"Lord, you establish peace for us; all that we have accomplished you have done for us." Isaiah 26:12
Pam Fowler Grace - A Texas Jewel
by: Marilyn E. Short
Is Dressage fun? Just watch Pam Fowler Grace ride and you'll not only see the intuitive talent she has with horses, but also her award winning smile.

A life-long horse lover, Pam knew from the age of 4 that she was called to be a horse trainer. She remembers making chalk lines on the sidewalk to define imaginary stalls and every day she would pretend to ride an imaginary string of training horses.

Pam has ridden in most every discipline, from barrel racing to reining and polo to race horses, but dancing with horses is where she excels. She has won 87 USDF All Breed Championships.

Pam and her horse 24 Carrot won the 1994 2nd level Horse of the Year (USDF) honor, and her leopard Appaloosa gelding, Pay N Go was the first inductee into the Appaloosa Sport Horse Hall of Fame, along with being immortalized as a Breyer® Horse. Pay N Go and Gucci were both awarded the American Warmblood 5 Star award for outstanding scores. There have been so many ABIC, GAIG and Southwest Dressage Champions that she has lost count.

She won ABIC at Grand Prix twice on Gucci and was extremely pleased to have had so much acceptance and success competing in Germany and Luxemburg during the summer of 2002. Placing in every Grand Prix that Pam and Gucci showed in was a major accomplishment considering the large classes, how tough the competition was, and how difficult it is for an American to break into their politics.

photo© Marilyn Short

The highest compliment I received in Germany was from a judge who told my coach "I was a breath of fresh air", said Pam, and that she "had never seen anyone who seemed to enjoy her horse and art as much as I did".

Her next Grand Prix dance partner was Floriano who came back from Germany with her, and Pam showed him here during the 2003 season quite successfully with scores into the 70th percentile.  He then went on to be chosen as the alternate for the United States Dressage Team at the 2004 Olympics held in Athens, Greece.

The highlight of Pam's riding career was in 1998 when she had the honor of riding her Grand Prix Appaloosa gelding, Pay N Go at Linda McCartney's memorial service in Manhattan.  Pam and Pay N Go entered the church at the spanish walk, performed a priouette, formally saluted the audience, and then exited at the spanish walk while the celebrity crowd gave them a standing ovation.

photo© Barbara Miller
Pay N Go was given to Pam when he was a half-wild 2 year old. "The very first time I rode him, we danced" said Pam. "It was a match made in heaven." Pay N Go was her most challenging horse.  He was very "war-like" in many ways, but once he began to trust her, he would walk through fire for Pam. Pay N Go isn't actually retired. Now over 20 years old, Pam still rides him almost every day and still schools all the Grand Prix moves on him. "He'd be very indignant if I didn't", said Pam.

photo© Barbara Miller
Pam training stable current superstar is the very talented Dutch Warmblood gelding, 'Star in Stripes'.  He and Pam made a big splash showing Internationally for 6 years consistently scoring in the 70 percentile. The pair has also frequently dazzled crowds in Florida, California and throughout the Midwest, again with scores in to the 70's. To date they have won 3 GAIG Open Grand Prix Chamionships. Star In Stripes effortless light and airy way of going has earned him the knickname "Baryshnikov of Horses".

Pam's success is largely due to her knowledge that horses want to be treated with kindness and respect; you have to earn their trust. Any time Pam runs across a rebellious attitude, she first makes sure the horse is not in pain. "Probably 95% of all rebellion originates from some sort of physical pain", said Pam, "or from a rider banging on his back or mouth.  It's usually some sort of a defense."

photo© Amy McCool
Pam also believes that a person can create what she calls "A positive snowball effect" with a horse. She doesn't focus on their failures or on everything they don't do. She focuses on their successes and always avoids confrontations with them because they learn what they repeat. She treats horses kind of like kindergarten children, asking for something she knows she can get, and then praises them for completing the task. "This builds their self-esteem and makes them want to work harder and do more in order to receive the praise," said Pam. "Pretty soon, they begin to believe they are wonderful and beautiful, and they then begin to act like a star." With this method of training, the arguing falls by the wayside, and then what you have left is a fabulous dance partner. "The only way a horse can be brilliant is if he works because he wants to..." said Pam, "not because he is forced. Grand Prix is way too difficult for them to do for any other reason."  
Pam is intuitive when it comes to the horses, knowing what each horse requires to accomplish the task, while keeping them interested and eager to please.  One of Pam's greatest challenges when instructing riders and their horses is to try to instill in them a sensitive delicate feel and empathy for the horse.  Pam has a similar philosophy for riders, believing people do what they believe they can do. She thinks it is very important to give people constructive criticism by correcting without making him or her feel worthless and inadequate. "If you tell someone not to do something you should replace that technique with a better one," said Pam. She is also extremely quick to point out what people are doing correctly, using positive reinforcement, which offers a balance to criticism. "Most people are doing the best they can," said Pam. "None of us were born knowing all of these things, and we all learned what we know from someone else (and of course, our horses), so I see no reason to be condescending to anyone. It's all about sharing knowledge."
That's how Pam maintains a positive, fresh attitude and is able to enthusiastically instruct all levels of riders, and they eagerly await their next lesson. Pam emphasizes that Dressage should be fun for both the horse and rider. If you watch Pam ride, you can see that she's having a good time. You can't miss that 24 carrot smile!
Pam is a USDF Bronze, Silver and Gold medalist and a USDF level "L" judge. To date, she has 5 Grand Prix Championship titles to her credit.

Pam's Sun & Shield Riding Club is just outside of Austin, Tx

Riding with Faith


Copyright © 2006 - 2012, Pam Fowler Grace, Sun and Shield Riding Club - All Rights Reserved, with the exception of the photographic images which are Copyright by the individual photographers who retain all rights to their subsequent distribution.