Dressage at FarmHill Equestrian Center, LLC

At FarmHill, we pride ourselves in our collaborative lesson and training program.  We offer the best of instruction and training in the various disciplines of equitation, and all of our instructors work together enthusiastically, enabling you and your horse to achieve your best possible partnership in whatever equestrian disciplines you enjoy.

Suzan Davis Atkinson Dressage at FarmHill

Winner of the 2016 Oregon Dressage Society Instructor of the Year Award!

Suzan Davis Atkinson

Jana Peterson Photography

FarmHill is thrilled to offer Suzan Davis Atkinson as the lead trainer of our dressage program.  Certified by the BHSI at the FEI level of Dressage — the highest level of our sport — Suzan is a master trainer of dressage and equine development, including the invaluable skill of long-lining.  With over 35 years of professional experience in the teaching and training of horses and riders at all levels, Suzan is a Grand Prix rider/trainer who has the unique ability to create a harmonious working partnership between her students and their horses. She reads the horse, listens to the rider, and quickly assesses what is needed.  Her understanding of both equine and human biomechanics results in suppleness, throughness, and, ultimately, deep relaxation and expressive beauty in every horse.  Suzan is also a true master in the art of long lining and all related in-hand techniques, employing these to produce excellent dressage movement all the way to the training of piaffe and passage.  Everyone who has participated in Suzan’s training program has quickly come to appreciate how her integrative approach can offer enormous benefit to every rider and every horse, regardless of breed, history, equestrian discipline, or level of expertise.  Focusing on the essential elements of equine development — relaxation, impulsion, straightness, collection, rhythm, and collection — Suzan has helped us reach, with swiftness and joy, a remarkable level of achievement with all of our horses.

Suzan's Training Philosophy

Susan long-lining

Jana Peterson Photography

In every aspect of her work, Suzan focuses on allowing, rather than forcing. If something in a horse or rider isn’t moving in a forward and fluid way, Suzan teaches us to both to see (on the long lines) and feel (under saddle) where and how the movement is being impeded. Once the impediments to fluid movement are identified, Suzan teaches us to find the specific forms of exercise, both on the lines and under saddle, that allow the horse and its rider to move with balance, energy, and ease.

Suzan has taught us that long-lining is crucial in this approach to training, because it enables us to see the difference between balance and imbalance in our horses’ movements. That way, we can more easily identify what kind of exercises will be effective in restoring balance and fluidity to our horses. In addition, long-lining allows a horse to move in this balanced way, which is often a new way of going for the horse, without the burden of a rider on its back during the initial period of adjustment and conditioning.

Suzan teaching a lesson under saddle

Jana Peterson Photography

Once Suzan has taught us how to use our long-lining aids to achieve balance and forward fluidity in our horses, she has shown us that it is relatively easy to translate those aids into their counterparts in the saddle — long lines translating to hands, and the combination of voice and lunge-whip translating to seat and legs.

We have found that the combination of seeing these changes on the ground, and feeling these improvements under the saddle, has greatly accelerated and improved the progress that we and our horses have made. Best of all, Suzan’s approach allows us and our horses to progress with a deep sense of allowing, rather than resorting to the techniques of force that have become so common in many forms of equestrian training.

Along with her students and horses, Suzan has won Regional, National, and World Championships in dressage, hunter/jumpers, and eventing, as well as numerous USDF All Breeds Championships. Suzan herself brings to us 25 years of experience as a teacher, trainer, and rider, including her national and international instruction from:

We are thrilled to have the honor of offering the training program of Suzan Davis Atkinson at FarmHill. If you would like to participate in or audit a lesson with Suzan, please contact us here.

Rebecca Buehler – Combined Training and Equine Care

Rebecca Buehler

Jana Peterson Photography

FarmHill is honored and delighted to count Rebecca Buehler as a core member of our training team.  Rebecca brings to us a rare combination of dressage and jump experience that is perfectly suited to FarmHill’s integrated training program.  She is currently riding and training the FarmHill horses whose owners would like to improve their dressage training and maintain their dressage-level conditioning.  She is also providing dressage lessons that are congruent with the training program endorsed by our lead dressage trainer, Susan Davis Atkinson.

In addition, Rebecca provides a variety of equine care to the FarmHill horses, including medicating, leg-wrapping, hand-walking, clipping and bathing, so that their owners have more time for riding and pampering their horses.

Rebecca earned her stripes working at several important training barns, including Brooke Voldbaek’s dressage program at Sonnenberg Farm,  Anna Collier’s eventing program at Vossenberg Farm, and the Yorkshire Riding Centre in Harrogate, England. Her increased focus on dressage was recently rewarded by the USDF with a bronze medal and she will be participating in the upcoming USDF Instructor/Trainer Program.

Rebecca on Bear at Devonwood

Photo by Suzan Davis Atkinson

After years of training young horses in the skills of dressage and jumping, Rebecca decided to acquire a horse with the potential to achieve great success in upper level dressage.  Her new partner, Stretch, is an 18h 2” Dutch warmblood gelding who is the perfect match for Rebecca…which is the opinion of everyone who has seen them together, including the dressage judges.  In their very first show ride, Rebecca and Stretch earned a First Level blue with a score of 68%!  Rebecca is currently experiencing great success with Stretch at Third Level, and we can hardly wait to see how far they will go!

Rebecca on Stretch

Photo by Suzan Davis Atkinson

Rebecca is an outstanding teacher and horsewoman, as well as a superb rider and trainer of horses.  Having achieved both her ‘A’ rating from the U.S. Pony Club and her Stage 3 Exam in the British Horse Society, Rebecca is currently a regional instructor with the U.S. Pony Club (Oregon Region), and she also brings us the benefit of her experience working as an equine veterinary assistant with one of our favorite FarmHill vets.

Rebecca offers FarmHill the benefits of her combined skills as a dressage and jump trainer and teacher, and her expertise in all aspects of equine care.  We consider ourselves extremely fortunate to have Rebecca as a member of our FarmHill training team!   Contact Rebecca directly to arrange for her to train, exercise, or provide other care for your horse at FarmHill or for dressage lessons that are congruent with Suzan's training program. Read more about Rebecca in this article, originally published in The Chronicle of the Horse (September 22, 2014) and this article, originally published in Flying Changes magazine (January 2015).

In Memoriam: Harriet Hauser (1952-2014)

It was with great sadness that we bid farewell to our beloved dressage trainer, Harriet Hauser, who passed away unexpectedly in her sleep on November 18, 2014.  Harriet’s compassionate and effective approach was based on her decades of training under dressage luminaries such as Dietrich von Hopffgarten, Mary Judkins, Peter DeCosemo, Bettina Drummond, Pierre Cousyn, Nicola Stauder, Dr. Gerd Heuschmann and Suzan Davis Atkinson.  Our ongoing programs of dressage and equine care still very much reflect Harriet’s training philosophy, which she expressed in everything she said and did, and which are we proud to quote here:

Harriet Hauser

“In terms of training horses, I value calmness above all, and with that, a willingness to take however much time it takes, even if it means postponing your own agenda for the training. And then you must convince your horse, with equal amounts of firmness and kindness that /he can move forward without restriction.  In addition to the wonderful trainers I’ve had a chance to learn from, I have to say that the horses I’ve ridden have taught me my most important lessons – compassion, patience, and kindness.  With regard to teaching dressage to riders, I believe that first and foremost, I must be calm and positive.  I focus on the points of progress in the rider and horse, in order to build their confidence and competence, individually and as a team.  Beyond that, I am always looking for new ways to describe what I’ve learned, because an image that works for me may not work for a given student.  In that sense, I often find that my students are my best teachers.  Overall, I’d say that what I love most about dressage is the partnership that we develop with our horses when we’re willing to listen to what they have to tell us.”

Read more about Harriet in this article originally published by Flying Changes magazine (May 2008).

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