The World of Living with Horses

My Girls by Stephanie von Bidder

I have two mares in training – one is a red head; the other, a brunette.



Maddie, all 16.2 hands of her, turned 6 in May and is already accomplished, talented and bright. She is also opinionated, fiery and impatient, pinning back her ears when you near her stall. Truth is that part’s an act. When I scratch her between the eyes, she melts into my chest and snuggles like a puppy. There is a big heart under that prickly, chestnut exterior and she has a passion for her job.

Maddie was bred by a knowledgeable breeder and grew up on that breeder’s Tallahassee farm in grass fields under live oak trees. She was started under saddle by a professional cowboy with a firm, kind hand, and then went into a professional training barn to begin her career as a show hunter. She is agile and athletic. She loves to jump anything and apparently was born with a pristine lead change.

Maddie came to me in 2011 as a 5 year old. She already had an illustrious show record in the 2’6” baby greens. So, I spent the rest of the year showing her at 2’9” where she smoked the competition. By the time 2012 rolled around, it was time for 3’ Pre-Greens. Maddie made the move with ease.

All of which explains why Maddie was bored. Little did her royal highness suspect that I knew what was up, and had bigger plans for her. You see, Maddie has all the makings of a good International Hunter Derby horse. She is scopey and stylish, brave and smart. So this year, in addition to her Pre-Green Hunter division – outside, diagonal, outside, diagonal, blah blah blah – Maddie is showing in the 3’ hunter derbies – big fields with funky courses, bending lines, rollbacks, trot jumps, hand gallops, brush-covered concoctions and showing in the dark under bright lights.

Training challenge: Maddie doesn’t like being trained; she thinks she knows it all.

By Stephanie von Bidder

Stephanie trains horses and riders at her Daybreak Farm in Aiken, S.C.

Next: My German brunette.


Stephanie von Bidder

Stephanie von Bidder grew up in New York’s Westchester County, where she had the opportunity to learn from Patricia Neff, Jerry Carollo, Joe Fargis and Darren Graziano. She now lives in Aiken, South Carolina at her own Daybreak Farm, a full-service hunter and equitation show stable. She trains riders of all ages and abilities in addition to their four-legged counterparts. Von Bidder holds her SCHJA judge’s card and is applying for her USEF license. In 2010, she completed her USHJA Trainer’s Certification.

Share your horse training stories or ask Stephanie about your horse training challenges by commenting on her articles.

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