The Aachen ribbons and horse passport still sat on the center island in the tack room along with her appointment book.There were other items barely unpacked from her European Nations Cup Tour with the US Dressage High Performance Team.
For Olivia LaGoy Weltz it was business as usual back in Haymarket, Virginia.
With her 13-year old Danish warmblood gelding Rassing's Lonoir (by De Noir x Loran) she now co-owns with Mary Anne McPhail, Olivia was putting him through his paces in the covered arena at Mountain Crest Farm she has owned for just two years with her husband Eliot Danner.
Rotterdam's Dress Rehearsal for Aachen
The two had an overall very successful tour posting personal bests and having some pivotal learning experiences.
In their first venture in Rotterdam Olivia and Lono put forth a personal best in the Grand Prix earning a 74+%. In the GP Special the energy coming from the packed stadium put both horse and rider just a little on edge.
“He was trying to be with with me, but he very sensitive and hadn’t had too many big crowd experiences up until then. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect from him and he was just that little bit distracted and not sure,” she grinned. “As a result we had a few small but expensive miscommunications. That was of course disappointing, particularly after have such a strong Grand Prix but it was an incredibly valuable learning experience.”
Ready For Aachen
When they got to Aachen, they were ready for the crowd. The pair was responsible for laying down scores in the 70+% in order to secure a team silver for the US. Selected to be on the USA “A” Team for the Nations’ Cup series in Rotterdam and Aachen Olivia and Lono continue to grow in their mutual admiration and respect. “He has a combination of sensitivity and power that make him a true participant,” she said of her partner.
USE Chef D’Equipe and the team’s biggest cheerleader Robert Dover also weighed in on the pair who who showed their team prowess when it counted. “Olivia is both a very talented and dedicated rider and trainer. I feel extremely fortunate to have been able to watch her evolve over many years and see continued great things in her future.”
Coming Full Circle
For the 33-year old LaGoy-Weltz who has been on her dressage journey since she set out for Europe to work for Egbert Kraak at the age of 18, the trip had in many ways coming full circle.
After the National Championships at Gladstone following a successful winter in Florida, plans were made quickly for Olivia and “Lono” to head to Europe and prepare for the Nations’ Cup Tour in Rotterdam and Aachen.
“It was a bit like going home. Egbert has had a hand in guiding my career since I first worked with him.”
When she returned from her first Euro sojourn she first worked back in her home state of California for two years as the dressage trainer at a large facility. Then on the suggestion of Egbert Olivia moved to Versailles, Kentucky to work for Kathy Priest. Priest and Kraak have worked together for years importing quality horses for sale to the US. It was on a shopping trip to Europe in Denmark that Kathy and Olivia found Lonoir, a sensitive youngster who stood out from the crowd. He was tall and sensitive and upon getting him home it was discovered he had more a few emotional and behavioral issues to work through. Her quiet and focussed demeanor was the perfect match for the young prospect, and it soon became apparent the two were meant for each other.
Planting New Roots in Virginia
The 33-year-old native Californian, relocated to Virginia to finally settle in one place and marry her longtime, long-distance boyfriend, Eliot. The couple who went to highschool together connected on one of Olivia’s trips to northwest California. Together with a great staff the farm is beginning to feel like home.
“When I came back from the Pan American Tour two years ago, we had just moved to the farm, and so there was so much to be done. It was very overwhelming at the time. This year we have a rhythm, great help, and a full barn and a few years of experience under our belts.” They even have a vegetable garden and her husband has several bee hives.
“Plant trees.” Was the advice given to her from her long time mentor, Egbert Kraak, when she told him they bought a farm. And on our visit that’s exactly what was going on throughout the property, another round of tree planting. “We’ve done it in stages, having a farm is a constant process of evolution. I learned that working at Egbert’s place. Every year he would do some kind of upgrade to his farm, and he still does. If you saw the pictures of his place from when he first had it you wouldn’t believe it. It wasn’t done all at once but step by step over time. That’s what we are trying to do here. One step at a time, but always looking for the next place to improve on. It’s a bit like training horses.” Since they bought the farm over 100 trees of all kinds have been planted.
Passing On Pivitol Programs
Less than two weeks from her return, Olivia LaGoy Weltz was off again, to now become a mentor herself, donating her weekend to the Dressage4Kids Horsemastership Program. “ I greatly admire Lendon Gray and all she has done to help create and shape this program, “ said Olivia. “She holds the kids to a high standard both on and off the horse. It is an honor to be able to give back and to be asked to participate in her program. Lendon is doing for the Kids what Robert Dover and Debbie McDonald have done for the Developing Rider and Elite Rider programs.
All of these programs are so important to the continuing evolution of our sport and our riders. I think between last year in Rio and this year’s tour we are starting to see that the programs are paying off and that the USA has some very good riders and horse people coming up through our ranks. That’s very exciting to see and we are all very grateful to those who have made these programs possible.”