People involved in equestrian sports often change disciplines. But it’s unusual for someone to make the change as wholeheartedly as Lori Kaminski did.
Lori has been president and CEO of Dressage at Devon (DAD) since 2009, but for many years before that she was a dedicated volunteer, instrumental in bringing about major changes in DAD. She’s also a huge supporter of the sport of dressage and the dressage community.
Like many equestrians, her love of horses started early. “I got my first pony when I was in middle school. My parents used it as a carrot (so to speak) to get better grades. I started out riding English pleasure on a local show circuit,” said Lori. “During high school, a local Arabian enthusiast asked me to ride for him on that same circuit. From there, I started working with Arabians at a local breeding farm and showing their stallion.”
A Natural Progression
After getting married, Lori bought her own horse, an Arabian weanling. “I used to do much of the training on the breeding farm, so I bought a weanling so I could do the training myself. It was a natural progression. We named him TAL Storm Ahead — better known as Stormy — after his sire, Grier’s Storm King.”
She boarded him at a local barn where she met Kate Hutchings, who taught her the basics of dressage. Lori began to compete in combined training at a very low level on one of Kate’s horses while Stormy was growing up. “Although I fully intended to show Stormy at the Arabian shows, my focus changed and I started competing him in combined training. Though he didn’t do too well at dressage, he packed me over the jumps well enough,” she recalled.
“In 1985, after the birth of my daughter, we bought five acres in Maryland, built a house and barn and moved the horses in (by then I had three including Stormy). My focus then shifted to dressage because I thought that jumping was too dangerous with my new responsibility of motherhood.”
Following Her Passion
Like other equestrians, Lori has a day job. She works in diagnostics for Siemens Healthcare DX in the manufacturing organization, developing new and revised methods for blood and urine analysis.
But her love of equines drove her. In the 1980s, she got involved in horse shows by scoring at combined training and combined driving events — a move encouraged by her friend Jane Ramsey. Lori began as the chief scorer for the breed division. Later, when DAD needed to replace their breed division secretary, they offered her the position.
“Being the breed division secretary at Dressage at Devon gave me the opportunity to meet some really dedicated breeders,” Lori said. “Their enthusiasm for breeding became a driving force in my life. Melanie Sloyer, the breed division chairperson, and I started looking for ways to use DAD to give back to the breeders.”
In 2003, the first Born in the U.S.A. Breeder’s Award was announced. The first BITUSA was just a high-point award and a small amount of prize money donated by one of the breeders. Today, the program has 14 divisions and the prize money comes from DAD and the many people who are dedicated to the improvement of horses bred in the U.S.A.
Over the years, Lori and Dressage at Devon have worked closely with the United States Dressage Federation (USDF) to pilot many of the programs pertaining to the breed division throughout the years. Since the breed division is the largest in the U.S., it’s a wonderful venue to test out these programs.
“We ran the first Materiale classes in the U.S.,” she said. “These classes are now quite popular in breed shows. We piloted the USDF Breeder’s Championship Foal Championship. And, this year, we’re testing out the Youth Dressage Sport Horse Breeder/Handler Seminar. This seminar is being held in hopes of sparking the interest of our youth in breeding and handling dressage horses.”
DAD also works with the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF) to provide a venue for training and educating our national level officials. This year, DAD will again host a program for ‘S’ judges, and hosted a course for FEI Level 1 stewards four years ago. “I fully support these types of educational programs,” she said. “It’s part of the DAD mission statement to ‘support the sport of dressage and dressage education.’”
President and CEO
Lori will maintain her position as president and CEO through and beyond the 40th-anniversary DAD show in 2015.
“I’ve watched the progression of dressage from the sidelines for more than 30 years,” recalls Lori. “I’ve seen the quality of our horses and our riders improving every year. I’m excited to see that there’s now beginning to be a systematic approach to training young horses for the sport of dressage, thanks to the wonderful collaboration between USDF and USEF and the hard work of many dedicated people.”
What’s next? “I’m hoping when I retire from my work in health care, I can devote more time to organizing shows. It’s a little retirement plan to keep busy.”
Photos courtesy of Dressage at Devon, unless noted otherwise