Wherever she may be calling home at the moment, Tami Hoag truly has a string of dressage horses to write home about ! She refers to this trio as the “special ones” , not surprisingly beginning with her first dressage horse, D’Artagnon.
“D’Ar“, as Hoag affectionately calls him, “was my first love, my heart. He came to me at a very difficult time in my life, and taught me that I can do anything I set my mind to–no matter what anyone else thinks or how little support I get.”
The pair had numerous trips to the preverbal “winner’s circle” together, before D’Artagnon’s unfortunate early retirement due to an injury. But as with most great horses, Hoag gained a great deal more from D’Artagnon than blue ribbons.
In the fall of 2000 Tami started her GPGC (Grand Prix Girls Club) with the purchase her first Grand Prix horse, a wild-eyed opinionated 13-year-old Dutch mare named Feliki. Unlike acquiring D’Artagnon, where Hoag charged forward with what many might have called reckless abandon, she was less certain about purchasing Feliki. “I had to be talked into it by Betsy and Toine Hoeffs who found her for me,” Hoag says. “I thought she was too old. Silly me! She’s 19 this year, and stronger and better than ever. I think she may outlive me.”
Purchasing Feliki proved to be an excellent decision. After showing the Grand Prix test only four times, the pair won the high score Grand Prix horse award at the Palm Beach Dressage Derby–the highlight show of the 2001 winter circuit in Florida. And they have consistently continued their winning ways, The duo racked up impressive wins during the 2006 Florida season with multiple wins in the open Grand Prix division at the Highlife Cup, the 2006 Palm Beach Derby, and the Heidelberg Cup.
“Feliki is the most amazing individual,” Tami says, “She’s tough and feisty, and has the biggest heart in the world. Feliki believes she is 19 hands tall and that she is the queen bee of the universe. I’m so fortunate to have this exceptional mare in my life. I have learned –and continue to learn—so much from her.”
Exceptional mares have become a theme in Hoag’s life. Inspired by a trip to the 2005 World Cup in Las Vegas, Tami decided it was time to move up to the big leagues. Once again she turned to friend and coach Betsy Steiner to find the right horse for the journey. With the help of agents Fran Goodsell and Michael Ripploh in Germany, Steiner did just that in very short order.
“It was another one of those things that was just meant to be,” Hoag says. “Betsy sent me a video of three horses. The first one was very good, the second one was very good, the third one was Coco Chanel. There was no question which horse was THE horse.
Hoag describes the Rheinlander mare as an angel. “She’s the sweetest horse I’ve ever known. She believes everyone in the world loves her, and she loves them back. She has the most wonderful, quirky personality, like a horse from a children’s story.”
Like Feliki, Coco’s work ethic is stellar, and she loves the spotlight. Even though theirs is a new partnership, Hoag and Coco Chanel had an outstanding debut season this year in Florida with big wins in the High Performance Grand Prix division at the Highlife Cup and the Heidelberg Cup. The also captured the Grand Prix Freestyle win at the final Derby Series Show at Equestrian Estates. The pair turned a lot of heads and managed to garner more than a dozen Grand Prix scores in the 60’s with half of those scores well over 65%. Not a bad start for a budding relationship . With Hoag's ever-present persistence and commitment to dressage and Coco’s incredible talents, there is little doubt that this pair is destined for great things.