A standing ovation for Verne Batcheldor....anybody care to join the cheering section?
Every once in a great while you cross paths with someone who changes a paradigm so consequentially, you look back and marvel at what was, and what now is, thanks to their guidance and insight.
When such a teacher provides this epiphany to a student with grace, wit, brilliant insight, kindness and self-deprecating humor, you know you have stumbled upon a rare gem.
In the dressage world, to find such a BNT also without personal baggage, out-sized ego, or constant undercurrent of self-promotion is even more remarkable. While I could hardly boast of a "friendship" since we only know him through clinics and informal passing chats at horse shows, Verne Batcheldor IMHO and experience deserves a standing O.
Just over a year ago my daughter brought her sensitive, athletic, difficult, oppositional-defiant 4 yr old ISR Oldenburg mare to a clinic. We bought her as a yearling through the Virginia Tech auction because she was by German Riding Pony stallion FS Daily Hero, owned by the wonderful Nancy Ferebee, who tragically passed away from cancer. Erin had had the privilege of riding and showing Hero for Nancy a few times and we wanted a part of him, and by extension Nancy. Grace lived up to her name early on and the path to a successful career in UL dressage seemed clear.
It's never that easy is it? Without going into long detail, suffice it to say Grace has been extremely challenging and, while diagnosed and now being treated for RER, the main hindrance to her training progression has been her intolerance for discomfort of any kind, and lack of submission and willingness to go forward with any connection.
Fast forward one year and after a series of clinics with Verne, who patiently and consistently has guided Erin through some pretty nasty and exhausting lessons, they achieved a major breakthrough last Friday. He never dismissed her as anything less than a potential FEI horse, despite her pony attitude and breeding (she's 15.2 but short coupled) and in fact praised her Porsche-like maneuverability and strong personality.
He looked beyond what was--the bucking, the kicking out and the apparent lack of any progress on the training scale-- and envisioned how channeling that energy, ego, sensitivity and athleticism could create brilliance in the ring. She still has a long long way to go, but without Verne's masterful guidance and insights into the mind of sassy fillies, along with a truck load of patience, all that potential might have been just that. This won't be the only roadblock along the way, but at least he's put her on the path towards success and for that we shall always be grateful. So Verne--stand up and take a bow. You deserve it.