Debbie's formal training began in 1973, in England with Jenny Loriston Clarke, where she gained considerable experience riding, teaching, competing, and managing breeding stock. Debbie credits Ms. Loriston Clarke for instilling in her the solid work ethic that she still adheres to today and fondly shares that it was "Jenny who taught me that every horse deserves the same quality of care – whether the horse is an Olympic horse or not."
Debbie moved to Germany in 1975 and worked the next two years training at stables in Hamburg and Sylt.
During the period 1977 to 1981, Debbie sought out further training for herself and worked with Karin Schlüter. Karin was an excellent role model and inspired Debbie to emulate Karin's beautiful and graceful style. Debbie became the first American licensed German FN Bereiter while apprenticing with Karin Schlüter, and she earned her license to compete through S level.
During her last year in Germany, Debbie apprenticed with the late Reitmeister Herbert Rehbein. Mr. Rehbein provided Debbie with her first insight into the possibility that people could truly get into the psyche of the horse they were riding. It was a wonderful experience to watch this truly magnificent rider in his daily training. He artfully demonstrated that a rider must be able to adapt the training with each horse's state of mind and understanding in the forefront. This talent allowed him to become one with the horse.
Debbie returned to the United States in 1982 and accepted a position as Trainer at European Performance Horses, Ltd. in Somerset, Virginia. For the next four years, Debbie produced many national champion dressage horses from fourth level up to Grand Prix, including most notably, Falstaff.
She also continued honing her skills by receiving coaching from Dr. Reiner Klimke and George Theodorescu. Riding Falstaff, Debbie was selected as an alternate for the 1984 Olympic Games and won a team gold medal at the North American Championships in 1985. She was short-listed for the 1986 World Championships, now called the World Equestrian Games, when Falstaff was sold.
Since 1986, Debbie has worked independently and has continued to produce nationally successful horses including Belvedere, Ladamo, Othello, and Ron Falero. She has ridden several times in the USDF National Symposium or Trainer's Conference with such greats as Jaap Pott of Holland, Major Anders Lindgren of Sweden, Wolfgang Niggli of Switzerland, Kyra Kyrklund, Lilo Fore, and Michael Poulin.
Debbie is active with the United States Dressage Federation, and since 1991 she has served as Examiner of the USDF Instructor Certification Program. She was appointed Chair of the USDF Junior and Young Rider Program for two years (1995-1997) and also completed the USDF "L" Judges Program with distinction in 1998.
For more than thirty years, Debbie has consistently produced top level horses and riders, coaching many riders up to the Grand Prix level and FEI Junior/Young Riders. She continues to dedicated herself to developing the next generation of knowledgeable, sensitive, and educated riders and trainers, who will carry on the traditions of classical dressage.
ABOUT the farm
Debbie Bowman Dressage is now located on a private estate in Keswick, east of Charlottesville. The setting is serene and pastoral, ideal for the serious student who wishes to be able to learn in an environment with minimal distractions. Our facility allows for both short and long-term stays, perfect for show preparation, USDF CI mentoring, or more in-depth education for horse and rider. Guests are welcome by appointment only, please.