Bio on Chloe Hatch
My name is Chloe Hatch and I am 18 years old. I live in Vero Beach, Florida about two hours north of Wellington where I board my horses. I started riding when I was in the first grade, and was absolutely horse crazy. Originally I had my heart set on show jumping, but my horse wasn’t capable and my trainer at the time suggested we try dressage. Dressage training was very beneficial for my horse and helped me develop proper position and balance.
Eventually, I got hooked!
From a very young age, I decided that one day I wanted to be a professional rider. I became very serious about my riding and competing. Luckily, I have never had show nerves!
At 18, I feel blessed to have had some great horses and teachers in my life. I still own one of my first horses, Shela Lark, with whom I began my dressage journey. My most significant achievements were with my previous horse, Slogan. Slogan was a schoolmaster, and took me from Training Level to Third Level in just two short years. We competed together in the FEI Juniors in Wellington, and I earned my USDF Bronze Medal.
I now have a new partner, a Trakehner gelding named Kempinski. My hope is that I will be able to qualify with Kempinski for the North American Young Rider Championships.
Our Interview with Chloe:
1. When did you first start riding Dressage?
I began dressage lessons in 2006 when I was eleven, but I had already been riding hunt seat for a few years. Switching to dressage helped me concentrate on the basics of riding.
2. What is your daily routine for riding, do you get up early to ride or do you ride after school?
I attend public school where I live in Vero Beach, but for the past three years I have kept my horses in Wellington, Florida, about two hours away. So I have to ride after school during the week, but on the weekends I prefer riding in the morning. I try to ride six days a week, so I do quite a bit of driving!
3. Who was your first trainer and who are you currently training with?
My first dressage instructor was Ruthie Meeko. She is someone I respect very much because she is one of the most honest and compassionate people I have ever met in the horse industry. She was very tough and taught me everything I know about caring for horses. My current trainer is Marcel van der Burgh. I began riding with him in November of 2013, and he found me my current horse, Kempinski. The three of us really get along as a team, and he is a great trainer for me because he knows how to challenge me. He really looks out for me and genuinely wants to help me reach my potential. He is also one of my mentors.
4. What training advice has been the most influential in your riding and why?
My past trainer Ruthie Meeko had a mantra; it is never the horse’s fault. Her understanding of even the most poorly behaved horses left a strong impression on me.
5. Tell us how you warm-up your horse before you ride and your cool down after you ride?
I always like to start by riding long and low, almost on the buckle, so that the horse is able to stretch out his neck. I do this in the walk, trot, and canter so that my horse can move through his back in all three gaits. Then I check to see if my horse will move off my leg, and I do this in various leg yield exercises. I always ask for tons of transitions between gaits and within a gait. Most importantly, the horse must go forward off my leg. Then I am able to go through exercises that I may be practicing for a test. However it is important not to drill exercises or become stuck on one movement. To cool down I let my horse stretch low and deep in the trot, and then I end by walking him out. All of this can vary day to day or from one horse to another.
6. Do you follow the Pyramid of Training scale in your daily riding?
Yes, the pyramid of training should always present in horse training. I think a lot of training problems arise when people become over ambitious and deviate from the training scale. What makes dressage so beneficial and applicable to all breeds and styles of riding is that the training scale provides a progressive path for training that is structured and can be broken down to allow any horse to progress.
7. How often do you include rest breaks in your training sessions?
Typically I have frequent breaks of walking actively on a loose rein. This allows my horse to catch his breath as well as provide a mental break.
8. How often do you clean your tack and what is your favorite cleaner/conditioner you use?
I try to clean my tack a little after every ride. Most days, I wipe off the bit, bridle, girth, saddle, and my boots with a damp cloth. If my tack is dry, I condition it with Leather CPR.
9. How often do you show?
I show at least once a month, but in the winter show season there is at least one show every week. This is a great advantage because I can pick and choose which shows I want to go to according to how I am progressing with my horse.
10. Do you braid your own horse’s mane?
Yes, I always do my own braiding at shows. With practice I’ve become very good at button braids, and I French braid the forelock.
11. Who grooms for you at your shows?
I like to do my own grooming and take care of the horses myself at shows. I can be very particular and want to make sure everything is done correctly! It is also nice spending time with my horses and making sure they’re in a good mood before the show. Plus, the physical work provides good exercise and a distraction.
12. Are your parents your “Grooms” at the shows for you?
My parents are great show grooms, especially my mom. She carries my water and sugar cubes for my horse to eat after our ride.
13. Do you trail ride and how often?
I love trail riding and try to go as often as possible. It is a great break for the horses to get out of the arena for a change. There are miles of bridle trails where I board my horses, and sometimes I like to start my ride with a 10-20 minute walk before heading to the arena.
14. What are your goals for you and your horse?
I’m working on being more aggressive in my riding and thinking about riding every stride. My goal for my horse Kempinski this year is to be really consistent at all of our shows at Fourth Level. I’m planning on showing him in the Prix St. George and getting my USDF Silver Medal at some point over the summer. This would be a huge accomplishment as my biggest challenge this year has been getting Kempinski to relax and focus at shows. My long term goal for him is to qualify for the 2015 North American Young Rider Championships.
15. What is your favorite Dressage musical freestyle performed?
My all time favorite freestyle is Anky van Grunsven and Bonfire’s freestyle ride in the 1999 European Championships. The first time I had ever seen a dressage competition was seeing a video of Anky and Bonfire’s gold medal winning kur. Bonfire didn’t have the extravagant movement of today’s horses, but he was one of a kind.
16. Who is your favorite horse and rider?
I really don’t have a favorite horse and rider that I like to watch. There are so many local riders and trainers that I like to watch at the shows that I couldn’t name them all.
17. What can you tell other junior riders about reaching their goals in dressage?
Dressage is a sport of ups and downs. You can’t get discouraged or give up. One of my horses, Slogan, fractured his hock in a freak accident after getting loose on the highway, only a couple months after I bought him. After a year and a half of stall rest, rehab, and endless vet bills, Slogan and I competed in the FEI Juniors at the Global Dressage Festival and I earned my USDF Bronze Medal on him. It was extremely stressful and frustrating, but also rewarding and poignant. No matter how hopeless a situation seems, you can never give up.
18. What is your horse’s personality like and what is the funniest thing he/she does?
Kempinski’s personality is a bit like a stallion. He is “hot to trot” and an absolute firecracker to ride at shows. He is a hot horse and is always on the edge. However, he is extremely intelligent and a quick learner. In the barn Kempi is a little calmer and very affectionate. After every ride, as soon as I dismount Kempi likes to rub his entire head on me and wipe his slobber on my shirt! It’s cute, but he’s so big he almost knocks me down!
My Quarter Horse, Shela Lark, is the stereotypical mare. She almost has as many moods as a human. She is an alpha mare, very independent, and aloof. Right before I put her bridle on, she raises her lip and then yawns.
19. Please tell us who you would like to thank for being your best supporters:
My parents have always been supportive of my riding. My mom is my biggest supporter, and always drove me to lessons and shows. Neither my mom nor my dad had horses, so the three of us learned together along the way. They are very encouraging and understanding, especially when there are setbacks. I am also supremely lucky to have an amazing mentor, Karen McKean, who actually gave me my first riding lesson. Over the years she has been a huge help to me, whether it was giving me advice or being my cheerleader at shows.
20. What is your favorite quote that you love and want to share with others?
“It’s the difficult horses that have the most to teach us.”- Lendon Gray