Great Beginnings

Elizabeth Niemi, Grand Prix Dressage Rider/Trainer
Born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Elizabeth Niemi began riding at the age of five. Smitten with horses, she found her way to a local boarding stable and began taking lessons. There was no turning back and as an only child she easily convinced her parents that riding horses was what she intended to do.

Unlike the vast majority of dressage riders, Elizabeth never had to lament wishing she had learned dressage earlier. While most young horse lovers are drawn to jumping and speed sports, Elizabeth was enamored by the beauty of dressage from the start. Many FEI riders and trainers worked and boarded their horses at this stable and as a young rider, Elizabeth focused on them. “As a child, I was immediately captured by the elegance of the sport. Watching a horse and rider move together like seasoned dance partners, seemed to ignite something inside of me. Little did I know this sport would become my passion and eventually my profession,” she said.

At 12 years old, she was training in First and Second Levels. From ponies to her first Quarter Horse, she progressed through the lower ranks of dressage in an orderly fashion. At 13 her parents felt she was ready for her first Warmblood.

She spent her teenage years riding and showing imported Warmblood schoolmasters. “For 35K you could pick up a pretty nice horse in those days,” said Elizabeth. “And my parents purchased a horse for me with the arrangement that I would earn my horse’s keep working in the local tack shop.” Eventually Elizabeth ended up riding and showing the tack shop owner’s horses. “We did not take vacations,” said Elizabeth. “My parents and I went to horse shows instead.”

Well-versed in many aspects of the equine business, 18-year-old Elizabeth Niemi left the United States to train in Europe with Jennie Loriston-Clarke. By age 22, Elizabeth was showing at top FEI levels and owned a fleet of trucks and trailers to ship her horses to shows. She continued to show and train from her private barn until at age 25 Elizabeth was offered a position as head trainer at Hampton Green Farm in Fruitport, Michigan. She accepted and spent the next six years managing and training, diligently moving through the dressage levels.

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