Head Trainer: Natalie Perry
My grandparents were visiting recently and brought home videos from when my brother and I were growing up. In my favorite, I am about a year old and walking my parents golden retriever. In the next scene, I’m sitting on my mom’s Quarter Horse -- first with my mom, then with my dad. I realized I have always been an animal person.
I started my horse career at the age of ten when I went to summer camp at Blue Heron Farm, hunter/jumper farm in Poulsbo, WA. Before the camp, I had ridden my mom’s horse and my pony but only for fun around our property. At this camp my passion for riding was found. After taking lessons for a year, I was fortunate to get a 4 year old quarter horse gelding by the name of “More Whiskey.” Wanting to improve my jumping and, after my first Pony Club Camp, I decided to take a dressage lesson or two. After the first dressage lesson I was smitten and have never looked back!
Whiskey and I made it to third level with the help of my trainer Jill Seely. I then found a Shire/National Show Horse mare by the name of “Shireland’s Winsome.” Winsome was a very green-broke 7 year old mare who had never been off the farm. It was quite the experience trying to teach her how to canter! Winsome and I won the Region 6 Northwest Dressage JYR Championship and competed successfully through second level. We also evented and went to numerous Pony Club and Area 7 Young Rider eventing camps where we had the chance to ride with top dressage and jumping coaches from all over the US.
When Winsome and I were nearing the end of our partnership (she is now a fantastic amateur’s horse in Gig Harbor, WA) I was fortunate enough to become the owner of Rubina. Ruby taught me more than just dressage, she taught me about determination and to never give up. One of the most difficult horses I have ever sat on, Ruby had been trained by a large German man who muscled her everywhere and therefore she never learned collection. The first week I had her I could not even get her on the bit! While she did tricks, I took her back to second level to teach her thoroughness and how to carry herself and to build a partnership.
Ruby and I worked hard and in 2003 competed at the USEF Junior Dressage Team Championships at Dressage at Devon. This is a competition for the top 12 riders in the US ages 14-18 that are competing at the FEI Junior Level, essentially fourth level. Once there you are placed on teams of four and compete as a member of those teams. My team, team Independence, won the Gold Medal.
In 2006 Ruby and I were members of the Region 6 North American Young Rider Championships team. This team consisted of the top four riders age 16-21 from region 6 competing at the FEI Young Rider level/Prix St. Georges. We got to Virginia but the morning of the jog, Ruby came up lame. I stayed at Young Riders caring for my horse and helping out my team and was honored to receive the sportsmanship award for the entire competition (consisting of dressage, show jumping and eventing). When we returned home and went to Dr. Revenaugh we learned Ruby had pulled her deep flexor tendon. Ruby is now back to full work but cannot compete at the FEI level; Michelle Anderson of Bend is now Ruby’s rider and mother. Ruby is teaching Michelle how to ride as well as the same lessons she taught me about determination and not giving up!
Throughout the years I have been able to train with some of the world’s best trainers. I participated in 8 USDF Advanced Young Rider’s Clinics with Conrad Schumacher. I have also ridden with Barbara Koot numerous times. Barbara is a rider from Holland who is on the prestigious Dutch Trainers Platform which gives continuous training to the top Dutch dressage and jumper trainers. Jill Seely and Kari McClain provided me with my early dressage education as well as Brook and Kelly Irving. I have cliniced with: Janet Brown-Foy, Kathy Connelly, Jeremy Beal and Debbie McDonald (at the USDF Symposium in 2002).
After Young Riders I came home and finished college, earning my Bachelor’s in Business Administration with a concentration in marketing from the University of Washington, Tacoma. While going to school I taught lessons at Blue Heron Farms in Poulsbo and Kellenbrook Farms in Gig Harbor, WA.
In 2007 I was honored to receive a place in the Dressage Foundation’s European Olympic Dream program for young riders. Four young riders from around the country were chosen through an extensive application process to observe the European Young Rider Championships and travel to the barns of Carola Koppleman, Ingrid Klimke, Heike Kemmer and Hubertus Schmidt. At these barns we observed their training and riding techniques, watched them teach lessons and discussed their methods with each trainer. Being able to observe the best in the world for ten straight days brought my expectation and riding to a whole new level.
In March 2008 I began working for Jennifer William’s at Summervale Farm in Roy, WA. The majority of her business is selling horses so I got to ride a variety of horses from green three year olds to FEI horses. I also was able to compete on some of these horses. In 2007-2008 I continued teaching in Gig Harbor as well as clinicing regularly in Bend and Portland, Oregon.
I had the opportunity to travel to California in March, 2009, with Jennifer and compete with my coming five year old Hungarian mare, Welsie. It was an amazing experience. I was able to watch Jennifer’s lessons with Steffen Peters as well as watching Steffen ride. At the shows I was able to observe the top riders and learn from them. I hope to return to California each winter to further my training and compete.
In 2012 I had the opportunity to show numerous horses including Zhorik DG owned by Nancy Weaver, Brooks owned by Tina Billings, Dante owned by Carolene Miller, Orisis owned by Taryn Yates, Delta's Eclipse Q owned by Laura Swenson and well as my own horses H. Welsie and Malachite (Molly). Zhorik and I were Reserve Champions 2nd Level Open at the ODS Championships and 2nd Level Open Champions at the USDF Region 6 Championships. Delta's Eclipse Q and I were the 4th Level Open Northwest Dressage Champions and were 3rd place in the USDF Region 6 4th Level Open Championships. Zhorik and I ended 5th in the nation at 2nd level.
In May 2013 I earned my USDF Gold Medal riding Orisis.
Assistant Trainer: Mari Valceshini
I have always loved horses. As a kid, school was difficult. I felt like I didn’t fit in and couldn’t compete for good grades. As a way to help me memorize my parents brilliantly got me into riding, knowing I would need to memorize patterns when competing. All of a sudden, some of the difficulties in learning I had, became easy. Having a partner, the movement of riding instead of sitting at a desk, and the fun of showing all changed who I was, how I learned and what brought happiness to my childhood.
I was the textbook horse crazy kid. From the time I got my first horse, a pinto pony, if I could have slept in a stall with her I would have. I loved learning and succeeding with my horse. I learned balance, discipline, harmony and attention to detail and the joy of a well schooled horse.
During high school, I was a working student at Euro Pferde Dressage Center, a facility that imported and sold Hanoverians. I learned the basics of dressage, riding sport horses, how to prepare and present sale horses. But most importantly I fell in love with dressage; the balance and organization of dressage can benefit all types of horses, activity levels and disciplines. From Arabians, Quarter Horses to Warmbloods and everything in between, horses in general can use the foundation of dressage to excel in riding.
While attending OSU in Corvallis and working towards a degree in Business Administration (couldn’t have done it without riding re-patterning my brain!), I became a working student for Kim Barker. At KB Dressage, I leased two talented yet tricky thoroughbred geldings. These horses were great teachers! I learned that I have a gift for getting the most out of challenging horses in training and in the show ring. I enjoy being in tune with my horse, and intuitively knowing how to communicate with him and how to elevate his performance in the arena. I earned my Bronze medal at this time.
After graduating from OSU, I returned to Bend, my hometown, to be close to my family. Inevitably I could not stay away for riding and immersed myself in my passion for dressage. I earned my Silver medal on Mike Wisbeski’s horse Favourite Dream and furthered my challenging horse learning curve! I joined Natalie Perry as her assistant trainer and believe as Natalie does, that riding well is like no other experience. We relish our roles in caring for the horses in our stable and sharing the joy we have for riding with our clients.
2009 Oregon Dressage Society first and second level JR/YR champion
2009 Northwest Regional first level JR/YR champion
Bronze and Silver medalist