Alice Drayer was bitten by the horse bug early in her life.
Now, many years later — “beyond the Medicare age” — the Jefferson resident is the breeder and owner of a stallion that is making waves in the dressage world. The ownership is in partnership with her husband, Pete Drayer.
The horse, Elfenperfekt, is an American homebred Trakehner Stallion that currently stays in Pennsylvania with trainer and rider, Abraham Pugh.
“We raised him and worked with him as a youngster,” Alice Drayer said of Elfenperfekt, who was born in 2006. “Part of the breeding is, and particularly keeping a stallion, is to give him a job and to let him be trained in a discipline, and in the Trekahner breed there are many good, very good event horses, which is jumping and cross country type of competition.”
Elfenperfekt’s sire, or male parent, was an Olympic dressage competitor.
Dressage, according to the Fédération Équestre Internationale website, is “the highest expression of horse training” and is “considered the most artistic of the equestrian sports.”
The horse performs at a walk, trot and canter, and all tests are ridden from memory and follow a prescribed pattern of movements, the website state, with the only exception being freestyle, which is specially choreographed for each horse and is performed to music.
“That was the direction that we chose to develop his expertise and his training,” Alice Drayer said of dressage. “We started him as a youngster with a man by the name of John Kuster who is a local horse expert … for young horses, and [he] did a very nice job with him as a youngster to keep his mind directed on doing good things.”
Like any athlete, the horse must develop his mind and his body to be successful, Alice Drayer said.
Elfenperfekt is competing at the FEI Grand Prix level, which is a national and international level of competition.
The stallion and Pugh claimed Grand Prix and Grand Prix Freestyle wins at the Tryon International Equestrian Center in late 2020, according to eurodressage.com.
Drayer spoke highly of Pugh.
As a young person, she said, Pugh was interested in horses, developed the skills and pursued those skills to become an upper level dressage rider.
“He’s a very good horseman,” she said. “He’s very open to learning himself and to … taking advantage of going to get help, if you will, with clinicians.”
Drayer said in her barn there’s a saying that reads, “Owning your own horse gives you a reason to get up in the morning.”
“On these cold mornings when it’s 20 degrees, I come in and I see those words on the wall,” she said. “It’s hard work. I’m not a young person, let’s leave it at that. We ladies never tell our ages.”
But watching Elfenperfekt compete makes the hard work worth it.
“He is amazing to watch,” she said. “And many people that have seen him through the years competing follow [Pugh] on Facebook and are always so supportive of his efforts.”
As advanced of a competition horse as Elfenperfekt is, he’s also rideable, says the owner.
“For this owner, it’s been sometimes a fun joy to take a dressage lesson … on him and to know what it’s really like to ride a Grand Prix horse,” Drayer said.
In the coming months, Elfenperfekt will compete in Florida, and there’s hope going forward that he joins a team of international competition horses.
The Drayers are equal partners in two businesses. P.H. Drayer Co. Inc. was started by Pete Drayer in 1985. It offers farm construction services and builds livestock fencing, while the circa 2000 Blue Ridge Trailers LLC specializes in the sale and service of new and previously owned horse trailers and equipment.
“I think it’s a challenge everyday,” Alice Drayer said. “We enjoy being with people and working with them and their projects.”