Rider Connect from Bit of Britain: Danielle Vitosh

Danielle Vitosh and Alec

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Rider Connect from Bit of Britain: Danielle Vitosh

Today’s featured rider is Danielle Vitosh, a Grand Prix dressage rider and eventer.

If you would like to be featured in Rider Connect, email me.

 

Get to know Danielle
I am a 28-year-old professional based in Leland and Plainfield, Illinois. I operate Dressage Elegance by Vitosh, which I started in 2014. I started riding when I was seven at a local hunter and jumper barn. At the time I was a competitive dancer, but some of my friends were taking lessons, so I joined in. Eventually I choose the horses over dance. I am now a Grand Prix dressage rider and have competed up to Training level Eventing. My short-term goal is to continue to build my business and gain respect and acknowledgement on the international circuit. My big dream is to represent the US team in the Olympics in dressage.

Danielle’s horse power
I am very blessed to have quite the line up of horses currently. Sandro Simian is my semi-retired Grand Prix dressage horse. She is an 18-year-old Oldenburg mare by Sandro Hit, who also had a successful hunter career. She took me from 4th level to the Grand Prix and opened up many doors for me. She is my Queen Bee and expects to be treated as such. Visible Force is my 22 (yes, you read that right) Training level event horse. We have been together for 18 years and have full circle grown up together. He is one of the most athletic, bright, powerful jumpers I have ever sat on. A packer, however, he is not, for he is the quickest horse to make you an honest rider to the fence. He is currently bringing a young rider up the ranks with no sight of slowing down. My baby horses are a 5-year-old Hanoverian mare named Quatessa HW by Quaterback, and Grand Jete, a 4-year-old KWPN mare by Emeici. Quatessa is my Hemi mare and is one to watch out for on the international dressage scene. Grand Jete is my Ferrari mare and is one of the most generally intelligent horses I’ve ever met.

Danielle & Tessa

Training
I’ve never had an easy horse as I moved up the ranks. I wouldn’t say I always had “problem” horses, but I had horses that all required their own finesse. Selling the mount I had wasn’t always an option, so I studied very quickly on how to bring out the best in that particular horse. My training program is completely based around the theory of the horse’s happiness comes first and foremost. I personally find I get the most out of my horses when I constantly ask them how they are feeling and constantly reevaluate if their program is working best for them. I believe firmly in cross training for every horse. I make my dressage horses jump and my jump horses dressage on the level I expect my straight dressage horses to work. Every horse in my program goes hacking and galloping as long as they enjoy it. At the end of the day I want happy horses. I want them to want to see me, work with me, and give me that extra spark when I need to call upon it because they know I am fair. I firmly feel that letting them have a vote in their daily routine is what inspires that last piece of a horse to work WITH you in times of need.

 


 

Influence and inspiration
I train most consistently with Jessica Jo Tate of Landrum, SC for my dressage. Our goals of the horse’s happiness and our fun, upbeat vibes make us gel really well together. She has provided me with amazing opportunities to expand my riding career and I am ever so thankful for her thoughtfulness. I know I’m her unique student, being as I like running and jumping with my dressage training, but she is never farther than a phone call away when I need advice or guidance. Her role as a mentor to me has continued to motivate me to mentor the younger generation. I wouldn’t be as successful as I am without her (and Queen mare). I have had the privilege of clinicing with Charles de Kunffy on two occasions now. Even though my time with him is limited, he is one of the most inspiring riders I have ever met. I am constantly quoting him in my lessons and do a pretty good impression of him. My students constantly ask for the “Charles voice” at shows to recenter them. His nature is astounding and I hope to have many more opportunities to ride with him. Other notable names who I would say have greatly shaped my dressage are Scott Hassler and Susan Bennett Cooper. Eric Dierks was my eventing coach when I was an over-ambitious, zealous youngster and I still carry his guidance with me to this day.

Most embarrassing Eventing moment
My most embarrassing eventing moment actually came not during a show. When I started Eventing at ten, my eyes sparkled for the Advanced level and going to Olympics and I was sure it was going to be Alec (Visible Force) who would take me there. We were a young, untrained pair when we came together and timing just wasn’t on our side. In all honesty, I was over-horsed, but being tenacious, I refused to give up on my partner (Olympics, remember) and we spiralled down into Alec refusing cross rails. Mind you, this is a horse with the jump for Rolex and the footwork of a cat. He knew I was scared, he knew I wasn’t confident, and so he took care of me in the way he felt was best, by not going over the jump when I wasn’t committed. Smart horse. At the time, it felt like he was being naughty. I KNEW this horse could jump the moon, so why was he refusing everything? I couldn’t admit to myself that I was just plain scared of this talented horse and his power. Who wouldn’t be at 10, 11, and 12? The most defeating/embarrassing moment was when I finally gave up. I was tired of refusals, of being eliminated, of rearing, of never knowing if we’d make it over any jump on course, and of always riding for the stop. On the water complex, while schooling at Barrington, I called it quits on my Eventing career, my most defeating moment still to this day.

Most triumphant Eventing moment
13 years after giving up on Eventing, after 13 years of focusing on dressage, after restarting on jumping by myself, having no want to ever compete in Eventing again, I took my old man at 22 to a Training level event and we laid down three once-in-a-lifetime rounds. This included a clear cross-country round without him even batting an eye at the drop down water, our Achilles heel. It was the biggest smile my mom has ever seen on my face and it definitely felt like the most triumphant moment ever. Together Alec and I conquered it all and we did it with invisible teamwork and a dressage based mindset. Just don’t tell him that, he only tolerates dressage.

2018 milestones
It has been a very blessed year for me. I have some special up and coming horses in my string, I have some very dedicated students, and I have some super companies backing my career. I hope to continue to expand in all three of these avenues. If I had to say anything to any rider, it would be to never give up. You can’t isn’t an option. If you want it, find a way to do it.

Best of luck this year Danielle! 

 

If you would like to be featured in Rider Connect, email me

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