On the Passing of Indian Horseman Tootoo Imam

Tootoo Imam

The country of India is mourning the loss of one of its most interesting and well-known horsemen. S.A.H.A.A. Imam, better known at Tootoo Imam, passed away on January 5 at the age of 97. He hailed from a well-known, prestigious Indian family that played important roles in the political development of India in the early 1900s. Iman was a passionate horseman who authored several books on horses, including the The Centaur, which was one of the first books on horsemanship written by an Indian author.

Bettina Drummond had the good fortune to have known Tootoo Iman and below shares one of her memories of time spent with this great horseman:

“In my life I’ve had the very good luck to meet consummate horsemen from all walks of life – riders who have dedicated themselves to understanding horses and their way of learning human games for no other reason than that it makes their lives better to enjoy this exchange. I was visiting my uncle Bob Phipps at his plantation house, Bolan Hall in South Carolina, when I had such an encounter. My uncle’s great friend from India, known as Tootoo, was spending a little down time with his family and we all settled in for a convivial time. Much to my amazement, halfway through dinner Tootoo and I discovered we shared an affinity for the same type of horsemanship! He on his polo ponies and I on my Lusitanos. But his affiliated mentor was James Fillis and mine Francois Baucher. Now in dressage sport circles, this would be considered one as the same but in the rarified stratosphere of the equestrian connoisseur it was bound to lead to a heated discussion!

From One Artist to Another – Remembering Tom Petty

Bettina and “Mimi”

Mourning the loss of Tom Petty — a fellow poet, artist and rebel who was a great inspiration to me in my own craft. His music, particularly in the 1990s, was the inspiration that re-inspired my art after Oliveira passed away. Among his music that most touched me were “I Won’t Back Down” and “Free Falling.”

Petty was a true source of inspiration, both in the beauty of his words and in his intransigent libertarian thoughts. I was 11-years-old when I heard his voice and words and witnessed his style on the British Top of the Pops show. It was years later, as I was perceiving my own art form as an independent expression, that I heard his own art form and voice. I realized then that art is about the strength of conviction and uproar that one conveys. This through body language, verbal assertion and mindfulness. He was a great artist and an apologetic iconoclast. I was lucky to live during his time.

Bettina and “Mimi” Honor the Late Jean-Marie Donard

Jean-Marie Donard, former dressage rider, trainer and head stable manager with France’s Cadre Noir, passed away in August at the age of 69 from a heart attack. Donard was with the Cadre Noir for 25 years. During those many years he held numerous positions including that of being responsible for training many of the Cadre Noir dressage horses. Donard also represented France in international competition in both eventing and dressage. He retired from the Cadre Noir in 1995 and spent part of his retirement years working on his book, “Le Guide de Dressage,” which was published in 2013.

In honor of Donard, Bettina and her famous partner “Mimi” paid homage to Donard in the way they know best. Watch their ride by clicking the photo below:


Mark Russell’s Sola – An Update

Sola is officially in the double bridle!

Says Bettina Drummond – “He’s coming along so well. He’s a credit to Mark Russell’s skills in bringing him up. It’s so funny that Sola is a chestnut gelding Hanoverian – a cross of everything I don’t normally choose – but I love him dearly!”

Bettina rode the shoulder-in one handed so she could provide a photo view from up top!

Notes from My May Trip to France

I recently decided to refresh my rider’s mind with a visit to certain écuyers in France during my May clinic run.



It had been a long while since I had been able to travel long distances and therefore had not been able to dialogue with any practicing Baucheristes, who like me, made a career in the current horse world whilst keeping true with our private pursuit of this methodology. It was lovely to be invited to watch the contact each rider had with their personal horse and reminded me in this swing career year for me of the particular pleasure it is to be at home with your horse, your conviction and your love for it all. I began my trip with a visit to my oldest student based in Rennes and got to ride my friend Ann Klrmenrz’s lovely young horse (I apologized for passaging and bouncing on his back but I was still in rehab from my February accident). Also, I pushed on a young horse of Brigitte Moreau who was overdue an upgrade to third level-ish movements (She insists that she will not push on if she has not had my guidance, a most charming kind of blackmail!) I had the pleasure of teaching a young professional – M. Ydris who had put some really nice touches on his horses and was open to the idea that lightness was not an extra. His client and owner of a tricky Dutch horse (are there any that are not??!!!) Cyril allowed me to have ground work half-school feel of this elegant grey and I particularly loved the loft of his flying change. All this in all a lovely group and all concerned with not harming the horses in a psychological level as much as a biomechanical one. That is the reason for my longevity as a teacher really! I walk away from teaching when the ambitions of the rider take away that integrity and honesty. This group always gets a return visit as they never let that ideal down.

Mourning the Loss of One of France’s Great Horsemen

It is with much sadness that Bettina Drummond reports the passing of Jean Peigne. He passed away peacefully after a long fight with Alzheimer’s disease. Peigne was well known, not only for his horsemanship, but also for the quality of the horses he bred.


“He was a sensitive, sparse man. I am honored that he often said I was a spiritual daughter to him,” Bettina said. “I first me Jean Peigne when he came to see my tribute for Maitre Oliveira on the famous stallion Levante. Retired in France, I performed one last time the demonstration ride I had always presented for special guests in Portugal and Jean and his son were spectators. Jean was moved to tears and invited me to visit his stud farm in Le Cellier close to the Loire. At the time, I had not replaced my defunct Lusitanos and only had my Thoroughbred Fidelio and one PRE to ride.”

Horseman John Craven on His Life Well Lived

John Craven, Dr. Max Gahwyler, Donna Coughlin and Bettina Drummond

Horseman John Craven came into my life through Donna Coughlin and her horse Oberon aka “Obi.” Donna had sought out my help with Obi and that connected me to John, who, as you’ll note in his bio below, had a deep respect for Nuno Oliveira. I enjoyed the times I spent with John sharing and comparing riding techniques and styles of teaching. He was part of a spontaneous network and one of the many threads that inspired me to weave them all together into the idea that has become APAHA.

John is now in hospice with lung cancer. In the bio below, which is in his own words, he tells us of his life and asks us to rejoice in it with him. He is much loved and his friendship is much appreciated.

In Memoriam – Ilyad

It is with great sadness that Bettina Drummond announces the loss of her equine friend and teacher, her wonderful Lusitano stallion Ilyad, who was quietly put to rest on the morning of March 16, 2017 due to a severe case of colic.

“After my maître – Nuno Oliveira – died, Ilyad became my teacher of instant timing and feel and the perception of right balance. It was my privilege to be his partner for so many years,” Bettina said.

Artist and rider Mari Austad-Bourque was so inspired by seeing Ilyad with Bettina that she felt the need to create art with his image. “I was fortunate enough to capture a moment between Ilyad and Bettina when they were surrounded in sunlight in an otherwise dark space, both seemingly in deep meditation, both mutually passionate and mutually respectful,” Austad-Bourque said. Photos she took during that moment led her to create a beautiful black and white poster consisting of a series of three photos of Bettina and Ilyad, which can be seen below.

A Thank You to Just-E-Nuf Acres

Thank you to Just-E-Nuf Acres for being my winter season host. We have a long history of cooperation. Our first co-op stallion is Formoso JPF (Oso), bred for me by John and Sharon Campbell. Oso’s sire is Ingred Lin’s Quemacho. The dam is Bettina Drummond’s Love Menezes, which was bred by fellow Oliveira student Dany Lahaye out of her wonderful sire Duché. It was a rare treat for me to school such a good young stallion in the indoor ring, coached out thirty years ago with Maitre Oliveira. Under his watchful gaze, many ideas were formed at Just-E-Nuf acres and I was proud to train Oso this winter following the precepts Oliveira inculcated within me.