Dorothy (Dottie) Morkis

Friday, October 25, 2013
Posted by Betsy LaBelle



Dottie Morkis and Artiest Photo: Susan J Stickle
Dottie Morkis and Artiest Photo: Susan J Stickle
With contagious passion and a heart of gold, Dorothy (Dottie) Morkis loves the challenges she faces each day working with students; helping them achieve balance by working out communication with their horse. Dottie’s current horse, Artiest an 8 year old KWPN by Torento B, she bought as a 3-year-old after recognizing his amazing potential for dressage. She really has fine-tuned her skills over the years to master such a modern sensitive horse from the line of Crack C. This 2014 Florida Winter Season, she plans to show Artiest in the Prix St. George class after last year’s 75% at 4th Level. She said, “He is a sensitive horse and sometimes he gets worried about too much pressure from the rider, due to the pressure he experienced as a young horse preparing for the PAVO Cup in Holland. He really has taken me to another level as a rider because every aid is magnified. I’m just the conductor and guide him. He’s super focused, easy and fun.” Morkis would love the chance to travel to Europe next year to train with Rien van der Schaft to establish and lay the good ground work for the piaffe and passage. “With his snappy hind-leg and his round build, the modern horse he is, he will be great in the future for the Grand Prix level.”

An Olympic Dressage rider, Dottie Morkis, who in 1976 anchored the US Olympic Team to win the Team Bronze Medal, she placed fifth individually in the Grand Prix Special becoming the first American to earn such an accomplishment. Other amazing accolades include a Pan Am Team Gold and Bronze Medal and she competed in the 1978 World Equestrian Games. Morkis has taken countless horses up the ladder to the highest achievements in the sport of Dressage. She’s coached the Gold Medal Paralympics Team in Atlanta, and won countless USDF Horse of the Year titles, and she served 12 years on the Athlete Advisory Committee for the US Olympic Committee and 8 years on the Apparel committee (deciding what all US Athletes where to wear in the Olympic opening ceremonies). Morkis works hard each day to improve some aspect of the Sport of Dressage in the United States of America.

Dottie Morkis and Mr. Big Photo: PhelpsPhotos.com
Dottie Morkis and Mr. Big Photo: PhelpsPhotos.com
Dottie Morkis is one who has had that chance to learn the system from beginning on up through Grand Prix from Ernst Bachinger, former Chief of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna. She also continues to train with Rien van der Schaft, from Holland. Morkis said, “It’s a long journey. You have to love the sport. It takes a lot of dedication, a lot of desire. We all need a person or mentor to guide us through with each horse." Further explaining her motivation, “All I set out to be was a good rider.”

She continued, “Rider position is major important. The rider must be balanced, have an understanding of the leg, seat, and hands. When you figure that all out, then the process in training goes quickly through the dressage levels. You have to take the time to learn these independent things. Because then, it becomes clear to the horse. The journey requires understanding by the rider on how the horse thinks." Morkis will help any rider through a clear and honest process.

Morkis loves it when a horse and rider has that ‘aha’ moment in their education. 

Morkis said, “Every horse teaches you something. To learn everything, it would take two lifetimes. Training and riding is always a process of learning.” She continued, “The horses bred today are much more sensitive. The horses of old, you had to create the activity, now you manage the energy.” She explained, “Position and balance are the most important. You have to learn to not interfere with the activity and help to guide the horse. A rider must be clear in the preparation and clear in the execution.”
Ali Redston and Tony 47 Photo: Mark Redston
Ali Redston and Tony 47 Photo: Mark Redston
Coached by Dottie Morkis, Alison Redston (Needham, Mass.) swept the Pony division at the 2013 Festival of Champions in Lexington, Kentucky with her own Tony 47. She demonstrated a solid test with the 13-year-old German Riding Pony gelding to score 66.683% in the FEI Pony Individual Test. The pair won the National Championship with an overall score of 66.303%.
Dressage Student Testimonial:
Mother to 18 year old NAJYRC Champion, Brandi Roenick, Tracy Roenick worked with Dottie for many years. She said, “Dottie was my first highly accomplished dressage trainer. When I started training with Dottie I was very young and didn’t have a lot of experience. She was very enthusiastic with me from the start, which was exciting for me.
I wasn't afraid or intimidated by hard lessons. I believe she loved that determination in me. She is intense, so am I.  So, we worked great together during the time we had together.
I look back and think how grateful I am that she was so hard on me. She taught me how to be a good Horsewoman. Dottie taught me how to ride in the show arena one movement at a time; how to ride in the competition arena and how to be accurate letter to letter. I always use the corners to set up and prepare for your next movements is critical.
An accomplished rider and coach herself, Tracy continued, "I have always trained Brandi to focus on the movement she is in, and if there is a mistake, don't emotionally carry it to the next movement and create the opportunity to have two mistakes. Ride with that freedom mentally so you don't lose silly points.”
Brandi Roenick’s Junior/Young Rider success has her looking ahead. The 18 years old is a gold medal winner at the North American Junior/Young Rider Championships, trains with Steffen Peters, and spent all summer in Germany working with the black mare, Apassionata, an Oldenburg (Sir Donnerall x Friedensfurst) in preparation for the Pan American Games in two years.  
Morkis is available for clinics, half-day or full-days. She spends her summers in Massachussetts and her winters in Wellington, Florida.
“My passion has always been dressage. Through my ability as a teacher, I’m able to share that passion,” shared Morkis.
Call Dottie to set up a clinic. It will be worth it. Morkis works with all levels of riders, from beginner to advanced.