Cooling Out With ... Dana and Manny Diemer
After seven-plus years coordinating and overseeing events at the Carolina Horse Park, Dana Diemer is ready to focus on her own competitive career.
Diemer, who lives in Raeford with her husband, Manny — a retired U.S. Army colonel and polocrosse enthusiast — recently took up the sport of combined driving, and is competing in her first recognized event this weekend at Big Sky Ranch in Southern Pines.
The Diemers have lived in the area for 14 years; their son, Andrew, has evented through the intermediate level and was a member of the Area VIII Silver Medal team in 2008.
Q: How long were you with the Horse Park?
A: I began volunteering at the Horse Park with its very first events. Sue Smithson and Lefreda Williams talked me into taking over Longleaf Pines Horse Trials in 2002.
Q: Where are you and Manny from originally?
A: Manny was born and raised in Germany near Schwaebish Hall/Stuttgart. I was born in Philadelphia and spent my early years in New York and Pennsylvania. I did most of my growing up in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Q: Did you both grow up with horses?
A: No. I rode as a child but we both “got into horses” while stationed at Fort Leavenworth. Becky (Douglas) Holder was our riding instructor, and we learned to ride in order to fox-hunt.
Q: How many animals do you have?
A: Oh, boy. Equine: Cold Harbor (Bo), Pancha and Chima (Argentine polo ponies), Jeb, Bru (Manny’s new off-the-track thoroughbred, in need of a Civil War-themed name), and Bryn the pony. We have three house cats (PGT Beauregard, Tigger and Gabby), a greyhound named Leo and a border terrier named Jeannie. And we have four finches.
Q: Are any of your horses competing?
A: The Argie mares were just part of a national championship-winning effort in polocrosse. Bryn and I are competing at training level in combined driving. Bo is Holly Hudspeth’s intermediate level eventer … he had a minor injury in March and was sidelined for a chunk of the competition year. I’m happy to report he is looking better than we’ve ever seen him. He and Holly will return to recognized competition in February 2011.
Q: Is there one discipline you and Manny do together?
A: I guess combined driving, as Manny is my navigator. I do the training and fitness work for polocrosse, and I’m helping him get his brand new fresh off the track thoroughbred started toward an eventing career.
Q: How long have you been doing combined driving?
A: Just about a year. I had a lot of time on my hands last fall, and was incredibly fortunate to be handed an experienced driving pony in need of some TLC … and to have some terrific friends in the sport who have shoved me in the right (I hope!) direction.
Q: Manny, how long have you been involved with polocrosse?
A: Since 1998, when we got talked into hosting a polocrosse clinic at our farm. I’m a past APA (American Polocrosse Association) East Zone representative and a Level I certified umpire.
Q: How many times a year do you travel for polocrosse (with the Carolina Polocrosse Club)?
A: Roughly 6 to 8 times a year. I have a fantastic mare to play on and I’ve been eager to get out on the pitch with her. Pancha has earned three Best Horse awards and an honorable mention at nationals in 2010.
Q: How is the Carolina team this year?
A: Our C Grade team this year was very strong … undefeated against very tough competition and came home with the national championship title a few weeks ago. It’s all local players — a big advantage. The team includes David and Maura Thornton, Von Lennox, Evan Vallee and Chuck Younger. We also fielded a section of the reserve championship team that included Wade Liner.
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