The dressage community has lost a very special horse woman May 24th 2011. Kim Beardsley von Hopffgarten passed away, at her Sanssouci farm in Langley, BC. Her death was sudden and unexpected at the age of 54. Kim was a teacher, trainer, competitor, and continuing student in the sport of dressage, a discipline she loved with great passion. Jeremy Steinberg, longtime student and protégé of Kim and Dietrich, now a very successful rider, trainer, clinician, and USEF National Youth Coach, had this to say about Kim.
“Dietrich’s death prepared me for many things and made me grow up in many ways, but it never occurred to me that Kim’s passing would be one of them. Kim has been a staple of my life for twenty years. She has always been quietly herself. No pretense, no nonsense, just Kim. Time changes people like the wind changes the sands of a desert. You never know what it will do, how hard it will blow or what things will look like next.
Kim, however, was my rock and the wind never seemed to touch her. Never changed, never swayed, never moved. Always the same and in being such, offered someone like me solace and resolution and helped stay my heart and wanderlust. I am forever grateful for her calm. Kim’s horses were always her first priority and I will never forgive her, but will always praise her for instilling that in me also. Horses are a burden and a gift and Kim taught me that to enjoy the gift, you must be willing to carry the burden. I will always carry the burden and am honored to do so.”
In recent years she quietly went about her business of overseeing her twenty acre equestrian facility that included her own seven horses, as well as several boarders. She had to do it alone since the death of her husband Dietrich von Hopffgarten five years ago in 2006 at the age of 68.
They married in 1984 and both shared an intense love for horses, dogs, cats, and travel. Dietrich was also her instructor, a gifted dressage master and teacher who taught and coached a number of our top national riders and many local riders as well. In the past few years Kim also hosted and rode in a number of dressage clinics held at the farm, featuring well known international dressage riders and trainers. Her education never stopped.
Kim was born in Seattle on October 4, 1956 and grew up on the family farm on Vashon Island with her other siblings, Greg, Warren, and Melissa. Parents Jim and Marge Beardsley still run the farm and many of the family’s retired horses live out their lives on the island, in lovely pastures overlooking Puget Sound. All the kids rode but Kim and Melissa were the two who chose to pursue professional equestrian careers after college. Kim was a life member of the US Pony Club with an HA rating. She graduated valedictorian at Vashon High School in 1975. Kim continued her education at Washington State University and graduated with honors in Mechanical Engineering in 1980.
When it came to training and maintaining her own dressage horses, Kim was the ultimate planner and perfectionist in every way. Kim and her younger sister Melissa purchased Blackwood Farm in Redmond, Washington in 1983. Kim and Dietrich ran the thirty acre equestrian facility for the next ten years while Melissa was still in school and starting to pursue a professional career in eventing. Kim chose to step off the meteoric competitive path she was on, to build up the farm, train her own young horses up through the levels, teach her ever growing number of students, and make a life with Dietrich.
She continued to do some showing when time allowed and both she and Dietrich loved to organize and perform in the Saturday night gala’s that were held each year at the Champaign Classic dressage show in Monroe, WA. They would dress up themselves and their horses as Mary Poppins and Snow White characters, Dietrich playing the hilarious frilly frocked and over rouged Miss White, Kim as Miss Poppins, riding with one hand holding an umbrella, and perform a musical duet full of Grand Prix movements to the delight of a packed audience.
Her accomplishments during those early years of her dressage career were impressive by anyone’s standards. In 1981, at the age of 25, Kim and her horse Woodimix, won the West Coast versus East Coast Grand Prix competition in Oklahoma City. In 1982, Kim and Woodimix were members of the US Equestrian Team that competed at the World Cup Dressage Championships in Lausanne, Switzerland, the year Dr. Reiner Klimke and Alerich won the Gold medal. That same year under Kim and Dietrich’s tutelage, Melissa won the Young Riders National Dressage Championship on her horse Black Bart.
In 1983 Kim and Woodi, won the Grand Prix at the West Coast Dressage Championships in Los Angeles, CA. Over the years Kim also won many Northwest Dressage Championships at Grand Prix on several different horses she had trained. With her tall and willowy frame, Kim could drape herself around a horse and perform the most difficult dressage movements with softness, elegance, and technical perfection. She competed on many different types of horses, Warmbloods, Thoroughbreds, part Arabians. It didn’t matter.
For Kim, it was all about the time and training she dedicated to each horse whether she chose to compete them or not. In the nineties, after taking a long break from showing, Kim roared back on her horse Luxor and was named Reserve Horse of the Year at Intermediare II by the USDF.
In 1994, Kim and Dietrich, originally from Germany, returned to his adopted homeland of Canada and started Sanssouci Farm in Langley, BC. At that time Melissa took over the running of Blackwood Farm in Redmond and it continues on as a top class boarding and training facility for eventing and dressage. They designed and built Sanssouci for themselves, with an eight stall barn, beautiful indoor and outdoor dressage arenas, hacking paths around the property, and lush paddocks for all their horses, young, going, or retired.
Both Kim and Dietrich taught dressage lessons at the farm to their loyal Canadian and American clientele. Dietrich, up until a few years before he passed away, continued to commute around the US and Canada, giving clinics. Kim continued to do a bit of showing when she had time and would most often win her class as every horse was so painstakingly prepared for the level she was presenting them at.
Up until her death, Kim traveled down to Washington State each month to teach her students at several area farms, including Blackwood. She will be greatly missed.
Kim is survived by her parents Jim and Marjorie Beardsley, her siblings Greg, Warren (Mary Ann), and Melissa (Claudia), her nephews Kevin, Christopher, and Brett Beardsley, aunts Rita and Sylvia, uncle Chet, and many cousins and friends. At Sanssouci Farm, she is survived by seven horses, four cats, and one dog. She dearly loved them all.
A private family memorial was held on Vashon Island Sunday June 5th and a much larger celebration of Kim’s life was held on her farm Saturday June 18th. May Dietrich and the horses be with her.