Sweden's Karin Persson Continues Steady Success Stonebridge Sport Horses in New York and Florida
Written by Betsy LaBelle - In Dressage Directory - Tuesday, July 26, 2016
Swedish born FEI trainer and competitor Karin Persson, who has been mentored on and off for more than 20 years by World Cup winner and Olympic medalist Louise Nathhorst, brings strong fundamental dressage basics to the United States since her move in 2013. Aiming to be a top competition rider, Karin and her own five-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding Giuliano B (Bon Bravour x Mondilia), barn name “Liam,” are currently third on the USEF Ranking List for five-year olds. She similarly qualified one of her Junior division riders for the USEF Festival of Champions. Both competitions take place August 24-28, 2016 at the Lamplight Equestrian Center.
Now manager and head trainer at Stonebridge Sport Horses in Bedford Hills, New York, Karin leases Watch Hill Farm, only 40 miles from Manhattan and located between Bedford and Greenwich, Connecticut which she uses as her summer base. Whether preparing horses for championships, coaching successful riders or matching well-trained top quality horses with riders, Karin learned how to effectively communicate with horses, “Riding so many top young horses every day for so many years has taught me patience with a horse and how to build a quiet trust through communication.”
Elite Training and Sales at Stonebridge Sport Horses - Training at Watch Hill Farm
With Watch Hill Farm’s indoor and outdoor arenas, small paddocks and large fields, state-of-the-art footing, lovely surroundings and nearby access to the BRLA trail system, Karin and her team maintain a professional, proficient yet relaxed atmosphere that keeps the horses physically and mentally sound. Karin said, “The place is rustic and charming. It has an indoor ring with mirrors and a full-sized outdoor ring, both providing fantastic footing. It’s lovely.”
In 2014, Karin began to work for Stonebridge Sport Horses owned by friend and business partner, Christina Devine. The surrounding area also provides some of the best veterinarians, farriers and chiropractors around, “You cannot be better than the team that surrounds you,” Karin acknowledges.
Not only does Karin provide training to exclusive clients in all levels, she also imports, trains and sells top quality dressage horses from Europe and Sweden to the American market, and offers boarding and dressage training of the highest international level to great clients. She said, “I want the Stonebridge Sport Horses brand to be associated with good quality, training and professionalism.”
Karin’s Equestrian Introduction and Learning the Basics
Karin was born and raised in Hudiksvall, a small town in northern Sweden (population about 30,000), 300 km north of Stockholm. From a humble family, Karin’s parents were not interested in horses themselves, but didn’t dissuade her passion; they encouraged her to be happy and to work hard. “When I was about 6 years old, I began riding at the local riding school after watching my sister ride for a few years,” Karin said. “Hudiksvall has a very good riding school with a good system that taught me the basics really well.”
Spending most of her free time at the riding school, she also helped out at its barn on the weekends and assisted with grooming and care of all of the horses. At age 13, she was permitted to ride a new, inexperienced pony and Karin immediately began to work with the pony. By the time Karin reached age 15, she and the pony were ready for the Swedish championships for ponies. When Karin reached 16, she convinced her mother to buy her a horse and accepted all the responsibility that came with it, including all the finances which required her to work even more hours at the barn and give riding lessons. Although this horse, too, was inexperienced, they worked hard and two years later Karin sold him for enough money to independently buy her own horse.
Developing a keen interest in dressage, her first teacher in the sport was Lena Englund who excelled in teaching the basics, “Over the years, I’ve realized more and more that the basics are everything.” Karin also recalled that they worked in the outdoor ring because the indoor ring had always been booked. “The winters were so cold and it was already dark by 3:00 in the afternoon!”
“Swedish riding,” she clarified, “teach the basics in a similar way as the German programs,” said Karin. “You do everything in the beginning, including dressage, jumping and also lessons about how to care for a horse, its feeding, everything. We had to take responsibility for our horses, even when there were no adults around. The motto was always, ‘Take care of your horse first, then yourself;’ we were always reminded.”
Mentor Louise Nathhorst on and off for 20 years
“I wanted to keep improving and started to look for jobs after finishing (high) school. I worked for Eva Perninge who owns the Hogsta facility where Louise trains her horses and customers. After a year there, I moved to Germany where I worked at a sales barn where lots of youngsters needed starting. I even got to train a young horse that was owned by the famous five-time champion German professional dressage trainer Herbert Rehbein. That barn was very close to Grönwohldhof which was where Louise was training at the time and where one of my friends worked as her groom. After that, I moved back to Hogsta to work full-time for Louise for two years and did everything anyone can possibly do at a barn, including training her young horses.”
She continued, “After working for Louise those two years, I attended the University in Stockholm. Keeping my horse always at Hogsta where I could train him and also teach, I focused my studies on computer and systems science, and business administration. After graduation, I worked for 6 years in internet technology and banking while maintaining a strong connection to horses. Soon, it became apparent that I had to make a choice between the two. I went back to the horses and took with me much knowledge about project management and implementing changes.”
Karin’s 2016 U.S. Competition Triumphs
This past winter season, Karin stayed at the Jewel Court Stud USA’s amazing farm on Southfields Road in Wellington, a short distance to the Adequan Global Dressage Festival showgrounds. The farm has everything one needs for professional horse care and training. It's a gated farm with turnout paddocks, a supersized outdoor ring with one mirrored short side, plenty of wash and grooming stalls, grooms quarters on property, a beautiful tack room, automatic fly spray and plentiful fans, the atmosphere is professional as well as friendly. “A special thank you to Eliane Cordia-van Reesema for her wonderful farm in Wellington. It’s an amazing place and within hacking distance to the Global showgrounds, too.”
Karin is very proud of her KWPN gelding, “I bought him last summer as a young 4-year-old. Guiliano was bred in Holland but I bought him in Sweden. His father, Bon Bravour is ridden by Anky van Grunsven. When he arrived, I was so relieved to find a really nice horse. He really gives me a great feeling. And that is the most important thing.” She has only Giuliano B as her own horse right now, but shared, “For me, the goal is to compete on highest international level and to represent my country at championships.”
At the Enydcta Dressage Days competition they scored an 8.180 (81.8%) and this summer Karin and Liam (Giuliano) had a great practice test at Saugerties Dressage Show with a fantastic 79.8 percent in the FEI 5 year-old test and a 9 for his trot. On Sunday, he improved and was awarded a total of 84.8% in the qualifier. She said, “We're so impressed by this little man!”
Karin’s Student Coaching and Training Basics
Karin’s passion with dressage has continued to grow. She has developed into a devoted and appreciated trainer of both younger and more experienced dressage horses and goes back to the basics every day in her trainings, “The basics are everything, so I teach my students to be patient with the training. They have to be eager, yes, and they also have to be patient.”
“I love working with young people and applying many skills from my own background,” she professes. “I also love training the ponies and because I’m not super big, so I can also ride the ponies for my students. I’ve come to think that it’s a pity the pony sport is not bigger than it is.”
Karin's philosophy includes those of her Swedish mentors about creating clear lines of communication with the horse through an effective approach in keeping the exercises simple so the horse has complete and thorough understanding. “It’s really important to teach my students the correct contact and positions through the many transitions to get the horse from behind in their riding.” Always working to make sure the horse stays forward, not falling behind the rider’s aids, she said, “One of the main things I teach them is showing them that a horse has to stay in front of their legs. It’s really a big thing for me and I stress that importance to my students because then they’ll be able to find the right balance.”
Two Top Students -
Asia Ondatjee Rupert
“I have two very dedicated Junior division riders. Asia started three years ago with a pony she competed at nationals. Now, she has two horses she is preparing for the Junior level, aiming for Prix St George. Last year Asia rode Twelfth Night in the Juniors Division at the International Florida Youth Dressage Championships placing 4th overall, at the North American Junior/Young Rider Championships (NAJRC) and the Dutta/USEF Festival of Champions.This year, Asia and 9-year-old Hanoverian gelding Firmamento placed 4th overall at the International Florida Youth Championships.
Christina’s daughter, Amelia, also started with Karin as a novice three years ago and is likewise on her way to being a top Junior rider for the USA. She is working to qualify for the Nationals for her first time. Amelia and her own 11-year-old Hanoverian gelding Perazzi made their debut in FEI Junior classes “showing us all that's where they belong,” declared Karin. “Amelia and Perazzi had a super weekend at Saugerties and it's been a great pleasure to follow their progress.” She elaborated, “To us, this was their best weekend ever. We were very proud while watching Amelia tactfully and sensitively guide Perazzi through the test. They’re ninth on the Junior Level USEF Ranking List for the Dutta Festival of Champions.
Karin’s Sale Horses
Working with breeders and top riders in Sweden, Denmark, Holland and Germany, Karin has spent a lifetime making good relations for finding the right competition horse for the client. “My main goal for my business is when a person buys a horse from us that it’s a horse of a certain quality. Most of our horses come from Sweden, Denmark, Germany or Holland, but mostly Sweden. I have quite a lot of good contacts there, including Louise Nathhorst, of course.”
Karin also trains often with Christophe Theallet, offering many clinics at the Watch Hill Farm and she often trains with fellow Swedish rider Tinne Vilmelson-Silfven during the winter season in Florida.
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