Heidi Degele through her, Mesa Farms LLC, has triumphed in the mastery of training and competing young horses, coaching riders, and selling impressive dressage horses to vast successes. She trains horses with the classical and systematical methods that she cultivated from years of full-time training with top American coaches and truly mastered her system while in Germany training with Hubertus Schmidt (2004-2007). Located in Loxahatchee, Florida Degele shared her philosophy, “Make it fun for the horse. That’s the key to success. I train and touch on what’s difficult for each individual horse, so that they can improve and get stronger, but I don’t want to drill so much that they resent the work. It’s important to me that the judges see it look effortless.”
A Michigan State University graduate, Degele received a degree in Animal Science with a Pre-vet option and an Equine emphasis in 1999. While attending Michigan State University in Lansing, Heidi discovered the ability to lead her peers when they elected her Vice President of the Michigan State Equestrian Team. After earning her degree, she moved to South Florida to further her career in dressage by working with Patrick Burssens. She worked in Florida for four years before being accepted in 2004 to train under the tutelage of Olympic Gold Medalist, Hubertus Schmidt. She moved to Germany in the winter of that year to train her stallion, Ramiros. While there, she learned to speak proficient German and bought a new mare, Everybody’s Darling. With the help of Hubertus Schmidt, she successfully trained both horses to the Grand Prix level and showed quite extensively in Germany receiving many scores over 70%. She also acquired numerous students in Germany who were consistently placing in the 70% and above. She moved back to Wellington for the 2008 winter season and successfully competed in the Prix Georges/Intermediate 1 with her stallion Ramiros and Grand Prix with her mare Everybody’s Darling achieving her USDF Gold Medal during winter show season.
Training Horses: (for the USDF Young Horse Championships)
Degele accepts horses for full training and consignment. She said, “I think horses love to be rewarded, even if it’s verbal, at times.” Training horses through the USDF Young Horse Program is one strength of Heidi’s program. Her philosophy, “The important thing I learned about the young horse program is to know your shows. You need to plan everything out in the fall before the New Year, especially in Florida.
We have to qualify our horses so early compared to the other horses up North. So, pick out the shows that you want to qualify. Pick out three shows; remember you have a drop score, so if you are high enough then you don’t have to do the third show. Also, look at other’s past results from previous years. For example, when you have to qualify in Florida you have to qualify so early. You might be on the list until June or July and then bumped off. I had that happen last year with a stallion. So look at what the general averages are that are invited. (68-69% and higher in PSG) – (7.4- and higher for the 6 yr olds). These are just some example, but the averages might be higher for the 4 yrs. olds, so I would look to see what % have been invited the years before. Then I would set my goals. Tell yourself a reasonable score you want to achieve for you horses and go for it. I also always do a show or two before the actual qualifier. Run through the tests in front of a judge and get their comments. You can always ride what you want in a FEI test of choice, so ride the PSG Developing or GP developing test, even it if is not on the roster, same with the young horses classes. I would always do that a few times before the actual qualifying show.”
Two 2013 Markel USDF Young Horse Championships Horses ridden by Heidi Degele:
Heidi Degele and Don Fredo Photo: Sharon Packer
Don Fredo HD (Don Frederico x Pik Bube I) owned by Greystone Equestrian LLC and Heidi Degele, are one of the top-ranked horses on the Markel/USEF National Young Horse Dressage Rankings for 2013, had the highest score at White Fences IV, earning 82% in front of judges for the Six Year-Old Horse test: “The ride was almost flawless. I went down center line thinking I was not going to let the judges have anything to comment on and it worked! They complimented me for bringing Don Fredo HD, concluding that they see him as a future CDI horse.” She continued, “Don Fredo HD, is an absolutely wonderful horse. I originally saw him over at IDA farms as a sales horse, he was imported from the Oldenburg Auction as a stallion, then brought to the USA, by Patrick Burssen and gelded. The first time I saw him, it was ‘Love at first sight’. I knew this horse had potential.
I, then, sold him as an agent to a client from GA, Jessica Beier, Greystone Equestrian LLC. She left him in training to learn the flying changes and then she was going to take him home to GA. But after his first show getting a 78%, as a 5 year old, we knew my feelings were confirmed the ‘He is the real deal’. Shortly after that, we made a partnership with him. I have qualified this year for the 6 year old Young Horse Championships in Chicago, and my next goal with him is the PAN AM Games. Our highest score so far is an 82%, so when he wants to, he can really shine. FREDO has an absolute stunning work ethic and learning curve. His flying changes are now flawless; he learns everything so fast. He really wants to do it. The very first time I tried four time tempi changes he did them with no mistakes. So again, he’s shown me that he really wants to do it.
I am sure the bloodlines have a lot to do with it. I had another mare that had Donnerhall as a grandsire and that horse too, learned everything so fast and effortlessly. Fredo’s character is ‘ The in your pocket’ type. He is so sweet. He always wants to put his head in chest and rest it and cuddle. I will be cleaning his stall and he’ll rest the bottom of his muzzle on my shoulder. He is like a big black Labrador.”
Heidi is available for teaching and will travel for clinics. Degele believes in telling riders that they need to install their own buttons, giving certain aids like bending aids, half-halts, and preparing the horse before the next movement with the corner. She said, “Each movement may have a different ‘button.’ I work with my students to practice and prepare at home, so that showing is easier.”
Dressage Horse Sales:
Are you looking for a special horse in a certain price range? Heidi can save time and money by showing you only those horses that meet your specifications.
Heidi Degele has several Americans clients that she is finding horses for in Germany. She has sold horses such as ‘Rolling Stone’ which is now a top Pan Am Candidate with scores over 70% in Wellington. She also sold younger horses, which one of them, Scott Hassler has quoted saying is ‘one of the best young horses he has ever seen.’
If you are looking for that special dressage horse at a reasonable price please Contact Heidi. CLICK HERE for a list of her current sales horses. http://www.heidi-dressage.com/our-horses/sale-horses
Mesa Farms is a year-round training facility where adult amateurs can bring horses for training in the best German and American dressage foundations. Degele is also available for individualized training, sales and clinics.
Photos: Heidi Degele and Sharon Packer