Members who have attended a KWPN-NA Annual Meeting may not realize that the person behind the scenes who devotes an enormous amount of energy to make sure this yearly event comes to fruition is our May Member of the Month, Sandy Harper. Since retiring from a career as an electrical engineer and program manager three years ago, Sandy has devoted countless hours to the KWPN-NA where she has served on the Members Committee, Finance Committee, Education Committee, YKWPN-NA, the Board of Directors (where she currently serves as Treasurer), and accepted the daunting task of chairing the Annual Meeting Committee for four years. When not volunteering for the KWPN-NA, she still finds time to run her own program and event management consulting company AirPegasus Innovations, LLC, and is an accomplished competitor in dressage. Let’s find out more about Sandy:
KWPN-NA: Did you grow up with horses?
No, unfortunately – I had the passion but my parents felt horses were too expensive (of course they were correct there!) and too dangerous (not always!). As soon as I was 19 years old, I bought my own horse, a three-year-old (or so the man said) black mare I found in a holding pen in Riverside, Cal. I trained her and rode her many miles on Westminster/Fountain Valley city streets. I didn’t have any type of riding lessons until I was in my late 20’s - I just made it up as I went along! I also owned Arabians and rode Western in the beginning.
KWPN-NA: You are an accomplished equestrian in dressage. Tell us a little more about that.
After attending the 1984 Olympics, I was smitten with dressage so started taking lessons and began to show my Arabian mare. I soon purchased a Dutch mare and then a Trakehner mare, and started moving up the levels and finding success. Now I currently ride and compete Freya DG (Devon Heir x Sir Sinclair) in Fourth Level/Prix St. Georges, and during the competition season here on the West Coast I compete pretty much every month. I’ve been known to trailer to many out of the way places in search of qualifying scores to go the year-end “party”, which for us is the California Dressage Society Annual Championship show. Along the way I’ve gotten my USDF Bronze, Silver, and Gold Medals, as well as the CDS Ruby, Sapphire, and Diamond Medals.
KWPN-NA: How did you get involved with Dutch horses, and what is your favorite thing about the breed?
I enjoyed going to the DG Bar Ranch Dressage Shows every year and loved to look at the babies in the fields. I eventually purchased two Ferro mares from Willy Arts, one as a yearling, Ultima DG, and the other a four-year-old, Rockette DG. Although I don’t have my own farm, I was able to begin breeding Ultima DG and was able to keep her and her offspring up in the fields of DG Bar. Ultima produced three colts and two fillies and enabled me to develop as a breeder of Dutch horses. What I love the most about the Dutch breed is their “go” and their intelligence.
KWPN-NA: Who was/is your favorite Dutch horse?
To answer this question based on all Dutch horses, I would have to say that my favorite Dutch horse is Ferro. I met him once on a visit to Holland, and he wasn’t very tall, but he definitely had a presence! And he has positively influenced the Dutch breed through the years. In the context of my own Dutch horses, Rockette DG (Ferro x Pantheon) was truly special to me as she and I had a super relationship which took us from Training level all the way to Grand Prix. Rockette definitely has the “go” button and really taught me the art of dressage. Rockette is enjoying her life now up with Gina Ruediger in Oregon. My other favorite is Garein (Ulft x Sultan) who I purchased from David Wightman. Garein was the most fun horse to ride and the most intelligent, and we had a super symbiotic relationship. But at this moment my favorite is Freya DG, as we are moving up the levels together and she is the most affectionate horse I’ve ever owned – and that is saying something since I buy them based on that feeling.
KWPN-NA: You have been instrumental in organizing the AGM in recent years. Tell us a little bit about that and why you do it.
I’ve been the Annual Meeting (AGM) Committee Chair for meetings – 2014, 2015, 2017, and 2018 – and I’m currently helping on the 2019 AGM committee to go to Holland. Yes, it is a lot of work that actually continues for the whole year in preparation. Plus due to the fluidity of trying to coordinate speakers and excursions, the agenda is always subject to change at a moment’s notice – or no notice at all! I guess because of my background in program and event management, I am up to the challenge and definitely enjoy the results.
KWPN-NA: Is there anything that people don’t really know about you or would be surprised to know?
In my long adult career in horse ownership and without my own farm to keep them, I’ve owned a total of 39 horses – 26 of those were Dutch Warmbloods. And that doesn’t include the 10 or so that I’ve owned “vicariously” up at DG Bar!