Michael Tokaruk jumps clean on Zig Zag PCH during the Gladstone Program at Annali-Brookwood Farm.
Germantown, TN - July 2, 2015 – Professional rider, Michael Tokaruk, Germantown, TN, was into the show season full throttle with a great winning streak going on when June 15th showed up on his calendar. The entire week was blocked out for the Gladstone Program at Rush and Caroline Weeden’s Annali-Brookwood Farm in Antioch, IL, where Tokaruk was hand selected by George Morris to participate in the developing riders training session. Tokaruk and his mount, Zig Zag PCH owned by Lee Hatcher of Little Rock, AR, cleared their schedule and headed to the northern Chicago suburb for the educational chance of a lifetime.
The Gladstone Program is an intensive week of training and education for exceptionally dedicated and talented show jumping riders who are serious about their interest and desire to pursue a path that will prepare them for international competition.
The training session was organized by Diane Carney, USEF R HU/EQ/JP judge, clinician and technical advisor, who was on hand for the riders 24/7 for assistance and consultation.
Tokaruk clears the water during the Grand Prix of Brookwood during the Gladstone Program.
Tokaruk experienced six days of riding with Morris, the former United States Chef d’Equip, and was fortunate enough to have Morris select his horse for a demonstration or two. But that was just the tip of the iceberg. The Gladstone Program was a collection of some of the best horsemen in the country, sharing their lifelong knowledge and experiences with the group of riders like Tokaruk, who were eager to learn and up their game.
George Morris schools Tokaruk's mount Zig Zag PCH.
In addition to Morris’ instruction, Tokaruk added the flat work techniques and inspiration of Olympian, Anne Kursinski to his mental Rolodex of knowledge. Tokaruk spent time riding with Kursinski as a junior, so is no stranger to her schooling skills.
He experienced animal anatomy expert Dr. Deb Bennett, who is sought after by the Smithsonian Institute and the Chicago Field Museum, as she explained how a horse is able to flex correctly due to its bone structure, among other anatomy topics.
Tokaruk spent time back in the barn with famed derby rider and horseman, Jennifer Alfano, sharing conversations about the best care and schedules of their horses. Dr. Mark Cassells of Homestead Veterinary Clinic was also on hand all week, helping riders with the health and soundness of their animals.
Olympic veterinarian, Dr. Marvin Beeman, shared volumes of his knowledge on conformation and function and Bill Liggett shared his years of experience in shoeing grand prix horses as well.
Then there was Young Riders Chef d’ Equip, DiAnn Langer, who talked about the U25 and the Developing Riders Programs and Brenda Mueller, who gave her insight on branding and marketing for the riders.
Tokaruk took in the information from the list of experts in their fields, to walk away with a new outlook and fresh inspiration.
“I’m very glad I took a week out of my busy showing and training schedule at home to go to Chicago and learn from so many great people,” said Tokaruk. “It was like a continuing education symposium that encompassed so many valuable areas. Sometimes as a professional it is hard to step away from the business of teaching lessons and going to horse shows, but I feel the Gladstone program was beneficial in so many ways. There will always be another horse show to go to.”
In Morris’ words, “The basics are the cake, the flat work and the stable management, competition is the icing.”
Tokaruk is one of the few professionals taking time to become a better horseman and rider. Knowledge is power as the old saying goes.
“Every day you get up and you know nothing,” said Morris. “After 70 years, I’m just starting to get it.”
It wasn’t as if Tokaruk was in a slump or had never won before considering applying to the program. In April he won the $25,000 Grand Prix at the Brownland Farms Spring II Horse Show aboard Maria Roberts’ Qasqai and in May he won the Welcome Stake there. In June, Tokaruk won the $5,000 Versatility Challenge on White Lightening for Shannon Hicks and Helen Gilbert at the Germantown Charity Horse Show. Just before heading to the Chicago area, Tokaruk won the $15,000 Open Welcome with Qasqai and was sixth with Zig Zag PCH at Brownland as well. Fresh off the Gladstone Program, Tokaruk was third in the $30,000 Grand Prix at Brownland Farm on July 4th with his mount, Qasqai
The Gladstone Program was developed to insure the success of future U.S. Teams with the goal of building horseman from the stable to the saddle. The purpose of the program is to continue to educate, support and guide riders on the overall knowledge and expertise required to succeed at the top level of show jumping internationally. Tokaruk was one of the twenty riders to take advantage of the great program.
Tokaruk now has a new volume of horsemanship to boost his performance and gained new motivation and inspiration from the panel of legends at the Gladstone Program. Because of the program, now Tokaruk can have his cake, and the icing, and eat it too, as he jumps back into his busy schedule, full speed ahead.
“I would highly recommend this program to other aspiring riders and trainers,” added Tokaruk. “The Gladstone program is very special and worthwhile to anyone desiring to compete at a higher level of show jumping.”
Tokaruk runs Tokaruk Show Stables where he successfully teaches and trains hunters, jumpers and equitation riders. He always has quality hunters and jumpers for sale.
For more information, please visit his website at www.michaeltokaruk.com or contact him through Facebook or Instagram @michaeltokaruk.
9580 E Shelby Dr
Collierville, TN 38017
Michael Tokaruk is sponsored by: