Angela Jackson’s Journey to Young Horse Trainer & Rider
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
LEXINGTON, Kentucky, May 29, 2014–Angela Jackson wanted so much to learn about dressage from the best that she shut down her business, left her husband behind in Kentucky and moved to Germany as a working student for three months to Klaus Balkenhol, Olympic team gold medalist and former American team coach.
Angela was not some youngster starting out in the horse business but a 46-year-old who had grown up riding jumpers in her native Germany where she won the silver medal at the German Young Rider Championships among other awards. One of the highlights of her career was second place in the puissance at the CSI Aachen Indoor Show.
Now, she is fully dedicated to breeding, training and teaching dressage at Rhine River Farm owned by she and her husband in Henderson, a community of about 30,000 people with century-old charm on the Ohio River.
At the recent Kentucky CDI3* in Lexington, she rode more than a half-dozen horses in 14 CDI and national young horse to small tour classes as well as coaching other riders.
Angela came to the United States in 1990 to improve her English, met a man she fell in love with at first sight and who became her husband. He is a welder and had nothing to do with horses.
“When I came here I had no money and rode everything that had a head and a tail to pay the bills,” she said, “even including hunter mules.”
A friend had trouble with a stallion, rearing in the show ring. Angela rode the horse down the centerline, won the class and that was her hands-on introduction to dressage.
In addition to horses she breeds herself, she trains horses for Rock Solid Warmblood of Booneville, Indiana and other breeders.
“I prefer riding young horses,” she said, “I’m just good at it, I’m passionate about it.”
There are plenty of good horses in the United States, but in her view breeders don’t get the support and respect they are accorded in Europe. The result, is that there frequently is not correct classical training in the first few vital years of young horses.
“We see so many good horses that don’t make it,” Angela said. “I just always wanted to ride correctly. But I have so much to learn.
“I called Klaus Balkenhol and asked if I could be a working student. I shut down the business and went to Germany for three months.
“I learned so much. I also learned how much more I needed to know.”
Klaus, a German team and individual Olympic medalist most famously on the police horse Goldstern, was the coach of the American team for eight years until 2008. His daughter, Anabel, rode Dablino FRH for Germany at the 2012 Olympics and the 2010 World Equestrian Games.
A conclusion Angela’s come to is that more young people need to be willing to learn about developing young horses.
“There are not enough millionaires in this coutnry to do this,” she said. “We need the knowledge not more money.”