Such is my life that I discovered Eric Dierks, and his presence practically on my doorstep here in Kentucky, just as he is making plans to re-locate for the winter. Counter-intuitively he’ll actually be heading north this week for Thanksgiving and then Christmas, as his parents run a big barn in Wisconsin – brrrr, and he’ll spend the holidays with them, before much more sensibly moving south to North Carolina for the brunt of the winter, and returning to Kentucky, probably around mid-March.
Who is Eric Dierks? He’s a tall, sandy-haired, blue-eyed eventer (Ladies, my flip video does not do him justice!) who moved into the Lexington, Kentucky area this Spring, and has been quietly teaching, riding and building up a business. Thanks to some Pony Club connections, Bill and Melissa Brown offered him the management of their Rock Ridge Farm, a stunning 200 rolling acres of Iroquois hunt country that also includes a nice barn, an expansive cross country course, an outdoor arena, a round pen, show-jumps and access to a further 2,000 acres of hacking. Eric brought three horses of his own with him; a 2* horse that he’s owned since it was a 3 yr old, a sale horse that’s moving up to prelim, and a very nice-looking TB straight off the track (and right up my alley!). This is the fifth TB he’s bought since moving to Kentucky. Eric typically owns all his horses, and he has bankrolled his career by buying and selling. I asked him why the TB, and he replied “for their heart”, and for their gallop cross country. He said he likes to feel a little bit like he’s being run off with! I knew then that we were going to get along, and I asked him more specifically what he looks for when he goes shopping.
Eric will take his three horses with him up to Wisconsin. He says he enjoys his time up there, despite the weather, because his father has long been one of his idols. Eric’s said his dad runs a tight ship, with a big indoor arena, much like the ones he was used to growing up in Illinois. Eric said he’ll concentrate on the basics for a few weeks. He will also teach lessons and ride horses for clients. Although Eric’s parents are German, and I was sure I detected a hint of an accent, he grew up in the US, and does a brilliant “Fargo” impersonation – you’ll have to ask him, I promised not to post it, but it completely cracked me up. His parents are obviously a huge influence on him–his dad has demonstrated horsemanship and hard work by example, and one of the few times Eric has ever been able to get them off their farm was when he treated them to WEG tickets this autumn as an anniversary present.
Whether he’s teaching or riding, Eric is adamant that the present state of the horse come first, not the long term goal of a distant show, or any short term goals such as being “in a frame” ; he strongly believes in enjoying the process every day, and he loves to see horses improve more than anything. Eric admits that most of the horses he’s had have been somewhat average, and he said that he has enjoyed the challenge of making them more rideable and bringing out the very best in them. To that end, he said he feels as if he’s reached a point in his life now where he’s ready to give up some control, having always ridden his own horses exclusively, and would love to ride a higher calibre of horse in an owner/sponsor situation. Fiercely independent and hard-working, it’s obvious this hasn’t been an easy decision to reach, but Eric has had a year of re-adjustment along with the re-location. On the sunny afternoon that we sat down together, he seemed reflective and serious, answering my questions very literally. It was both a relief and a surprise when every now and then his booming laugh would reverberate from out of nowhere, and then just as quickly he’d be earnest and contemplative again. He thinks things through carefully, and writes some really interesting blogs, which you can see on his website.
Eric has struggled with bad luck, as has anyone who works with horses. He has ridden at Rolex, only to have to pull his horse up three quarters of the way round the corss country when it tied up, and since then a series of niggling, trivial incidents have prevented him from returning, frequently at the last hour. However, he doesn’t seem perturbed. He struck me as very patient, quietly determind, and seems assured that he will make it back to Rolex one day. Eric’s farm is breathtakingly beautiful, completely unspoilt, rambling and natural, and yet tidy and well-equipped. Eric lives right next to the barn in a charming log cottage, as seen in the background of our videos. The whole scene could hardly have been more quaint, and then I asked him what was under that cover…!
Sorry Eric, but if you can’t read the number plate – EZ PONY! Personally I’d much rather have that good-looking bay TB 5 year old! I would like to thank Eric for talking to me. I’m afraid we took quite a long time because I was secretly checking out the farm as a future boarding/training barn for my future horse (a curse on you, EN John for awakening all these desires again!). For the record, Eric’s farm passed my inspection with flying colours, now if we could just come to some sort of arrangement on that TB…I had to ask Eric before I left if he got discouraged, and if he ever felt like switching allegiances, to say dressage or show-jumping. The animation in his expression, and the sparkle in his eye would have been answer enough!
Again a big thank you to Eric, and Bill and Melissa Brown of Rock Ridge Farm. Also, and as always to John and Eventing Nation. Go Eventing, but especially to you for reading–Thank you! Please let me know what you’d like to see/hear/read more or less of in the future, I’m completely open to all suggestions and ideas.