Kathleen Raine (2014)

Thank you so much for your generous grant. Both Breanna and I appreciate your support and did put the grant to great use supporting the mission to preserve the philosophy of classical dressage in America. Receiving the Carol Lavell Advanced Dressage Prize afforded me the opportunity to help develop, implement, evaluate and improve upon my classical riding skills. I want to acknowledge the wonderful generosity of the Lavell family who without them this wonderful, enriching experience could not have been achieved. For individuals like myself who have developed their own horse through the levels it is only with the support of an organization such as the Dressage Foundation that this adventure could have happened. As a result of this grant I was able to travel to Germany to further education with Johann Hinnemann my trainer of over 20 years at his Krusterhof Dressurstall in Voerde, Germany.

Our journey began last June while I was still in Gladstone. My husband David was at the Rotterdam CDI with our U25 rider, Mackenzie Pooley. While at dinner that evening with the show organizer, he called me to let me know that I was to be in the CDI at Perl Germany. I knew we were prepared with having just competed in Gladstone and with the week of working with my coach. However, it was a bit unnerving, as I only had ten days before the show, and finding out this particular show was a German selection for WEG, not to mention I was still in the United States! All that said, I was very excited and honored to be able to participate in this show.

Breanna had been to Germany last year, so once we arrived in Germany she settled in quite quickly. She seemed very comfortable, so we proceeded with a few days of light work and then time to prepare for the show.

The show was a five hour drive to the south, on the Luxemburg German border. It was a beautiful area, vineyards everywhere. The competition was at the magnificent Peterhof Stable. Our Grand Prix went very well, we ended in 5th! The next evening was the freestyle. The atmosphere was electric and the arena was like a disco that evening, flashing colored lights with speakers right next to the arena. The spectators were so close there was no room to go around the outside of the arena, you had to go inside. My ride was close to 11:00pm in the pouring rain. I rode toward the end around 11:00pm. Being a California girl, I'm not use to the rain. I followed the in house trainer, Dorthee Schneider; I knew that the crowd would go crazy after her ride. So, waited to go in till the applause was finished. Breanna went around great before my ride, then they announced Dorthee’s score, and it was high so the crowd went crazy. So much for trying to wait till after the applause! My ride was quite tense in the beginning, but the she settled in. I was very proud of her handling that situation. We don’t have anything like that in the U.S. That is one the many reasons why it’s important for the U.S. riders to compete in Europe.

While at the hotel in Perl, fellow American, Catherine Haddad-Staller told me about a show that was just added to the CDI calendar in Cappeln Germany. It was a few weeks away and only two hours away from my training location. Interestingly enough, three of the judges were also judging at WEG. This show was at the legendary Gestut Vorwerk, another amazing place. Breanna once again was wonderful, placing second in the Grand Prix and second in the freestyle.

Throughout my stay so far, my coach (Johann) had been in contact with Robert Dover about me participating in Aachen. Jan Ebeling had shipped his mare, Rafalca over with the rest of the short listed horses, but she was unable to compete at the first European outing with the others. We were hoping I could do Aachen if the pair proved incapable. Less than 24 hours before the jog, we got the call from Robert that I could go. I was very excited; however it was a bit overwhelming trying to organize everything to get there in time, for the biggest show in the world. I got there about an hour before the jog and was able to get in the arena for a short time. She was a little tense in the Grand Prix but we got a personal best in the Special. That is an exciting place to have that achievement.

Then back home for a little down time and the gear up for Verden. Verden was a fun show to do because we purchased Breanna at the Verden auction 10 years earlier as a 4 year old. She was going back to her homeland. We had a very good Grand Prix but had some mistakes in the Special.
After returning home, we had over a month till the next show. She had some down time while I went to WEG to watch.

Our next competition was Donaueschingen. That was a long drive, about eight hours to the south. I had a show there many years ago with Avontuur, where we won the freestyle, so I was excited about going back. In previous years, it was in a park in front of a castle. Not anymore. I did not recognize much of it. We placed 5th in the Grand Prix and 5th in the Special.

After Donaueschingen I went home for a month and Johann rode Breanna. Upon my return to prepare for Stuttgart, I had another gear in my horse. Wow, she felt amazing! We went to Stuttgart, which is one of biggest indoor shows in Europe. It had been many years since I had the opportunity to show there, so it was fun to return. My husband was even able to join me. He was especially proud because he picked Breanna out at the auction! It’s exciting to see her fulfill our dreams and expectations. At Stuttgart, we had a personal best in the Grand Prix.

In between all the shows, the emphasis was always working on getting her stronger and more supple. It’s been so wonderful to be able to spend so much time building on the training and seeing the great results in the show arena.

In January, we returned to the U.S. through Wellington, Florida to participate in the CDI5 the first week of February.

In closing, I just want to reiterate how honored I felt to participate in this wonderful program and I am hopeful that I may once again be eligible for such a grant. Thanks again for all that you have done to prepare us to succeed.