A Bit About Denis
Denis - French: [dəni] də-nee
Denis began his riding career at age eight, receiving his first lessons from his older brother Ernest, a candidate for the 1960 Olympic Team. He spent the following ten years in the U.S. Pony Club at the Pebble Beach Equestrian Center under the direction of Dick Collins. During that time Denis learned the skills of dressage, stadium jumping, hunter/jumper, cross country, gymkana and polo. While in high school in Pebble Beach, he also rode for the Robert Louis Stevenson School equestrian and polo teams.
In 1968, Denis was instructed personally by the Austrian Olympic Champion and trainer-great Eric Bubbel.
“Riding under Eric's personal supervision was, perhaps, the most profound riding experience of my life. I don't think there was anything Eric couldn't tell, simply by listening to the horse's footfalls, and then he let you know about it on no uncertain terms!”
As a member of the Robert Louis Stevenson School Polo team, Denis played in the first-ever high school intramural polo match in US history in Tucson, AZ in 1969, earning his junior varsity letter in polo. Denis went on the following year to receive his varsity letter on the school's equestrian team in the Hunter/Jumper disciplines.
After college Denis changed paths, only to later realize that something was missing.
“Life and career pressures have a way of taking a toll on riders. Like so many, I left my horse behind and pursued other matters… a career in music, and later in Electronic Engineering and Computer Science. Though I can count several achievements in these fields, I couldn't shake the feeling that something was missing. 1989 brought the missing piece, when by happenstance, a horse came into my life whom everyone had given up on.”
Denis pursued a show jumping career with this horse but after employing several trainers to correct some of his issues, they gave up and recommended selling the horse. But Denis would not give up on his companion, and instead turned to dressage coach Kris Stellby, who convinced him to not only compete in dressage, but that he could be his own trainer as well.
“I never really saw myself competing at dressage, and certainly not as a trainer. But Kris kept after me, and about the same time, I came across a new training technique called Bridge and Target (now SATS®). SATS® enabled me to communicate with and teach the horse with remarkable speed. The horse that others gave up on became a calm Level-II horse, winning almost every show until Cushing's syndrome stopped his new-found and successful career.”
Since then, Denis has become a SATS-certified trainer and brought many horses to dressage with his positive and cooperative training program.
“I can't think of anything more ‘Natural’ than establishing two-way communication with your horse. The singular ability to ‘Name and Explain’ what you want and need from your horse, and them respond with ‘what and why’ things work or don't work for them provides a basis from which I can teach them dressage skills in a fraction of the time it takes by classical negative-feedback techniques.”