Susanne Manz, Manz Dressage Horses
Twin Cities area, Minnesota
Two years ago, I retired from corporate life and embarked on a new journey. I set out to explore one of my life-long passions: breeding and raising warmblood dressage horses. I was so excited. Dressage had always been a passion and now I finally had time to devote to deepening my knowledge! I sought out every opportunity to read, learn, visit, talk to, and explore that I could find. I did quite a bit of traveling, in Europe and the US, to meet other people, share experiences, see facilities, and understand the rich history of breeding warmblood dressage horses. And the horses… I got to see some amazing horses! It is an on-going journey. I’ve learned so much and realize how much more I have to learn. In a series of blogs for USSHBA, I will share some of my experiences. And I hope to hear back from you regarding your experiences and how they shaped your breeding program. It is through the sharing of knowledge and experience, that US Breeders can become more successful in our journey of providing the horse of choice to US owners, riders, competitors, spectators, and friends.
Joining USSHBA has been a rewarding experience for me and has opened up many learning opportunities. In March of this year, I attended the first USSHBA Breeder’s Course at Hilltop Farm in Maryland. It was a great event! The featured speaker was Christian Schacht, author of the book Sport Horse Conformation. Of course, I had already read the book. But, hearing Dr. Schacht’s lecture and stories in person made things so much more real. More importantly, we were able to put our new found knowledge to work by actually evaluating some real horses. Dr. Schacht encouraged us all to evaluate the horses and express our opinions. Verbalizing my opinion made me be more thoughtful, organized, and methodical about my approach to evaluating horses. After seeing the horses in hand we were able to see them again under saddle. It was a great opportunity to link our conformational analysis to movement and performance.
I also really enjoyed hearing form two veterinarians from Select Breeders Services. Dr. Paul Loomis talked about stallion management and Dr. Dave Scofield talked about mare management. They both brought so much knowledge, passion, and enthusiasm to their topics. Dr. Loomis and Dr. Scofield both addressed current technical information but also shared some very thoughts about quality control aspects of using frozen semen. My only regret was that I hadn’t heard this a year or two earlier.
We also had sessions on insurance and nutrition. But, for me, the best part of the experience was meeting some fellow breeders and getting to know them better. A seminar like this provides a unique opportunity to meet and network with others who share the same passion. And, of course, Hilltop Farm is such a professional and beautiful facility. The staff at Hilltop were very generous in sharing their facility, their knowledge, and allowing us to see their beautiful horses!
USSHBA has a mission to support US Breeders through education, recognition and outreach. The Breeder’s Course was a great forum to bring forth issues of concern and opportunity. I know that it really helped this US Breeder of warmblood dressage horses along my journey. Over the next few months, I’ll share more experiences and more details.
A collaborative effort produced by the USSHBA Education Committee, USSHBA members, and our partners.