband and I built a farm, and I trained and taught dressage based there. In 1997, I took the L program and then became an “r” dressage judge in 1999. I decided to do the Sport Horse Judging soon after that. I am now a FEI 4* Dressage judge, 5* para dressage judge, and USEF R Dressage Sport Horse Judge. I am also a Certified Instructor with USDF. In 2010, we started a rehab and therapy operation at our farm for horses recovering from injuries and illnesses. That was a very intense operation, but amazingly rewarding at the same time.
Do you currently compete in dressage, or have you competed in the past?
I have competed through Grand Prix. I have won many regional championships and competed successfully in the CDI ring also. I have not competed at the US Dressage Finals presented by Adequan® as I have been focusing on judging for the last few years.
Please share a favorite dressage-related memory.
I have so very many – but one of my favorite memories related to the sport horse portion of the sport occurred at the New England Breeder Series Final several years ago. Christoph Hess from Germany was the other judge for the show. The final day of the competition, the skies opened up and it rained beyond rain. It was just pouring. We had to keep going with the show – so the two of us would run out from under the tent – look at the horse, watch the horse walk and trot, and then run back under the tent and tell our scribes what to write on the papers. The scribes couldn’t go with us because they couldn’t keep the papers dry enough. We all looked like a bunch of drowned rats. Then there was a break – about 9 people were huddled under this tiny 12’X12’ tent. We were all shaking, we were so cold. And then someone broke out singing row, row, row your boat. We all joined in and Christoph started conducting. We were all laughing and singing and feeling so happy. This is the true meaning of these competitions. Where we all come together and, regardless of the situation, can make it fun and enjoyable.
What horse impacted your love for the sport the most?
This is impossible to answer. I have had so many magical moments with so many special horses. I have had some amazing successes in the competition rings, winning many championships. I have had goosebumps as a judge while watching some amazing rides. I don’t really think any one of these horses I was so lucky to share a partnership stands out, as they all have their own part of my heart.