About Debbie Marriott
Born in Upstate New York in 1959, Debbie fell in love with horses before she could walk. The family farm, Brentwood, was located across the road from the house she grew up in. "My Uncles rode western, and they would occasionally lead me around on the family pony. That's where my love of horses started."
After moving to Virginia in 1965, Debbie starting taking riding lessons at a local stable. "Although we couldn't afford a horse at the time, my parents saw to it that I received weekly riding lessons." It was in junior high school that Debbie purchased her first horse, a quarter horse / thoroughbred cross. After graduating high school, Debbie was headed to College, so her horse was sold, and ten years passed before riding took a prominent place in her life again. When she returned to riding her focus was on Eventing. It was through her participation in Eventing that Debbie became actively involved with the Commonwealth Dressage and Combined Training Association (CDCTA). She volunteered her time and served as an Officer on CDCTA's Board of Directors for 10 years.
While in CDCTA, Debbie realized her passion for education and instruction, and to this day rider education continues to be an important part of Debbie's life. Whether she is traveling to give a clinic, offering lessons to local Pony Clubbers, teaching her students or coaching at competitions, Debbie is always willing to help someone wanting to learn. Debbie has shared her extensive knowledge by helping develop other instructors through training and seminars. She has given clinics throughout the U.S. and has spent many years teaching Pony Club. Debbie's training experience comes from many different countries but all with the same goal in mind: correct development of the horse. Such international stars as Nicole Uphoff, Eicke Von Veltheim, Ulft Wiltfang, Bent Jensen, Carol Lavell and many others have all encouraged and helped her along the way. In addition, she attends as many USDF Symposiums and Trainer Conferences as her schedule will allow.
In 1992 Debbie made the decision to focus solely on Dressage and quickly moved through the levels with her Trakehner gelding, Markant. Markant was her first FEI horse. "I performed my first flying changes, pirouettes, piaffe and passage on Markant." In the Spring of 1995, Markant began to show signs of neurological problems, and after extensive testing it was determined that he should be euthanized. "I was devastated. He was such an important part of my life, and we had just moved into the FEI."
It took Debbie 3 years before she could afford to purchase her next equine partner, a young Hanoverian gelding named Fresh Price (aka "Will"). Will was well bred and extremely fancy. He was naturally rhythmic, had a huge stride and was gorgeous. He was also boarded at Wildfire Farm in Lovettsville, Virginia, which is how she met one of her mentors and trainers, Mary Flood. "Mary changed me: the way I trained my horses and the way I used my aids. She pushed me for perfection, and she inspired me by the example she set before me. She sought excellence every day, in herself and in her students. She was tough, but fair, and I am forever grateful for her for guidance."
An accident turned Debbie's world upside down again when Will came in from turnout with a swollen hock. It was a career ending injury and left Debbie without a competition partner. In the months following Will's injury, several people told Debbie about a sale horse who they thought would be perfect for her. Reluctantly Debbie went to see the horse, and it turned out to be one of the best decisions of her life. Rataxes (aka "Rex") had been for sale for several years due to his long list of physical problems and the fact that he could be a challenge to ride, but he was affordable and proved to be Debbie's "horse of a lifetime".
Throughout the next few years, Debbie and Rex moved up the levels, competing from Second Level through Prix St. Georges. Rex was a powerful, forward-thinking horse who never said "no". "He had the most amazing work ethic. He wasn't the most talented horse, but had the biggest heart and the most 'try' of any horse I have ever sat on." In 2010, Rex and Debbie were at the top, successfully competing at Fourth Level and Prix St. Georges, and they were setting their sights on competing in the "small tour" the following year. That year was not to be. In the Summer of 2011 Rex was euthanized due severe health problems. "I had to say goodbye to the best horse I had ever known. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't miss him."
The tragic loss of Rex not only rocked Debbie, but it also left her without a top horse. "I've always been a hard worker, but the things I've dealt with in the last few years have put a whole new spin on things. They have definitely tested my commitment to my riding." Despite the setbacks, Debbie soldiers on. She has a thriving business to run, musical freestyles to create and a wonderful group of students who want to learn. "My students bring me great joy. Watching them learn and grow in the sport that we love is more than I could ask for."
Four years had passed since losing Rex when Debbie came across a sale ad for a 5 year old, 17 hand (and growing) Clydesdale / Hackney / TB cross. After looking at the horse, Debbie got in the car to drive home and said "It would be an honor to own that horse." And so his name was given. "Honor" is proving to be a wonderful partner who is patient while Debbie is getting herself back in the saddle.
Debbie Marriott is an FEI rider based out of Homestead Farm in Catlett, Virginia. She is an instructor who is passionate about learning and teaching. Ever since she was a child, she has been in love with horses and now passes her love on to others. "I love my life. I love what I do. I think that teaching is the ultimate reward, because you get to convey something to a student and watch them have their "light bulb moment". It doesn't get any better than that. I would love to compete at the highest level of my sport, compete at Dressage at Devon or down in Wellington, and that is something that keeps me pressing on. It is something I strive for. Perhaps Kensington will be the horse that helps me achieve these dreams."