Featured Rider Jan Engle
Name: Jan Engle
From: Chicago and previously St. Louis
Currently living: Lafayette, In
Horse’s Name:Fhf VIenna (“Annie”)
Horse’s Breed:Thoroughbred x Percheron
Horse’s Age: 16 years old
What or who inspired you to ride Dressage?
I started dressage at the age of 65 after some years doing hunt seat, low level eventing, trail riding and just plain horsing around. Mostly, I switched to dressage because I no longer bounced well if I came off over a fence. Also, it was a form of riding that always fascinated me but which I never had a real opportunity to pursue.
What is your occupation that allows you to ride?
What have been your successes in the show ring?
Annie and I have completed our USDF Silver Medal and are hoping to make to to Grand Prix and the Gold Medal. We are currently showing at I1 and working on piaffe, passage.
What have been you aha moments in training?
Understanding how much more fit I needed to be if I was serious about riding at the FEI level. This led to a significant weight loss (50+ pounds) and an ongoing commitment to getting to the gym in addition to riding 5-6 days a week. It is paying off; the stronger I get, the more I am able to stop interfering with the horse and actually help her perform the movements.
What is the most difficult thing and riding dressage?
Patience. As a brand new to dressage rider with a green horse (Annie was 5 and just broken to a basic walk-trot-canter level when I got her), it has been quite a journey over the last 10 years. Both Annie and I had a lot to learn (and I had a LOT of bad habits to unlearn). I have done 98% of the training myself (under the guidance of my outstanding trainer/coach) so it has been a very slow process. It is a testament to my wonderful mare’s disposition and work ethic that she has so well tolerated my learning and mistakes to get to this level without any serious issues. Often it felt like two steps forward and one back as we moved from one level to the next. Patience and trust in the process have been critical during these times.
Which trainer(s) have you worked who have made the most differences to you and your horse(s)?
Jennifer Kaiser (USDF Gold Medalist) has been my trainer throughout the entire process. (I should note Annie is a horse that she bred.)f Jennifer is an outstanding instructor and has a number of students who have earned their Gold Medals in addition to many more who have earned Silvers and Bronzes. I am very fortunate to board my horse at the Kaiser farm and train with her.
Your Other Interests?
Mostly, I enjoy being retired. I work out and swim at a local health club. I am a member of two book clubs, attend local concerts and theater productions, and try to take advantage of the myriad of offerings that come with living in a university town (Purdue).
Do you own other pets?
I have had numerous cats and dogs over the years. Currently I just live with an aging Corgi who came from the same farm as Annie. Macy enjoys being a city dog who gets to go back to the farm with me every day.
What advice can you give other amateurs based on your experiences?
Two things: Don’t give up. … you are never to old to reach for your dreams. Secondly, enjoy the process. It doesn’t really make a difference how ‘far’ you get as long as you enjoy what you are doing. If Annie and I get to the Gold Medal, it will be wonderful. If not, I will have absolutely no regrets. I will have loved every minute of this journey.