We are so honored…


With BW-Raina’s (Royal Prince x SPS Danina) acceptance into the Oldenburg N.A. Premium Mare book, we completed the requirements for our third and final star in the Breeder’s Star Award program.  In previous years we had satisfied the requirements for foal production and offspring performance but the third remained elusive as we had produced primarily geldings.  BW-Callista, owned by Leslie Valente, was entered into the Oldenburg N.A. Premium Mare book in 2006.   Twelve years later, Raina had the privilege of joining her!   

Requirements for Star Awards for Breeders


    5 premium foals with ISR-Oldenburg NA


    2 ISR-Oldenburg NA premium mares or one ISR-Oldenburg NA approved stallion


    3 ISR-Oldenburg NA registered offspring with performance success in any of the following (2-8) must be at recognized shows (placings 1st – 3rd required):

    • Mare Performance Test score of 70% or higher
    • Materiale Test score of 65% or higher
    • Dressage competition score at 2nd level or above of 65% or higher
    • Jumping competition placing in Preliminary or above
    • Hunter competition placing in Regular Working Hunter or Pony Hunter or above
    • Combined Training placing in Novice or above
    • Driving placing in Combined Driving or Pleasure Driving
    • FEI Dressage classes for 5 year old and 6 year old score of 65% or higher

We are so honored to be counted among these fifteen breeders that we so highly esteem.   To see a complete listing of one and two, star award breeders, please click here.

*/*/* Ken Borden, Jr. Wilmington IL
*/*/* Elizabeth Callahan Oxford MD
*/*/* Vanessa Carlson Claremore OK
*/*/* Stacie Coder Effingham KS
*/*/* Con Brio Farms, LLC Gilroy CA
*/*/* Irena Coz Ramona CA
*/*/* Ilona S. English Ringoes NJ
*/*/* Hilltop Farm, Inc. Colora MD
*/*/* Laurie McLaughlin Auburn WA
*/*/* Suellen D. Myers Shepherdstown WV
*/*/* George & Barbara Newtown Benton LA
*/*/* Sheila M. O’Keefe Charles Town WV
*/*/* Natalie Prentice West Bend WI
*/*/* Linda D. Santomenna Chesapeake City MD
*/*/* Helmut & Margret Schrant Burlington IL
*/*/* John C. & Teri R. Vincent Micanopy FL

Hubertus Schmidt Clinic


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After a trying week mitigating plumbing problems in my Mom’s 1939 home, I was able to break away for a few hours to attend “The Old Masters” featuring Hubertus Schmidt hosted by Avalon Farm.  As always, Anke Ott and Jannika Gray along with their superb team presented a wonderful event.  As an added blessing proceeds benefitted the Norma Pfriem Breast Cancer Center.  Hubertus Schmidt is truly a Master’s Master.  Always kind and respectful to his riders and horses he brought a bottomless bag of exercises to help each partnership.  I particularly appreciated his outstanding ability to explain the principals and the application for everything he was offering.  Jannike Gray who rode several horses for him prepared an excellent summary which I am copying in its entirety below. Thank you, Jannike!

Jannike’s Notes:

  1. Warm up is everything, a 5-year-old or a Grand Prix horse should be warmed up the same.
  2. Walk, trot in a frame where the horse is stretching down and out to the bit in both directions on bending lines. There should be contact!
  3. Trot, canter, trot transitions with the goal of keeping the frame stretching to the hand. The gait shouldn’t change before the transition.
  4. The warm-up should be as short as possible but as long as necessary. The goal is to keep the energy for collection, but the horse must be swinging and stretching in all three gaits first.
  5. Once the warm-up is complete, begin in the easier gait.
  6. Most horses are stiffer to the left rein. We must supple this side of the jaw by slightly overbending, wait for the horse to give and then give our hand forward for the horse to reach out with the nose. The goal is to get more weight into the right rein and the horse softer on the left rein.
  7. Most horses are more supple right, so we must be aware not to overbend right, especially in lateral work.
  8. The rein is a direct line to that hind leg. If we hold too much left, we stop the left hind.
  9. The straightness and suppleness of the horse is of utmost importance. The suppler they are the more rideable they become, especially in the upper-level work. The goal needs to be creating an even left and right side of the horse.
  10. We must think about why we do each exercise, one must build to the next.
  11. In the canter work, the half pass is the best preparation for the pirouettes. The horse must collect and come back off the outside rein and stay supple to the inside leg and rein.
  12. When teaching the canter pirouettes, it is best to start on a 15m circle with haunches in, once the horse understands this you can come on the diagonal and do a full large working pirouette. The large working pirouette enables the rider to make adjustments and corrections to teach the horse the correct form. Beginning with a half pirouette leaves little room for adjustment. Once the horse can keep the frame, jump, and suppleness in the working pirouette the rider can do a half pirouette.
  13. The canter should not get smaller for the changes. Use the seat and leg to keep the horse round, while the quality of canter shouldn’t change.
  14. Your horse is more likely to be ready for the changes when he can do a L canter, walk, R canter straight down the centerline.
  15. A well collected canter has jump, ground coverage but is not running.
  16. A well collected trot has ground coverage, cadence, and suppleness.  The shoulder in doesn’t need a ton of angle but needs to have correct flexion of the pole and bend through the body. Most of the time to the left we need more but only in the pole and to the right we need to be careful we don’t have too much bend.
  17. Corners are very influential! If you ride too deep into the corner it will upset the rhythm of the gait.  This is not good. The corner should only be as deep as it is possible to keep the quality. Sometimes going deeper can help to rock the horse back and get more sitting, this can be a positive use of the corners as well.
  18. Voltes are a good test of the bending, suppleness, and rhythm of the horse in each gait., right, left, contact may make the horse look better for a moment, but it will not supple the horse or make them more through.
  19. The walk needs to be ridden like the trot and the canter. If the horse hurries in the walk you can use many walk serpentines to slow the walk without using the hand to stop the rhythm.
  20. Many walk breaks can be positive for the horse. It is not necessary to make them so tired. Most times a short break can be at the medium walk with contact. This keeps the horse focused but with a break and the ability to ride the walk. Longer breaks should be given on a long rein with attention to quality when bringing the horse back up into the collected walk.
  21. Temperament is 50% of the horse you’re riding. Good gaits are important but so is the temperament. In Piaffe work the horse should be able to go forward or stay on the spot. If they stay on the spot alone it is not good and will be difficult to make the passage transition.
  22. The passage is important to keep regularity. If the horse learns to step shorter or longer with a hind leg this can become a habit and difficult to fix.
  23. Keeping the horses healthy, happy, athletes is the top priority.

Rider and Horse Combinations:

  • Jannike Gray and Frau Schufro (2010 M by Don Schfro, 4th)
  • Alexandra Krossen and Damani (2005 G by Duvall, I1)
  • Jannika Gray and Ravanti C (2009 M by Rubenstein, PSG)
  • Molly Maloney and San Tome (2012 by Sir Donnerhall, 2nd
  • Amina Bursese and Fiti AL (2004 S by Jondo, GP)
  • Felicitas von Neumann-Cosel and LC Galanton (2007 by S Antonilla, 4th)
  • Alice Tarjan and Harvest (2012 S by Connoisseur, 6-Year-Olds)
  • David Collins and Bojing (2010 G by Benetton, I1)

Congratulations to Kara Buttimer and Kara Fanning!

It was a weekend of stellar firsts for two Blue Waters students at the Fair Hill International Starter Horse Trials on September 9th!

Kara Buttimer and her beloved Abigail, completed their first horse trial together.  They earned 30.8 in dressage, ran clean on cross-country and after a small bobble on stadium, finished 3rd overall!  Super job!

Kara Fanning, a seasoned eventer, and her heart horse, C’ode de Joy, completed their first Novice division together.   They ran double clear on cross country and stadium and earned a 36.7 in dressage to finish 3rd overall.   Joy was the first horse Kara started, and what an amazing job she has done.  This is a pair to watch in the future!

It’s truly a blessing to work with such incredible ladies and have an opportunity to come alongside them and help guide them towards their goals.  Gallop on!

BW-Raina */-/* makes her mark


2017 Oldenburg N.A. Inspection, Hilltop Farm Inc.  Photo by William Alphin

It has been three years since I updated you on my journey with Raina and it feels timely to do so as we have made substantial progress!  In August 2017, I presented Raina to the Oldenburg N.A. registry for approval as a breeding mare.  Although Raina was approved by the American Hanoverian Society as a foal, I chose to move her into an Oldenburg book, because I just love them so much.  We’ve been with them since they came to North America and participated in their first inspection hosted by Hilltop Farm.  More than two decades later, they have blessed us immeasurably and been instrumental in maturing our breeding program.  Mares, three years old or older, may be eligible for one of the four mare books.  You can learn more about their requirements by clicking here.   Raina presented herself well and earned a score of 101.5 and was entered into the Main Mare book.  Although I didn’t think she was quite ready to participate in the Mare Performance Test (MPT), I made a firm plan to ready her for 2018.   The MPT  allows mare owners and the registry gain valuable information about their mares talents and weaknesses for performance and also aid in future stallion selection.  To learn more, please click here.

During the winter months, it became clear to me that I needed to make some equipment changes which included a new saddle, bit and saddle pad.  I will share more about this in the future but altogether these changes helped Raina feel more comfortable.  In April 2018, I hosted a Fix-A-Test clinic with Emily Donaldson.  Raina and I laid down a  solid 1st-2 test earning a 67.8%.   Encouraged by this outcome,  I continued focusing on her throughness and suppleness.


April 2018 Fix-A-Test Clinic, 1st-2.  Photo by William Alphin

Spring and summer passed quickly and MPT day finally arrived.  My girl was just a superstar and won the MPT with a score of 72.8!  We were also invited back for reinspection and Raina earned a score of 110, the highest score of the inspection, and placement into the Premium Mare book!

I extend my heartfelt gratitude to my trainer Jessica Fay and free-jumping coach Michael Bragdell.  I am so thankful for Dr. Jennifer Wright and farrier Jim Salve for keeping Raina performing at her best and to Martina who keeps all the horses happy.  Last but not least, big hugs to my Blue Waters family for your support and prayers.

If you care to read about the beginning of our journey, please click on these links.  Chapter One,  Chapter Two,  Chapter Three,  Chapter Four

BW-Callista Returns!

Last month, we welcomed BW-Callista to our farm. It has been 13 years since Leslie Valente purchased her as a yearling, and devoted herself to methodically developing Callista into a highly successful FEI horse. Callista finished growing in the Hilltop Farm Raising Program and was started under saddle by Michael Bragdell. Under Tami Glover, Callista became the 2006 USEF/Markel 4-Year-Old National Champion with an overall score of 9.0; earned an ISR/Oldenburg Premium Mare award and won her MPT; was the 2006 GAIG/USDF Region 1 Training Level Champion; and the 2006 USDF All-Breeds Awards (ISR/Oldenburg) 4-Year Old Mare Materiale Champion. Leslie then moved Callista to Florida and into the training program of Cathy Morelli who competed her successfully through 4th level with scores upwards of 68%. Cathy’s assistant trainer, Jen Griger, continued competing Callista successfully at 3rd level through PSG and also earned impressive scores. Through all of Callista’s competitive years, Leslie was an integral part of her riding and training program. Next year, Callista will enter a new season of life as a broodmare and we are so honored to be part of the journey! Callista is now with her mom, Ariane; and Raphaela, her former stablemate in Florida; in the field of her youth. So exciting indeed!

Reflecting on 2015

2015 was marked by new beginnings.  I immersed myself in the study of nutrition and microbiota health, for both people and our equine friends. You can read a bit more about this here.  We welcomed Rachael Clawson and her beloved Domino to Blue Waters.  Rachael serves as Stable Manager at Hassler Dressage.  We also welcomed back Cory (Gregory) O’Connor and Wylie.  Cory was a long term intern at Blue Waters and is now a very successful professional trainer and owner of Elimika Sport Ponies.  We welcomed Teri Beste’s, Dubonnet into our training program and Lynn Schriver and Kara Buttimer into our teaching program.  We all benefitted immensely from biweekly long line clinics with Richard MalmgrenContinue reading

Why I Am So Excited About Microbiota!

E. coli bacteriaDid you know that your intestines are home to a complex and fascinating community of microorganisms including eukaryotes, archaea, bacteria and viruses?  In fact there are ten times more bacteria in our bodies than cells.  These microorganisms account for 1-3% of our body mass.  In healthy people, these microbes exist in harmony within our bodies serving essential functions such as synthesizing certain vitamins, breaking down and extracting nutrients from the food we eat, train our immune systems to recognize invaders, produce anti-inflammatory compounds, and balance our brain chemistry.  A growing body of research suggests illness, stress, poor diet and certain medications can adversely affect our microbiota, potentially causing disease1.  On the upside, however, it may also be possible to heal disease by rebalancing our gut environment.  Continue reading