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Our Story

Nicole L. Dlugosz

Owner/Trainer at Arizen Acres

Nicole grew up in the Chicagoland area, where she began riding as a hunter/jumper at the age of 9 years old.  Her passion for horses began at an early age, and she was dedicated to learning everything there was to know about them.  Her family did not have the means to own a horse of their own, so Nicole had the opportunity to learn from a multitude of different horses of different abilities and breeds on lesson horses.

During her college years at Northern Illinois University, Nicole discovered eventing..  Her studies in Accounting allowed her a career that would support the purchase of her first horse, A Rizen Talent (Arizen), an Appendix Quarter Horse mare. Nicole began showing Arizen in AQHA hunter hack and hunter under saddle classes while she studied the sport of eventing.

After college, Nicole began a full-time career in public accounting, becoming a CPA and financial auditor.  After 7 years, she left the public sector to freelance and work with equine businesses, specifically equine nonprofits. Her accounting and business background was an asset to many equine Board of Directors, including HorsePower Therapeutic Riding, Illinois Dressage and Combined Training Association and Louisville Dressage Society.

 

During this time, Nicole discovered her ultimate passion for dressage and began full-time dressage training with Arizen as a 16-year-old senior horse.  While freelancing, Nicole was able to take a position as a working student for USDF Silver Medalist Shelley Day and eventually began teaching and training as a traveling instructor in Chicago.  Nicole successfully competed Arizen through 1st Level until her retirement at 21 years old.

Life eventually brought Nicole and her husband, Phil, to the horse capital of the world, first moving to Louisville, Kentucky, before ultimately ending up just outside of Lexington in Paris. 

Arizen Acres was established in 2022 as a boutique training and sales farm focusing on off-track Thoroughbreds.  The farm was named after the mare that taught Nicole the most over the years.  Arizen now enjoys her retirement with Nicole at the farm.

Nicole has learned from various trainers over the years, while forming her own training philosophy. After moving to Kentucky, Nicole has enjoyed learning more about the Thoroughbred industry and retraining several off-track Thoroughbreds in dressage and jumping fundamentals.  Working with Thoroughbreds and other non-Warmblood breeds is a passion for Nicole, proving that correct dressage training is beneficial for every horse and rider. 

 

Nicole is currently working on achieving her USDF Bronze medal with her off-track Thoroughbred, Mixmaker, and training for the 2024 Retired Racehorse Project Thoroughbred Makeover.  Nicole has worked with notable dressage trainers such as Shelley Day, Georgia Wren-Russ, Reese Koffler-Stanfield, Kayla Carter Johnson, Jeremy Steinberg, and JJ Tate in lessons or clinics.

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