Katie Bartelt is a professional dressage rider and trainer in dressage, hunter/equitation, and jumper disciplines. Her business, Se Allegria Sporthorses, is based in Sheboygan Falls, Wi.
Join me in learning more about her philosophy in working with horses, the hardships and the good times, and how she keeps it all in perspective.
Tell us a little about your horse: what breed, age, training level, how long have you two been together?
Randolfini (Fini) is my 14 year old Oldenburg. We've been together since 2016 and have seen it all. We competed in the equitation, jumpers, and up to training level eventing before we went off to school at UW Madison. In college I rode for the IHSA team and started teaching and training more formally. During this time I lovingly referred to Fini as my "my little pony". His main job was to take me around on trail rides during the school year and play in the equitation ring over summer. After dealing with some behavioral issues that I couldn't pin down to anything physical, I decided to shift gears to dressage so we could continue our journey together. We are working up towards our debut in 2nd level and working towards our USDF bronze medal.
Tell us about your philosophy in working with horses, ie, why are you an equestrian? What do you love about it, what do you hate about it, what's your "why"?
Asking all the hard hitting questions! I have a few different perspectives on this - I'm a rider/owner, trainer, and have a bachelor's degree in Animal Science with a focus in business. As a rider, I'm in it for the companionship and friendship with the horses. I started riding as a toddler and honestly never found anything that compared to the experience of bonding with the horses. I was very competitive for a long time but the show scene definitely burned me out as a junior. I had to refocus and rediscover my passion for just being with the horses. Fini has definitely challenged me in that way - he's got his own opinions and will let them be known.
I am pursuing training as a professional because I have seen the impact that horses have made in my own life and my friends lives and I want to help bring that to the next generation. My business is named after my heart horse, Luna or “Se Allegria”, who I lost in 2020. She was my teacher and best friend for many years. When she died, I knew I needed to take the next step to pass her lessons on to the kids around me. I'm involved in my local pony club and have a small team of young riders who I'm very proud and lucky to coach.
From a scientific perspective, I struggle with the industry. I strive to honor each horse and rider as an individual and I feel that sometimes the industry puts money and rider success above the horse's wellbeing and success. I channel this into my own work and strive to educate and help young riders and horse owners learn about the care and keeping of their horses.
How do you further the equestrian community?
I'm very focused on giving back to my equine community and mentoring young equestrians. Growing up, the barn and my barn friends were a safe and supportive community that I could rely on. Looking back, this was due to the purposeful guidance and actions of my trainers at the time. I strive to be inclusive of all the riders around me - whether that's helping someone memorize a course at a show, recording a training ride, or helping connect riders with fewer resources to barns and horses around them. I find my role as a trainer and mentor extends far beyond riding and the barn - I'm very grateful that my clients and their horses trust me to guide them through this crazy world.
And finally, I have to ask...Which is your favorite picture of you and Fini taken during your session with Forest Road Photography?
"I picked this one as my favorite because it captures how familiar and comfortable we are with each other. If you asked me where in my life I felt most like myself, this picture would capture it."
You can find out more information about Se Allegria Sport Horses here
Heels down, heart up!