This month, Trafalgar Square Books caught up with Susanne von Dietze, author of the bestselling BALANCE IN MOVEMENT and the new book RIDER & HORSE BACK TO BACK, and asked her what it was like juggling horses and family, among other things!
TSB: You manage to have an active teaching schedule while competing a Grand Prix dressage horse and raising three children. I’m certain many riding mothers with competitive ambitions wonder where you find the time to do it all, and if you have any advice for making a riding career work while raising a family?
SvD: I ask myself the same question sometimes! Well, one big part of my career is my husband, who always backs me up and is a wonderful father—living on a Kibbuz helps, as all the facilities for the kids (school, tennis, swimming pool, basketball courts…) are within walking distance. And, when I was pregnant with my third son, I turned my horse into a schoolmaster for a good friend. My mare taught her dressage, from elementary level all the way up to becoming National Champion in Israel at Intermediaire Level, while I rode as much as my time allowed in the training.
TSB: What are your personal riding goals for 2011 and beyond?
SvD: My personal riding goal is that when I get off a horse, the horse is glad that I rode him! This season I will compete on a Dutch stallion that is a champion show jumper in Israel, and the owner now wants to see how far he can get in dressage, there are some nice young horses that I am helping along…And with the children growing up, I hope that one day I will find the time to bring a horse for myself over from Germany again!
TSB: If you were trapped on a desert island with a horse and a book, what breed of horse would it be and which book would you choose?
SvD: I would probably choose a Thoroughbred, even though some coldblooded Shire horse or the like would make more sense to work the “fields” (on the island)…And I have too many good books to choose.
TSB: What’s in your refrigerator at all times?
SvD: Ice cream!
TSB: What is your idea of perfect happiness?
SvD: I am living pretty close to it!
TSB: Tell us about the first time you remember sitting on a horse.
SvD: I can´t! I learned riding before walking. We didn’t own a car, but a horse, and my place was always in front of my dad. I remember I had a little pillow that was pulled through the pommel strap to make it more comfortable, and it always came along. And Dad once told me: “Remember—on the horse you are a meter closer to heaven!”
TSB: Tell us about the first time you remember falling off a horse.
SvD: It was my first attempt to jump an upright cavalletti, and I did not fall at the jump, but when I proudly turned around after the jump to look and see what it was I could now do! I fell off in the corner after the jump, when the horse turned while I went straight on! I learned not to look back at jumps in that lesson!
TSB: What is the quality you most like in a friend?
SvD: Trust and reliability.
TSB: What is the quality you most like in a horse?
SvD: Enjoying learning together with me and forgiving my mistakes!
TSB: If you could do one thing on horseback that you haven’t yet done, what would it be?
SvD: Morning training on a racecourse.
TSB: What is your idea of the perfect meal?
SvD: Not having to cook it!
TSB: What is your idea of the perfect vacation?
SvD: We did a family bicycle tour through Poland this spring, and that came pretty close to it!
TSB: If you could have a conversation with one famous person, alive or dead, who would it be?
SvD: My mother. She always could put me back on my feet, and knew just what to ask. She died this May and is missed dearly.
TSB: What is your motto?