2020 Anne L. Barlow Ramsay Annual Grant Recipient: Emily Smith
When reading through previous grant recipient stories, what is so apparent is how pivotal each award from The Dressage Foundation (TDF) was to each rider’s career and my experience is no different. With the help of my trainer, Endel Ots, I learned aspects of riding that I did not know existed. I am deeply appreciative of Dr. Ramsay’s devotion to education, and I am very sorry for her recent passing. The lessons learned as a direct result of her grant will support me for a lifetime. I am honored to share my experience.
The goal of this grant was to support the career of an American bred horse. Under his previous trainer, Ms. Emily Miles, who was the 2014 recipient of this same grant, Quantum Jazz was trained to Grand Prix and competed multiple times at Festival of Champions as he developed. Being awarded this grant fulfilled the goal of Dr. Ramsay by supporting the training of the horse and thereby the rider ALL being American! Her legacy extends from Emily Miles’ experience in 2014 to my experience in 2020-2021.
I purchased Quantum Jazz a year ago intending to learn the GP under the tutelage of Endel Ots in Wellington. This grant provided me with the opportunity to train and compete at U25. These past few months have been the best and most informative I have ever experienced. With the opportunity to have a horse like Quantum Jazz in full training with Endel Ots, I have come out the other end as a completely different rider.
In January, we started by breaking things down and finding our holes in the training. It became very clear that I was holding a lot together with ‘duct tape and chewing gum.’ We realized that we needed to address the heart of the issue. It was not so much that Quantum Jazz was stiff left as he was hollow right. Suddenly it felt that I could not do anything right. However, Endel taught me a wonderful life lesson: sometimes you have to break things down to build them back up.
1. Communication with Quantum:
I can finally fully communicate with Quantum Jazz, in explaining to him what I mean, but also in my understanding where his mind is. I had to learn how to make my aids “crystal” clear to a horse:
a. Your goal in that moment of the ride needs to be completely clear in your mind
b. The goal at that moment needs to be as clear as possible to the horse
c. You should strive to be as clear in your goal as possible
2. Try to put your riding into words:
It does not come naturally to me to put my thoughts into words during a ride, but this is something that Endel strongly believes in. He has the best riding analogies, and he pushed me to try to use more. This made my goals during my rides clearer because I had to put them into concrete thoughts. This is also what makes Endel an excellent teacher.
For example, the poll of the horse is like “holding up a frisbee against the wall with water pressure out of a hose: if it is not enough, it will fall; if it is too much, it will fly away.”
3. Regarding balancing the horse:
I have learned that it is not only longitudinally and laterally, but also rotationally upright. It is interesting to see this in the canter and trot zig-zags.
4. Allowing the horse to be responsible for doing the movement:
When I think back to past years, I used to think that I needed to manage every step. Now, the horse is responsible for holding himself together.
This grant has also allowed me to ride my other horse, Dublin, with Endel. Dublin is a 14-year-old Hanoverian whom I have had since he was 7. The invaluable educational experience with Quantum Jazz has also benefited the development of Dublin at GP, as we reached our personal best scores at GP. Endel has a wonderful gift for understanding the mind of the horse. So with Endel’s help, we helped Dublin understand what was being asked of him, to support him when he was confused or scared.
I am beyond grateful for this past year’s opportunity, which was made possible because of TDF’s Anne Ramsay grant. The impact it has made on my riding is more than I had ever dreamed. I look forward to continued life-long learning, and to build upon the foundation established this past year.
Perspectives from a Horse Show Mom
By Dianne Georgian-Smith
Emily is transitioning from her junior/young rider days to adult/open. My experience as her mother, the “parent factor,” is not shared in the adult amateur or open rider training. We, the parents, are the silent bystanders at ringside, the videographer, the chauffeur, the major sponsor, the unpaid groom, the shoulder to lean on, etc. We see everything!
First, I want to express my gratitude to Endel Ots, who has been the utmost of professional, who has always been available when I have had questions, who took my suggestions (LOL) in stride and with respect, and who has invested a great deal of time to Emily and each of her horses...as he does with all of his horses! I have been very impressed!
Being Emily’s Mom, I am very proud of how she has handled her dressage education. I have a unique perspective since I was present from her very first ride at the age of 7 to today’s lesson. I am proud of how she has handled the obstacles. The lessons learned through “the horses” responsibility, perseverance, self-reliance apply to all areas in life. I believe that a child with a passion will maintain a straight pathway for success in whatever he/she chooses. The best advice I can pass on to other parents, and perhaps the hardest to fulfill, is to allow your child to find and define his/her own journey at his/her own pace.
I especially extend huge gratitude to Dr. Ramsay, her family, and ALL the donors who “make” TDF happen. Be assured that your donations are truly appreciated and are making long-term changes to the field of dressage. I envision that the lessons being imparted by Endel to Emily “today” will one day be passed on from Emily to those who are currently juniors. This is how the sport grows and elevates. Thank you!
Remember, champions are made when no one is looking!