Ditched the planned blog today because I am so excited and proud!! Longtime student and friend Dani Dichting received a call from the Olympic selection committee notifying her that she has been long-listed for the US Olympic Eventing Team! I met Dani many years ago when she and her trainer from England, Lucy Stevenson, came and lessoned with me at the barn I was training at in Alpharetta, GA. We trained together for many years on her dressage work while she would simultaneously train in jumping with some excellent eventing trainers we have in our area. She had, at that time, a fantastic schoolmaster eventer named Leo who jumps like a dream but struggles with dressage. To Dani’s credit she works as hard as any rider I’ve ever known and never whines, even when faced with setbacks. Leo, who taught Dani so much and looked after her in the cross-country field, took her to the Intermediate Level in eventing, making her the youngest competitor at that time in that level (I think!) While competing Leo she bought Tops (Nemo), a lovely grey four-year old Irish Sporthorse found by her trainer in England, Lucy Stevenson, and brought him up the levels. He is quite a horse now and has his own fan club of little girls when he goes to the events!
In addition to congratulating Dani I think it is important to acknowledge that this kind of achievement is possible because so many people believe in Dani because of the dedication and compassion she shows for her horses and her sport. Her parents, Pam and Doug, are steadfast supporters in her choices and still manage to keep her humble and well-rounded. Her sister Lauren, her biggest fan and best friend, is a loyal supporter and if she has ever complained about the time and expense involved in her sister’s sport I am unaware of it. Lucy, her trainer before me from England, came and helped her settle in to the community here in Atlanta and helped her find trainers, a very selfless act for a trainer that has developed such a bond with a student. There have been a host of other trainers and horse professionals and I can’t list them all in fear of leaving someone out but I know they are all as proud as I am to have had a part in Dani’s training. She is now working in Newnan, Georgia with Julie Richards who has represented the USA on the Olympic team in the past and more than likely will again. I know Dani is just where she needs to be.
A special thank you to Dani for working so hard and making me so proud. It is days like this I can look at my career choice and know that it was all worthwhile. 😉