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despite the fact that Sam had been under saddle only a few months. “I was impressed with her elasticity, but mainly her kind eye and attitude. I felt very safe around her which was important because I was a new mom,” recalls Gundi who imported the mare to England in 2002.

“When they delivered her and she walked down the ramp, I thought they had delivered the wrong horse. I forgot how big she was. Now at my barn she is called the gentle giant, so kind hearted. But she’s not dopey. She is quite lively.”

Two years later the family and Sam moved to the United States and Sam was moving up the dres- sage levels, gaining training and confi- dence from her ama- teur owner.

Gundi’s experience in Germany had taken her to M level, about the equivalent of Third Level in the U.S. “It’s been the blind leading the blind. When I bought her I didn’t have the knowledge to see an FEI horse in her. She wasn’t born with extravagant amazing gaits. What she now shows, she has learned through training. Her work ethic makes up for what she lacks in nat- ural talent. If the horse doesn’t have the right tempera- ment, or an amateur can’t handle the horse or the horse doesn’t want to work, it doesn’t matter how spectacular the movement. Her work attitude and my competitive side have made us come as far as we have.”

Gundi.. She and Sam managed to execute four, three and two tempi changes, but the one tempis are still hard.

She took her troubles to Olympian Steffen Peters. “During a clinic I asked if he would ride Sam and try one tempis. He worked her for about ten minutes and then rode a line of five and then a line of seven one tempis, making it look so easy.”

Sam’s size colors her work and management. Gundi is always aware of the mare’s special needs and is careful not to overload Sam’s body. For example, canter pirouettes have been difficult for Sam, a move- ment that requires the horse to carry her entire body on her two hind legs. “She sits well, but she has a very large body which is a lot of loading on her joints. She does them well and we get good scores on them, but I don’t do them often.

Instead I do exer- cises to help with her suppleness and strength to support the movement.”

Gundi also

attends to Sam’s nutrition, focus- ing on a whole food based diet.

Gundi and "Sam" perform a canter pirouette at the '08 CDS championship. Photo by Sheri Scott.

While Gundi and Sam clinic with

While the mare is intelligent, Gundi gives her time to absorb and understand. “I have to reassure her that she’s doing well or she gets frustrated. We learn together.”

Learning to progress from single flying changes to tempi changes was one of those difficult times, especially for

Alex Gerding, Steffen Peters and others, lessons are not weekly. “The down side is I don’t regularly have eyes on the ground. The up side is I control my schedule and the program. It would be stifling to be on a regular weekly program. I like to feel where the horse takes me.”

She credits her mare with this path for their training. “Sam has given me confidence in my riding. She is so kind and willing, that she makes me feel that we can do

anything.” WT

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