Nori Scheffel has long been a fixture at MSEDA sanctioned events, course designing and setting fences, as well as coaching kids and adults, and lending a hand wherever needed.
By Sarah E Coleman
Originally from Calgary, Alberta Canada, Nori Scheffel’s introduction to horses was a bit different than most. Instead of being exposed to horses by a classmate or a babysitter, “I actually started riding because of my school bus driver in Canada: Ruth Ohlmeyer.”
Scheffelridge Farm hosts two hunter/jumper horse shows a year: one in May and one in July. They have a variety of classes and recently added one near to Nori’s heart: the Ruth Ohlmeyer Equitation Challenge. Ruth passed away last year. “If it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t be riding at all,” Nori says.
Nori’s background is deep and varied. “I grew up not knowing there was English riding; being from Calgary, I grew up with the Stampede. I began in the Canadian pony Club, evented through my formative years and then turned into a hunter who rode some dressage.
“My first was a pony named Sugar that Ruth gave my family for Christmas. All three of us [Nori has two sisters] rode and showed her; we did pony club and hunters. She was a 14 hand bay Quarter mare. After that, Ruth gave me her horse Sunny, who was a Saddlebred/Arabian cross that challenged my horsemanship every day. After that, my mom and dad bought us better horses, so I got Gully, Pacific Fire, who was a Thoroughbred I did the hunter jumpers on.
A Change in Country
Nori ended up in the States for a great reason: “We actually moved to California because my dad didn’t want to shovel snow anymore. He bought a house and said ‘we are immigrating to California!’” However, Nori and her sisters refused to leave Canada until they got to show at Spruce Meadows, which was back when the show still hosted hunters.Nori completed her first year of college at at Palomar College in California, then she needed to leave the country while my Visa paperwork came through. She then attended Yorkshire Riding Centre, where she got a BHSAI (British Horse Society Accredited Instructor). “After school, I worked in Yorkshire and Salisbury for 8 months, then I went to Germany to work at a Grand Prix dressage stable for 7 months. Then I came back to California, where I freelanced teaching and riding. I also started teaching at a local Pony Club.
Life is Better in the Bluegrass
So how DID Nori end up in Kentucky? “I met Dave Scheffel, my husband, when I came back to the States—my mom had hired him and Jim Boyce to shoe my horses when I was overseas. We bought the farm in Paris in 1996, got married and moved to Kentucky the next day. We started building on the 44 acres we originally had bought, then purchased an additional 75 acres 7 years ago.”
Scheffelridge Farm is now home to about 50-odd horses, and the clientele is everything from casual riders, junior, pony kids, hunters, jumpers, dressage, eventing riders and western horses and riders as well; Nori’s husband Dave is a farrier who ropes. Additionally, the Georgetown College Intercollegiate Horse Show Association team trains out of Scheffelridgem as well.Of all the horses on the farm, Nori owns just one: Secret Madison, or Maddie. She’s a retired 24-year-old Warmblood mare Nori raised and competed in the jumpers.
Delving Into Course Design
So with such varied boarding clients, how did Nori get into course design, as well? “I had a student 16 years ago who worked for Central Kentucky Riding for Hope, which hosts the Paul Frazer dressage show and combined test. At the time, they were lacking a course designer, so she asked me if I would be interested in helping. That’s really where it all began! After that I began building Spring Bay when I was asked by Stanley Wiggs. It’s really grown from there.”
Nori designs everything from unsanctioned events like mini trials and her own jumper shows at the farm to one-star events at the Kentucky Horse Park. “Course designing is my creative outlet. I love fitting the necessities into a pattern that’s smooth but challenging,” she explains.
A Passion for Teaching
When asked what she is most passionate about with regards to her job, Nori explains that “my passion isn’t really riding—it’s seeing my students grow and learn as riders. My specialty is talking people off the ledge!” she says, smiling. “No, in all honesty, my specialty is building confidence in my riders, whether they are timid beginners or adult amateurs who can’t afford to get hurt.
I love when I can teach something well enough that my rider walks out of the ring with a smile—I know they have really learned something—a lightbulb came on and they GET it. And that feeling can come with the smallest thing—any sort of breakthrough makes me feel like I have accomplished something meaningful.