The first and foremost thing you should know about David is that he loves, loves, loves to ride. Next to his wife it's the best thing in life. He is completely devoted to his horses and is like a sponge when it comes to learning. And it goes without question that he's a great competitor. He has a long record of success and I'm so proud to say I was there for so much of it. I was a client of David's before I started to manage his company. It's almost impossible for trainers to do it all; there's just not enough hours in the day. I'll never forget the day I asked David if he'd like some help, doing books etc. He was at his computer in his office trying to print invoices grumbling under his breath. I said, "David I don't want to interfere but would you like some help with this stuff?" He didn't hesitate. David calls Angela the glue that held David Blake Dressage Training together when he started out. “I owe a lot of my business’ success to her.”
We were a great team for about six years. David put his heart and soul into my lessons. He took me on my Gentleman from 1st to 4th level. Then he found my Rondo, a Westfalen (Rondos x Sabrina H x Silvester) for me and guided us to Prix St George. And I put my heart and soul into putting his business on the road to success. Now his wonderful wife, Andrea is his business manager and David continues to do what he loves most and does best RIDE, TRAIN and COMPETE.
I did not think that David would ride professionally at first but he got a lot of positive feedback from judges and clinicians from the beginning. However, it was obvious even at a young age that he would pursue an athletic career. He could have been a competitive swimmer for example. I was encouraged to allow a trainer to work with him to that end, but I thought that he was too young to make that kind of decision.
David was a very gregarious child and still is an extremely social person. He gets along with all sorts of people and he also talks to all of the animals. He has always amused me saying that his horses tell him things. He still does this. Just a few weeks ago when he competed his stallion Falsterbo for the first time, he told me that as he went around before the bell Bo told him, "You know Dave, I've done this before, just hang on!"
David's riding style has evolved so much over the years. Right now, I’d say that he still learns how to ride from each different horse and still talks to them trying to find a way to help them in their careers. David is strong and quite fearless. Those things have helped him. Since he did not have a sponsor buying the quality horse that he needed, he has had to make his mark with problem horses. So the quality that gives him his success is his empathy for each individual animal.
I imported Lord Albert from Germany as a young, approved Hanoverian stallion. He was quite fractious and was fond of bucking his riders off. I knew I didn't want to breed him if he might pass on that behavior to his offspring so Shannon Peters suggested that I sell him to David Blake. She assured me that David was up to the job and could ride him in spite of his tricks. I gelded Lord Albert and David purchased him. He knew all of Albert's behavior habits and wanted him anyway. Although, I had never seen David ride at that time, I knew he must be good to be able to stay on Albert! Indeed, I was surprised and proud when the pair were selected to go to Verden for the Young Horse Championships.
In 2010, I asked David to come to Texas to do a private clinic here with my rider and trainer. I’d heard really good things about David's clinics and wanted to give him a try. He came and gave one of the best clinics I had ever participated in. Patrick Tompkins, my young horse trainer, really hit if off with his style and made lots of progress with each horse. David has a wonderful eye, a booming voice that riders can hear and he knows how to approach and fix problems. He is always dressed to ride and often does ride individual horses if he feels the need or if the owner asks him to help by riding his or her horse.
David is extremely hard working and I have never heard him complain! Quite an important trait for an ambitious rider and trainer. He works harder than others and he spends lots of time with his horses until he understands each one's individual needs and quirks. He’s certainly accomplished that with Falsterbo, my Hanoverian stallion who currently is in training and competition with David. He’s certainly achieved that with Lord Albert since the pair are now competing and winning at Prix St George and Intermediare. I never would have thought it possible. David brings a natural love and empathy with the horses into his classical riding. He can sense the best way to ride each horse and they all tend to relax and trust him.
David also brings brilliance when he rides and it’s a pleasure to watch him. When I first saw him ride Falsterbo, I knew he was special as is the horse himself. I have complete confidence that David will continue on his uphill success in the Dressage Arena and I think we will see him competing at the highest levels of the sport in the very near future. He is truly a rising superstar!
David Blake was a teenager when he came with his mother for lessons to one of my dressage clinics in Champaign, Illinois. His talent was apparent even then. In his lessons, we worked on training his horses and concentrated a lot on his seat. After graduating from high school, David wanted to move to California to further his dressage training as my working student. My condition was that he had to enroll in college also. David did it. He found a place to live, enrolled in college courses, and became my working student in Somis. He brought with him a chestnut gelding, Dante. Between the clinics in Champaign, and the years David was in my training, Dante developed into a good FEI horse.
I taught David what I learned from riding masters. My point of view on training grew from riding in the Czech Republic (Czechoslovakia then) where prevalent riding techniques were French. When I immigrated to America as a young man, I trained with Franz Rochowansky, a riding master of the Spanish Riding School. I also trained with other Portuguese and German riding masters.
When David asked me if he should give up his successful business in Hidden Hills to train with Steffen, I told him it was a lifetime opportunity. I’m sure all of the trainers he’s worked with gave David good basics to develop his own point of view on training and riding, which I’m sure is going to be further developed by continued showing and training. I recently saw David’s FEI horses and I was impressed. David is American home-grown.
David is a nice guy and a good student and he married a nice lady whose uncle, by coincidence, is a friend of mine in Champaign, IL. I play poker and golf with her uncle.
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