Featured Pro: Natasha Traurig of Traurig Tradition Inc.
Featured Pro: Natasha Traurig of Traurig Tradition Inc.
Natasha Traurig of Traurig Tradition Inc. in Carlsbad, California is a professional Grand Prix rider who specializes in the training and development of young horses to Grand Prix show jumpers. She’s also a sought-after coach of riders at all levels in both hunters and jumpers. Natasha and her horses are regularly winning with an elegant jumping style and joy in their approach to each course. It’s all part of a tradition for the Traurig family, one that Natasha is expanding.
Natasha and Choose Me 4 (million GP) in Thermal, CA. Photo: ESI Photography
Both her parents are world-class riders. Christine, her mom, won the bronze medal in dressage at the 2000 Sydney Olympics riding Etienne. Bernie, her dad, is a hunter/jumper rider with national and international accolades. Natasha grew up accompanying her parents to the barn and horse shows. While there was never any pressure to ride, becoming an equestrian was a natural choice; Natasha followed the Traurig family tradition.
“You could say that horses are in my blood: my mom was still riding while I was about ready to be born,” she says. “I was always surrounded by horses. As a toddler, I was begging to sit on horses with my dad for the winner’s circle, and finally got my own little pony, Eddy.”
The Traurig Training Philosophy
The Traurig training philosophy centers on horsemanship and always puts the horse first. Caring for the horses is of the utmost importance to Natasha, and that is something she learned from her parents. Christine and Bernie did all their own work, from grooming and mucking, to trailering, and feeding. Natasha was part of all this and credits her parents and their high standards on horsemanship for shaping who she’s become as a professional.
Natasha watched Christine and Bernie with their business, students, and personal horses while she was growing up. They did not regularly give her lessons when she was young. Instead, she avidly studied how they rode, trained, taught students, and cared for the horses. “This benefitted me in the long run because it pushed me to develop independence, feeling, and the understanding of the importance of doing your homework before your next lesson or show,” Natasha says.
Attention to detail can be the difference between a winning round and second place. Natasha’s careful studies have made her an impeccable rider known for her finesse – she also doesn’t miss any details. Natasha honed these skills as a teenager with Roger That, a horse she and her dad purchased for a dollar. Natasha trained Roger under her dad’s guidance, and eventually placed second in her first Grand Prix when she and Roger were both 17-years-old.
“I have to say, the best memories are those when I was ringside with my dad when he coached me at the shows, and watching my mom teach lessons. They both have inspired me on so many levels in business, riding, and horsemanship.”
Continuing the Family Tradition
Natasha knew at a young age that she wanted to become a professional and follow her parents into equestrian sports. Training Roger further clarified her goals, and she turned professional shortly after winning her first Grand Prix with Roger, when she was 18 years old. She followed her high school graduation with a move to Germany to work and ride, then furthered her education in the United States and Europe as a groom, barn manager, assistant trainer and rider, and a sales rider under other professionals. Natasha started Traurig Tradition Inc. when she was 28 years old.
“I found working for various riders was a vital aspect of my education,” she says. “I was taught my parents’ system when I was young and working for other professionals allowed me to take pieces of knowledge and skills from other viewpoints. I really encourage younger riders to watch and study, and to read and learn from various riders. You can never stop learning with horses. I was lucky to work for Mandy Porter, Michelle Parker, and Neil Jones, who all helped further my education in so many aspects of this sport, and for that I will forever be grateful.”
Natasha and Actiontender PS winning the Blenheim EquiSports Best Overall Young Jumper Champion (chosen by the judging panel) in the West Coast Young Jumper Championships, after being one of three winning 5-year-olds that Natasha rode in the class, all tying for the championship in the Five-Year-Old Young Jumper Champions in August. Photo: McCool Photography.
Traurig Tradition, Inc. specializes in the training and development of young horses to Grand Prix show jumpers, and developing young horses is also a family tradition. Christine grew up on her parents’ farm near Verden, where they bred and developed young horses for the Hanoverian Elite Auction in Germany. Of course, young horses were always part of Christine and Bernie’s business, and today, Christine serves as the U.S. National Trainer for Young Dressage Horses.
Natasha has always had an inherent desire and love for developing young horses. She started working with young horses when she rode for Michelle Parker, and it’s been a main facet of her career and business since then.
Natasha and Jolia BH winning the 6-year-old West Coast young Jumper Championship. Photo: McCool Photos.
“I find bringing young horses along, seeing them grow, and producing them to their fullest potential is incredibly rewarding,” she says. “I believe that this focus has made me a better rider and has allowed me to expand my training philosophy with greater variety because every horse is different.”
“Some young horses are easy and learn quickly or prove more physically capable at an early time,” Natasha continues. “Others may be late-bloomers or require more patience as they may differ from the uniform training levels. I have a special relation to each and every one of my horses and enjoy training them in every area from on the ground to in the saddle. It’s truly gratifying to watch a young horse’s character and ability flourish in every step of their development.”
Overcoming the Odds
Natasha is grateful for the opportunities and experiences she’s had but recognizes that there are many challenges to this sport as a professional rider. Finances limit many young riders – it’s an expensive sport and can be hard to compete often or afford a horse.
“This is something I personally struggled with as a young rider – and still do today as a professional – but it spurred me to find other ways to ride in the sport,” she says. “Growing up, we (my family) found ways and opportunities to buy horses that were inexpensive because of ‘problems’ they may have had. I may not have had the fanciest or most expensive, winning horses, but I was able to learn by riding the difficult ones and creating success from the ground up.”
Continuing your education is another important step for young riders and professionals. Natasha did not have a string of horses to practice daily on, so she purchased DVDs of the Olympics, World Cups, and other international Grand Prix specials and watched the other riders over and over again. She applied the same discipline early in her professional career, gaining experience while working for other professionals and understanding their training philosophies.
Natasha and Berry De Maillet. Photo: Julia B Photography
“I highly encourage young kids that may be at a disadvantage in the sport because of their finances to never stop teaching yourself: read, watch, listen, practice; there are so many educational outlets out there to study from, and look for every opportunity you can to receive a granule of knowledge from a professional,” she says. “In my business today, I may not have the fanciest set up, or truck, or be able to show every week, or have the ability to buy nice horses for myself. But I make the best of what I have, I put the care for my horses and people in my program above all else, and I am proud to say that the ‘nice’ horses I personally own today are ones I produced. Having money in this sport is an advantage; but work ethic and being a great horseman and a good person is a bigger one.”
Those qualities also yield the biggest rewards. Watching horses that she’s produced succeed, and her clients grow their riding and education are daily rewards for Natasha. “I am proud to have a business that manifested a group of riders that truly care about their horses and all dimensions of horsemanship.”
Natasha and Va Voom, who shows off her personality in addition to her jumping talent. This was after winning the $2500 1.40m Silver Tour at Blenheim EquiSports. Photo: McCool Photography
Traurig Tradition Inc. builds on the family tradition of excellent horsemanship and dedication to the sport. Natasha brings the best of what she’s learned from her parents and other professionals to the sport and weaves in her own training philosophies to produce top tier horses and riders. But she’s also building her own traditions. Natasha’s looking forward to exploring shows on the East coast with her horses and clients and traveling more for competitions. The young horses that she’s training are finding success with their riders. At the end of the day, the smiles on the faces and the happy horses show us that the Traurig tradition continues.
Visit Natasha Traurig of Traurig Tradition Inc. at ProEquest.com