By 1997 Tami Hoag’s name was making regular appearances on the best-seller lists. Having suffered through 38 Minnesota winters, she uprooted, moved to Virginia-smack in the middle of horse country. Once settled, she turned her attention back to the sport she had come to love. As luck would have it, Betsy Steiner relocated to Virginia around that same time.
“I had long been a student of Betsy’s through her articles, “ Hoag explained, “ I liked her methodical and positive approach to the riding, and her ability to create three-dimensional visual explanations regarding the movement of energy through the horse, and how the rider can create and control that energy.”
On Valentine’s Day 1998 Hoag purchased her first dressage horse through Guenter Seidel–a beautiful bright chestnut Westfalen gelding named D’Artagnon. “I had no business buying that horse,” she remembers, “He was very strong and difficult. I had only a basic start in dressage, and I hadn’t ridden at all in five years.”
But continuing in her tradition of persistence, that she calls “pig-headedness”, Tami bought the gelding anyway, knowing he would make her a better rider–“or she would die trying”. “I was 40,” Hoag explained, “I didn’t have time to mess around. But it was terrifically hard work. I was taking lessons from Betsy when I could, but she was traveling a lot, and I had to work on my own when she was gone. There were many days I got off that horse and just wanted to fall down, curl into the fetal position, and cry.”
D’Artagnon had arrived in Virginia in April of that year. Just two months later, in early June Hoag put him on a trailer and took him to her first dressage show–the Raleigh CDI-one of the most prestigious shows on the east coast. “I didn’t know any better,” Hoag says, “Ignorance is bliss.” Having never ridden a test in a regulation-sized arena, she rode D’Artagnon down the centerline for fourth level test one, and rode back to the barn with a big blue ribbon. “That was it. I was hooked forever.”
By September Tami and D’Artagnon had won their first Prix St. George. Since that auspicious first season, Tami Hoag has become a fixture on the USDF Year-end awards list for Amateurs. She has earned her USDF Gold and Silver Medals and consistently scores well in her Grand Prix classes showing amidst the sport’s top professionals.