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10 Blue Hors horses ready for the young horse championship finals!

Natalie Pai, age 20, and her dressage trainer Kevin Kohmann, a trainer at Diamante Farms in Wellington, Florida, have a lot in common. They have both broken the industry norm to achieve impressive accomplishments in the sport they love at a young age.

Last month, Pai won the Reserve Championship in the Brentina Cup at the 2017 Dutta Corp. U.S. Dressage Festival of Champions in Gladstone, New Jersey, aboard Unlimited, a 16-year-old KWPN gelding (Jazz x Clairudith, Winckenburgh) that she is leasing from P.J. Rizvi and Peacock Ridge, LLC. She also competed on Fritz San Tino, a 15-year-old Hanoverian gelding owned by her mother Melanie Pai.

Natalie Pai is the youngest competitor in history to bring two horses to compete at the Festival of Champions, and the youngest to qualify for and compete a horse in the Intermediate I division of the Festival of Champions. Like his protégé, trainer Kevin Kohmann started racking up successes at a young age. He is the youngest in history to pass the Bereiter in Germany at the age of 18, the youngest to earn the title of Master Bereiter, and to earn his German gold medal.

Kohmann said that he and his fellow trainer at Diamante Farms – Devon Kane, who owns Diamante Farms alongside her mother, Terri Kane – can easily relate to young, driven riders. Riders who have such a strong love for dressage that they are determined to achieve momentous success even at a young age especially resonate with Kohmann and Kane. After all, the Diamante Farms trainers themselves were highly successful in the Under 25 division not so many years ago. Kohmann and Kane are also able to offer a variety of methods to teach their riders. “We use many teaching methods,” Kohmann said. “We stick to classical methods, but we also acknowledge that all roads lead to Rome. That’s how Devon and I train everyone – we understand that every horse and rider has a different learning style, and we try different approaches to achieve goals.”

“He’s really good with Natalie,” she said. “He’s a perfect match for her personality. He’s funny, and Natalie is a prankster and hysterically funny, so they can really ham it up together. Because he’s young, everything is very fresh with him. He has a lot of ways of explaining things. He keeps coming up with a different approach.”

The younger Pai said that her mother was probably even more excited than she was when she clinched the Reserve Championship at Gladstone. She doesn’t plan to change trainers any time soon – although recently Devon Kane gave Pai some lessons while Kohmann was competing, and Pai found her time with Kane invaluable. Both Kane and Pai are petite, and the trainer gave the younger rider some valuable tips on how to adjust her technique for her size.

“I think it was really helpful for me to train with someone who understands my body mechanisms,” she said. “She helped me with technique, especially with my seat. For example, in the pirouettes I used to sit back a little bit, and she told me to hinge my shoulders forward a little bit. That really helped. She also said that rather than using your strength to take the outside rein, push him more into the outside rein. That was helpful because I am smaller, so by pushing him into it, I don’t have to use quite as much strength. I made a lot of improvements with her.”

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