[Interview] 7 Questions with Tempel Lipizzans’ Lead Trainer, Ted Goad

BTSCelebs: Who is Ted Goad?

Ted Goad: I’m the grandson of a GM executive. My grandfather had a love for horses, but never had the time during his professional life to explore the equine world. When my sister and I were growing up, he was the one to first encourage us to pursue horses. I started riding out in Wyoming during summer camps around 8 or 9 and I got my first horse when I was 13, which my grandfather facilitated. So I grew up with a love for horse power: cars and horses.

I was competing nationally at the international level in dressage by the time I went to college. I received a Bachelor of Science in Art with an emphasis on photography and graphic design from Western Michigan University in 1983. I rode all the way through college and by the time I graduated I had three horses instead of one. I arranged my school schedule so that I would have classes in the morning, drive an hour to where I kept my horses, take two lessons, sleep at the barn, wake up in the morning, take two more lessons, and then drive back to school. I did that three nights a week. That’s when I discovered coffee and frozen breakfast sandwiches. When I was actually at school for the night, I would lock myself in my room, so I could do my dark room work in my fraternity without interruption.

After college, I worked in my mom’s miniature shop making custom doll houses. At the same time, I had my own farm in Clarkson, MI. The barn was two twenty stall barns, half of which I rented out. The other half was filled with our personal horses and our clients’ horses. In 1995, after ten years of managing my own farm, I moved myself, my wife, our daughter, and our six horses to Tempel Farms to start a career training Lipizzans and switching to performance riding versus competitive riding. While the principles are the same, riding in a group is very different from competitive riding. I remained at Tempel Farms until 2002.

Twenty-five years later I seem to be repeating my story. Sixteen years ago, I remarried, and we adopted our son in 2010. We now have our own private farm in Caledonia, WI with a manageable six horse barn. In 2012, I was invited back to the Tempel Lipizzans to become the head trainer.  

Among the places you’ve worked, which place is your favorite?

Honestly, my own. I love the peace and tranquility of being at home in my own private oasis. But I also love the hubbub and commotion of getting things done that I find at Tempel Farms. Having the goal of preserving the traditions so that they can be past down to future generations is something I think is truly worth doing and it gives me a lot of pride.

Which location do your horses seem to perform the best in?

The Lipizzans seem to perform best in the performance ring. These horses LOVE a crowd. When they see the crowd they really puff themselves up and show off for the audience. You can really tell how much the horses love the applause; it can be really an electric atmosphere to ride in.

How did you get involved in Tempel Lipizzans?

Ultimately, it was George Williams (former Director of Training of the Tempel Lipizzans and current President of the United States Dressage Federation) that brought me to the Tempel Lipizzans. He was the Director of Training at the time. We met down in Florida and we both had little girls the same age. We got to know one another through the Florida show circuit. After that, we started traveling back and forth to Tempel Farms from Michigan for clinics and training and judge’s forums. It got the point where we were traveling back in forth so much we just decided to stay.

How does 2018 training differ from the 1990s?

The staffing is different, we had a more direct connection back to the Spanish Riding School in the 90’s. Two of our main trainers got their start there, so those traditions and structure were fresher. My goal is really to get back to that. In the years I was gone, there were traditions that were lost. The goals of the program shifted from the performances to competitions. While the principles are similar the end goal is different; in our performances we are riding in a group versus in a competition where you are riding on your own. You have to be able to almost forget that there’s a horse under you so you can focus on your teammates. To help bring back those traditions that I remember from my earlier days at Tempel we are making connections back to the Spanish Riding School with the help of our master coaches such as Arthur Kottas-Heldenburg (former Chief Rider of the Spanish Riding School) and Conrad Schumacher (a world-renowned dressage and Olympic coach). We are also making those connections through our breeding program. Just two years ago, we imported three pregnant mares from Piber, the stud farm for the Spanish Riding School. Through all of these efforts, we hope to bring back these classical connections, and we are making great strides to that goal.

Tell us about a moment you were most proud of your work. 

It’s hard to pick. Actually, one was when my wife beat me at a horse show. Others would be… when my student did her first solo or when I see horses I started do their first successful Airs Above the Ground movement. I get the most pride out of seeing one of my horses or students succeed. Especially when I get a problem case horse. Those successes are the ones I’m most proud of.

What should we look forward to seeing at next month’s Tempel Lipizzans?

I think a true continuation of classical riding. Audiences should be prepared to step back in time to an era where horse back riding was the favorite pastime and entertainment of monarchs. Each performance is set to classical music and shows the progression of training, from the newest foals up through the High School segments: the Airs Above the Ground and the Quadrille. What we do, in so many ways, is a dying art. The harmony we can achieve between horse and rider is really a beautiful thing to watch. Not to mention the beautiful country setting; it makes for a great escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. We give our audience a chance to just slow down and enjoy something truly beautiful and fantastic that can’t be observed anywhere else in the United States.

Don’t miss Ted Goad’s amazing work at “The Tempel Lipizzans’ 60th Anniversary” celebration which runs from June 17 – Sept 2, 2018.

*A Special Thanks to Ted Goad and The Silverman Group for the exclusive interview and image.*

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