Terri Kane from Texas Backyard Barrel Racer to Sponsor of Global Dressage Festival International Under-25 Dressage
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
WELLINGTON, Florida, June 2, 2020–The first United States Under-25 team to be sent to Europe to compete at the World Equestrian Festival in Aachen, Germany this week would have been a highlight of the years of financial support by Terri Kane.
The hotly contested competitions to select a team of at least three rider and horse combinations was brought to a halt at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival in mid-March due to the coronavirus pandemic. Covid-19 also led later to cancellation of Aachen, a premier show of the Olympic sports of dressage, jumping and eventing as well as driving and vaulting.
For Terri, a frequent visitor to Aachen and other shows in Germany where her daughter, Devon, has spent many summers training with Hubertus Schmidt, her disappointment at the cancellation was for the riders.
The team of three riders and horses had not been selected but most likely would have included combinations among the top four in the national Under-25 rankings:
–Benjamin Ebeling, 20, Moorpark, California and Illuster van de Kampert, 12-year-old Belgian Warmblood gelding owned by Nuvolari Holdings, LLC, and
Diamond’s Diva, 14-year-old Oldenburg mare owned by Ann Romney, as a backup;
–Hope Cooper, 23, Concord, Massachusetts and Hot Chocolate W, 15-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by Mary Mansfield;
–Emma Asher, 18, Greenwood Village, Colorado and Elegance N, 11-year-old KWPN gelding owned by Seeley Equestrian Ventures, and
–Natalie Pai, 23, Wellington, Florida, and Utopie D’Ouilly, 12-year-old Selle Français mare owned by Melanie Pai.
Ben, who competed in Young Rider competitions in Europe in 2018 and 2019, flew from Carnegie-Mellon University in Pittsburgh several weekends seeking to make the team. Hope and Emma based themselves in Wellington for the season, and neither have yet competed outside the U.S. Natalie competed Unlimited as an individual at Rotterdam; Leudelange, Luxembourg and Aachen in 2018.
Terri didn’t come from the world of top hats and tails and European warmbloods being endlessly schooled to perform movements that evolved over thousands of years of mounted warfare to the elegance, athleticism and precision of the sport today.
As a kid, she had a Thoroughbred off the track that she taught to barrel race in her backyard growing up in Texas.
“We didn’t get into dressage until Devon decided she wanted to learn ‘English’,” she laughs.
In 2002, she moved to Wellington so Devon could pursue dressage with Michelle Gibson, who rode Peron on the U.S. team that earned bronze at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. Terri bought an equestrian facility and named it Diamante Farms.
Devon flourished, riding Douwe to individual gold and team bronze at the 2007 North American Young Rider Championships.
Five years later, the Global Dressage Festival was created at Palm Beach International Equestrian Center’s Stadium complex as a companion circuit to the long established Winter Equestrian Festival.
Terri signed up Diamante Farms as one of the founding sponsors that were critical in helping build the Global circuit of seven weeks of international competitions including a Nations Cup and a top prize money CDI5* as well as the range of youth divisions.
At the same time, she was buying young horses, as many as 30 over the years, where they usually grow up in Germany before coming over to Wellington.
Since moving to Wellington in 2002, Terri’s sponsorship of youth classes became more and more important.
In the years of Global, the Under-25 division has grown while the junior and young rider division have shrunk.
“I think I have a responsibility to do this,” Terri said in a conversation at her home in Wellington. “I have a dressage training facility. I love kids and I think riding is good for them. It means a lot to me to accept that responsibility.”
And she offers high praise for Lendon Gray, selected for the American team for the 1980 Olympics but boycotted by the U.S., who created Dressage4Kids that offers training and shows that has spread across the country.
Foreign judges, among them Katrina Wüst, a 5* official of Germany, have commented on the improvement in the youth divisions at Global for which she gives Lendon a lot of credit for the clinics and education of youth.
“She doesn’t get any glory, doesn’t look for it,” Terri said, “that’s what makes it so awesome, her passion.”
Terri’s support of youth has crossed the Atlantic, though not initially a deliberate move.
Don Angelo, a personal favorite of Terri’s that was competed at Grand Prix by Michelle Gibson 10 years ago, suffered serious allergy issues in sub-tropical South Florida.
The Oldenburg gelding was taken by Devon to Hubertus Schmidt’s facility one summer and thrived. Devon suggested they leave the horse in Germany for the sake of his health.
“I wasn’t very happy at first and then I thought about it and that was right,” she recalled.
She offered Katharina Hemmer who works at Hubertus’s farm but didn’t have a horse to compete the chance to show Don Angelo and stay in Germany.
It has worked out.
In the prestigious K&K Cup Under-25 at Münster in 2018, Katharina and Don Angelo won both the qualifier and the final.
Terri, however, who has immersed herself in international dressage as well as success in working with her husband in San Antonio, Texas building one of the largest Ford truck dealerships in the nation, has some concerns about youth sport.
“It’s the future of our sport and it bothers me when I see that our dressage community does not support our youth programs like they do in other countries,” she noted. The junior and young rider divisions are not sponsored at Global.
As a mother and deeply involved in dressage, she totally agrees with the need to protect youth–“There’s no reason a child should feel threatened by someone, physically or sexually, there’s no place for that in this world.”
“However, I believe the approach we are taking right now is hurting our sport,” she said referring to the U.S. SafeSport program that places extremely restrictive conditions on dealing with youth. “So many people who teach young riders say they don’t want to do it any more, they’re afraid. They can’t text them, even to say, ‘Hey, I had to move your lesson.’
“It’s gone way overboard. We’ve got to come up with a new system or we’re going to hurt this sport, we’re not going to have young riders because we don’t have any trainers who will teach them.”