Kelly Layne needs no introduction in Australia. The daughter of Australian Grand Prix rider and judge Helen Anstee, Layne is one of Australia's leading dressage riders having represented her country at the 2006 World Equestrian Games. But last summer, she left her native country for American soil and this month she's introduced herself to Americans by taking the Grand Prix blue ribbon on the opening day of the Lamplight CDI.
Layne has been living in the U.S. only since last August when she and her American husband, Steven Layne, moved to Parker, Colorado from Australia. Her husband had been an American Air Force fighter pilot and now works in the aviation industry in the U.S.
"I'm really loving being in Colorado. I've met lots of really lovely people there. It's absolutely wonderful," Layne said of her new home turf. She's also loving being back in the show ring with her Grand Prix partner, Amoucheur, a.k.a. Smooch. The Grand Prix win was a great birthday gift for Amoucheur, who turned 15 on Friday.
"It's his birthday and I'm so proud of him," Layne said. At the 2006 World Equestrian Games, she and Amoucheur were eliminated and she hadn't ridden him in a Grand Prix since then. Their first time out since the WEG was at last week's Paxton Farms CDI in Ohio. She bought the Hanoverian gelding in 2002 when he was eight and the following year took him to Germany to train with Ulla Salzgeber, who was the Australian team coach. They did their first Grand Prix in Germany that year and then returned to Australia.
"We then qualified for World Equestrian Games and I took him back to Germany," Layne said. "I was the sixth-placed rider for the Australian team, but two of the horses in front of me went lame so I got the ride. But it didn't go very well. We were eliminated at the WEG because he got very upset before going into the ring during an awards ceremony for Edurance and I just couldn't get him settled enough to go into the ring. That was actually the last time I competed him because he'd lost confidence after that."
With her success at Lamplight, Layne is now inspired to continue competing with Amoucheur, but not at an international level. "He enjoys competing in a quiet atmosphere like at Paxton or here at Lamplight but when you take him to Europe or the big shows, he really gets upset and he doesn't enjoy himself and then I don't enjoy myself. It's not nice when you know the horse isn't happy.
Right now, I'm just having a great time on him and am enjoying competing him again," Layne said. "I'll never put him in that situation again where he'll get so upset. I'll never do that to the horse because I love him so much."
Since making the move to the U.S., Layne has been training on her own or with long-time friend Stefan Wolff, who is now based in California after having moved to the U.S. from Germany about the same time that Layne arrived from Australia. Layne is also busy launching her Dream Team Dressage. "Our concept is about creating a team because that is how you create success. We have a group of very good amateur riders and good horses, all of whom are very qualified and very dedicated.
All that is needed for many of them to be successful is leadership and direction and the belief of Dream Team Dressage is that if we work together as a team, everyone will be successful."
[#26705 override="Patricia Becker and Sandor Capture Prix St. Georges Win on Opening Day of Lamplight CDI" title="Patricia Becker and Sandor Capture Prix St. Georges Win on Opening Day of Lamplight CDI"]