My training philosophy relies on establishing a strong connection through ground work and desensitization to result in a greater working relationship under saddle.
Although I have experience working with several breeds, I especially enjoy focusing on off track Thoroughbreds with an even more specific passion for OTTB mares.
How did I get here?
I began working with horses at age 13 by cleaning stalls for a private barn in Pennsylvania where I grew up. I did some trail riding and competed in small local shows a handful of times through high school before getting interested in Reining during my senior year.
At college, I took a trail riding class which greatly developed my seat though 3-hour trail rides on various horses in English and Western tack and bareback. This approach also established a philosophy I still hold that you can improve your arena work more by getting out of the arena and onto the trails.
During summers while I was in college, I worked as a camp counselor at a YMCA camp where I taught horsemanship and received a certification as a CHA instructor in both Western and English at the top level.
During the school year, I began riding with Nicole Zoet-Oostermeyer at her farm just west of Richmond, Virginia. Nicole is originally from Belgium and studied under several instructors from the Spanish Riding Academy. She taught me the fundamentals of Dressage through an integrated approach that included exercises on the trampoline, utilization of Tai Chi balls, and learning Dressage in a Western saddle with a neck strap in place of a bridle on an Appaloosa . Her mentorship ignited my passion for Dressage and taught me the fundamentals of true Centered Riding.
During college, I also began working for Charlton Bloodstock at Thoroughbred sales in Maryland and Kentucky when I was home on break from school; it was through those experiences that I fell in love with the Thoroughbred.
When I left college, I was fortunate enough to be offered a working student position at Hilltop Farm in Maryland where I got to work directly with Barbara Strawson on a daily basis as well as Scott Hassler and other top Dressage trainers. I got to travel to shows with Barb, groom for Betsy Steiner while she had some horses at Hilltop and audit clinics with great riders like Nicole Uphoff.
I left Hilltop to take a full-time position with Charlton Bloodstock at their farm in Pennsylvania where I got to help prepare weanlings, yearlings and broodmares for the auctions and continue to develop my love for Thoroughbreds.
I then merged my riding and Thoroughbred backgrounds and took a position as an Assistant Trainer at an Eventing barn in Maryland where I got to put the first 30 days of training on about a dozen OTTBs each month in preparation for their new careers as Eventing horses.
Sadly, I chose to give that all up to travel the country and gave up horses completely for a little over a decade, but in 2003 I ended up in Bloomington, Indiana where I connected with a very great horse family. Joan hired me to give her daughter, Dorie, lessons and also work with some of their horses. I have maintained that relationship to date and both Joan and Dorie continue to provide me with so much support and advice.
I moved to the Detroit area in March 2013, and once I got settled in and interviewed what seemed like every barn in the state, I found an OTTB gelding that was available for lease. I leased him for a few months before I found my forever horse at the end of August 2013.
Lady MacJazz (barn name Freja) is a 2009 mare by Shakespeare out of Jazz Lady (Indian Charlie). I had the honor of being accepted to compete in the Retired Racehorse Project's 2015 Thoroughbred Charities of America Thoroughbred Makeover with Lady MacJazz. Although we ended up not being able to travel to the competition due to a last-minute minor injury, the time I spent preparing Freja for the Makeover definitely brought me out of "retirement" and prepared me to once again start helping other people improve the bond they have with their horses.