2017 $6,000 Major Lindgren Grant Recipient -- Eliza Romm
I was lucky enough to receive the Major Anders Lindgren Grant from The Dressage Foundation at the end of 2017. This grant gave me $6,000 to use towards furthering my dressage education. Such a generous amount allowed me to travel to Wellington, FL, for six weeks to immerse myself in training with my top horse, Flip Side, an 8-year-old Hanoverian mare (Fuerst Romancier/Sir Donnerhall), as well as bring four other mares belonging to clients of mine. I have never been able to devote such a long period of time to lessons for myself. As a busy professional, I have always tried to prioritize my continuing education, but that usually means clinics throughout the year. Two or three lessons for myself 4-6 times per year is wonderful, but it pales in comparison to what I was able to accomplish with this grant. I took four lessons per week with Flip Side, studying with Jennifer Baumert at Havensafe Farm in Wellington. This intense training was just what I needed to make the leap from talented young horse schooling 3rd level, to knocking on the door of FEI and feeling truly like an advanced horse, solidly understanding the whole training pyramid.
Jennifer is an exceptional instructor. She is able to see the nuances of the connection better than most instructors. She is demanding while still being encouraging. She is never satisfied with anything other than our best, but she always prioritizes the horse's well-being and wants to make sure they really understand the work. I felt so lucky to be able to have her ride Flip Side a few times as well, so that she could feel what I was feeling, and so that I could see her from the ground, since I am and have always been her only rider, ever since I started her under saddle!
My experience at Havensafe was nothing short of magical. It is such a stunningly beautiful farm, really a safe haven for horses, where every detail has been thought through so that horses have the very best and feel confident and peaceful. The other trainers and riders there were so welcoming, and Betsy Juliano, the owner, made us feel at home from the very first day.
By bringing along four other horses, I was able to work on many of the same concepts we were improving with Flip Side, with slight differences depending on the other horses' ages, conformations, temperaments, etc. This is what really makes a trainer, rather than just a rider – figuring out what each individual horse needs and how to bring out the best in them. A few of my clients were also able to come to Florida to ride with Jennifer. Watching their lessons was so helpful to me as an instructor. I got new ideas for exercises, confirmation of things we were already working to improve, and new ways of saying things that made it all “click” better for my students.
I cannot thank The Dressage Foundation enough for this opportunity. So many instructors get bogged down in the busy-ness of running a day to day operation, and they never manage to take time for their own training. The grants offered by TDF make it possible for professionals like me to prioritize their own education. And this, in turn, makes us better teachers for our students. My students who weren't able to come to Florida were still able to benefit from my experience. I kept a training blog the whole time I was there, and I came home fired up to improve all my students the way I had been able to improve.
Thank you, TDF, for this grant and for all the grants you make possible for dressage riders in the US.
My training blog can be seen at: https://elizasydnordressage.blog/