A note from Bettina Drummond to the guests and participants at the APAHA fundraiser:
“My friends and fellow participants –
What a pleasure to be able to come in front of such a friendly interest and join you all in this sharing. Teaching is vocational when it is done with faith and conviction. Not something to be tamed by the need to earn a living, nor the need to promote one’s riding!
It took many years for me to understand, practice and love guiding the human part to this endeavor called lightness… But without lightness of spirit and in one’s heart, how can there be truth? And without truth, that fundamental feeling of rightness, how can we communicate clearly to such a prescient and sensitive being as a Horse?
Sunday was a great privilege for me; to be able to come to a beautiful venue and be amongst riders in the spirit of joint purpose and great camaraderie brought me back to my beginnings in Portugal.
I want to thank the organizers and the APAHA board members who put in all the effort to anchor this down, right down to Sharon and Kathy working the Barn as a gift to our horses! Their support staff Jessica and Ian too, the barbecue assist volunteers headed by Susan and the set up and clean up helpers that make the event so comfortable for our guests!
Thank you also to our guest rider Allison Kavey for lending her love of her mares and their show polish to the event and Andrea Woodner for her fairy dust that seems to bring artists together magically!
A special thank you to the teachers and the co-op owners who agreed to leave their fear of failure in the woods and came into the indoor open to the experience! I may not understand fear of falling off of a horse but I so get fear of letting my teacher down (we do tie ourselves in knots because all teachers just want you to go smoothly through the learning process, not pile on performance anxiety or requirements of perfection!)
Thank you to the younger APAHA recipients who had very little prep time and listened so well to the teachings that their riding let their horses show off both their moves and their characters.
Thank you to the marvelous accompaniment from a great trio! What a treat to ride Mimi and Macho for their last public appearance as solo performers to sensitive interpretation of my favorite pieces. To collaborate with fellow artists while communicating with our Equine partners…. well, it just does not get better than that!
Thank you to our guests and in particular Kate who gave me a reason to pull myself together and trot my riding back out in public again …. because the outside of a Horse IS good for the inside of man.
Thank you to the donors who have so generously given to our APAHA cause, especially the support of Bon Accord Lusitanos. hank you for the care on the golden hooves to Kyle Galden! And for excellent vet support from Dr. Krista Zahn and the generosity of Dr. and Mrs. Reineck who supplied the Adequan and previcox! And thank you Boschee Farm for another stellar year of our web communication!
And finally, thank you to the entire cavalry!
Mimi, the diva
Macho, the true blue
Amado, the enthusiast and Elizabeth the curious
Sonrisa, the shy and Carol the dedicated
Je suis, the ingénue and Lynndee the determined
Errol, the responsible and Kris the eager
Goldmein, the charming and kathleen the studious
Boleo, the clever and Brooke the effervescent
Legolas, the elegant and Amanda the creative
Quilate, the ever watchful and Lois the listener
(Photo below: Mimi and the musicians — Christine Gummere, Mary Rowell and Reina Murooka.)
Photos, videos and reactions to the morning session during the APAHA Fundraiser:
Madeleine Debure nicely summed up the thoughts of many who witnessed the art created by APAHA riders at the fundraiser:
“On dit d’un homme de cheval qu’il a les aides fines, lorsque les mouvements sont peu apparents, qu’il aide son cheval avec science, avec aisance, et avec grâce, ce qu’on appelle aussi, Aides secrètes.”
“For a classical thirsty soul, it is like drinking spring water straight from the source. Watching Bettina Drummond ride is always so reassuring and comforting – that it still exists. To ride with respect, with sensitivity and with platonic love for the Horse. There is the common riding world where we attempt every day to pursue some crazy idea of beauty, flow and balance, and here we can see a glimpse of the clear open sky.
Last Sunday at the APAHA fundraiser event at Windhorse International farm in Bethlehem, CT, the audience could witness moments of grace created by Bettina and her riders. The Écuyère mastered to put up a show mixing tableaux to live baroque music connected by interludes of Q&A between the public and the performers.
APAHA (Association for the Promotion of the Art of Horsemanship in America) has the goal to promote classical riding and educate trainers around the US by providing teaching opportunities on schoolmasters. Some of the beneficiaries of that program were eloquent proof of its success, like Elizabeth David. After her ride, she introduced herself as a former Western rider with some knowledge of basic dressage, who had just converted to “that level of collection” a year ago through Bettina Drummond and was demonstrating skillful flying changes and lateral work on one of the APAHA loaner horses.
Throughout the day, Bettina was alternating between performing on her horses and playing the part of the Maître de Manège and assisting her pupils through various themes, many of which revolved around the work on the square from La Guérinière. The riders were all displaying minimal aids, gentle touch with the legs and spurs – that Bettina would always make more and more quiet. It was like visiting the studio of a Renaissance master and all the aspiring painters – “a little more flow” here, “a softer brush with the spur” there, “the left hip of the rider straighter” another time – and the piece would arise. Cent fois sur le métier, remettre son ouvrage.
Through her family history, and through her riding upbringing, Bettina Drummond is one of the very few carrying and exemplifying a centuries old tradition of French classical riding. She is a delight every time she shares that part of the French psyche that enabled the possibility of the Manège Royal – a part of the world history where the Horse was a worshiped jewel and the partner of a bottomless aesthetical pursuit. Always ride like the King is watching and contain the power of your horse like the Queen is nearby.” Madeleine
Kris Jennette and Errol (Photo by Susan Goldfischer)
Kathleen Reineck and Goldmein:
“Goldmein and I thank you Bettina for putting us in a situation where we could develop our partnership and try to enjoy the beauty of my horse and my attempts to find harmony and balance in a musical performance. It was an amazing day filled with camaraderie and shared anxiety, anticipation, and respect for these wonderful animals. That you were able to work with all our different personalities and horses, and bring out our performances is a tribute to your teaching and training skills. The day ended for me with thoughts and inspiration for the future. You are a true and eloquent horsewoman, and the harmony and lightness you displayed with Mimi and Macho inspires all who witness your riding.” Kathleen
Lynndee Kemmet and Je Suis:
“Thank you to everyone, and especially Bettina, for making this event happen. It reminded us all of the true meaning of horsemanship — unity of two beings, one human, one equine. Learning to dance together helped Je Suis and I come to understand our capacity for creating art through our united effort. More importantly, riding movements to music within the square made it much more clear the true purpose of the many exercises we have practiced — how those exercises, when performed with tempo and flow, bring about the balance and lightness that we, as riders, seek. In America, APAHA is the only organization truly dedicated to providing riders with the educational opportunities they need to “feel” what equestrian art is really about. ” Lynndee
Bettina Drummond and “Mimi” ended the morning session with a musical improv to live music:
I can’t put into appropriate words a description of how watching you ride your magical creatures makes me feel. I consider myself so extremely lucky to be a student of yours. To have the experience of the lightness and the seemingly effortless flow that you demonstrate when riding just leaves me in awe. You certainly have a superhuman connection with your horses. You are certainly are on a different plane in the universe with your equine partners!” Janice Perry