Dressage rider and trainer, based in Howell, Michigan



Douglas Puterbaugh

Like many riders, Doug´s interest in horses began at an early age. By the age of 12, he was spending every moment he could working with horses at a nearby farm. He would ride the smaller horses and ponies (always without a saddle), in what he refers to as "natural riding" or "uneducated riding." While he doesn´t consider this to be "dressage experience," he still values this as "contributing somewhat to the natural approach, and the chance to familarise himself with the general behavior of horses." His professional career however, began when he had the good fortune to be trained by Sonja Vracko, and it was Sonja who inspired him to develop the qualities required of an effective dressage trainer. While Sonja had a very active judging itinerary at that time, she continuously expressed the need for good, effective trainers.

Working an average of 10-12 horses a day, he trained many horses to the Grand Prix Standard. He has worked with many professionals over the years, some of them more well known for their contribution to the sport, such as Olympic Gold Medalist Christine Stückelberger, Walter Zettle, Charles de Kunffy, Edgar Hotz, Axel Steiner, Dietrich Von Hopfgarten and Rudolf Zeilinger. While he treasures all of these experiences, he considers the daily working routine with Sonja Vracko to be the most valuable. "Sonja really allowed me to develop...much like her approach with the horses." She was, and still is, a constant source of inspiration."

Doug´s primary focus is as a trainer that enables his students to steadily develop their abilities, improve their test scores, and reach their personal goals. As a CDRA Certified Test Administrator, Doug provides his students with the opportunity to get certified at their current riding level, making the lesson program more challenging, as well as rewarding. He is continuously schooling horses throughout the levels, as well as conducting clinics throughout the U.S. and Canada, providing instruction to people who share his love and commitment to the sport of dressage.

Puterbaugh Dressage