Behind the scenes at Elevation Dressage and Eventing (part 1)

Introducing the team behind Elevation Dressage and Eventing, Bates Saddles sponsored riders Nicki Carson and David Taylor. Nicki and David are based in Maryland, United States where they ride and train other riders in dressage and eventing. From harbouring an “unhealthy desire” to jump a 5* course to discovering the innovation in Bates Saddles, the duo gives us an insight into the lives of equestrian professionals.

For Nicki, the goal of becoming a professional rider started when she was six years old. This lead to a lifelong journey and passion, supported by her mother who bred Nicki’s Oldenburg mare DeLiza (Lizzie) and “eventing pony” FCF Midnight Encounter (Flying Frankie).

Nicki and Lizzie in their Bates Innova Mono+

The self-proclaimed crazy dog lady, who favours “redheads” (chestnuts) and mares, states one of her proudest riding achievements as raising her mare Lizzie from a foal all the way to FEI level dressage. Nicki worked many years to achieve this and hopes to reach this level with additional horses. As she continues climbing the dressage levels with Lizzie, she trains with Flying Frankie to reach FEI level eventing. Reaching FEI level eventing is a challenge as she believes he is more talented than she is brave when it comes to eventing.

Nicki and Flying Frankie tackling the cross country course.

David previously managed a large eventing farm and supported Nicki’s goals, even acquiring a CDL (commercial driver’s license) so he can drive tractor trailers professionally and transport their horses around the country. The catalyst for David becoming a professional rider was meeting Bates Saddles sponsored rider Heath Ryan. David mused,

“It really pushed me to not only be a better rider myself, but actually start helping others improve themselves…”

David events on his two bay mares. Serendipity (Beans), who he acquired as a three-year-old (now 11), is his upper-level event horse and Sauvignon Bai (Sallie) is a seven-year-old Oldenburg bred by Nicki’s mother. He claims to have an “unhealthy desire” to jump a 5* course, such as at Kentucky Horse Park or Fair Hill International and hopes Sallie has the talent to reach those heights. Outside of riding, David commenced his journey to become a cross country course designer. He received his Small R Course Design License from the United States Equestrian Federation (USEF).

David and Beans on the cross country course.

A typical day at the barn for Nicki and David involves caring for their retired horses at home before heading to the training facility where their assistant, Courtney, helps them throughout the day. Nicki teaches from 7 am during the summer and rides in between lessons. David keeps the business side on track by organising all of the maintenance, landscaping, and administration. He relishes in his role as “the farm guy” – as riders know, it is due to the diligence of people like David that training facilities run smoothly and the horses receive the ultimate in care.

When it comes to shows, David said “It’s our chance to really focus one on one with our horse, with our client, and really develop that relationship even more. It’s our time to shine.”

Nicki acknowledges that a typical day at shows involves a lot of preparation to ensure the horses’ routines are as regular as possible to make sure they are happy, so they can perform their best at every show.

David in his Bates Saddles polos.