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RIDER REVEAL Lindsey Holleger

Written by Cynthia Dawn

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Posted on July 29 2020

 This Girl Is On Fire 

“I’d like to be known for being good at what I do, but also doing it the right way and not sacrificing the horses or anybody else around me to get there.” ~ Lindsey Holleger 

And to say that Lindsey Holleger is 'good' at what she does understates the reality that is her present life experience. At 24, she is the Head Trainer at Maplewood Warmbloods, an elite and highly-respected breeding and training center in Goshen, New York.

She is also a rising superstar qualifying seven horses for the Festival of Champions at Lamplight, even though they will only take five. Yet Lindsey is not boastful. She has a quiet confidence about her that is bolstered by integrity, intentionality, and a profoundly grounded demeaner.  

Lindsey and MW Bodacious. Photo creditSue Stickle

What does a day in Lindsey’s life look like?  

“Horses, Horses and more horses,” she replies without hesitation. “I get up around 6:30 and start my day around 7:30. First, I bring in all the horses and am riding my first one by 8:15; I ride continuously until I take a lunch break in the middle of the day, then I go back to riding and try to finish around 4:00 or so.” 

Lindsey trains up to 10 horses per day, 6 days a week, and she does it with awareness and gratitude. “We currently have about 16 horses under saddle. It’s important to me that each horse has an adequate amount of time, energy and focus. When training I strive for this particular feeling that’s hard to describe. It’s like a harmonious power – when you’re just helping the horse free up – and when you’re able to create that feeling, it’s amazing. I ride a lot off of feel and it’s the best gift I’ve ever received.” She smiles. 

MW Weissgold. Photo credit: Sue Stickle 

Maplewood Warmbloods is owned and operated by Jen Vanover and her partner  Tommy Pushkal. “Jen and Tommy are phenomenal people! And Jen is an amazing breeder who keeps making incredible horses that I am extremely lucky to ride and train. I love my job!”

Lindsey’s genuinity is palpable and the MW horses are definitely worthy of being called incredible! MW Ave Maria, a 7-year old, is going to the Markel/USEF Young and Developing Horse National Championships in the number one position in the Developing PSG with a 76%. MW Feinermark did his first Developing GP for a 70 and will be going to Lamplight. MW I’m the Lady Texel and MW Cilla Amour also have scores in the 70 percentile in the Developing PSG. MW Bodacious earned a huge score of 93.2% that included a 10 for his canter, another 10 for general impression, and a 9.8 for his trot placing him 2nd in the country in 4-year olds. And MW Weisgold received an 86.4% placing her 4th in 4-year olds. 

MW Cilla Amour.  Photo credit: Sue Stickle 

Lindsey recalls the beginnings of her career at MW. “I remember when I first received Jen’s message. I was standing in the kitchen with my roommate and fiancé. I had just moved to North Carolina and had been there for only two months. Jen found me on FB and of course, I knew exactly who she was when I saw her name! I gasped when I read it and was like OMG I’m moving to NY! She had an opening, she gave me a chance, and I am really grateful.” Lindsey began as Assistant Trainer at MW in March of 2018 and was soon promoted to Head Trainer.

 

Lindsey describes her partnership with Jen and Tommy with deep respect. “We all work really well together. They trust me and I can trust them. I am very grateful for that too! And they love their horses and will do whatever it takes to give them the best life possible.” 

Turnout at MW sounds like a horse’s dream. “Our horses get to be horses. You know they grow up at the farm so it’s easy. Our Grand Prix stallion is out in the field all night watching over his mares. They’re all out being horses, then they come in and learn about life, then they’re free again and out all night. Horses have their own language out in the field and that’s important for them. I feel their language can get tainted if they’re handled too much.” 

Lindsey speaks about that perpetual quest for balance that can be so elusive at times for all of us.  

“I’m learning how to have more balance in my life you know, how to be a human but also put my heart and soul into what I do.”  

She admits to being challenged when trying to do nothing on her day off, so she opts to roam. “I have to get off the farm so I will truly relax and do things other than horses so I can continue to grow as a person. I visit family and friends, and my fiancé’ and I like to take small or big trips together. We just get on the road and go.”

Lindsey met her fiancé, Jacob, at a horse clinic when they were 16. “But he doesn’t ride anymore, that’s my thing. Jacob turned it over to another kind of horsepower; he’s into cars and I am too, so that’s a lot of fun.” As a result of COVID, Lindsey and Jacob postponed their wedding for a year and will be married in September 2021. 

The new pandemic paradigm with its social distancing, schedule revisions and cancellations offered Lindsey more training time, for sure, and it also gifted her definitive confirmation. 

“If there were no more shows until the end of time I would still be doing exactly what I’m doing because I just love developing horses to their greatest potential. I love showing too and think it’s really fun; but I don’t do this just to show, I do it because I love it. THIS is what I’m meant to be doing.” 

MW Feinermark. Photo credit: Sue Stickle

Lindsey refers to Charlotte Dujardin as a huge inspiration. “Charlotte has the ability to develop horses from a young age to such a high level of performance – and she does it over and over and over again. She’s SO good at it. That’s what success as a trainer looks like to me.” 

Lindsey imparts some wisdom to aspiring young riders who want to become professional equestrians. “Work really hard and find a good mentor. Ride young horses and figure out how to develop them up through the levels. It’s great to train on a schoolmaster too, but to know how to take a 3-year old from the field and develop him or her to be a high-performance dressage horse in invaluable.”

 

Lindsey and her 2-year old German shepherd, Atlas

Lindsey also recognizes the importance of physical health so she works out with a personal trainer. “I’m in one position all day long [she gestures with her arms in a perfect 90-degree angle] so I work out two to three times per week and keep the balance.” She also eats healthy most of the time but shares her favorite indulgence, especially on a winter’s day. “There’s this place just five minutes from our barn and they have seriously perfected grilled cheese. So, sometimes I run out and grab a chai tea, grilled cheese, and a chocolate moon pie. I love anything chocolate!” 

What’s in Lindsey’s tack room at MW? 

Her Kingsley custom boots from The Dressage Store. “They are SO pretty with rhinestones at the top and a cool pattern! And they were really easy to break in; it was seriously like putting on a pair of boots I’ve had for years.”

Lindsey's Kingsley Boots

“We also have like a hundred of the most beautiful brow bands and coolest Solo bridles ever in there, my Equipe saddle that I love and so do the horses! We have our PEMF machines, Fenwick therapeutic blankets and quick wraps, lots of Neueshule bits, DSB boots, and gloves. 

And so, look for Lindsey and the incredible team of MW horses at the Festival of Champions in August. “I’m so proud of our horses and am super excited to be taking them to Lamplight! You’ll definitely see my Kingsley Boots, KEP Helmet and gorgeous brow bands coming down centerline. We do a lot of bling at Maplewood. We love bling.” Lindsey giggles. 

Hey Lindsey Holleger...YOU are the bling! 

Cynthia Dawn is an Author, Writer, Mindfulness and Awareness Coach and Horse Mom. www.cynthiadawn.com Follow her on Instagram cynthia.d.a.w.n. and Facebook Cynthia Dawn