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N.J. That year they also were California Dressage Society Horse of the Year reserve champions at Intermediare I and USDF Intermediare I freestyle champions. At Prix St. Georges the team began

work on passage. For three months, Vinnie couldn’t figure out what he was supposed to do. Then one day he popped up, took a couple of steps and appeared to think ‘ah, I get it.’ He was coming into himself. The trot was better. He was sit- ting in the canter. “We felt like we were not at the edge of what we could do. The work was actually getting easier.” Time, however, was knocking at

Tanya’s door from all sides. She turned 40 and felt the need to decide if she ever wanted to have a child. “I wouldn’t have done it without Larry (Mandel, her life partner). He’s the best supporter of what I do with the horses and he would be a great dad. But I was worried about how it would all work – baby and horse. Then I figured if other people can do it, I can too. Not everyone agreed. Most of my clients were fine, but potential clients who I told I was pregnant doubted I could do it all.” They obviously didn’t know Tanya. She rode for

three more months with renewed determination to reach Grand Prix. “Riding the first six months of preg- nancy felt like my pelvic tendons were trying to stretch for the baby and I was trying to snug them up to ride. I usually hobbled around after I rode.” When she was six months pregnant, Vinnie helped her out of the sad- dle by bruising a splint bone. While she kept teaching, Vinnie took on the difficult assignment of resting and recuperating. Vinnie got fat and Tanya gained 40 pounds. “My

stomach was so big that I would bump it with my legs when I walked up a hill.” “I was at a horse show the day I went into labor. I

got home that night and started contractions. It took forever for the little guy to come out. They say riders have a hard time because tendons and ligaments that hold the pelvis together are so strong.” On May 10, 2008, her son Chase was born. Three

weeks later, Tanya was back teaching and eyeing the Grand Prix test. “Vinnie was still legging up, so we were coming back together,” she recalls. Tanya's organization and focus kicked in. Everyone

in her life from her partner, mom, nanny, groom and students had a schedule. “I organize so that I can keep my riding part of me and my mother part of me sepa- rate. I can compartmentalize well and I have the sup- port to do it. My ability to function hinges on all the

54

Tanya and Vinnie at the extended trot.

players being in place at the time they need to be. I can’t and don’t teach when I have the baby with me, but he does go horse shopping with me. He’s great in the car and someone is always on the ground to watch him if I’m trying a horse. He sure knows horses now,” she jokes. Focusing on the Grand Prix with Vinnie, piaffe

was her next challenge. Vinnie was demonstrating his characteristic trainability. Determined to find answers, Tanya attended a clinic with a trainer who specializes in piaffe and the different technique clicked. “This trainer only emphasized the positive, constantly rewarding any effort to piaffe. When the horse didn’t understand, he was passive. Other trainers had been a little tougher on Vinnie for not piaffing and that approach just wasn’t working. So I changed my approach, rewarding any effort he made and moved on if he got resistant or confused. His piaffe improved 70 percent. It was night and day.” And within four months of giving birth to her first

baby, Tanya and Vinnie performed their first Grand Prix, scoring 63 percent! “I worried if we would pull it off. I hoped we

wouldn’t make a lot of mistakes. But there was Vinnie, doing his job giving it more than 100%. Coming out of the arena, I thought, ‘we can do this.’ It is very grat- ifying, especially having trained him all the way. I am very lucky to do what I love: teach great people, own a wonderful, surprisingly talented horse, and combine it all with motherhood and a great partner. The trade off is that I’m answering emails at 10:30 at night!”

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