After the recent arrival of her twin babies, Tara Rena Stegen is back in the saddle and ready for the upcoming season. With several fun young horses joining her barn in Wellington, Florida, Tara is also looking forward to debuting her mother Barbara’s 18h Holsteiner, Laroche in the Grand Prix. But it was the recent sale of her longtime partner New Tango “Nash” (1995 KWPN by Contango by Saluut) to 20-year-old Sara Jancik that gives her as much a thrill and sense of satisfaction as all the other major achievements over the past year. New Tango ridden by Tara Stegen's coach Robert Dover, was one of the first horses to represent the USA at the World Championships for Young Horses in 2000 making it into the final and finishing 12th. With Tara he went all the way to successful career in the Grand Prix. “Nash” guided by his owner, represents the result of good management in his fitness, nutrition and training and has begun the second leg of his life at 17-years-old with his new owner.
And here is how it was done.
Jancik, who is from Colorado, learned about the opportunity to acquire her new soul mate from her longtime trainer Kelly Lane. “When I watched him go for the first time all I could think was "Get off! I want on!" Sarah recalls. “I knew after the first five minutes on him that we would be future partners; it was if I had known him forever.” Nash did not have far to travel to his new home, in fact he stayed right where he was. “I am fortunate enough to have this stunning horse to call my own but with it came more; a situation that cannot be made nor bought. Nothing changed for Nash except for me as his new rider. I keep him in Tara's barn with his long time groom Edwin caring for him and I worked with Tara consistently up till she had her baby boys. I now work with Tara, as she is already back in action (this comes as no surprise), as well as Kelly.”
As for her mentor, Stegen she has passed on what she has learned from her years in the saddle with her partner who had many career highlights. “The biggest thing that I had to over come with Nash was to stay super still in that saddle. Small aids reaped huge responses. From this I learned that a super hot horse could be steered around a ring and allowed to be expressive and in total control. As a teacher it taught me that you truly must stay out of your horses way in order to obtain their true brilliance.”
It was also Stegen’s meticulous program of fitness, nutrition, and maintenance throughout his career that has enhanced the longevity and value that created this opportunity for his new rider. “Keeping New Tango fit wasn't just about riding the Grand Prix working the Grand Prix movements, or about working the basics,” Stegen explains. “It's about cross training, hand galloping, nutrition and keeping his mind happy.” Stegen uses table salt for electrolytes and honey to help his immune system. “Both of these give you a better results with no added preservatives, then the dietary issues seem to diminish. A good supply of hay, high-fiber low sugar grain is also very important."
As for his training schedule, Nash’s life is kept interesting, so he won’t get bored. “Working him is about adjustability throughout movements, not just working the piaffe or passage. Two days a week of working the piaffe and passage movements is sufficient during off-season to keep his hamstrings fit and keeping a quick reacting time for the upcoming season. Cross training by going for trot sets around the neighborhoods on the two and a half-mile bridle path or hand gallops around the field keeps his mind healthy and young. Not every day is about hard work, he is also allowed to play.
Stegen has a full lameness work up whether her horses lame or not before the show season kicks into high gear. “With 6-8 weeks before your first show to prepare for season,” Stegen adds, “be sure you and your veterinarian have a game plan so that he knows how many shows and on what weekends, so the level of pain-free management for your horse keeps him fit and comfortable through season and all the way through to the National Championships.
Intravenous or intra muscular shots are also important especially during season with Adequan or Polyglicon is also something Stegen does with her performance horses if needed. “Any of these injectables are good and bad depending on the horse; every horse reacts differently to any of them. Knowing which one your horse utilizes is vital key to your show success, knowing how many days out to inject your horse, knowing how much he needs. All of this plays into keeping him working at peak performance.”
Chiropractic care during off-season once a month is part of the plan, and during season, every two weeks to maintain a straight back, flexible neck, and comfortable joints is imperative for any horse to perform at his peak performance level at every show.
“But most of all,” Tara emphasizes, “It is knowing the signs. Croup high in schooling changes, getting heavy in the contact, being ‘girthie’, tense at the mounting block, or any attitude change in stall behavior are just a handful of signs that clue you into changes in your partner. Having a long time rapport like I did with New Tango made it easy.”
With the longtime support of her family who shares her passion for dressage Janick is all about the sheer joy of training and being the best that she can be, which will now be enhanced from the seasoned and also expressive dark brown gelding who knows his job. This winter Nash and Sara will be seen at CDIs competing in the small tour, as well as working toward the Grand Prix and Brentina Cup tests at National shows. In their trial run through the Intermediaire 1 at a recent show at the the Palm Beach Equine Sports Complex they scored a 73.5% from Fran Dearing.
“I cannot put into words all that Nash has taught me in the little time that we have been together. I can say that every day he reminds me of two things. Most importantly that what we have together is for fun, that everyday practice deserves a buck and a head shake as a celebration, literally. Because of this he is teaching me what ‘less is more’ is really about and the importance of my position to advance self control and therefore expectations of us both.”
“I am not nervous stepping into Tara's roll as his rider, as some thought I would be.” Sara adds. “I am not afraid to have some mess ups, which is bound to happen as we try new things together! The biggest task will be rising up to the level that Nash lives on; there isn't a challenge I could enjoy more.”
New Tango and Tara Stegen Career Highlights
- 2000 12th Place finish WBYHC 5 year old division
- 2001 8th place Finish WBYHC 6 year old division
- 2003 “Hat Trick” at Equestrian Estates in the Pan-AM qualifiers both rides 70%+
- 2003 Second Alternate for Pan-Am Team finishing 7th in Trials and Gladstone
- 2009 Gold Coast Opener CDI-W 70.5% in the GPFS finishing 2nd to Ashley
- Holzer2009 Dressage Masters competitor for the USA and took 4th in the GPS
- 2009 Festival of Champions @ Grand Prix finishing 9th overall
Along with many top 5 finishes at GP in all CDI's