Taka Chi
Dressage Stables
About Us

HISTORY - Clayton Martin

USDF Bronze and Silver Medalist, Certified Instructor through 2nd level.

Clayton was born and raised outside of Boulder, Colorado. Attracted to horses through his father's small breeding operation, he and his dad pieced together some dressage work with their horses in the 70's using Alois Podjasky's books for guidance.

High school and college saw Clayton drawn to the action (and prize money!) of the rodeo. Focusing on the bareback bronc division, Clayton was able to pay his way through college and earn a Bachelor's Degree in Agricultural Business through his bronc competitions.

As his 30th year approached, Clayton decided he wanted a more intimate connection with horses. Remembering the dressage explorations with his dad, Clayton met and was hired by Linda Zang of Davidsonville, Maryland, to groom for her and help with starting her young dressage horses.

Clayton continued his dressage education via clinics and short "sabbaticals" working with Sarah Hall, Carol Lavell, Hilda Gurney, Kathy Connelly and for five years had the rare opportunity of bringing Karl Mikolka to his barn for clinics 4-5 times per year.

Clayton has helped develop many young horses and young riders from the raw start to the FEI levels. He has competed through I-1 and has earned his USDF Bronze and Silver Medals. He is a USDF Certified Instructor through Second Level and is currently enrolled in the USDF "L" Graduate Program.

HISTORY - Sarah Martin

USDF Gold Medal, Certified Instructor through 4th Level and USDF Instructor/Trainer Faculty

Born Sarah Merrill in New York City and raised between a small town outside New York (Piermont, on the Hudson River) and a small farm town in northwest Massachusetts (Heath), Sarah's attraction to horses was a mystery to her parents, whose passion was sailing. Fortunately for Sarah, they recognized and supported her passion, and allowed her to spend every vacation moment and every moment not occupied by school with her friends who had horses. From Shetland ponies to donkeys to Arabians, anything that resembled a horse would satisfy Sarah's need to touch, ride and spend time with these special friends.

Living with her grandmother and then the Malone family in Heath, Massachusetts, Sarah was able to participate in conditioning their Arabs for 50 and 100 mile endurance rides. In high school, now with her own horse, Sarah was able to participate and compete in 50 mile rides held at GMHA in Woodstock, Vermont. She also participated in their annual summer Pony Camps for two weeks each year learning to event her horse through Training Level.

College years found Sarah selling her own horse in order to attend Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. Attracted by their reputation for developing independent people and their work study program, Sarah worked her way through a Bachelor's Degree in Wildlife Biology. In every location she worked or studied, Sarah would find a horse to work with.

Graduating and starting work in the Great Smokey Mountain National Park, Sarah realized her only truly happy times were spent with the pack horse she used for moving her research gear around the park. When her project was finished, Sarah bid the research life good-bye and headed back to Massachusetts to re-ignite her life with horses.

Antioch's influence on Sarah was a deep desire to experience as many aspects of living and working with horses, in as many varied locations around the country, as she could expose herself to.

Having been introduced to FEI level dressage during a working student relationship with Regula Lorenz of Middleburg, Virginia, Sarah wanted to learn more about this intriguing sport. Moving back north from Tennessee, Sarah worked for a year at Flying Horse Stables in Hamilton, Massachusetts. There she trained with Sarah Geikie and watched the top event riders in the country training at Ledyard. She became quite clear in that time that eventing at the World Class level was not her desire.

After a year in New England Sarah wanted change, so she chose the diagonal opposite and moved to Tucson, Arizona. Helping her life long friend Penny Malone, Sarah was back in the world of Arabian show horses.

From Snaffle Bit Futurities to Western Pleasure, cutting horses and Arabian hunters, Sarah worked with Penny and her training stable. Hooking up with the local Pony Club, Sarah went on to work at Esperanza Stables on the north end of town.

There she met Cila Yantis, a trainer from Linda Zang's Idlewilde Farm in Davidsonville, Maryland. Intrigued by Cila's eye for detail and understanding of dressage, Sarah moved back to Maryland to work for Cila.

From Maryland Sarah was offered a job as assistant trainer for Sue Curry in Boulder, Colorado. Moving to Colorado in the summer of 1985, Sarah lost all desire to move anywhere else: Colorado was and is home.

For the next two decades Sarah continued to ride, work and study with the mentors she observed as having the skills she wanted to cultivate. Her interest was always in "how to" so she sought out trainers who could explain, and who had the life experience of developing horses from nothing to something - and something had to be Grand Prix on a World Class level. As such, her time was invested with Sarah Hall from Linda Zang's barn. Many years, including 3 months immediately after Sarah and Clayton were married, were spent studying with Carol Lavell. Moving their training westward again, Sarah and Clayton both spent time with Hilda Gurney. Through a clinic, Sarah met Kathy Connelly and became fascinated with what long lines could accomplish, especially with the development of piaffe and passage.

Through her husband Clayton, Sarah was introduced to and had the opportunity to work with Karl Mikolka for many years.

From all of these working relationships deep friendships have developed. Sarah has a long list of accomplished horses and riders, and feels she owes it all to the tutelage and mentoring of these wonderful people.

Professional Accomplishments:

  • USDF Bronze, Silver and Gold Medalist (thank you Kit Wennesland, Mary Lamy and Alpman!)
  • USDF Certified Second and Fourth Level Instructor Trainer
  • USDF "L" Program Graduate with Distinction
  • Trainer for USDF Horse of the Year horses and riders from Training Level through Prix St Georges.

The Present - Sarah and Clayton Martin

After the sale of their training facility in Boulder, Colorado, Sarah and Clayton spent many years searching for their next home. They both wanted "next" to also be "ultimate" and it took 5 years to find.

The farm in Blanca, Colorado has everything they had on their wish list:

  • Lots of green pastures (about 70 acres in grass)
  • Individual water sources belonging to the land (a pond and 3 springs emerge on the land, along with an agricultural well)
  • Stunning scenery, as everywhere you look are snow capped mountain ranges
  • Fertile and soft ground that welcomes the impact of a horse's hoof rather than jarring it.
  • Slightly sloping, south facing drainage
  • Easy access to airports
  • The feeling of being a million miles away, while having easy access to good roads and easy to trailer horses in.
  • No external noise of roads, cars or neighbors.

The rest of the facility is taking shape under the relentless efforts of Clayton. Currently complete are:

  • An outdoor arena 120 x 240 feet nestled at the base of Mt Blanca
  • The adobe barn with inside stalls for stallions as well as mares with foals
  • Interior heated tack room with adjacent hot water wash stall and grooming bays
  • A hack track around the southern half of the property

Taka Chi Dressage Stables
PO Box 357, 34057 Cedar Avenue
Blanca, CO 81123

Phone: 720-891-1369
Email: ahd@indra.com
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