I can’t remember when I first started to ride because I can’t remember not riding! It has been my absolute passion since I was a little girl and devoured all the horse books in my elementary school library back in Ohio. I grew up riding Hunter/Jumpers, starting my education during the summer at Red Raider Day Camp then following up with their winter lesson riding program. When I was 12, I started riding at the Chagrin Valley Hunt Club taking lessons and riding whatever horse I was assigned to for the day. In high school, I rode at San-Ray Stables and also taught young children to ride. That was when I realized I could jump picnic tables in the park!
At Miami University I rode on the Equestrian Team and competed at the intercollegiate level. We would go to competing schools and draw a horse’s name out of a hat that we would compete on for the class. Frequently you didn’t know anything about the horse and you had 5 minutes to “warm up” and in that short time, get to know each other!
After college I moved to San Francisco and soon realized where I could go in the East Bay to take lessons and ride. I worked with Heidi Riddle and was introduced to eventing where those days of jumping picnic tables came in handy! I bought my first horse when I was 26, a 6 year old Arabian, Edict, otherwise known as Red. During the 10 years I owned Red, I trained with Lorraine Laframboise, Creeky Routson, Mary Grace Davidson as well as my sister Jane Mendelsohn. I went to clinics with Charles deKunffy and Jan Ebeling.
I showed Red fairly extensively at IAHA Shows (hunters/jumpers/dressage as well as sport horse in hand), USDF open shows and USEA open shows. One highlight was winning the Area VI USEA year-end award in the Open Novice Level in 1996. We competed in 1997 and 1998 at training level quite successfully but we stopped showing due to my marriage and birth of my son.
I then concentrated on dressage, bringing Red to Prix St. Georges level. I worked with Richard Williams, Georgia Simpson, and Metta Rosencrantz. I was ready for my next horse and for a short time owned a 4 year old in a partnership, working w/ Pierre Cousyn.
My next horse was a project horse, Rosado (Dougy) a 12 year old Wesphalian with a lot of excess baggage but lots of potential. I bought him from Pierre who told me “if you can figure out how to ride him you’ll be able to ride any horse”. At that time Pierre left the area and I found my current mentor, Lynn Clifford. I worked extensively with her for the year she lived in the Bay Area and now bring her back for clinics a few times a year so that I can continue working with her.
When Lynn left the Bay Area, she suggested I teach some of her clients. So my professional career started with just one client in 2006 and has continued to grow through word of mouth.
Ironically, Dougy became my trusted schoolmaster whom even beginners could learn how to ride! He was an excellent lounge horse that students could work on their own position and balance without worrying about what the horse was doing. He has taught me much over the years and continued to teach others until his unexpected but peaceful death in 2014.
What I’ve learned and want to pass along to my students is how to have a fabulous partnership with your horse. This is accomplished by being fair, consistent, having trust in both your horse and yourself, and allowing your horse to have self carriage. Equally important is having confidence in both yourself as a rider and in your horse as your partner.
I refuse to use a cookie cutter approach to training because every horse is unique, with their own personalities. Things that may work on one horse may not work on another. And each day is different, meaning that something that may have been working one day may have to be changed on the next session.
I also see the benefits of dressage training for all disciplines and all breeds. In addition to my broad background with hunters/jumpers and combined training, I’ve competed in two limited distance rides with AERC and helped leg up a horse for the Tevis Cup 100 mile endurance race twice. Each time the horse finished! Keeping an open mind as a trainer and rider allows me to get the most out of each of the lovely animals I’m honored to train and work with.
P.S. I sold Red as a 16 year old to a wonderful family with a talented 10 year old daughter who owned and cared for him for four years. I purchased him back as a 20 year old and he’s now in semi-retirement in Florida at my sister’s ranch. He's reached the age of 30 and looks fabulous still! Your first horse always has a special place in your heart!