When American Dressage rider, trainer and breeder Elisabeth Austin won the prestigious Anne Barlow Ramsay Grant in 2011 she knew exactly how she wanted to use the $25,000. The grant established by Dr. Ramsay was established in 2008 to showcase talented American-bred horses ridden by United States citizens, by providing funds to train and compete in Europe. Austin whose American bred Grand Prix Stallion Olivier (by Idocus) born and raised in Vermont on her mother’s Madeline Austin) farm Imajica, was the ideal candidate. “I chose to work with Carl Hester in England because I really respect his riding style, love how his horses go, and he got rave reviews from a few riders that I know and trust who had come over to work with him.” But, her plans were put on hold for a year because of a big time British event, the 2012 London Olympic Games where Carl competed for the British Team to a team Gold Medal, and his other horse, Valegro ridden by teammate Charlotte Dujardin won the individual Gold. This gave Austin time to focus on raising the funds to add Olivier’s son Coltrane to the plan. Austin rented out her Wellington condo, stuck out a winter in Vermont, and was off with her two boys to England this spring.
I taught lessons and clinics like mad all winter and spring in order to be able to afford to bring Coltrane, in addition to holding a fundraising dinner and people making donations to a GoFundMe account I set up to help with his travel expenses, ” Austin explained. “While “Fizzy” (Olivier) has done huge, huge things for my career and given me a tremendous amount of experience in the CDI Grand Prix ring, he is 17 this year and while I would like him to go on forever, I know I need to have horses coming up behind him. Coltrane was born in 2007 just after Fizz and I won our second Brentina Cup. He was the first foal by Fizzy born at our farm and has been completely my horse from the beginning."
“In the scheme of things I think this was a really wise decision - England in the spring so far has been absolutely beautiful and the days are getting warmer and longer, unlike if I had come in the fall when they would be getting shorter and darker!” And Liz is even getting into drinking tea in the afternoons!
Since Oliver is a stallion they can only stay for two months at Carl's and Austin is “soaking up as much as I can for our somewhat brief stay here.” Technically savvy since the early days of her career and the internet,, Austin keeps up with her Facebook page and website lizaustindressage.com, as well as supplies a blog on her adventures on HorseHero.com, and it was an adventure to say the least! .
“My horses are great, Carl is great, everyone that works at Carl's is incredibly nice and the weather has been pretty darn fabulous. I am so thankful to everyone that has helped me to get here including (but not limited to!) my mom, Madeleine Austin (who bred both my boys!!! Go US Breeders!) Dr. Anne Ramsay, The Dressage Foundation, Renee Isler, all of the smaller donors that helped Coltrane to get here, and all of my sponsors- HorseTech, Succeed, ICU Trailer Cams, County Saddlery and FITS!”