On my eighth birthday, after many unsuccessful attempts to actually become a horse, I finally convinced my parents to let me take riding lessons.  I had wonderful instructors but my best teachers, by far, were the ones I rode…

niko cropThe Shetland ponies taught me to be as clear and clever as they were and not to take “no” for an answer. Later, thoroughbreds taught me to embrace their spirit and to strive to match their sensitivity with my own.

When I was thirteen, I got my first horse — an off-the-track thoroughbred with the silly name of Lawyer Swift and a heart as big as the sky.  That year, I got kicked in the head and saw my first foal being born.  Life with horses is never boring!

I went on to study in Switzerland, where I rode my first warmbloods.  I galloped cross-country, jumped fences with rails as high as my horses’ eyes and began a lifelong love of dressage.  As a teenager, I was awarded my bronze medal in dressage from the Societe Hippique de Geneve (the Equestrian Society of Geneva Switzerland).

zack webThrough the years, I have had the privilege of riding with a number of prominent trainers, including Bill Warren, USEF “S” Judge and USDF Gold Medalist; Francois Lemaire de Ruffieu, graduate of the Cadre Noir and panel member of the American Riding Instructor Certification Program; and (in Portugal) D. Francisco de Braganza, who trained under Nuno Oliveira.  I have participated in eventing, show jumping and dressage clinics with Phillip Dutton, Leslie Law, Ingrid Klimke, Anne Kursinski, Joe Fargis, Kip Rosenthal, Lisa Wilcox, Debbie McDonald, Walter Zettle, Jane Armour, Bettina Drummond, Conrad Schumacher and Klaus Balkenhol.

IMG_8221 f2 smI have studied groundwork and helped start young horses with Anna Twinney, former Head Instructor with Monty Roberts.  I have practiced TTeam and TTouch work directly under Linda Tellington-Jones, and Clicker Training with Alexandra Kurland.  I am a graduate of the Just Stallion Handling course at the New Bolton Center of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine and a licensed riding instructor in the state of Massachusetts.  I enjoy teaching children and adults, beginner and advanced, hunt seat and dressage.

My philosophy is simple.  I believe horses perform best for a strong but respectful leader, not for an intimidating, dominant “alpha.”  I believe in clarity and consistency, tact and timing, and praise.  I believe that horses shouldn’t have to shout to be heard but that doesn’t mean they should get the last word.  And I believe that horses and horsemen are exactly alike in always having more to learn.