I grew up on Long Island’s East End. My first job working for Christine Barrett Distefano at Amaryllis Farm, at age 10 years old, not only introduced me to riding and very long days at the barn, but solidified a strong moral and ethical responsibility toward horse care. At the time, Christine’s business centered around the rescued horses that we cared for, trained and competed, many of which were found at the race track and local livestock auctions. Amaryllis Farm and Equine Rescue and Home for Aged Horses became a 501c3 non-profit in 2005, 24 years after Christine began rescuing horses and is also the inspiration for the children’s story, The Lost and Found Pony. The rescue’s philosophy: “The horses come first”.
In college I explored my love for science graduating from Northeastern University with a BS in Biochemistry. Very cool internships at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Oncogene Research Sciences, Millennium Pharmaceuticals, and in Northeastern’s Biology Lab under Professor William Detrich, gave me thrilling experiences to learn in the world’s best environments. I cloned a gene, learned how to apply electrodes to a patient’s head, cultivated and studied Mast Cells grown from cord blood, and assisted in human trials of the effects of sleep deprivation on performance.
But the science labs were a sterile place too far from my true passion. In my final year at Northeastern, I simultaneously engaged in classroom studies and completed training certificates in Natural Horsemanship and barefoot trimming at local barns while also riding belgium imports at a facility north of Boston. Next I made my forever jump from the hunter equitation training of my youth, into dressage with an apprenticeship at Beth Sproule-Hansens’ Bellvale Dressage in Warwick, NY. In addition to a Grand Prix level training program, Beth stood her own stallion, DiVinci, and raised warmbloods. I purchased my first horse, Della, as a baby from Beth and trained her to Third Level before selling her to a student.
My next stop was a fortunate one for my training career. Heather Mason’s Flying Change Farm, 10 minutes from the USET headquarters, was and is the best place to learn dressage training. Heather is an “S” judge and a prolific producer of Grand Prix horses with a large student body of horses and riders at every level. At Heather’s I was the crash test dummy for many baby horses, competed up to 15 different horses per year, and earned my USDF Bronze and Silver Medals while beginning my own training business in “my spare time” and founding Peace Of Mind Dressage LLC in 2007. As many long hours as I worked, I was repaid with daily lessons and hours and hours in the saddle for the 4 years spent there. I was 29 years old when I left Heather’s for Maryland and graduated from the USDF “L” with distinction the same year, after apprentice judging with Marilyn Payne, Barbara Ebner, Kem Barbosa, and Heather Mason. While operating in Maryland I was invited to attend Scott and Susanne Hassler and Harmony Sporthorses, Young Dressage Horse Trainers Symposium and served as Education Chair for the Potomac Valley Dressage Association.
Since 2009, I have trained horses to the FEI level from the start. My students and working students have earned their USDF Bronze and Silver Medals as well as top 3 placings at Regional Championships. I competed at Dressage at Devon on horses which I started under saddle and have earned the scores to advance into the USDF “r” judge program.
Learning is my lifeblood. I have participated in clinics or hosted events for these internationally renowned equestrians: Nicholas Fyffe, Stacey Hastings, Cindi Wylie, Catherine Haddad Staller, Christoph Hess, Scott Hassler, Vitor Silva, Bo Jena, Betsy Steiner, Michael Bragdell, Tim Bourke, Linda Parelli, Tik Maynard, Bent Jensen, and Stephen Bradley. I have practiced yogic training for over 20 years and appreciate that the movement, breathing, and focus achieved through yoga is highly transferable and useful for training horses.