Devon Kane Helping Others Pursue Dreams While Striving to Achieve Her Own–Presented by Back on Track
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
WELLINGTON, Florida, Dec. 31, 2017–Since Devon Kane was a North American Young Rider champion a decade ago, she has dedicated herself to working with youth and disabled programs while pursuing her own competition career that has seen her ride for the United States in Europe.
At the age of 31, Devon juggles a full-time training and competition schedule, managing her family’s Diamante Farms in Wellington, motherhood and along with her mother, Terri, major efforts to help develop dressage in America and extend the benefits of riding to the disabled.
With the start of another winter-long circuit just days away, Devon has high hopes for her two Grand Prix horses, Destiny and Sir Galanto, and a couple of younger mounts she has been schooling to follow to Big Tour.
Devon moved from San Antonio, Texas where her family had built a thriving auto and truck sales business and bought a farm in Wellington for their teenage junior rider daughter to pursue her passion for dressage and train with U.S. Olympic team bronze medalist Michelle Gibson.
In 2007, Devon rode her Douwe, then a 17-year-old Dutch Warmblood gelding, to the North American Young Rider Championship individual gold and led her team to bronze.
A year later, the family bought Destiny, a four-year-old Danish Warmblood gelding, for Devon to develop to what she intended to be her first Grand Prix horse. By 2010, she was competing at national levels then a year later the pair was showing in their first international Small Tour.
The duo was being coached by German team gold medal rider Hubertus Schmidt by the time Devon and Destiny performed their first CDI Grand Prix at the beginning of 2014.
“Looking back, I’m proud of my career so far,” Devon told dressage-news.com, “but I have huge goals.
“I never started out with a plan such as: ‘What I’m going to do this year…’ It’s been more: ‘I want to do this and this and this,’ and as I go along I add things and keep myself motivated that way. I guess 10 years later it’s not so bad.
“A lot has changed. You grow up. You realize that what you take for granted as a young rider and it looks so glamorous–I can train horses, I can work with people. Having to actually put that into practice is a little tricky. Working with horses is the easiest thing. Part of my job is working with everything else, the management of everything and the people and teaching and learning how to teach.
“But I’m doing what I wanted so that’s good.”
Training with Hubertus at his German farm was so rewarding that Devon seriously weighed moving there but decided that she did not want to put her son through a new school with a different language at this stage.
For now, summers in Germany and winters in Florida is a perfect balance for Devon.
Instead, she decided to base herself at Diamante and it’s 10 acres with 21 stalls with both a covered arena and outdoor rings–all of which have recently undergone a major rehabilitation. During the Florida season that has expanded to eight months she rides up to 12 horses a day, a couple fewer in mid-summer.
“I use the methods and skills from Hubertus,” she said of the trainer who is credited with having developed more horses to Big Tour than perhaps any other.
“I have to say that he’s my go-to for everything. In last 10 years I’ve spent at least three or four years over there when you put all my time together–not just riding. Watching the training, watching the barn, working with everybody in the barn, how they do things.
“He’s quite brilliant how he works with the horses. He’s very regimented on his training scale but there’s plenty of room for adaptation with each horse. I think one of the biggest things I’ve learned from him is that you push a horse but you’re always aware of the limitations of every horse and every rider so you never go too far, so you understand what is really good for the horse and then move on from there.
“I think that’s a good way to keep a very positive and happy note; you’re always very excited about what you got out of a horse. I think that also comes from Hubertus working with a lot of horses and different people that weren’t so talented and he still took them so far. I think it’s a very positive and encouraging training method.”
She’s learned to be more disciplined than she was with Destiny, whom she admits to spoiling bccause “he was my baby.”
“It’s exactly like raising children,” she said, “you have to have ground rules.”
More discipline is the approach she has adopted with Sir Galanto, the Hanoverian stallion that turns 13 in 2018, and she began competing at Big Tour a year ago.
Also for Jazz Diamante and Winchester.
The 2010 Jazz x Rohdiamant gelding was bought at the Oldenburg Elite Foal Auction, grew up in Germany then moved to Diamante Farms as a four-year-old where he has been trained by Devon, and expected to make his CDI debut at small tour in 2018.
Winchester is a 2008 gelding by World Of Dreams (previously owned by Michelle Gibson) out of a Fürst Heinrich mare that Diamante bought as a two-year-old and Devon began riding a couple of years later. Kevin Kohmann, a German transplant who is a trainer at Diamante, has competed Winchester at national level Grand Prix for the past year.
Devon’s competition fire is as bright as ever with the goal of making a championship team for the United States.
At the same time, she and her mother, Terri, remain deeply involved in activities to help both disabled and able-bodied equestrians.
Terri Kane is on the board of Vinceremos, the major disabled rider program in the Wellington area, but admits she got involved initially, Terri said, because Devon “she saw these children and she felt so blessed that she had a healthy child that she felt compelled to help in any way that she was able to.”
“For me, I fell in love with this organization because I saw what it was doing for families. I had a brother with down syndrome and know how important it is for these children to be able to find a place that they belong. However, through my involvement with Vinceremos, I have seen the miracles that horses can do for children.”
Diamante was a founding sponsor of the Global Dressage Festival and title sponsor of the CDI5* but gave it up to make way for corporate support.
The farm, though, maintains support for Under-25 Global classes as well as other programs such as the Florida International Youth Dressage Championships and the Robert Dover Horsemastership Week that brings youth riders from around the country for intense training with the United States top riders and trainers.
“These young people are the future of our sport and I feel it’s very important for a successful team (riders, owner, facility) to show our support,” said Terri. “It is very important for me to be at the awards weekly so that I am personally there telling them that I am proud of them, telling them that I believe in them. I try to watch every ride in the U25 class. And they are all invited to come to our barn and watch how hard Devon and Kevin work and how many hours every day it takes to actually be a Grand Prix rider.”
Devon’s desire to be involved, she admits, came because, “my mom always made sure we volunteered and gave back to kids growing up, and she has always been involved in youth programs. I like to support kids and youth programs because you can make a huge difference in children and teen’s lives as they develop by creating opportunities and instilling values of hard work and perseverance while they are young enough to appreciate it.
“For me, Vinceremos is very personal. I love the program, I believe in it, and I am blessed with a physically and mentally healthy child, so I feel grateful for the opportunity to help those who are not. I could easily be the parent using their services, and I am dedicated to contributing my time and efforts for it because of that.”