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Last weekend, watching prominent area artist, the painter Jan Hatch, and her beautiful horse, Leopardo, a relatively rare, purebred Andalusian, pass the examination for The Century Club of the Dressage Foundation was an eye-opener.
The event occurred at the Rockin' K Ranch, a 200-acre horse farm on Peck Road in Shalersville Township that Jack and Heidi Kohl have owned for more than 20 years.
It is true. You cannot keep a good person down. Jan has always had steel-like determination and enthusiasm in her makeup and was not about to let current health issues defeat her. She and Leopardo, her horse of 19 years, handled the Dressage examination with poise. Horse and rider quickly racked up a score of nearly 7 out of a perfect 10, sufficient to earn entry into the Century Club, an honorary distinction in which the combined ages of horse and rider must equal 100.
I watched it all with Janet and her sister, Jeannie, the three of us part of a sizeable delegation from the "Jan Hatch Fan Club" who turned out to witness her triumph. We also cheered for Jan's husband, Tom, chief officer for resource development at Coleman Professional Services. His devotion and steadfast encouragement surely qualify him as an important member of the Jan Hatch Dressage Team.
I do not know much about horses, but I did learn that Dressage is an Olympic sport. The word, whose origins are French, means, "the art of riding and training a horse in a manner that develops obedience, flexibility, and balance."
Talk about pressure!
Jan won her Century Club certification before Judge Janet Foy, one of America's six five-star FEI judges. Foy is qualified to and in 2020 may appear as a judge for Dressage in the Olympics scheduled for Tokyo.
Twice a year, Jack and Heidi bring Foy to the Rockin' K Ranch to run Dressage clinics. Foy's base is Colorado Springs.
Rockin' K Ranch
My other eye opener last weekend was the scope of Rockin' K Ranch.
The operation stables more than 40 horses. Some are starter horses owned by families for their children who are learning to ride. Other horses are quite valuable and owned by experienced riders. Rockin' K has two indoor arenas. One is a heated facility of 80 by 220 feet. The other is larger, at 100 by 220 feet. There are miles of trails for riding, an outdoor arena at 200 by 300 feet, and even a "retirement" barn for horses retired from discipline.
Heidi, a silver medalist in Dressage, trains with Foy and George Williams, a World Cup finalist in Dressage, based in Wellington, Fla.
Jack enjoys riding, too. He does not ride at his wife's level, but Heidi said, pointing to tractors, mowers and other equipment, "Jack gets to play with all the big boy toys." Their sons, Jake and Jarred, both grown, married, and residing out of state, rode as youngsters. They still enjoy riding with their wives when they come home.
Among other features of Rockin' K Ranch: matted stalls, four tack rooms, foaling stalls, heated wash racks, a two-story viewing room, all weather turnouts, state of the art ventilation, and grooming areas.
Jack tells me the horse population per capita in Northeast Ohio exceeds that of California and Texas. The Cleveland Equine Clinic, one of Ohio's finest veterinarian hospitals for horses, is on Webb Road, not far from Rockin' K Ranch.
Jack also owns and operates Jack Kohl Realty, which has a comparatively large staff. He and I serve on two community boards together. If Jack calls in to say he is too busy to attend our meetings, I will understand because he actually works two full-time jobs.
Heidi and Jack share administrative chores. Heidi handles the teaching programs. The two with their staff care for the horses. Jack oversees plant and equipment.
Blue Ribbon winner
Finally: kudos to Jeannie Allen, Janet's younger sister, who won a blue ribbon in bocce for the Ohio Special Olympics at the district level in Medina recently. Victory qualifies Jeannie for state competition at Ohio State in Columbus.
I snapped a photo of Jeannie with her blue ribbon from district competition of which she is justifiably proud.