For the past two month we had a great addition to our team in Germany: Groom Marina Lemay, usually working on Team Tate Dressage for Jessica Jo “JJ” Tate spent two months of her summer with us at the Hannoveraner Verband’s facilities in Verden, Germany. Those two months seem to just have flown by, but I guess that’s just what happens at the Hannoveraner Verband. There was the Summer Auction, the International Dressage and Jumping Festival, the Foal Auction, and now the testing week for the horses of the Elite Auction. Marina has been part of the team within a heartbeat, and I think I speak from everyone’s mind when I say, even though she was only with us for such a short time, we will really miss her.
This was the first time we did such an “experience abroad” for a US groom. Marina reached out to me when we opened the application period for the Rider-Exchange Program, which will begin in September. “I am not a rider, so I really don’t fit your profile, but I would love to come to Germany and experience the work at the Hannoveraner Verband.” I immediately loved her attitude, and I admired the way she boldly took the lead and reached out to us even though she knew she wasn’t what we were looking for. We talked a bit and decided that the best way would be for her to join us over the summer, which also worked with her job at Team Tate. She would leave the US after the important shows in the spring and get back before the US Young Horse Championships in Chicago next week.
Since this was our first time doing this, I was especially interested in how Marina, as well the team in German, evaluate the experience. The answers I received were quite moving to me, especially as they truly express the values the Hannoveraner Verband stands for and works hard to uphold.
“Professionalism, courtesy, education, generosity and upholding to the highest standards have been cornerstones of what I've experienced during my stay at the Hannoveraner Verband. For the last eight weeks, I've been made to feel at home in a foreign country where I don't speak the native language yet everyone has, without fail, welcomed me with open arms and helped me in any way they can, which I'm forever grateful for! I initially took up this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity (thanks to Kristin Karlisch!) a bit on a whim, with the simple goal of seeing how a different country operates their top-class stables and if it compares to how we run things in America. However, I left with so much more!
I've been lucky enough to witness the ins and outs of broodmare & foal auctions as well as the famous Summer Auction which taught me a lot about efficiency in a tight schedule. Having never even been to an auction before, it was remarkable to see how it all unfolds, especially in such a professional environment. To take care of eight to twelve gifted youngsters and to make sure that they're not only perfectly groomed but also happy and healthy during their stay was definitely a demanding feat, but totally worth it. On top of that, I can now appreciate excellent sporthorses and their bloodlines much more than ever before due to the variety and quality of horses that come and go. I've also groomed for some amazing riders on equally talented horses at some of the most incredible shows I've ever been to. Not to mention that I was able to see the indescribable Internationales Dressur und Spring festival, a true spectacle that puts most of our American shows to shame! I honestly wish more people could experience the Verband and the amazing work that they do for the future of the breed and sport; either as a bidder, owner, groom, rider, or even just as a spectator, it's definitely worth visiting!
The dedication, passion and proficiency that I've been exposed to here have been nothing short of inspiring. Working at the Verband has in fact given me a real reminder of how challenging yet rewarding the equestrian industry can be, particularly at a high level such as this. It's been an eye-opening experience like no other and I'm so appreciative to the entire team for not just allowing me to tag along for the past two months but for being the best of hosts and giving me a wealth of knowledge I'll never forget!”
Melanie Schmerglatt, Auction Rider at the Hannoveraner Verband:
“I remember very clearly there was one day about a month after Marina arrived, that Marina and I were driving somewhere after of course doing something with the horses. We were swapping stories on how things in the horse industry compared in each country and how amazing it is how horses bring so many different people and nationalities together. There we were a Canadian girl living and working in USA and an Australian girl living and working in Germany. This is the truly amazing thing about our sport. We all share the same passion and love for horses no matter where we come from or what language we speak. And these beautiful animals are what bring so many different nationalities to the world renowned Hannoveraner Verband in Verden, Germany.
I have been working at the Verband for the past two years as a dressage rider, trainer and auction rider of the many amazing and talented young horses that come through our stables.
I am also the come to girl for translating German to English or English to German!! So I am very lucky to become such good friends with the foreigners that come to us to either buy horses or that come to our stables for riding or even grooming experience like Marina.
Marina and I were lucky enough to be paired up as a team for the summer auction in July. I have now ridden 10 auctions since being here in Verden so I understand how important this team is in the daily training of the horses or the presentations. Everything has to run like clockwork as we have a fairly small time frame to prepare, clean, ride and wash the horses each training session. The groom is responsible for a lot from feeding the horses, to preparing them for customers and to giving them one last brush over at the end of the day. Without the grooms we as riders would be lost! I think for Marina it was quite a different but very rewarding experience grooming during the auction. It really is an amazing and exciting experience as a rider or a groom to be a part of.
Not only does our team work hard but we also like to play hard! Quite often a lot of us are doing things outside of work together and one of the latest shenanigans that we got up to was paintball. Marina chose a great time to be here that's for sure!! I don't think getting hit by a paint bullet and being covered in bruises was on her list of things to do in Germany but she was a great sport and was a part of our fun!
We are a big and very diverse team at the society with people from far and wide. It's a place where friendships and experiences are created that are never forgotten. It is a part of your life that you never forget because it is such a special and unique place.”
To read more about Marina’s experience, visit her blog at Team Tate’s website: