Dorie Forte & Froelich
by Carly Weilminster (first appeared in the September 2013 issue of The Equiery)
Dorie Trapp Forte exemplifies the extraordinary qualities numerous amateurs strive to achieve during their riding careers. Not only has she served as the Financial Director of Maryland Shock Trauma for the past 32 years, she is also known as “Mom” to 18-hand Froelich, a registered Oldenburg gelding who has become a shining star in the dressage arena. Dorie, not originally a dressage rider, has struck gold with her big chestnut gelding and was thrilled to accept The Equiery’s Perpetual Dressage Award for 2012.
A Diverse Start
Dorie taught herself to ride on a pony her grandfather got her when she was very young. She did not receive any formal instruction until she was fourteen, when she began actively competing show hunters. It was not until 1998 that Dorie was first exposed to the world of dressage after watching a local competition. “Dressage is beautiful. I love watching it. I wanted to learn so much more, which is why I decided to try it,” she said. She first competed on her homebreds but said they were much better suited for the hunter world and not the dressage ring. Her most successful homebred, Hallston, a pinto warmblood mare currently competing on the hunter circuit with Evan Crierie, has made her proud even though dressage was not her forte.
As Dorie gained more experience and knowledge, she needed a more accomplished equine partner. She hoped to find an experienced Fourth Level competitor to help teach her the upper-level movements. Instead, she happened upon a green broke three-year-old who, with time, would become the horse of a lifetime.
The Horse of a Lifetime
A good friend and her trainer at the time, Evelyn Pfoutz, called Dorie after seeing Fro at a competition and recommended that she come to look at him. Dorie felt a instant connection. Even though Fro was the opposite of what she had intended to purchase, he made a lasting impression. With a little push from her mother, Dorie signed the check and Fro was hers. He is by Festrausch, a Westphalian stallion formerly standing at Hilltop Farm in Colora. “He is fun, honestly he is just a really fun horse,” said Dorie about Fro.
Dorie took him home and that same month they were out competing, scoring in the 70s right off the bat. They qualified for Nationals at the Kentucky Horse Park in 2006, competing in the Four-Year-Old championship class. That same year, they were the highest-placing amateur pair at the Colonel Bengt Ljungquist Memorial Championships at Training Level.
Fro’s five-year-old season was “his year,” Dorie says. Together, they competed in the USDF Materiale classes, blowing the competition out of the water. Fro averaged scores above 80% making him the highest-placed horse in the country for the division. They collected multiple USDF All-Breed awards including the Oldenburg NA at First Level as well as USDF Horse of the Year for four- and five-year-old geldings competing in Materiale classes. He also won the 2007 Young Horse Championships with Teresa Butta aboard.
By age six, Fro was competing at Third Level with Dorie under the supervision of Scott Hassler. Dorie had met Susanne and Scott on the dressage circuit and enjoyed their teaching philosophy and style. With weekend trips to Hassler Dressage at Riveredge, Dorie and Fro continued their climb to the top. By 2011, they were successfully competing at Fourth Level and ready to make the move to Prix St. Georges when disaster struck. What seemed to be a common allergic reaction took a turn for the worse, ultimately threatening Fro’s life.
One evening while making her routine night checks, Dorie noticed Fro hyperventilating in his stall and immediately phoned her vet. After two days of no improvement the decision was made to send him to the Marion duPont Scott Equine Medical Center in Leesburg for further testing. After his departure from Leesburg following testing, a neck infection set in and he was sent straight back to the clinic. With help from Dorie’s closest friends, such as Shari Glickman, Fro was able to return home infection-free after a long stay in Leesburg.
Upon Fro’s discharge, Dorie took him straight to Shari’s GoodNess Ridge Farm in Mt. Airy for his recovery period, but they ended up staying for good. “She truly is a godsend. I don’t know what I would have done without her,” said Dorie.
But troubled times were not finished for Dorie and Fro. Within the next six months, distinct muscle atrophy became recognizable in Fro’s pectoral muscles. This time, Dorie decided to haul Fro to Dr. Kent Allen’s Virginia Equine Imaging center just outside Middleburg, VA to diagnose the problem and see what could be done. After hours of thorough testing, there was little hope that Fro’s muscle would ever regenerate, keeping him out of upper level competition. But once again, with the help of her incredible team, Dorie worked tirelessly night and day trying to stimulate the muscle in an effort to regenerate the damaged nerve causing the atrophy.
Jim Yanchunis, a local veterinarian and acupuncture expert, played a crucial role in helping Dorie’s efforts. To almost everyone’s surprise, within six months of the original damage, the muscle and nerve had fully healed with no signs of visible atrophy. Finally after a long, patient, and expensive wait, Dorie and Fro could compete again.
The pair has now earned their Bronze and Silver USDF medals and are working towards their Gold. “It makes me work,” Dorie commented when explaining how difficult getting her Gold medal will be. With successful outings at Intermediaire I and eventually up through Grand Prix, Dorie continues to help Fro get to the top.
At an early outing this spring, Dorie surprised herself by scoring a 69% on one of their first runs at the Intermediaire I level. She recalled, “That was a moment!” And a well-deserved one at that, considering the tremendous hours of hard work and dedication Dorie has poured into keeping Fro in tip-top form, while working an incredibly demanding full-time job. The duo is already qualified for the 2013 BLMs and the USDF Region I Championships. PVDA’s Loch Moy show in September will be their first outing for the fall competition season. With one qualifying score under her belt, Dorie is more driven than ever to obtain her Gold Medal.
Being recognized by The Equiery for the 2012 Perpetual Dressage Award was something Dorie had been working towards all season. “I was very excited because it was something that I wanted. It is really tough to meet the show requirements but I wanted it, so I went for it,” she said.
It is important to recognize the commitment Dorie has made to the sport of dressage but also to the team she has built around her. “It’s hard, but if you want it, you have to figure it out. You have to put a great team around yourself because that’s what matters,” she said. Her husband Frank has been Dorie’s rock during this entire process. “I am the luckiest lady in the world. He is so supportive of Fro and me. He understands the level of commitment I have to make to go where I want to go and be successful there.” Dorie also mentioned friend Jennifer Tingely as part of Team Fro. She added, “My parents were both extremely encouraging with my riding. Without them I would have never gotten to where I am today.”