How I Started Working Internationally with Horses

Riding Horses Around the World!

FEI Competition in Romania riding for the USA
I’ll never forget that feeling I got when I saw my flag hanging amongst the others. I was the ONLY rider from the United States at this FEI Competition in Romania where I competed up 1m-1.30m on green horses. 

 

As a young girl, I always was known as the “dreamer.” I was the girl sitting in the classroom closest to the window, gazing into the distance and imagining far away lands and undiscovered worlds. More importantly, I saw myself galloping and soaring through the air on horses in these new and foreign lands. My childhood daydreaming didn’t stop with adulthood and I eventually found myself flying solo on a sixteen hour flight towards my first opportunity to work with horses abroad. It was my 21st birthday the day I flew to Belgium for the first time, six years ago. So how did I do it?

Back in my hometown of Rio Vista, California, the world seemed quite far away indeed. The small town, with a population of roughly 7,000 people, didn’t offer much knowledge or education in regards to faraway lands and nations. In fact, I had never met anyone who had travelled extensively apart from my own father who had travelled in his youth with the military. Although I saw photos of the Great Pyramids of Giza in the history books, and read about the Ancient Greeks and German military, I had never met anyone who had actually seen the pyramids in real life with their own eyes. Or talked to a person from the other side of the wall, so to speak. Or seen any of these historical places that seemed so very far away from Rio Vista.

Riding Marwari horses while working in India
Training Marwari horses in India

Although I didn’t know how I was going to travel and see the world, I knew that I was going to do it. A voice within me didn’t need to know the how and instead I simply focused on my dream and my goal of traveling to exotic lands atop a horse.

My entire family was military. Joining the military seemed like a logical way to travel. I even found myself speaking to an Airforce recruiter when I turned 18 in a serious attempt to realize my dream of travel. But the military could not guarantee travel with the freedom that I so craved, and the biggest deal-breaker for me being that there were no horses or horse positions offered through the military. I couldn’t risk giving up several years of my life working in a field I had no interest, so I continued my education with horses in the hopes that the how would soon reveal itself to me.

Playing Polo in Egypt
Working at a Polo Club in Egypt

I attended an International Equestrian College. Surely, an “International” school would be able to help me get work abroad… or so I thought. Once I reached my graduating quarter and got access to the “job book” I realized how not-so-International they were. Deciding that I couldn’t sit around and wait a second longer for my dream to come true, I took out my laptop and began researching stables across the Atlantic. I sent out dozens of emails and a copy of my resume before landing that first International job in Belgium. The job was going to be hard work and cost me all my savings for the flight ticket, but I figured the risk was worth gamble if it allowed me the opportunity to follow my dream.

Now, six years later here I am sitting in Bali, Indonesia watching the sea of colors mix in the sky. The ocean waves crash around me, the horses hoofprints ebbing the sand. I didn’t need to know the “how” all those years ago. I just needed to believe in myself. I am thankful that I chose to invest in my dream. It has led me to amazing places. The first time I saw the pyramids with my own eyes in real life, tears  of happiness streamed from my cheeks. The first time I gazed at the Taj Mahal, climbed to the top of the peak to see the Tiger’s Nest Temple, or rode a horse in my first International Competition…I felt all my dreams come true. I am thankful for my experiences and opportunities. The highs and the lows. They have made me who I am. They have tested and challenged me and although it was never easy, this life of wanting but not knowing, I have never regretted getting on the plane.

Believe in yourself. Chase after your dreams. Even if you don’t know “how,” go for it anyway. The “how” will be shown to you…

Riding Horses in Bhutan
Riding Horses in Bhutan, one of the “Happiest Countries on Earth.”

How I became the first FEI II Coach in the USA

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I was surprised to say the least when I found out I was the first and ONLY FEI Level II Show Jumping and Dressage Coach from the United States! Here is the WHAT, the HOW and the WHY!

FEI is something most equestrians have heard of. It’s the Federation Equestria International and it is based in Europe. Although there are many FEI competitions in the USA, along with some judges and stewards that are American, I am the first one to become a Level II Coach.

What is an FEI Coach?

Well, it means that I went to Europe and got tested by the Federation for my skills as a Coach and Instructor. I have years of experience coaching various National Teams in my travels and so I put my skills to the ultimate test and went for my FEI Level One back in 2014. With the Level One I was shown the FEI Curriculum and tested by an FEI appointed Tutor whom became a close mentor of mine. I later visited him in Greece and it was by his recommendation in 2016 that I was accepted and referred to attend my Level Two. Level Two cannot be done by just anyone and those who attended Level One needed to wait a minimum of Two years to apply for the level Two AND they could only apply for the Level Two if they were referred by their FEI Tutor from Level One. (Which Thankfully I was!)

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Coaching Discussion during my FEI II Course in Athens

To break it down:

FEI II Showjumping Coach successfully coaches students to:

  • Compete in Show Jumping up to 1.30 meters
  • Compete in Dressage up to Elementary Level
  • Must be able to follow the FEI Curriculum and Ensure Horse and Rider Welfare

That doesn’t mean that I am limited to that! Actually I am currently on the lookout for a student who wants to help me pursue my level 3! Level 3 is the highest FEI Coaching certification one can achieve and I am on my way.

How I got my Level II

My Level Two course took me to Athens, Greece where I was again tested for the period of a week. After giving countless lessons to Elementary Dressage Students and Horses and Show Jumping Lessons up to 1.30 Meters in Height, I STILL WASN’T FINISHED. I had three months to put together 20 lesson plans following the FEI curriculum at the Level Two height and level. Meaning, I needed QUALITY and High level Students to complete my log book! Luckily for me, I was based in Germany during these three months and quality students wasn’t too difficult to come by! 

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Riding in my spare time during my FEI Level I Course in Zambia

After a much awaited, nail biting anticipation, I PASSED! I got my Certificate early 2017! The highest FEI coaching level is the Level Three which I have my sights on BUT I again need a Quality High Level Student in order to achieve this! (Whom I must document training for at least a year!) I am on the lookout for my next lucky student to help me achieve my goal of becoming an FEI Level III, but in the meanwhile I am enjoying my time traveling to and from America giving clinics and lessons and training horses representing the FEI curriculum found in the Level II.

If you are interested, please get in touch with me! Flights roundtrip from London to California, New York, Florida and others are generally around only USD 400, making it very easy and possible to come to your facility and give a week (or more or less) of training!