Dude Ranch to FEI Dressage - How It All Began

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The first time Linda Schultz rode a horse was on a family vacation at a dude ranch in Wisconsin called Woodside Ranch. A Chicago native, Linda didn’t grow up in an area populated with horses, but after a few more trips to Woodside Ranch, she was decidedly a lifelong equestrian. As a high school teen, Linda took hunter/jumper lessons at a suburban stable. “I had an attraction to horses and riding,” she explains. “Even as a little kid at the ranch, the horses never intimidated me. It never occurred to me that they are dangerous.”   

Linda attended Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, and when an advisor started an equestrian club, she was one of four students at the first meeting. “They didn’t have a team, but the horse show we started helped lay the groundwork and provide funding for their present day intercollegiate riding team,” Linda notes. The club advisor rode the Appaloosa circuit, so when Linda bought her first horse, it was an Appaloosa mare named Peppermint Twist. Linda took babysitting jobs and worked in food service on campus in order to buy the mare and pay for board. With her horse stabled off-campus, Linda rode the bus and then walked a half-mile to reach the barn, which was owned by a local fireman and home to four other horses. She found that Peppermint Twist was a great jumper, which led her to Three Day Eventing. She trained with eventer Ralph Hill.  “We were very successful. The mare could jump a full size  picnic table,” Linda recounts. “And she was only 15 hands.”

With a degree in Journalism in hand, Linda moved back to Chicago and worked as a manager for B. Dalton Booksellers and then as a marketer and writer for LaSalle National Trust. She sold Peppermint Twist, but continued to train and compete hunter/jumper horses. She rode with Jeff Katz for five years and also trained with Chris Kappler. She regularly won classes at the Amateur Level on the Illinois circuits.

After years in hunters, it was time to move on to jumpers, but Linda chose dressage instead. “To me, dressage was much more of a challenge mentally and physically than jumping,” Linda notes. “The controlled precision of dressage appealed to me and the ability to do that without manhandling a horse amazed me.”