Jun 18, 2008 Willie Kiernan Uncategorized
And off she goes
Caz junior gets to spend senior year pursuing her dream abroad
By Willie Kiernan
Due to the accomplishments of Beezie Madden, the Olympics and horseback riding are two thing synonymous with Cazenovia.
“The look on their faces when they get the gold medal, that’s my favorite part,” said Helena Krebs, 17, a Cazenovia equestrian.
Like Madden, Krebs actually lives in Nelson, and she has been given an opportunity to pursue her dream, not here, but overseas in Europe.
“If you do something nice, nice things will come to you,” Krebs said. “I’m a big believer in karma.”
Ms. Krebs, a junior at Cazenovia High School, has been selected as a working student and exercise rider for Niklaus Schurtenberger, a member of the Swiss National Show Jumping Team. She will be leaving for Switzerland on June 23, the day after her last Regents exam.
“It seems so surreal,” Krebs said. “I know I’m leaving in six days, but it doesn’t seem real, like it’s me who’s going.”
Krebs, who was offered the position for one year, will join a staff of five at Schurtenberger’s 40-horse barn in Lyss, a suburb of Berne, the Swiss capital. As if in a dream come true, she has an older step-sister already living there to help with the culture shock. Heidi, that’s her name, lives an hour and 20 minutes away.
“I feel like I owe my family so much,” Krebs said. “Being the youngest, I’ve learned from them how to make good decisions.”
With an on-line curriculum from a school in Maine, Krebs will get her high school degree via e-mail during the course of the year. She then hopes to attend college abroad.
“I feel like I need to go to college,” she said. “I’m sure there’ll be an option and a temptation not to go, but I think in these times it is wise to go.”
With a confidence and grace that belies her age, Ms. Krebs keeps her eye on the prize, the Olympic gold.
“That’s my goal. I know everyone says that, but they get sidetracked,” she said. “I’m so young to know what I want to do. It may be na ve of me – a tall glass of water to drink — that’s what people say. I know it’s a lot of work”
Unafraid of work, Krebs has done everything involved with horses. She knows her way around a stall and which end of the shovel to hold.
“Riding horses and working with them has given me a lot of responsibility,” she said. “I feel like I’ve grown up fast but that’s just the way it’s going. I can’t sit on the couch and wait for people to catch up with me.”
She is gunning for the Olympics and the gold, but she also has another passion.
“I’m very inspired by art,” she said. “I love to sculpt and paint. If I fall and break my leg and can’t ride anymore, I’ll always have my art.”
She told of a project in art class where she had to sculpt something with clay. She chose to sculpt a horse.
“I know all the muscle groups. People said, ‘that’s amazing, how’d you do it?’ It’s kind of what I know.”
Since before school age, Krebs knew she wanted to ride. She begged her mother for lessons for years before getting them on her ninth birthday. She would spend her weekends at the Cazenovia Equestrian Center and as she became older she would work for her riding.
“Anything that’s good doesn’t come easy,” she said. “You have to work to get or do anything. If you don’t work, what’ll you do? That’s called retirement.”
Certainly too young to retire, Krebs has even considered her post-Olympic life. She said she might open an equestrian boarding school where kids can ride while getting their education. But first, she must deal with this year-of-a-lifetime.
“Heidi says I’m going to find a-whole-nother world over there,” she said
This is her first trip to Europe, but Krebs has studied French since sixth grade and has even taken a course in German. She will be going to an area where Swiss-German is spoken, but she’ll be close to an area where the Swiss speak French.
“I can’t learn the language in a classroom; I have to go there,” she said.
And off she goes.
Schurtenberger is among the top 100 show jumping riders in the world. He competes on the Samsung Super League with FEI and is currently short-listed for the coming Olympics with his gray gelding, Cantus. The introduction to Schurtenberger came via Fran oise Zumkehr-Grandjean, of Interlaken, Switzerland, a top breeder of Selle Francais horses at her farm, Haras de Fuyssieux in Montcarra, France and long-time family friend of Helena’s parents, Gene and Gail Krebs.
Helena had been applying for a working student position for the summer with professional riders in this country and even approached Beezie Madden in the P&C for an opportunity at an internship, but it was already late spring.
“She said they were all booked up.”
Krebs has been a member of the U.S. Pony Club since she began riding at the age of nine. She has held working student and barn assistant positions previously at Cazenovia Equestrian Center, Black Ridge Farm in Middletown and New Hope Farms in Port Jervis. Her trainer has been Crystal Gaskell of Cazenovia, whose specialty is dressage.
“Other sports have struck my fancy, but this is what I feel natural doing,” Krebs said.
Before leaving America for a year, Helena, or Hallie as some call her, wanted to thank Gaskell and Brian Enders of Cazenovia Equestrian Center and most of all, her family.
“I always knew that the Olympics was the best of the best,” she said. “This is all I ever wanted to do. I just want to go.”
Some people dream of riding, Helena Krebs is riding the dream.