I can't remember when I didn't love animals.  They have always been such an important part of my life.  When I was very young I saw the movie, Florian.  At the time I didn't know what dressage was, but I knew that those horses were doing things that I had never seen horses do and I never forgot it.  They were so beautiful. This is a movie about the Spanish Riding School in Vienna right after WWI. 

I started riding lessons when I was a very young child from an instructor who was trained in the Cavalry.  If we did any dressage, I didn't know it.  I was only about 6 years old, so it wouldn't have done any good anyway.  From my very early riding years until I was in my 20's I rode many different horses.  My riding and my love of horses continued and I had my own horse when I started high school.  This was a Tennessee Walker, and not very well trained or mannered, but like most teenagers I loved him and thought he was wonderful.  The fact that I was the only one who generally was able to stay on him really impressed me.  He would buck when most people rode him.  I didn't realize at the time that he was poorly trained and certainly had no manners.  That horse eventually hurt me pretty bad. 

When I was about 20 years old I bought a 20 month old TW.  This horse, even though he was a very loose gaited horse, learned all of the Grand Prix work, including piaffe and passage, which he did beautifully with beautiful timing.  I boarded him at Walter and Carol Chapman's (Chappy's) Arabian training stable in San Antonio.. Chappy did all the training for the Donaghue Arabian Farm (where Cass Ole, of the movie, The Black Stallion, was bred).  By the way, for those of you who think that round-pen training is a new innovation, Chappy was using a round-pen way back in the 40s. 

When I wasn't working my horse, I was helping with their Arabians.  I was the early rider of the very famous Arabian stallion, Surf, from the Gleanloch Farm, and I rode the Donaghue mare, Taslia, at the International in Harrisburg, Pa.  She was high-point Arabian mare of that year.  It was at Chappy's  that my introduction and lifelong study of dressage commenced and has continued to this day, going on 50 years.  I believe I have read almost every book on classical dressage that has been written.  I have not read them just once, but just about memorized them. And I would study the home movies of the work that I was doing with my own horse and any of the Arabians that I rode that we made movies of, running the movies forwards and backwards many times in order to catch every move.

During the interim years since then I have trained many horses of different breeds, including thoroughbreds, quarterhorses, Tennessee Walkers, Foxtrotters and Saddlebreds.   I have been training horses for 50 years now and instructing riders for about 40 years.  I always use dressage to develop nice pleasure and reining horses, with an occasional Spanish Walk thrown in. 



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