Going Professional

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

JJ's career as a professional trainer and rider began in 1999 at Wyngate Dressage Center in Walworth, Wisconsin where she trained and rode until 2006. Wyngate got started after JJ came back from Europe and I ran into Greta, her first riding instructor. "Having both recently returned to the Wisconsin area, we started talking about what our plans were for the future. We both were looking to start up a business, so together we started looking for barns. We found what we were looking for in Walworth, a small town about 5 miles from the Illinois border. Greta, her husband Van, my mother Candy, and I all went into business and hence Wyngate Dressage Center was born."

After seven years, it was time for the business partners to move on. "I had been a top two finisher in Robert Dover's Search For the Next American Dressage Star and that motivated me to give the Olympic dream a real run for its money. So we closed Wyngate, and although very sad, it was the best decision for all involved. My years with Wyngate were a great time and I still am close with my students from the area. I miss both the barn and my students, but I decided that if I was going to give my dream a chance I had to move to an area with more accessible professional training opportunities."

JJ had been training with Oded Shimoni for a few years while she was still at Wyngate and when it closed, he invited her to train with him in Pennsylvania for the summer. "It was great to have daily lessons from Oded and the opportunity to ride some of his horses. He is such a top rider and it helped my riding so much to be able to watch him ride every day."

JJ was first introduced to Oded in the summer of 2001 when she saw him ride at Paxton Farm. "I knew that I found the trainer I was looking for. So I walked up and introduced myself. He told me was to be teaching a clinic in Madison that fall. Of course, I attended and I started training with him during the winters in Florida for the next seven years. Oded is such a beautiful rider, elegant and effective all at the same time. He really brought my riding up to the next level, and was instrumental in developing me into an international rider."

Also after the close of Wyngate and the move to Pennsylvania, JJ started riding with Scott Hassler. Since she was close to him in Pennsylvania, she decided to seek him out for help with young horses. "From the moment I met him, Scott impressed me with his teaching skills. He explains things in a way that I completely understand. I love the method of his thought process, and I think very similarly. That fall I attended my first Young Horse Training Symposium and was truly impressed by Scott's dedication to the sport and giving back. I started riding more intensely with Scott when Donnermuth started into the Six-Year-Old competitions. Scott was a major reason for our success in Verden."

In January of 2007, JJ got a phone call from Shari Glickman with an offer to relocate to her new barn in Mount Airy, Maryland. "I flew up there to see the facility and to meet her and realized that Goodness Ridge Farm was not too far from Oded or Scott Hassler, with whom I had started working more and more. The move seemed like a good one and I currently spend most of the year at Goodness Ridge Farm. I am lucky that Scott can come down to teach me every few weeks and that I am able to take a group of horses up to his place about every two months."