Touch n GO Farm

Whitesburg Georgia

Irma Hotz PDF Print E-mail
Irma 1.jpgLate in 1985 I purchased a horse that had genuine FEI dressage potential. Monarch was a former Young Rider mount in Holland and he had been schooled through the fourth level movements. I realized that I finally had a trained horse that could help me understand upper level riding. All I needed in addition to Monarch was an instructor that would show me the correct training path. The trainers I had worked with in the past were very capable but were also located several hours away from my business. At a dressage show I spoke with Dr. Edgar Hotz about my situation and asked about coming to him for instruction. He agreed that consistent, capable training was necessary to achieve success in the FEI show ring. The primary obstacle was his business and judging schedule. Dr. Hotz suggested that I speak to his wife Irma. He explained that she was an excellent rider and trainer who, on occasion, would take on a student. I had never met Mrs. Hotz but I followed his advice and gave her a call.

Our first phone conversation left me quite puzzled. After a brief introduction Mrs. Hotz said I could come to her farm for an interview. I had never heard of someone having to interview to become a student! Nevertheless, I made my way to Lebannon, New Jersey to the Hotz's Dogwood Farm for my scheduled appointment. Within the first few minutes of our discussion Irma made it clear that she didn't particularly like teaching, didn't like competitive dressage and had an inflexible schedule that every student had to work around. Then she asked me the fateful question, "why should I accept you as a student?" My response was simple and honest, "because I finally have a dressage horse I can learn from." That turned out to be the correct answer so Irma scheduled my first lesson.

Irma 2.jpgThroughout 1986 Irma analyzed my strengths and weaknesses. She liked Monarch but quickly saw the holes in his training too. While Irma might not enjoy the idea of teaching as a profession, she is a wealth of information and has the ability to communicate it. My enthusiasm for dressage blossomed as she took the time to explain the classical training methods she had studied in Germany. Slowly the concepts of correct schooling began to crystallize and became evident in Monarch's and my progress.

I soon began competing at the largest shows on the Northeast dressage circuit. As we achieved success in the show ring my ambitions as a competition rider grew as well. I always had a fierce competitive spirit and Monarch was allowing me to realize goals set years before. It was during the first few months of training with Irma that she began to have a positive effect on more than just my riding. Her frequent reminder, "dressage is an art so please treat it as such," began to sink in. It was Irma who kept my competition riding in perspective and helped me maintain a balance in my approach to training.

As frequently happens, Irma and I became more than just instructor and student over the next eight years. Monarch was the first of several horses I took to her for a trusted opinion and help with training. Hot Legs, Pioneer and Anmut all benefited from her lessons. Later, she allowed me to help break a three-year-old Hanoverian and watch her train her own horses. Irma's riding was a vision of quiet elegance. She was patient with her horses and wasn't satisfied with anything less than perfection. Her distaste for show riding had developed in Germany and she had no desire to compete. Irma trained and rode simply because she loved it. Nor did she ride to seek approval of anyone else, especially a judge. She rode for herself.

Looking back with a more experienced hindsight, I now realize that Irma Hotz had some of the most correct and beautiful Grand Prix horses I have ever seen. Without her influence there is no telling what direction my dressage riding may have taken. I am indebted to Irma for many things but her constant reminders that riding is an art and not just a sport has tempered my training forever. When she realized my dedication and desire to learn, Irma affected my life again when she introduced me to a riding master she held in high regard, Karl Mikolka. Those two individuals opened the doors to the world of traditional horsemanship that I pursue with a passion to this day. My only regret is that more riders haven't had the opportunity to study with Irma and she will never receive the credit she richly deserves.

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