The Emerald Forest

Mar 19, 2012 - 6:37 AM
Catherine Haddad Staller and Winyamaro rode out a long winter in Vechta, Germany. Photo by Arnd Bronkhorst/

Dear Rita,

It seems we have some catching up to do. This winter in Germany has been long and dark, more so than any other I have experienced. We’ve had no snow, the days were incredibly short, and gray skies were the norm. Fortunately, the last few weeks have brought the scent of spring and better days to come.

Losing Cadillac last fall was a greater blow than I care to admit. After writing that last blog back in November, I had to walk away from the keyboard and regroup. I was empty for many months and had no stories to tell. Over the winter, I visited some friends, rode Winyamaro here and there, starting training on a young mare that needed my attention, talked with the dogs a lot, and patiently waited for purpose to return to my life.

No cloud is without a sliver lining, however, and one of the nice things that happened over the winter was meeting both Arnd Bronkhorst—photographer extraordinaire—and Koen Cromheecke—journalist extraordinaire—of the Dutch Bit magazine.

In December, Koen arrived at my stable on one of the shortest days of the year. Ironically, he wanted to conduct an interview with me in one of the darkest hours of my life as Cadillac had been euthanized just a few weeks before.  Adept and compassionate in his job as a journalist, he asked me a few poignant questions that not only gave him the insight to write a damn good article, but also gave me the impetus to come back to myself.

(Needless to say, Rita, the resulting article in the February issue of Bit magazine is not your average run of the mill reporting.)

A few days later, Arnd Bronkhorst arrived in Vechta to shoot photos for the article on another typical German winter day. With shades of gray whirling all around us and no sunlight to be found across the entire country, this talented photographer showed us how to create light and color where none existed. Or should I say, where none was obvious!

Take a look at this photo of me riding Florencia through what I call “The Emerald Forest” near my stable. Arnd set up an arrangement of portable flashes to make the moss on the trees jump out of the dull background. Or he conjured up it all up with magic and used his equipment as a decoy, but either way the result was stunning. I still shake my head in wonder as I observe in passing this otherwise unremarkable moss on the trees on my walk home every day.

This photo is copyrighted. Please don’t steal it from the photographer who has graciously allowed me to use it for my blog. You can purchase it from him at

I bow in respect at the integrity and talent these two men bring with them to their jobs. Much has been written about me and my life over the years, but these two professionals redefine quality in equestrian journalism and photography.

More soon, Rita, we do indeed have some catching up to do!

I’m Catherine Haddad Staller, and I’m sayin it like it is from The Emerald Forest in Vechta, Germany.

Training Tip of the Day: Look for the light. Find the color. Bring it to your riding and allow that to empower you on the days when your motivation fails you.


Social Bar

Join Mailing List

Shopping Cart

Like Box

Chronicle Headlines

Most Popular

Like Box

Charity Spotlight

Horse Spotlight

Like Box

Trainer Spotlight

Like Box