Did you know that Tami Hoag is also known as a top equestrian competitor in the Olympic discipline of dressage?
Tami Hoag with Bacchus, who has a cameo role in Down the Darkest Road. Photo by Jack Mancini.
The word “Dressage” comes from a French word meaning “to train.” The highest expression of horse training, dressage is considered to be the art of equestrian sport. The discipline traces its roots to ancient Greece, and many of the movements were developed out of necessity on the battlefield. During the Renaissance, dressage evolved into a sequential training system to develop the horse’s natural athletic ability to its highest potential. These classical methods are still considered the basis of modern dressage.
To observe dressage at its highest level is to watch horses literally dance through a sequence of movements called a test. Every movement is given a score by the judges. Ultimately, the rider should appear elegant and quiet. The aids given to the horse through the rider’s seat, legs, and hands should be almost imperceptible to the observer. The goal is to present a picture of elegance and harmony through the partnership of horse and rider.
Tami grew up riding, training, and competing in western riding events including western pleasure, reining, and barrel racing. She came to dressage first in her late twenties, looking for a new challenge—and finding a passion. The growth of her career as a writer sidetracked her riding for a number of years, but she returned to the sport in a serious way in 1998 and has been a disciple ever since. Within just several years, she rose to compete at the highest level of the sport, the Grand Prix level.
LEFT: Tami and Feliki winning the Grand Prix at the prestigious Palm Beach Derby. Photo by Mary Phelps. RIGHT: Tami Hoag on Coco Chanel, and longtime coach and friend, Betsy Steiner on Tami's mare Feliki. Riding and winning the Pas de Deux competition for Team USA at the annual Challenge of the Americas fundraiser for breast cancer research in Wellington, Florida. Photo by Sue Stickle.
“Dressage is truly where I find balance in my life,” says Tami. “Schooling my horses is like meditation to me. During our training time, I have to be completely tuned in to my horse for every second, for every footfall. This is the one time of day my mind is not occupied by my fictional characters. Developing and deepening that partnership between my horse and myself gives me a tremendous sense of peace and calm.”
Glamour Girls: Tami with her beloved Coco Chanel. Photo by Miranda Lorraine.