Where are they now? Four Lendon Gray youth share their 2014 Winter Season, a year after taking part in the Winter Intensive Training Program (WIT) in 2013. We caught up with Brittany Stanley, Maureen Trundy, Katelyn Victoria Kok (Katie), and Nicholas Hansen (Nick), who all have taken positions with top FEI riders or FEI coaches in Wellington and Loxahatchee. They work hard fully immersed into their top professional's businesses. They learn the pressures of CDI competition and the work ethic involved. These young riders develop to a whole new level as riders and horsemen. During the WIT Program, they met and learned the industry by the afternoon workshops from veterinarians, massage specialists, and a host of other equestrian leaders in and around Wellington. They also had a chance to build a great foundation with Lendon's wonderful coaching, and they had a chance to show at some of the big competitions in the young rider divisions. This year gives them a chance to build a whole new foundation with great coaching as working students, as well as building great contacts with their new mentors. With the winter dressage season in full swing, each of the four have an opportunity to understand the industry further. Four riders from last year’s Lendon Gray Winter Intensive Training Program share their 2014 career assignment expeditions.
Brittany Stanley, 22 yrs old, a Saint Louis native spends this winter season grooming for Kim Herslow at Lars Petersen and Melissa Taylor’s Legacy Farms. Taking care of four horses, plus preparing two high performance CDI horses for Kim at the Global Dressage Festival competitions, Brittany works from before sunup to after sundown. She shared, “I took this job because I wanted to see how Kim and also how Lars work, at home and at the shows. I wanted to see how they train on a daily basis, to see how Kim works with Lars in the ring and it’s been a great experience.”
“With a ton of clients, it’s great to watch Lars and Melissa run their business. Kim is at a cool point in her career, picking up sponsors and clients. It’s cool to watch how she approaches people and how successful she’s been with it.”
She continued, “The biggest thing for us, at this stage, is networking. Lendon Gray’s Winter Intensive Training Program (WIT) gave us a foundation to solve any sort of problem and to know who to call, even if that’s Lendon. There we built our contacts and skills. Without WIT, I wouldn’t be here.”
Maureen Trundy, 18 year old from Maine, this winter season works for Sara Spofford also at Legacy Farms. With five horses to look after, Maureen also works before sunup to after sundown. She shared, “I’m learning everything. I’m really learning professionalism, how to deal with people, be polite, making it as a business, working with the horses, etc.”
She continued, “WIT was amazing because you weren’t on your own. There was a team of us who had the opportunity to meet people around Wellington and that confidence has carried over into this opportunity.”
When asked what it's like at Legacy Farms, she shared, “The work ethic is beyond incredible. Lars has set the standard. Everyone here works really hard. They all have great attitudes, which make all the difference.”
Katelyn Victoria Kok (Katie) (20 years old) from New Hampshire works for Lendon Gray. She's taking on a huge responsibility for this year to help run the 2014 WIT program. She shared, “Ever since last year’s WIT, I’ve been working for Lendon. This year, I do all the scheduling. I am in charge of the fitness portion at 7 am each morning, which is exciting. We do an array of workouts in the field that includes running and jumping, every single morning.”
Katie sets up all the workshop lectures that they have every afternoon with many local equine industry leaders and personal leaders, including veterinary specialists, nutritionists, human mental training, equine massage, etc. She said, “I set up the speakers, help them when they arrive. I keep the kids on schedule, getting them to the lecture whether here at Hampton Green or elsewhere. I also give them their assignments and tests. I’m pretty much behind the scenes.” Katie gets to ride her horse with Lendon each day and be a part of the program.
Nicholas Hansen (Nick) 18 years old, from his family farm in Pennsylvania works this winter for Canadian high performance rider, Jacqueline (Jacquie) Brooks. He shared, “With Lendon’s group last year, I learned everything from horse care to how the horse world works, how to be a good horse person, and how to take care of a business in the horse world. With Jacquie, I’m learning how to be a trainer of horses and how to be a true competitor; what it takes to create a good bond between the horse and rider. The horse has to know absolutely 100% what you are asking him all the time. I’m also learning to really think going through the dressage test.” Nick prepares to compete his horse Ritter Benno in the Prix St. George level this winter.
“I’m working from 7am – 5pm doing the barn work, being a leader and making sure things get done. Lendon taught us how to do it, this year, I’m actually doing it,” he said.
The four young riders work hard to pursue their dreams while learning how to build a business. They also learn what it takes their new boss to compete, coach and train at the international level.
What a great opportunity Lendon Gray and Dressage4Kids have done in giving confidence to the youth to take the next step. Watch for these young riders in the future.
For more information on Dressage4Kids programs go to: http://www.dressage4kids.org/