Nottingham Trainer and Owner
I am currently a USA Equestrian “R” judge in Dressage and an “R” judge in Combined Training. Yearly, I attend judge’s forums for both Dressage and Combine Training. During the last 5 years, I have judged at Dressage Shows and 3-Day Events throughout the Midwest and West. At the same time, I am co‑owner, barn manager, and head instructor at Nottingham Equestrian Center in East Lansing, Michigan.
I have been teaching both Dressage and jumping since 1978. I attended the National Instructor’s Seminar through the U.S.D.F. in 1987. Since that time I have attended several of the U.S.D.F. Regional Instructors’ Clinics, as well as the U.S.D.F. pre-certification teaching workshop.
I received a Bachelors of Arts degree in Equestrian Studies and Biology from Lake Erie College. I continued my education at Wayne State University in the Veterinary Technician program, as well as graduate studies at Michigan State University in the Wildlife Biology Program.
From 1986 to 1997, I served on the M.D.A. Board of Directors. During my time on the Board, I was Chairman for the Education committee for six years, served as co‑vice‑president for two years, and held the office of President for three years. At the national level, I have served as Region 2 Judges Council Coordinator, Region 2 Participating Member Delegate, and Adult Education Council Chairman for the U.S.D.F.
I have competed in Huntseat, Combined Training, and Dressage since 1976. From 1995 to 1997, I showed my Thoroughbred gelding, Primo, at Prix St. George and received the scores I needed for my promotion to an Â“RÂ” Dressage judge. In 1989, I earned the U.S.D.F. Bronze Medal with my Thoroughbred gelding, Copper Collection. Copper and I continued our training through Prix St. George, until his retirement in 1993. I enjoy working and training with all breeds and levels of horses, and my training encompasses dressage, jumping, trail riding and general Team exercises.
Throughout my career with horses, I have always attempted to improve my teaching, training, and riding skills through diversified education. The wonderful part about working with horses and Dressage, in particular, is that every day is filled with new discoveries, which allow you to learn and grow. My main philosophy of riding, training, and teaching is to promote a harmonious partnership between horse and rider.
The more I work with horses, the more I marvel at how truly tolerant, kind, and forgiving they are. It has always been a long-standing philosophy of mine that 99.9% of the time the problems that arise in riding and training are the rider’s fault. Whatever level of rider I am teaching, I always begin with the rider’s correct position and balance. Only after a rider has achieved a balanced, secure, and effective seat with quiet and supportive legs can she or he begin to work on developing the basics of dressage training on their horse.
One of the most difficult components of dressage is developing a sense of feel. In order to develop “feel,” you need to be patient and allow the horse to come to you and come forward into the bit. Once you begin to feel your horse, you respond to him without thinking about what you’re doing. This is when dressage becomes an art – not just a sport.
I am a strong believer in doing things correctly the first time. There are no shortcuts in life and there are no shortcuts with horses. If you can’t ride and train a horse using the correct aids, a plain snaffle and possibly a whip, then you need to examine yourself and your horse more closely – not run out and buy the latest training gadget. If you have to use force to train your horse you will have nothing more than a slave or a servant. However, if you train your horse with respect, patience, and correct and balanced aids, you will have a friend and partner for life.
The whole reason that I am a judge, trainer and rider is because I truly love horses. In fact, I love all animals and I count them as one of the greatest gifts in my life!