Aussie WEG Team Rider Kelly Layne Moving to Florida
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
WELLINGTON, Florida, Aug. 13–Kelly Layne, a member of the Australian team at the 2006 World Equestrian Games in Germany, is moving with her family and her Grand Prix prospect to Wellington, a premier high performance equestrian community in South Florida.
Kelly. 34, has been married for eight years to a former U.S. Air Force F-16 fighter pilot, Steve, a native Texan who grew up in California but worked in Australia for 14 years. He is executive vice president of a commercial aircraft leasing group. Kelly, Steve and his two children, Katie, 17, and Will, 12, all of whom are Americans except for Kelly, are relocating to West Palm Beach from the Denver suburb of Parker, Colorado where they have lived for the past three years.
She will bring her 11 year old Royal Diamond gelding, Raja, her main Grand Prix prospect to Wellington.
“I’ve never been to Wellington but I’m looking forward to it because of it’s reputation as the dressage capital of the U.S.,” she said when contacting Australian dressage rider and trainer Ilse Schwarz who is married to an American media entrepreneur and has lived in Wellington for the past 10 years. The Australian riders met at the 2008 U.S. Developing Horse and Young Horse Championships in Lexington, Kentucky. Kelly grew up in the sub tropical Sunshine Coast of the northeast Australian state of Queensland so is not worried about the similar Florida climate.
Wellington attracts thousands of the world’s top dressage and jumper competitors and polo teams from dozens of countries for the winter circuit that runs from December through April. The dressage calendar includes a national competition virtually every week, plus six CDIs over a two-month period–three World Cup qualifiers, the €100,000 (US$140,000) Exquis World Dressage Masters CDI5* and two CDI-3* tournaments.
Kelly has had 21 CDI starts at Grand Prix in Australia, Japan, Germany, Austria and the United States over a five-year period. She represented Australia as a Young Rider in New Zealand, Hong Kong and was on the Australian WEG team in 2006.
In the past four years, Kelly has competed in 171 dressage competitions on eight different horses up to Grand Prix.
At age, 18 Kelly became an Australian National Coaching Accreditation Scheme Level 1 Coach in dressage, show jumping and eventing. In December, 2004 Kelly passed the test to become an NCAS Level 2 dressage specialist. Over the years Kelly has trained many riders through to Prix St Georges and coached competitive Grand Prix riders. Kelly has conducted Young Rider State Squad clinics and Young Horse clinics for the Queensland Equestrian Federation.
Kelly has been finding horses for clients in Japan since 2001, ranging from Grand Prix dressage to eventing horses. One horse was “Gorgeous George,” who represented Japan at the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Kelly also competes in Japan on many of the 40 horses she has sold in the past 10 years.
The latest is her WEG mount, Amoucheur, on which a Japanese rider will attempt to qualify for the Asia Games.
Kelly rode her first Grand Prix at age 18 on her mother’s Grand Prix horse, Adonis. Her mother, dressage judge Helen Anstee, took Kelly to clinics with Hubert Eichinger of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, Wolfgang Hotzel, Peter Weston, Ulrich Klatte, Christopher Bartle, Jenny Loriston-Clark, Rudolph Zeilinger, Rosemary Springer, Clemens Dierks, Edgar Lichtwark and Vince Corvi.
From 1997 to 2001 Kelly trained with Jan Dupont in Belgium with her Grand Prix horse, St James. In Australia she started training with Swedish trainer Irene Bakels-Noreen and the former German dressage coach and Olympian Harry Boldt.
Her most influential trainer, whom she met in 2002, was Ulla Salzgeber.
The time in Europe while Steve and his children stayed in Australia “took it’s toll.”
“But now we are all just happy to be one place together and doing what we love most, being a family, living by the ocean and having horses in our lives,” she said.
And she has trained her husband to be her “eyes on the ground“ where his attention to detail gives her an edge, especially preparing for competition.