I met my first horse in 1967. Mocha was a three-year-old filly who was just barely rideable and ran away with me almost every time I climbed on her. Friends and family would ask me why I would keep going back for more torture at age eight, and my answer was “the moments of peace I did have with her were worth all the mayhem!” If I could only teach her to tolerate me! The next 50 years I’ve spent studying that very goal. Even as a child I was fascinated by how well horses and people can interact, so my first (and current) life ambition has been studying the horse-human relationship.
With the selfless support of my parents, I sought to develop a reputation as a competent junior rider and competitor in hopes that I might earn a chance to learn from a professional trainer who knew what they were doing. That dream came true when I was accepted into an apprenticeship program at Bazy Tankersley’s Al-Marah Arabians in Tuscon, Arizona, under the direction of a long time hero of mine Harold Brite. Harold had been training at Al-Marah for 25 years when I showed up, but still had the patience to direct a young fool like me toward the understanding of the equine mind until I began to show signs of progress.
As my term as apprentice ended and my assistantship neared conclusion, I was offered a “trainer” position at the new eastern Al-Marah location near Gainesville, Florida. Although young (21) and underqualified, I eagerly agreed to take on the position because Mark Miller, my new boss, was happy to keep me exposed to trainers who could steer me on the right path to eventually becoming a real horse trainer. Then in 1985, we all changed careers.
Mark conceived, designed, funded, and managed the Arabian Nights Dinner attraction in Kissimmee, Florida, which exposed me to a level of horse training I never knew was possible. As well as having the chance to mature as a trainer by exposure to some of the most skilled and talented horsemen and horsewomen in the horse world, I met Yvonne when she signed on as the Director of Entertainment. We went to lunch together on her first day at the show, and have been doing so for the 20 years since then. We lived and worked together on the show for six years.
Yvonne and I shared an almost idealistic dream of some day having careers in the study of dressage, and one day as our children began to need more of our time than “Show Biz” would allow, we said “Let’s do it,” and moved the whole outfit to northern Illinois and launched our new life in the form of KYB Dressage.
Our lives have been blessed and supported by friends, clients, and colleagues as well as our ever so patient children Jamie, Jessica, Kassie and Hudi (Kayla).
In 2008 Ginna Frantz opened Grand Prix Equestrian Center in Maple Park, Illinois which has been our happy home base for the past 7 years and remains the most comfortable, charming, and inspiring place for us all to practice our chosen art.
Our new chapter has now just begun in 2018 at Rock Bluff Ranch in Bell, FL. This lovely 120-acre horse farm is a perfect setting for horses and humans alike. I look forward to the incredible memories to be made here.