Rais­ing the Bar for U.S. Dres­sage

Betsy Ju­liano is cre­at­ing a legacy of suc­cess at Haven­safe Farm by fo­cus­ing on in­tegrity and horse­man­ship.

Dressage Today - - Content - By El­iza Syd­nor Romm • Pho­tos by Su­san J. Stickle

Betsy Ju­liano is cre­at­ing a legacy of suc­cess at Haven­safe Farm by fo­cus­ing on in­tegrity and horse­man­ship.

Ed­i­tor’s Note: Over the next sev­eral months, Dres­sage To­day will look at some of the key con­trib­u­tors to the suc­cess and sup­port of U.S. dres­sage at ev­ery level. These folks in­clude pros­per­ous busi­ness­women and -men, horse breed­ers and over­all pas­sion­ate horsepeo­ple who love dres­sage and are ex­cited to see the sport grow.

In­tel­li­gence, in­tu­ition, plan­ning and team­build­ing made Betsy Ju­liano suc­cess­ful in the cor­po­rate world, and she is bring­ing those same skills to the ta­ble in her dres­sage en­deav­ors. Betsy has a unique abil­ity to look at her goals in dres­sage both for her own horses and rid­ers and for the United States as a whole. She can zoom out her fo­cus and truly see all the pieces that need to come to­gether. She is cer­tainly not the first per­son in the U.S. to pro­vide gen­er­ous spon­sor­ship to rid­ers and USEF pro­grams, but she is do­ing far more than do­nat­ing money. “She is cre­at­ing such an at­mos­phere of ca­ma­raderie,” said Jennifer Baumert, one of the top rid­ers who is spon­sored by Betsy and trains and com­petes her Hanove­rian geld­ing Hand­some (Hochadel/Welt­meyer). “Never in my life have I been com­pletely and to­tally set up for suc­cess—horse, trainer, owner, fa­cil­ity, body­work, feed, care, ev­ery­thing!” says Jennifer. “And oddly, it makes me feel less pres­sured.”

Betsy’s Haven­safe Farm in Wellington, Florida, and Mid­dle­field, Ohio, is aptly named—a safe haven for some of the best dres­sage train­ers in the U.S. to fo­cus on ev­ery as­pect of their train­ing. Ev­ery de­tail of the farm has been care­fully con­sid­ered for the horses’ wel­fare. Hav­ing space to school out­side the arena is a rar­ity in South Florida, but Betsy wanted to en­sure that the horses could be safely rid­den ev­ery­where on the prop­erty with many op­tions for hack­ing and school­ing out of the arena. There is an area of the farm they call “The Serengeti” be­cause of its wide-open spa­ces dot­ted with big trees. It makes a re­lax­ing area for the horses to hack be­fore or af­ter their train­ing or to en­joy on a day off. The at­mos­phere is peace­ful and wel­com­ing, but make no mis­take, the rid­ers at Haven­safe are the best of the best and the com­mit­ment to ex­cel­lence is un­sur­passed.

“Betsy cre­ates a safe haven for an­i­mals and peo­ple,” says in­ter­na­tional com­peti­tor Adri­enne Lyle (also fea­tured on p. 46 in this month’s is­sue). “The farm is very horse-friendly. It al­ways re­minds me of walk­ing into a mag­i­cal jun­gle barn,” she laughs.

“Old trees, lots of shade—just a very safe and pleas­ant feel­ing. You don’t feel like you’re in the mid­dle of Wellington.”

Where It All Be­gan

Betsy’s pas­sion for horses be­gan early in life. She grew up in Cleve­land Heights, Ohio, as one of five chil­dren. Her fa­ther was a den­tist and her mother was a mu­sic teacher and stay-at-home mom. Nei­ther par­ent had even the faintest in­ter­est in horses. But at the age of 7, Betsy started tak­ing a bus to a day camp in Nov­elty, Ohio, called Red Raider Camp. It be­came ex­tremely im­por­tant in Betsy’s life, pro­vid­ing her with an ex­cel­lent ba­sic ed­u­ca­tion in horse­man­ship and rid­ing, as well as in­still­ing in her a love of land con­ser­va­tion. She con­vinced her par­ents to pay for one ses­sion of camp and Betsy saved for as long as it took to pay for a sec­ond ses­sion each sum­mer and for lessons through­out the year.

When Betsy was around 11, a new in­struc­tor ar­rived at Red Raider. He knew dres­sage, and that is where her in­ter­est be­gan. He was very strong in the­ory and as­signed the read­ing of clas­si­cal texts—Stein­brecht, de La Guérinière and Pod­ha­jsky. This in­stilled in her not only a love of rid­ing but an un­der­stand­ing and recog­ni­tion of cor­rect train­ing, with the em­pha­sis on the grad­ual de­vel­op­ment of the horse through kind and clas­si­cal train­ing. Betsy con­tin­ued to go to Red Raider Camp un­til she was 16. She then rode with dres­sage trainer El­iz­a­beth Chan­ning, and when she grad­u­ated from high school, she im­me­di­ately started work­ing.

Betsy be­gan her pro­fes­sional ca­reer as a med­i­cal sec­re­tary at the fa­mous Cleve­land Clinic and soon moved into the le­gal de­part­ment there. The com­bi­na­tion of her work in med­i­cal records and then in law firms led her to even­tu­ally cre­ate her own busi­ness in 1984—Lit­i­ga­tion Man­age­ment, Inc. Betsy has grown this com­pany into an in­dus­try leader, pro­vid­ing cut­ting-edge ser­vices sur­round­ing the man­age­ment of the med­i­cal as­pects of lit­i­ga­tion. Cre­at­ing such a suc­cess­ful com­pany mo­nop­o­lized all her time, and for al­most 20 years Betsy had lit­tle to do with horses. But she lived near the Cha­grin Val­ley Hunt Club, where she of­ten took her work to the barn just so she could be near the sight and smell of horses while slog­ging through moun­tains of pa­per­work.

One day Betsy ran into a friend who owned a horse that was re­hab­bing from an in­jury. The friend asked her if she might be in­ter­ested in help­ing to re­hab him and Betsy jumped at the op­por­tu­nity. This chance en­counter rekin­dled her

love of rid­ing and in 1998 she bought her farm in Mid­dle­field, Ohio. Own­ing her farm also al­lowed her the op­por­tu­nity to fo­cus on an­other one of her pas­sions—land con­ser­va­tion. She has now con­served more than 350 acres there and serves as the chair of the board of the Western Reserve Land Con­ser­vancy.

A year af­ter buy­ing her farm, Betsy bought a 4-year-old Hanove­rian/ Bel­gian Draft geld­ing from a lo­cal trainer who spe­cial­ized in dres­sage. Be­cause the horse was young, she took a few lessons on him be­fore tak­ing him home, and so reignited her fo­cus on dres­sage. She soon col­lected more horses, but none were es­pe­cially tal­ented for the up­per lev­els un­til she pur­chased the ap­pro­pri­ately named Wildest Dream in 2005 from Per­for­mance Sales In­ter­na­tional, a well-known auc­tion and sales barn in Ger­many. She be­gan train­ing with Ge­orge Wil­liams and com­peted this horse through Prix St. Ge­orges. Her first win­ter in Florida was 2007, and she trav­eled to the farm where Ge­orge had clients—Jeanette Sas­soon’s Cen­taur Farm. Betsy en­joyed her time there so much that by the next spring, the farm was hers and the name was changed to Haven­safe. Dur­ing that first win­ter she met the vet­eri­nar­ian, Dr. Rick Mitchell and his wife, Julie, who soon be­came close friends and later in­tro­duced her to Olympian and es­teemed coach Debbie McDonald.

Mak­ing the Right Connections

One of Betsy’s strengths is her abil­ity to sur­round her­self with ex­cel­lent peo­ple— not just ex­cel­lent in their rid­ing and train­ing abil­i­ties, but peo­ple who are full of in­tegrity, work hard ev­ery day for the good of the horse and are com­mit­ted to the life­long learn­ing that dres­sage re­quires. Debbie was an ideal match as a trainer for Betsy’s horses. At the sug­ges­tion of Julie Mitchell, Debbie called Betsy in the fall of 2011 be­cause she was plan­ning to come to Florida for one month and needed the per­fect place to train the eight horses she was bring­ing from her farm in Idaho. “Can you imag­ine be­ing just a schlub and hav­ing Debbie call you?” Betsy laughs. “It was shocking and ex­cit­ing!”

Adri­enne re­mem­bers that first win­ter well. “I had no con­cept of what Florida was like. Betsy gra­ciously opened her farm and was an in­cred­i­ble host. I in­stantly saw that this was where we needed to be. Ev­ery­thing is set up so well in Florida and if you have am­bi­tions to be at the top, this is where you need to be.”

Betsy, Debbie and Adri­enne be­came close friends and the one month at Haven­safe grad­u­ally be­came longer and longer. “I’ve known them for years and re­ally watched them train,” Betsy says. She trusts in their pro­gram 100 per­cent—al­ways pa­tient, never force­ful, al­low­ing each horse the time he needs to reach his fullest po­ten­tial. “They have a very spe­cial abil­ity to not take any­thing per­son­ally in their train­ing. I have never seen any of them ride with anger or frus­tra­tion.”

In 2015, Betsy asked Debbie and Adri­enne to take over the ride on a few of her horses. At that same time, Debbie rec­om­mended Jennifer to work di­rectly with Betsy and her own horses both in Florida and back home for the Ohio sum­mers. “It’s a very tight team with the peo­ple re­lated to Debbie,” Betsy says.

Jennifer be­gan work­ing with Hand­some al­most three years ago, but she mostly taught Betsy on the geld­ing. A lit­tle over a year ago, Betsy handed the reins over to Jennifer com­pletely and this sea­son the pair was al­most un­de­feated at the Small Tour. “He has re­ally won­der­ful gaits and he also has a pres­ence about him,” Jennifer says. “He’s got a big heart, es­pe­cially as he re­ally gets to know his job. It’s such a priv­i­lege to work with a horse like Hand­some.”

As Jennifer and Debbie worked closely with Hand­some, he came out of his shell from an in­tro­verted horse who used to start out ev­ery day as a

“diesel” to the fairly sen­si­tive, con­fi­dent guy he is now. “I al­ways knew the sen­si­tiv­ity was in there,” Jennifer says, “but I couldn’t ac­cess it. Now I can thanks to his fit­ness and build­ing a real part­ner­ship with him.” Betsy, Jennifer and Debbie are work­ing to get Hand­some ready for the Fes­ti­val of Cham­pi­ons in Au­gust.

Adri­enne com­petes Betsy’s Olden­burg mare, Hori­zon, and the Hanove­rian stal­lion Salvino (San­dro Hit/Don­ner­hall). Betsy has owned Hori­zon (Hot­line/Don Schufro/ In­schal­lah AA) since she was pur­chased at the PSI auc­tion in Ger­many as a 3-year-old. “She is re­ally spe­cial,” Adri­enne gushes. “She has an undy­ing work ethic, prob­a­bly the best of any horse I’ve ever rid­den. She gives 110 per­cent ev­ery sin­gle day. She’s be­come even more than what we thought pos­si­ble and she con­tin­ues to sur­prise us.” Adri­enne and Hori­zon won the U.S. In­ter­me­di­aire I Cham­pi­onships last year in Glad­stone, New Jer­sey. They are now com­pet­ing at Grand Prix and were in their first CDI in March.

Salvino was orig­i­nally pur­chased through a syn­di­cate of own­ers set up by Akiko Ya­mazaki, spon­sor of St­ef­fen Peters. Akiko had the idea to put to­gether a group of in­vestors to find a horse that Adri­enne could ride on a fu­ture team for the U.S. “I was to­tally shocked and hum­bled that they se­lected me,” Adri­enne ad­mits. She went four times to Europe to look at horses, not find­ing any­thing that truly fit the bill and seemed wor­thy of the money and trust these own­ers were putting into this syn­di­cate. Fi­nally, through Jochen Arl, Adri­enne found Salvino in Madrid, Spain. The stal­lion and Adri­enne have been im­press­ing

this sea­son in the CDIs and are a top con­tender for the World Eques­trian Games (WEG) team. “He just did his first freestyle at night un­der the lights. He loved it! You never know how they will handle it, so I’m re­ally ex­cited about his con­fi­dence. He is just so com­fort­able in his own skin,” Adri­enne said. “And I think we’re only be­gin­ning to tap into his po­ten­tial. It’s taken a long time to get the strength he needs and we’re just now see­ing his true abil­i­ties.”

Betsy agrees, “He’s got tre­men­dous po­ten­tial.” She re­cently bought out the other own­ers of Salvino to be­come his sole owner. “Be­ing a part of the syn­di­cate was a real dream come true for me,” Betsy says. “I’m so thank­ful to Akiko. But the other three own­ers are all on the West Coast, and they rarely got to see him.”

Adri­enne agrees, “It was a nat­u­ral evo­lu­tion [for Betsy to take over own­er­ship.] And I’m so thrilled she did! She’s very in­volved in the train­ing, which I love. She’s re­ally with you ev­ery step of the way.”

Betsy also sup­ports Laura Graves and Ver­dades, an­other top com­bi­na­tion con­tend­ing for the U.S. WEG team. Her sup­port for Laura evolved grad­u­ally. Laura was bring­ing “Diddy” for lessons with Debbie in 2014. Betsy of­ten watched Laura’s lessons, en­joy­ing the progress she made with Debbie and the in­cred­i­ble part­ner­ship she has with Diddy. She was im­pressed that Laura al­most al­ways sat and watched the other rid­ers. “I got to know her qui­etly,” she re­mem­bers.

Betsy trav­eled to Glad­stone that year, mostly to watch Adri­enne, but was also im­pressed with Laura. She was more im­pressed still at the WEG later that year, see­ing Laura handle all the stress and or­ga­ni­za­tion with grace and re­silience and fin­ish­ing an in­cred­i­ble fourth as a rel­a­tive un­known on the in­ter­na­tional scene. That next sum­mer, Betsy spent even more time with Laura at Debbie’s farm in Idaho. “I re­ally saw what a strug­gle it is for pro­fes­sional rid­ers,” said Betsy. “If they’re not rid­ing and train­ing oth­ers, they have no in­come. I watched Laura make hard de­ci­sions and I de­cided I was in a po­si­tion to help.”

Laura is an­other rider whom Betsy is mo­ti­vated to help based on her un­der­ly­ing in­tegrity and de­ter­mi­na­tion to do the very best she can in this sport while al­ways do­ing the very best for her horse. “I’ve had the joy of watch­ing some­one so de­serv­ing ac­com­plish so many of her dreams,” Betsy said.

Laura is end­lessly grate­ful to Betsy. “If we are look­ing to­ward things like in­di­vid­ual medals and team medals,” said Laura, “and we have the op­por­tu­nity to put Amer­i­can rid­ers on the podium, I want to be a part of mak­ing that hap­pen. Betsy wants to be a part of mak­ing that hap­pen, too. I am so im­pressed with her gen­eros­ity not just for me, but for the sport.”

A Strong Fu­ture

The com­mit­ment Betsy is mak­ing to the sport of dres­sage goes be­yond her home turf. She is the sec­re­tary of the USET Foun­da­tion and a pri­mary spon­sor of the de­vel­op­ment pro­grams of­fered for top rid­ers through USEF. She is pro­vid­ing fund­ing for Andy Thomas, the high per­for­mance hu­man sci­ence and sports medicine ad­vi­sor to the United States Eques­trian Teams. Andy works not only with the dres­sage rid­ers, but also even­ters, show jumpers and Para rid­ers. Fi­nally, the rid­ers are get­ting some of the same phys­i­cal ther­apy and body­work that their horses have long en­joyed.

While Betsy may seem like a fairy god­mother for these rid­ers, she of­fers much more than that through her ad­vice along with her fi­nan­cial sup­port. Betsy is pro­vid­ing help to

Adri­enne Lyle on Hori­zon and Jennifer Baumert on Hand­some spend win­ters at Haven­safe Farm in Wellington, Florida.


Adri­enne and Hori­zon won the 2017 U.S. In­ter­me­di­aire I Cham­pi­onships in Glad­stone, New Jer­sey. They are now com­pet­ing suc­cess­fully at Grand Prix.

Jennifer started work­ing with Betsy’s Hanove­rian geld­ing, Hand­some, three years ago. A lit­tle over a year ago, Betsy handed the reins over to Jennifer com­pletely and this sea­son the pair was al­most un­de­feated at the Small Tour. Cur­rently, Jennifer is...

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