Dr. Cesar Parra, a member of the 2011 Gold Medal Pan Am Dressage Team, is an accomplished international dressage rider who is not only dedicated to his sport but also dedicated to his students, riders and staff at Piaffe Performance Farm. Parra, along with his wife Marcela, owns Piaffe-Performance Farms with locations in New Jersey and Florida.
“I am thankful for everyone at Piaffe-Performance. We are a team and together we all have big dreams,” Parra said. Parra, who became a United States citizen in 2008 after having a successful riding career in Colombia, is pleased with his supporters – and the feeling is mutual. “Cesar has an outstanding ability to keep high standards all the time. He always wants perfection, and he gets it. When he has a dream, he goes for it. It is a quality that has allowed him to have such a successful business,” said Anna Weiler, of Luebck, Germany, adding that she was in the middle of getting her masters degree in Germany when she met Claudia Arnold, who was working for Parra at that time. “She spoke so highly of Piaffe Performance and Cesar Parra that I immediately started working for him after I received my masters degree.”
Weiler, who now owns her own business, Reitwerk in Timmendorfer Strand, Germany, said it was during her time at Piaffe Performance that she learned how to work as a team. “Cesar does not allow it to be an individual sport, he taught us to work together and help each other out in order to create a very special atmosphere,” she said. “One of the important things I learned during my time at Piaffe Performance was how to speak English. Cesar is trilingual and has no problem speaking any language at any given time, but he is very clear about the importance of speaking English when you are in America. I am now fluent in English and that is a skill that I will have the rest of my life.”
Kevin Kohmann, from Hamburg, Germany, is another Piaffe Performance member who arrived in Parra’s farm barely able to speak English. “I met Cesar Parra at the World Equestrian Games in Aachen. He offered me the opportunity of a lifetime to work with him, and I couldn’t refuse,” Kohmann recalled. “When I began at Piaffe Performance, I was a Young Rider; I finished last winter’s season by being part of the European team at GDF Nations Cup in Wellington. I had been in Germany working toward finishing my Pferdewirtschaftsmeister and rejoined the Piaffe Performance group late in the season. When Team Europe asked me to join their team, I had only a few days to scramble for a horse. Being part of the Piaffe Performance staff provided last minute access to a client’s wonderful horse (Klouseau, owned by Angela Bordwell) and allowed me to be part of a silver medal winning team.”
Kohmann added that Parra has been a true inspiration to him. “He is living the American Dream. He arrived, practically with nothing, and built his own little empire in a few short years. America is truly the Land of Opportunity, and when opportunity knocked, Cesar opened the door and ran through it. His persistence is admirable.”
The impact Parra has had on dressage riders around the world is remarkable, and each rider who has trained with Parra and gone on to different venues, or opened their own facility, shares a fondness for the skills they learned while studying under Parra. They also share great memories. Claudia Arnold said she will never forget her time at Piaffe Performance. “With the help of Cesar and the whole team I was able to ride my first Grand Prix. That memory is very special to me, because I also won it,” Arnold recalls. “I want to thank Cesar and the team for giving me the best experience of my life. It was an honor to be part of the best team ever. Today I’m leading a team at Oberbiegelhof in Bad Rappenau (Germany). Cesar made me a better person and I am a good team leader, teaching my team members to become better people.”
While Parra says he feels blessed to be surrounded by wonderful people, those who have studied under him say they are the ones who have been blessed. Thomas Wagner, of Bad Homburg, Germany, said he learned great organization and optimum conditions of training while at Piaffe Performance. “I was really able to understand how important good management in the stable is,” Wagner said, adding that he has carried those skills with him in his work as an independent dressage trainer.
Nadine Buberl, from Meiningen, Germany, confirmed that Parra’s barn management skills are second to none. “The barns are always presented the way Cesar likes to present horses in the dressage arena. They are always impeccable in appearance and extremely clean,” she said, adding that she is currently a full-time member of the Piaffe Performance Team. “I have no doubt that the horses would tell you that they think they are living in a 5-star resort. They have great rooms, gourmet meals, bedtime treats, regular dental and healthcare, world class recreation, and most importantly they get individual loving many times a day from a caring Piaffe Performance Team member.”
While Buberl said she has learned about horse and stable management under Parra’s tutelage, she has also learned to be a better person, a sentiment that many of Parra’s students and riders echo. “In the Piaffe Performance world, led by Cesar, not only are your riding skills important but so are your skills as a caring human being. Learning is always taking place at Piaffe Performance, and it’s not just learning about riding. It is learning that makes you a better person, which will support your riding skills. I have learned to: truly believe in yourself as a rider and a person, and allow your dreams to be larger than you think possible; I have also learned the ability to communicate with all kinds of people, peers, clients and superiors; and I have learned that as a part of a team, you get much better results than as an individual, and are stronger and more successful for it.”
BuberI added, that it is a great feeling to be part of a true team. “The Piaffe Performance secret to success is recognizing that the riding skills are the easiest part of what you need to learn. It is working to be a better human being and understanding the horse business itself that is the more important thing.”
While the Piaffe Performance Team members have found success in personal growth, the farm has also has created a fantastic winning reputation. During the 2012 winter season, the team rode away with 73 blue ribbons. “I was High Score at the Everglades Dressage and Jumping CDI with Superman, I received the Highest Score and Best Hanoverian at the Palm Beach Derby with Kingston, and I was Reserve High Score Champion for 2nd Level with a fantastic young horse named Amore. All of these accomplishments were made possible by working as a part of the Piaffe Performance Team. Although we work very hard, there is always time for a good laugh and time to stop and enjoy the moment,” Buberl said. “This was really driven home for me when a team member who is over 80 shared the same smile of joy with his performance as another team member who is 13.”
Buberl added, “Who I am and how I train and ride have been influenced by the values that Cesar lives by and guides the Piaffe Performance Team with. The values of being a caring human being, working hard, enjoying what you do every day, being honest, always striving to learn more and sharing the passion for the sport of dressage with others – that is what Piaffe Performance is all about.”
For more information on Parra or Piaffe-Performance visit their website at www.piaffe-performance.com.