I started working with Olav in early 2005. I now have two horses in training with him; Primadonna and Don Pedro.Olav brought Primadonna from 1st level to PSG in two years. In those two years she won the East Coast Rider’s Cup Fourth Level Champion (2006), NEDA Fourth Level Year End Award (Reserve Champion 2006), and along the way it has been enormous fun to ride her and learn from her while Olav teaches us both.(Of course, she learns faster than I do). Olav strongly emphasizes the basics and the classical training progression, but without his seemingly inexhaustible store of patience, his ready willingness to try another approach when my horse or I don’t understand something, and his depth of experience, I doubt I would have the wonderfully light, forward and rideable horses that I do now.
I was having such a good time with Primadonna that this past winter I decided I wanted another horse, so Olav and I went to Denmark, and through his contacts there we found 4 y/o Don Pedro. We have started working with him in the rings, on the trails, and at a few shows. Given that he is still growing, we have decided to move slowly and see what emerges. For both Olav and Betsy, the horse’s well-being always comes first.
Since I am in my sixties with the typical ills and limitations which so often accompany aging, my progress is slow—but I love the process. Olav makes no distinction between one of his students and the next, always setting high standards while bringing his own unflagging interest in dressage and his enthusiasm for teaching to the task.
This past year we have been based at High Cover Farm, an operation run by Wes Dunham. Wes specializes in starting young horses and in pampering all the horses in the barn. They receive expert and individualized care from their feed (think good Jewish mother) to turn-out schedules. Wes, Betsy, Olav and the other people who work and ride there make High Cover a relaxed and cheerful place to be.
Wes also shares an attitude of collegiality which Olav and Betsy have always had and which I have found remarkably helpful in learning. Everyone helps everyone else with training the horses, regardless of status or age or experience. Watching thus becomes an active endeavor: Is this halt straight? Was that change late behind? Are his haunches leading? Was that trot extension fabulous or what?!?! I always look forward to going to the barn.