December 17, 2014 - Pati Pierucci is like a practiced circus performer balancing spinning plates − she keeps them all whirling without breaking a single one. The Grand Pix dressage rider recently moved her business and her family from Virginia to Texas where she’s assembled a crackerjack team, she’s training clients and their horses, she’s showing her PRE stallion and will offer limited breedings to him in 2015, she’s heading to Florida to train and compete during the winter show season, she offers clinics twice a month in San Antonio, she’s a mom and a wife, and she’s soon to be the mother of the bride. It all started when Pierucci packed up her family, horses and belongings last fall and relocated from Virginia to Shoofly Farm in Cypress, Texas, near Houston.
“It’s been an awesome move,” she said. “It was hard to leave Virginia because they are very much my heart, but the people in Texas have certainly made it worth the effort in moving.”
She and her husband and 12-year-old son, Rayme, made the move to the Lone Star State so Pierucci could have more options for her son’s care while she travels.
“My husband is gone four days out of the week, my oldest daughter is out of college and my middle daughter is in college,” she said. “I was left without the ability to have my son taken care of the way I wanted him to. It ended up being the No. 1 most perfect fit.”
Pierucci has assembled another perfect fit with the team she calls her Shoofly Family which includes farm owner Kim Rathmann, Assistant Trainer and Barn Manager Andrew Phillips, and Assistant Trainer Ashley Burd Whicker.
“The great thing about Shoofly is it’s a training facility, not a boarding facility,” she said. “We try to personalize the care of the horses and the care of the rider to the best of our ability. It’s a huge support team between Ashley and Andy and me. And then, Kim, who owns the barn.”
Pierucci said that Rathmann has been instrumental in smoothing the transition from Virginia to Texas. She bought a young Dutch Warmblood gelding named Empire from Kathy Connelly and Toine Hoefs that Pierucci found in Holland, and the trainer is enjoying bringing him up through the ranks. Rathmann took over the ride on a horse Pierucci had been training and entered her first show in Katy, Texas, over the weekend, notching a 68 percent in Third Level Test Three.
“It was awesome and everyone who she supports was there for her,” Pierucci said. “She handled it like a pro even though she was a bit freaked! It was really emotional for me because it was such a big deal for her. I think I have her hooked now!!”
Pierucci added that Rathmann is the person who is always supportive of the other riders and they enjoyed turning the tables to cheer her on.
“Kim is that person who is at everybody’s ride,” she said. “She is at every horse show. She’s the first one at the ring and the first one to tell you that you did a great job. She’s the biggest cheerleader and the great thing is that Kim is starting to show herself. That is the best of all because she is one woman who is there for everybody and now we all get to be there for her. It’s like having Christmas every day!”
Rathmann works with the Houston Dressage Society to put on the Shoofly Farm CDI and Spring Classic in April. Pierucci said the goal was to create a low-key CDI with Southern hospitality.
In addition to Rathmann’s success going down centerline, some of Pierucci’s other students excelled in the show ring in Region 9 and she was proud of them.
“My students just killed it at the championships,” she boasted.
Pierucci stays busy at Shoofly, not only with her clients’ horses in training, but she also trains Empire, a 6-year-old KWPN Jazz gelding, and her Grand Prix PRE stallion, El Espirit. She will be traveling with them to Florida during the winter show season to compete and to train with Kathy Connelly.
“Stu’s got a little bit of everything and it’s got to be tied together and be stronger,” Pierucci said. She will offer a limited number of breedings to him in 2015.
She said that Empire is wonderfully athletic but she is bringing him along slowly. She will go to Florida to evalute where he is and where he is going, adding that he needs time with throughness and understanding.
Pierucci also offers clinics twice a month in San Antonio, Texas. Family friend Karen Silvers, who bought a horse from her nearly five years ago, organizes them and Pierucci is grateful for her help.
As a mom, Pierucci has her hands full with her son, and her two daughters. Her younger daughter, Hannah, will graduate from Virginia Tech in May and then head to Texas to help in the family horse business. Hannah is a USDF Silver medalist. Pierucci’s older daughter, Phoebe, met her fiancé, Matt Greenberg, in high school in Wellington, Florida, when the family lived there part of the year. They will marry in a gray blue and ivory colored wedding in Wellington on Dec. 20.
“I’m pretty crazy right now, trying to handle five million things about my daughter’s wedding, but it’s going to be beautiful,” she breathed. “Just beautiful.”