Doug and Louise Leatherdale
Founders and Owners
Doug and Louise Leatherdale, the founders and owners of Leatherdale Farms, are highly regarded in the dressage and sport horse breeding communities for their generosity, unwavering passion for the sport and the spectacular horses they have bred and owned. Though Doug passed away on Dec. 6, 2015, Louise is continuing their legacy, providing quality stallions for breeding and supporting their competition horses.
Born Dec. 6, 1936, in Morden, Manitoba, Canada, Doug Leatherdale graduated from United College in Winnipeg in 1957. He immigrated to the United States and built a remarkable career in business. He served as chairman and chief executive officer of The St. Paul Companies Inc., one of the largest U.S. insurance companies, from 1990 to 2001. The founding member of the University of Winnipeg Foundation's Board of Directors, Leatherdale also served on the boards of the Minnesota Orchestral Association, Xcel Energy Inc. and UnitedHealth Group Inc., to name a few. He received the 2015 Governor General of Canada's medal for building relationships between Canada and the U.S. in education, commerce, philanthropy, sports and the arts.
Doug Leatherdale served as president of the American Hanoverian Society from 2001 to 2010, drawing on his business expertise to guide the Society during his tenure. In 2011, he was honored with the Golden Badge of the Hannoveraner Verband and remains the only non-German recipient of that prize. He was named the 2006 Dressage Canada Owner of the Year.
With Louise, Doug Leatherdale also made a significant impact through charitable gifts to worthwhile causes. The couple donated to Assiniboine Park Conservancy in Winnipeg, where the International Polar Bear Conservation Centre was renamed in their honor. Their significant gift to the Minnesota Orchestra created the Douglas and Louise Leatherdale Music Director Chair in honor of Osmo Vänskä to foster international touring, recording and the artistic growth of the ensemble. The Leatherdale’s also made a major gift that funded the Leatherdale Equine Center at University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
The Leatherdale’s have had an immense influence on the Hanoverian sport horse world. They began breeding and showing Hanoverian jumpers from their home in Medina, Minnesota, in the late 1980s. After taking a breeders' course in Verden, Germany, in 1993, they shifted their focus to dressage and began purchasing mares from farms in Virginia and Ontario, as well as importing mares and foals from Germany. Their first stallion, His Highness, was the top selling stallion and champion of the 2002 Hanoverian licensing.
Young Horse Rider/Trainer
Mike Suchanek joined the Leatherdale Farms team in 2014 and has been instrumental in the development and show-ring success of the young horses. He has won over 12 championship and reserve championship titles on multiple horses at the GAIG/Region 4 Championships, as well as earning well placed finishes at the Markel/USEF Young and Developing Horse Championships in 2015 and 2016 on multiple horses. He has also won multiple national championship titles on Leatherdale Farms’ young horses at the U.S. Dressage Finals in Lexington, Kentucky.
Suchanek grew up on a farm in Minnesota. When he was 15, he began to buy, train and resell young horses with the goal of producing confident and uncomplicated mounts. When he began working for Leatherdale Farms, he did not have dressage experience, but his talent for centered riding gave him a stepping stone for dressage success.
Performance Horse Manager
Jessi Lash, of Minnesota, joined the Leatherdale Farms team in 2005 as the FEI Groom traveling across the country with their top dressage competitors. Though she is a dressage trainer, Lash prefers being part of extensive behind-the-scenes care that goes into managing the elite performance horse operation.
She graduated with a BA in biology from the University of Minnesota-Morris, and she went back to school to earn her BS in Business Management from California Coast University. Prior to working for Leatherdale Farms, she managed a boarding barn and trained dressage students. When she decided to start her family in 2009, Lash transitioned into her role as Performance Horse Manager.
Alison Sader Larson
Alison Sader Larson has greatly contributed to the development and training of Leatherdale Farms’ young horses in Minnesota. With more than 30 years of experience competing at the top of the sport, she has earned the USDF Gold, Silver and Bronze medals, as well as graduated from the USDF ‘L’ program with distinction. Sader-Larson began her riding career eventing in her local Pony Club, but soon became dedicated to dressage training. She represented her region three times at the FEI North American Young Riders Championships before she studied Psychology and Sociology at Doane College.
She has produced many horses up to Grand Prix with multiple placed on the USET High Performance list. During her formative years, Sader-Larson studied with some of the world’s foremost riders including Klaus Balkenhol, Hubertus Schmidt, Debbie McDonald, Willie Schultheis and Robert Dover.
Canadian Grand Prix dressage rider Diane Creech has developed many Leatherdale Farms’ horses into competitive international Grand Prix mounts. In 2007, Creech won a team silver medal at the Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on Leatherdale Farms’ Hanoverian mare Wiona. For the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto, Canada, Creech was named as a reserve with Robbie W, an Oldenburg gelding owned by Leatherdale Farms. She also has had success in the young horse arena, earning the Canadian FEI Five-Year-Old Championship title in 2005 on Leatherdale Farms’ Hanoverian gelding Devon L. The following year, the pair represented Canada at the World Young Horse Breeding Championships in Verden, Germany. In 2012, Creech was named the reserve for the 2012 London Olympic Games.
Though Creech was born in Georgia, she grew up in Germany gaining experience by working for veterinarians and learning important business skills. She completed her German Bereiter training before moving to Canada in 1989.
Canadian Young Rider, Vanessa Creech-Terauds, is the daughter of Diane Creech and has had the opportunity to compete a handful of horses for Leatherdale Farms. In 2016, she qualified Rob Roy for the FEI Young Rider Division and Fleur de Lis L for the FEI Junior Rider Division at the North American Junior & Young Rider Championships in Parker, Colorado. She won two individual silver medals on Fleur de Lis L for their Individual Junior test and their Freestyle.
A veteran Grand Prix competitor on the U.S. Dressage Team, Sue Blinks has helped secure team medals at both the Olympic Games and FEI World Equestrian Games. She was a member of the bronze medal winning team at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games with Flim Flam. In 2002, she was also a member of the Silver medal team at the FEI World Equestrian Games. She has been named the U.S. Olympic Committee’s Dressage Female Athlete of the Year twice and was awarded the USEF Gold Medal of Distinction in 2014.
Based in Tryon, North Carolina and Wellington, Florida during the winter, Blinks currently competes Leatherdale Farms’ Hanoverian gelding Habanero L in the small tour.
Olympic medalist Helen Langehanenberg is a German Grand Prix dressage rider who has experience competing at the top level of the sport. Her training is influenced by her experience working with Ingrid Klimke and Klaus Balkenhol. Langehanenberg won a team silver medal at the 2012 London Olympic Games on Damon Hill. In 2014, she was a member of the gold medal winning German team at the FEI World Games in Caen, France and also took home two individual silver medals.
She currently competes Leatherdale Farms’ licensed Hanoverian breeding stallion Damsey. The pair swept their first CDI3* together in Mannheim, Germany winning both the Grand Prix and the Grand Prix Special. They continue to earn top placings at prestigious CDIs throughout Europe.
Dr. Barbara Schmidt
DVM of Bridlewood Farm
Dr. Barbara Schmidt has worked with Leatherdale Farms’ breeding program for many years helping select the highest quality stallions and broodmares in Europe and the United States. Since 1990, Schmidt and her husband, Frederick Abblett, have owned and operated Bridlewood Farm, a highly respected Hanoverian breeding operation and the base for Schmidt’s equine veterinary practice. Bridlewood Farm is the home base for four sport horse stallions owned by Leatherdale Farms, which are currently standing in the U.S.
Dr. Schmidt graduated from Purdue University’s School of Veterinary Medicine in 1984. Her equine ambulatory practice serves the tri-state area of Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana. In 2008, she was named Kentucky Veterinarian of the Year by the Kentucky Veterinary Medical Association. In 2015, she was honored by the KVMA again for the Distinguished Service Award. She has served on the American Hanoverian Society Board of Directors since 1990 and is the current Executive Vice President. Dr. Schmidt has also been active in many leadership roles for the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Breeder at Hengststation Meyer
Since 2000, Leatherdale Farms has forged a partnership with Hengststation Jens Meyer as their dedicated young horse training program in Europe. Located in Dorum, Germany, the breeding farm and training center strives for excellence in the development of young dressage horses.
Hengststation Jens Meyer prides itself on its commitment to the proper development of a young dressage horse. The Meyers believe it is imperative to provide a solid training foundation for each horse. They understand the challenges young horses often face as part of the process, such as giving too much of a response to the rider’s aid, and they keep the focus on steady progress without losing relaxation or throughness. Hengststation Jens Meyer is currently standing Leatherdale Farms’ stallions Beltano and Damsey FRH.