Michel Assouline Clinic at Vinceremos and AGDF 1

We enjoyed the Para Dressage clinic with US Para Coach Michel Assouline at the Vinceremos Therapeutic Riding Center the past couple of days For some reason I was lucky enough to ride both days; it was mostly about coaching in general, not para-specific, and for part of the clinic my regular coach Michelle taught me while he shadowed her and made suggestions.

He also gave some some great lectures about coaching style. When I was a resident way back when, maybe forty years ago, the teaching style was for people to scream and yell at you – but now the focus is on developing a rapport with your student. He said he thinks the program the USEF has for instructor certification is too technique-dependent, so he’s trying to introduce the other part of it about how to be a good teacher, translate what you’re trying to say…sometimes if someone says the same thing a different way, it clicks.

Also, he said that in England and Europe you can’t just hang up a shingle, you have to get some credentials, and he’s trying to make that the same in this country, but I think it’s an uphill battle to make people invest the time and money to get certified.

The clinic was really worth-while, and his wife is just wonderful too, she was here for a few days and helped me a lot too. They’re the ones who found my horse in Denmark and things are going well with her. She hasn’t gotten the memo yet that ‘pretty is as pretty does’, and she is as good under saddle as she is in the barn.

I did the AGDF 1 as a warm-up for the first CPEDI this weekend and our high score was 71.7 and our low was 68.00, which isn’t bad. Natalie Lamping and Marilyn Payne were judging. They want you to halt with all four feet exactly square and if you’re one foot off it lowers your score – so before our next show we’re working on the little details, as well as how to increase her energy and stride length of stride without making her rush. Like every horse she’s stiffer to one side, and I’m right-side dominant neurologically, and my left side is more spastic than my right. I always carry a whip on my right side, no matter which direction I’m going, since I can’t use it with my left hand.

Today is our day off since we did the show and clinic back to back. The barn we’re staying at, Excelsior Dressage, is brand new. The barn is 10 minutes from the show grounds and the house is 5 minutes away, so it’s very convenient. There’s also a clubhouse with a workout room, so I can stay fit without having to join the gym. It’s all very convenient and we’re really enjoying our time here. I’m not getting any younger, and I want to make the most of the trip to Florida so I will be competing at several more AGDF shows as well, through March.

Michelle brought five horses down here so she’s really busy. I’ve just kept my mare at the Global show grounds this week since the CPEDI is starting up soon. Tomorrow we have “observation” with all the team selectors watching – no pressure! We’ll school tomorrow and compete Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the Team, Individual and Freestyle tests.

Robert Dover Horsemastership Clinic in Wellington

We have arrived in Wellington, Florida where we will spend a couple of months training and competing. Rider Maya Miller borrowed Jolie to participate in the Robert Dover Horsemastership clinic with last week and had a lesson with USEF Developing coach George Williams and Jan Ebeling on Saturday (photos above). On Sunday they performed a mock test (photos below). Many thanks to Maya who did a lovely job riding Jolie!

Jolie's First Show

Last Wednesday I took Jolie (“Skovlund’s De Nice”) to Stable View, in Aiken, SC for their midweek schooling dressage show. This was a good place to start because they have beautiful facilities and footing, but the weekday shows are low-key. I just wanted to get her out and see how she reacted to a new environment before we head to Florida next month.

The good part is that she was fine with the new scenery; the not-so-great part is that she had a lot of anxiety about leaving her buddy! She was unhappy without her friend around at the barn, but she was fine when I rode her. We scored 74.6% in the Grade I Individual Test and 74.8% in the Grade I Team Test.

We will be leaving for Florida on January 2nd and I plan to show her six times: at the CPEDI’s in January and March and at a few other shows as well.


Congratulations to Camille Molten and Wildwych Bamboozle


Congratulations to Camille Molten on winning the USEF Dressage Seat Medal Finals 13-and-Under Division for the second year in a row! This year she rode my Connemara gelding Wildwych Bamboozle and did a spectacular job with "Bam-Bam" in the competition at Lamplight Farm near Chicago. Camille lives in Mt. Pleasant, SC and also trains with Michelle Folden at Stono River Riding Academy.


Camille started riding Bam-Bam in the springtime; she had qualified on the pony Magnito, who is part of the lesson program at the barn, but she had outgrown him and needed a bigger pony.

Camille's mom Emily said, "We were checking out a mare for sale who didn’t work out for us in February, so we were without a horse for a little while – she was riding all the little ponies at Michelle and David’s. Bam-Bam had been on stall rest for a little while to treat an injury and it was time for him to come back for work, so Camille started to ride him since Miss Debbie had a new horse. Camille needs a bigger horse in the long run, but he was a dream for her to ride – he’s very steady and willing and she enjoyed being able to ride him. We knew that he would be a good equitation horse, especially for the younger division. I see why Ms. Debbie chose him as a para horse, because he's just so steady.  He’s a dear, sweet horse and I couldn’t be more thankful to Ms. Debbie for giving Camille the opportunity to ride him. His next family is going to be lucky to have him - he’s an easy guy to love!"

Camille said, “He’s really steady in the contact and his energy level, and he’s always been good in all three gaits, he’s a really good boy. He can sometimes be a little lazy when he’s tired, but usually he’s really nice to ride. It was great to do so well at the Championships, I was trying not to expect any particular outcome but I was really happy with our result!"

"Bam-Bam" is for sale - please contact Michelle at (843)408-9118 for more information.


Press Coverage:

DressageDaily.com: http://horsesdaily.com/article/camille-molten-claims-back-back-usef-dressage-seat-medal-final-13-under-championship-titles

PSDressage: https://www.psdressage.com/camille-molten-claims-back-back-usef-dressage-seat-medal-final-13-championship-titles/




De Nice Schooling at Home in Charleston

The dust has settled from the WEG selection trials with Butterfinger Bonanza, and DeNice has settled into her new home nicely. It was truly an honor to be invited to the selection trials and I wish all the best to the riders selected for the team going to the World Equestrian Games in Tryon in September!

We've had a lot of rain here but managed to get a few photos schooling at home:


De Nice

De Nice in England

My new Danish mare, De Nice, is out of quarantine on Friday. David Folden is picking her up for me at the quarantine facilities in Southern Pines, NC and I'm looking forward to having her home in Charleston. To begin with I will keep riding Bonnie as well, and eventually De Nice will be my full-time partner.

She's just under 16 hands tall and was found in Denmark by Mette Assouline, who is the wife of US Para Dressage coach Michele Assouline.  I had told Mette that I'd love to find a horse similar to Gigi Mcintosh's mare; Mette purchased De Nice in Denmark and then brought her back to their farm in England, and I traveled over to see her a couple of months ago. David accompanied me and we sent videos home to Michelle and decided she would be a good fit.

Amazingly, I have been selected for a World Equestrian Game training session in Purcellville, Virginia next month. I will probably take Bonnie there and see if De Nice can come as a spare horse.  After that things depend on whether I'm selected for the WEG team, which is a bit of a long shot since there is a lot of talent in Para Dressage right now, but you never know - I'm not discounting anything yet. In any case, De Nice is only 12 years old, so she is my hope for the future!


2018 WEG Para Dressage Test Event and CPEDI3* at Tryon International Equestrian Center

Debbie and Bonnie at Tryon

Bonnie and I had a super weekend in Tryon at the WEG Test Event and CPEDI3* at the fabulous Tryon International Equestrian Center in Mill Spring, NC. On 4/20 we placed 6th on a score of 65.9% and on 4/21 we placed 4th with 67.321%.

Video from our ride on 4/20 can be found here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/069qytfzk6plxry/Deborah%20Stanitski%204%2020%2018.MP4?dl=0

Video from from 4/21 can be found here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/o4evill93ongn78/Deborah%20Stanitski%204%2021%2018.MP4?dl=0