Yvonne Barteau, author of THE DRESSAGE HORSE MANIFESTO, is a career horsewoman. And while perhaps that doesn’t make her unusual or particularly different from the other authors we have featured in TSB’s “Horseworld by the Hour” blog series, her varied experiences certainly do. She began as a groom, and later, a trainer, at racetracks along the East Coast, before becoming a horsewoman who specialized in restarting “problem horses.” Eventually, she entered the equine theater business, spending over five years as the Director of Entertainment Operations, Principle Trainer, and Feature Performer at the Arabian Nights Dinner Theater in Orlando, Florida. Since then she has devoted herself to dressage and teaching students, training more than ten horses to the Grand Prix level and coaching many riders to year-end and Regional Championships. And she and her husband Kim continue to entertain audiences around the globe with stunning liberty work and theater shows featuring a variety of breeds and disciplines.
So what is the typical day in Yvonne’s life like?
“My life takes on different shapes throughout the year, depending on either the competition or exhibition dates we have on the calendar,” she says. “I have quite a few things I am preparing for now that occupy my hours.”
Here’s a glimpse behind the curtain at what it’s like to walk 24 hours in Yvonne Barteau’s boots.
5:00 a.m. I’m usually up between 4:30 and 5:00 a.m. The good old days of the racetrack have stuck with me a long time. I’ll have one cup of coffee and a couple of cookies for breakfast and let my two dogs, Gimme and Weezer (one a Jack Russell and the other a Jack-Corgi mix) out in the yard to play. If my horse training abilities were judged on how well those two rascals are trained, I would likely go hungry. They kind of do what they want for most of their day and demand something from me every time they see me.
Early morning is my writing and business time, and I try to get done with it by sixish. I then get ready and head down to the barn before my crew gets there. I always visit my good buddy Ray first. He is the Holsteiner stallion I trained to Grand Prix and would let live in the house with me if I could! Sergio our barn manager is usually feeding at this time. Right now I am preparing Indy, my little Thoroughbred, for the Retired Racehorse Thoroughbred Makeover Challenge, so I often get him out and let him have his breakfast “picnic style,” lying down in the arena or the field.
7:00 a.m. My crew arrives and we talk about the day’s schedules, lessons, and horses to work, deciding who will work what. This is also “meeting time” if we have an upcoming exhibition we are preparing for. Next on our schedule is the Denver Stock Show in January, and we are deciding how we will bring The Sound of Music and Chicago, to life, on horseback. I often put a first ride on Indy about this time so he can then go out for turnout before lunch.
8:00 a.m. Usually Papi, the big 17-hand, 11-year-old Andalusion stallion who is converting from theater work to the dressage arena just this season and starting at the PSG level, gets a ride around now. We have many connection issues and lots of walk work to address, so I may spend over an hour on him, with over half of it at the walk.
9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. I may ride sale horses or teach my daughter Hudi during this time. I also have one regular Adult Amateur at 11:30 who is intent (and succeeding) in moving her horse up the levels with me only helping from the ground. She is fun and motivating to work with.
12:15 p.m. I usually eat something while I catch up on computer work, which right now is movie editing. Our documentary on the making of an Equine Theater horse, called Into the Spotlight, is going to be in the Equus Film Festival in NYC and a few others this fall. It seems there is always “just one more edit” to do.
1:00- 3:00 p.m. I have regular lessons to give here during this time, as well, and horses I ride or teach on that are in my five-day-a-week program.
3:00-5:00 p.m. This is when the working students and apprentice trainers get their lessons, unless I have people who have shipped in for help. Right now, I usually get Indy out one more time to work on some Liberty or trick work before calling it a day with him. Project and sale horses are videoed if needed at this time and often it is more toward 7:00 p.m. before we all straggle up to the house.
8:00 p.m. It is time for dinner, and I am the luckiest person in the world to have Kim, my husband, decide each day to make all of us a fabulous meal. We eat amazing and inventive meals each evening and many who have worked for us say the food and the home-cooked meals, are as much, or more, of an incentive, than the riding and training help they get!
Unless we have other guests over, after dinner we often watch a movie—or for me, part of one!
9-9:30 p.m. I am in bed because I love a good night’s sleep.
You can read more about Yvonne Barteau and her dressage training philosophy in THE DRESSAGE HORSE MANIFESTO (which, by the way, is written from the horse’s point of view!), available at the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.
Be sure to read the other installments in the TSB “Horseworld by the Hour” blog series:
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