I caught myself getting stuck in the mentality of ‘maintenance’ vs. ‘growth’.

My biggest fear is to be stuck. Stuck in a life where I feel like I could have done ‘more’. I want to live a life of meaning. A life of making differences. A life of service and a life of sharing what I’ve learned in the process.

It occurred to me today while I had been running myself so thin I barely had enough energy to ‘maintain’, let alone ‘grow’.

To combat stagnant mediocrity acceptance, I’ve come up with a plan for myself:

2018 – Bachelors Degree and USDF Scores for the L Education Program

To hold myself accountable: I will be creating articles and presentations for each class on how the information relates to my career as an influence in the equine industry. These will be public documents in my efforts to make a difference.

In order to be a candidate for the L Education Program, in hopes to be an L Graduate with the ability to evaluate dressage tests through Second Level, there are a few prerequisites involving having 2 scores 65% or higher at the highest test of Second Level, and one score 62% or higher on a Third Level Test.

When I showed Fable, I satisfied my third level score pererequisite. However, my highest score at Second Level Test 4 was a 64%. So this summer I will be showing Annabelle Second Level Test 4 in hopes to attain two scores above 65%.


2019 – L Education Program and beyond!

I will have successfully completed my Bachelors Degree in the beginning of 2019. It’s a beautiful feeling knowing there is an end in sight and I am able to take these last couple of semesters and focus on the information that will be beneficial in future teachings. The reason I decided to take my focus off of Vet School was because I knew there were other areas I could make a difference and I believe our sport is only as strong as our judges. I want to join forces and continue educating riders who strive for those high percentages on WHERE those percentages come from and what aspects are important to consider in the process of gearing your horse for show season from a strengthening and conditioning aspect as well as the fundamentals of dressage.

My eyes are open, heart is beating strong. I am going to the gym, getting bodywork done on MYSELF and my horses, taking care of the relationships in my life and living to the fullest.

“The longest journey you’ll ever take is from your head to your heart”.



The Sun Will Rise

A lot has happened since my last post on September 14th. I was dead set on Heather DuFour DVM, nothing was going to get in my way, so I thought.

I decided to go full force, full time school, Vet Assistant, Vice-President for OU’s Pre-Vet Club… It all sounded great!

November 1st, I decided to put Fenway up for sale because it wasn’t fair how little time I had for him and there was no end in sight.

November 3rd, I decided to film a sale video for Fenway, my heart just about burst. Free jumping, typically you send them over the jump and they run around a little crazy feisty with little to no interest in you… Unless they’re Fenway. I sent him over the jump and he would turn around after the jump and canter straight to me. I was in absolute bliss and the entire day I asked myself why I’d want anything different?

November 20th, we lost our Koda. He had such a sweet, old soul, but at the young age of 3 years old he was taken by a traumatic incident way too soon. I always said he was my ‘dream pony’, the one I always wanted as a little girl. He had two young girls that loved him and now we all miss him dearly.

After the loss of Koda it really opened my eyes to how fragile life is. We’re here and gone in the blink of an eye. If that’s the case, I thought, what am I really spending my precious time on?

I found myself miserable. I had lost 10 pounds and felt weaker than ever. I had hit a new definition of running on empty.

January 18th, we lost Smoke. Again, an absolute tragedy of a kind, talented young horse with a promising future ahead, taken far too soon.

Life is so precious, and so fragile. Although the past few months have certainly had their ‘downs’, there have been amazing ‘ups’ as well.

While grieving the loss of Koda, I came to the conclusion that I was going to keep my Fenway, and keep living a life of passion and purpose.

I absolutely love working with horses. I love seeing the rawness of the beginning, the struggle and perseverance through the learning curves, the rewarding moments when things start to harmonize… It’s all part of the journey. I am a horse trainer, I’m a riding coach, I am a fitness coach, I am an entrepreneur, I’m a forever student, I’m a lot of things. But most importantly, I’m Heather. Simply, Heather.

Going forward, there’s been a change of plans.

We’ve had an amazing opportunity open for us to move our business, DuFour Dynamics, to a beautiful facility in Holly, MI. With an Indoor arena we’ll be able to work our horses year-round. We will be taking in horses March 1st as we’ll have plenty of room for students to board and horses to come for training.

I will be graduating at the end of next year with a Bachelors of Integrative Studies and a minor in Exercise Science, taking specific classes that will be directly beneficial to me in my career as a Biomechanical Riding Coach, Personal Trainer, and Equine Bodyworker. I’m very excited to stretch my understanding of exercise science and to polish my skills as a leader, teacher and writer.

So at the end of the day, I can’t help but feel grateful. There’s been a lot of hardship and heartbreak, but just when you feel like you can’t go any further, the sun shines it’s warm light and suddenly you know everything’s going to be okay. These hard times shape us, allowing us to refocus and prioritize our values so we’re truly able to appreciate the gift of life we’ve been given.

Koda Bear and His Girls
Smoke Signals
November 21st, Koda’s Sunrise
January 19th, Smoke’s Sunrise


Set Goals, Take Action, Hold on Tight


Heather DuFour DVM


Narrow the focus. Study with excellence. Get experience. Apply yourself. Keep looking forward. Kick ass.

Hold Tight:

Four months ago I was let go from my ‘Big Girl Job’. No more comfortable office, no more comfortable pay. I felt like I was back to square one.

That was the beginning of my revolution.

I set up an appointment with my academic advisor, enrolled full time for summer school and received higher grades than I had in five years with 100% attendance.

Moving Forward:

Just accepted a position at Parker Veterinary Hospital as a Veterinary Assistant, representing Oakland University’s Pre-Veterinary Medicine Association as Secretary, and I am enrolled full time at Oakland University with 14 credits.

In addition, Allison and I have an incredibly talented young horse in full training and a group of amazing riders that inspire me every day.

It’s a busy, crazy, chaotic, but beautiful life.

So until next time…

Narrow the focus. Study with excellence. Get experience. Apply yourself. Keep looking forward. Kick ass.


A Victory Over The Past

Perspective is an interesting thing. I tend to lean more toward the optimistic side of things: When one door closes, another door opens.

A couple of weeks ago I was unexpectedly let go from my job. After the initial feeling of complete terror struck my body, I realized it was a blessing in disguise. The financial stability was nice, but the freedom and love for what I was about to dive into was incomparable.

As you might already know, I have set my sails for vet school. I met with my academic adviser and I’ve got about a year and a half of full-time undergrad classes to finish before applying to Vet School. In addition to school, what I didn’t realize was that I needed about 3,000 hours of vet assistant type exposure.

So for this, I am grateful I was let go. I am taking this as an opportunity to grow and expand the things I love to do. I’ve spent so much time creating a Plan B to my life that I had forgotten what it felt like to focus on Plan A.

Plan A has been set into motion: I’ve successfully competed in my first horse show with Fable for the first time in 5 years and we came out at 4th level test 1 with a 59% and I’m proud of it. I have been beating around the bush for the last 5 years because a lack of confidence in myself and that is OVER. The spell has been BROKEN! I will continue showing and striving for my Silver Medal this summer and continue training for my Gold. I will continue sharing my knowledge and keep the door open to any students who want to join the journey and be a part of the process. I will continue reaching out and advocating for myself and my team because I believe in the dynamic differences of DuFour Dynamics.

Yes, I will have struggles. Yes, I will still have doubts. But I am SO grateful for my partner in crime, Allison, and my wonderful friends and family who support me and encourage me to truly live my dream. I am ALSO grateful I did not give up on myself. I fell again and again, and I will continue to fall, but most importantly I will continue to get back up.

Well here it is: What you focus on expands.

So where is my focus? Horses. Fitness. Love.

I’m putting it into the Universe. My heart and soul are invested. Fear will no longer be my barricade. This girl is unstoppable. ❤


Coffee and Ice Cream, The Bullies

It’s official. I’m an addict. Coffee and Ice Cream. Today they tried to get the best of me.

I’ve been able to break free of the cycle, but it’s usually pretty difficult and I have to wean myself. Cold turkey never usually works. Over the weekend, I’ve cut myself back to once per week and It’s only been three days for the Ice Cream, and one day for the Coffee.

This morning Coffee made me stare intensely at the Keurig for about 30 seconds, but I heated up my tea and proceeded to walked away.

As the day went on I felt my body getting heavier, my focus becoming blurred, and I noticed I was staring at the same screen for about an hour. Ice Cream gave me a little nudge of excitement, and although I thought I was leaving for some fresh air, Ice Cream had other plans.

My body took me straight to Dairy Queen. I sat outside in the parking lot looking at the delicious choices. I turned my car around and took a cat nap to sleep off the craving. All while fighting the urge to pout like a child being denied of Ice Cream.

I woke up feeling a bit more refreshed, but Ice Cream still wasn’t finished with me… He had another idea. I started driving back to work and my body turned into a parking spot right outside of the grocery store. I walked down the Ice Cream isle like a zombie for about 10 minutes. As I realized what was happening I put my foot down and decided to walk out.

However, Ice Cream was waiting in a freezer right by the register I had to walk by. I stopped. I stared. I opened the door and grabbed an Ice Cream Sandwich and waited inline.

After watching the person in front of me scan each of his 300 tuna can’s that he had in his cart I looked down at Ice Cream and pondered if all of this was worth it… Just to feel equally as miserable if I did before. I put Ice Cream and his wicked plans back in that freezer and left.

I ran back to my car and drove to work as fast as I could before Coffee or Ice Cream popped out at me again. Here I am, two cups of water and an orange sitting on my desk proud to say I did not cave to my two sneaky Addictions.

Coffee, Ice Cream… Not today.

A Mile A Day Keeps The Doctor Away

Cross Fit was my Catalyst.

Pre-Cross Fit:
I felt weak, fatigued and my body was constantly getting hurt. From an achy wrist from massaging horses, to a sharp pain in my traps from cleaning stalls. My motivation and energy levels were parallel: I felt like I was on survival and sustain mode. My weakness was visible. Shoulders were concave, deltoids minimal and I could barely lift a 5 lb dumbbell above eye level.

The Act of Cross Fit:
Allison finally persuaded me to join. I jumped in wholeheartedly and could not walk for the first week, but I kept going. It pushed my out of my comfort zone and out of my self doubt. It got me hooked on doing things that scare me. Box jumps, thrusters, burpees… I remember standing at the base of the box just visualizing my shin ramming right into the edge. My coach helped me take baby steps… Starting with a shorter distance, working my way up. I remember my hands were shaking with adrenaline just from trying to jump on this stupid box. I had to prove to myself that I could do it.

After that workout I started treating my life like a box jump. I have to prove myself that I can do it. I felt myself setting bigger goals, visualizing myself following through and growing through the process. Some days I fall right back to square one, but I keep getting up. I keep taking one step at a time.

After a couple of months, my courage to try new things and my persistence to challenge myself turned into something visible. I remember looking in the mirror and feeling a sense of gratitude and hope from my newly sculpted shoulder muscles. 

Post-Cross Fit:
Although I am no longer training with the Cross Fit crew, I taking that freshly ignited motivation and persistence with me as I go. When the days get busy with school, horses and work… I remind myself that I am still challenging myself, just in a different way than the physical and mental workout of cross fit. With school, I am strengthening my focus and my appreciation for the material being presented, as well as my ability to take one step at a time toward my goal. With work, I am strengthening my perseverance, people skills and persistence. With horses, I am strengthening my confidence, gratitude and presence.

I fell out of the loop for a couple of weeks, I noticed my eating habits declining in addition to the lack of exercise. However, this week we’re back to it.

Just like the saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”, I have found a source of meditation that goes hand in hand with that physical perseverance I found with cross fit: A mile a day keeps the doctor away… Along with EATING to fuel my body.

Allison and I are going to strive for running one mile every day. Little by little, we will work ourselves up. I would love to run a marathon in the fall.

Goal: Keep setting goals that are challenging.


Wasn’t My Path

Six years ago I applied for the Junior Young Rider Olympic Dream Program. This would consist of the top Junior Young Riders over the United States that would travel all over Europe and learn from the world’s top trainers for a period of time. We had to send a video of us riding certain movements and give a brief overview of our history with dressage and our goals we wanted to accomplish.

I remember pulling my car over when I got the email that would give me the news… As I was gathering the courage to open the email my goals and dreams flashed before my eyes, Olympics, Gold Medal, Europe, Traveling, Training… My heart dropped when I found I was not accepted into the program.

I hadn’t thought about this for YEARS… Until today. I was going through some pictures of an old friend that was training in Florida during the same time I was down there as a working student. The fancy horses, the beautiful stables, the double bridles and big necked horses… Then the light-bulb appeared: It wasn’t my path.

The dots are connecting.

Yesterday morning I woke up in a panic attack. The stresses of expectations and pressure of performing were creeping up on me. My past experiences with showing were focused on winning. Yes, I wanted to enjoy the process and ride dressage to benefit my horse… But when I turned down centerline my game face was on and I was there to show.

That was me with the old mentality. I didn’t play, I practiced. I was 100% dedicated to being the best that I could be, however my tunnel vision on what I saw as ‘success’ wasn’t the best for my horse.

My time in Florida with the fancy horses, fancy stables, double bridles and big necked horses opened my eyes and caused me to step back and re-evaluate my path. I didn’t know who I wanted to be after that, or why I was even on that path to begin with. I didn’t know how to move forward and I was terrified to try.

My trainer in Florida did an AMAZING job educating me about the hows and whys of dressage and I appreciate her approach in thinking about the horse bio-mechanically. Despite having that knowledge of how to get where I wanted to be physically, I couldn’t shake the guilt.

The guilt of not getting into the Olympic Dream Program. The guilt of allowing horses and competing to drive a wedge in between my family time. The guilt of riding Third and Fourth level on a hollow horse. The guilt of getting so frustrated with Fable when he wasn’t ’round’ or ‘through’ enough. The guilt that built up throughout my entire life finally broke loose. I had no idea how to cope with it.

I let all of this guilt put my riding career on hold for five years.

Thankfully, I feel like I’ve made a lot of progress in accepting where I was, and forgiving myself for the things I’ve done. But ever since I declared going for those goals again, those emotions floated right back up to the surface. It was easier to take the pressure off and say, ‘Those aren’t my goals anymore, that was a different lifetime. I am content.’ But what I was really saying to myself: “I’m not good enough for those goals and I’m not going to allow myself to feel the pain of giving up. So, I will go numb.”

Un-numbing is a process and sometimes in order to feel 100% of the good emotions you equally have to feel 100% of the undesired emotions. As I was resisting the urge to numb myself this week as the fear crept in: I felt anxious, I felt excited, I felt passionate, I felt angry, I felt my doubt, I felt my courage. I felt everything.

So here we are, the reason I started this blog entry today:

Six years after I was rejected for the Olympic Dream Program and for the first time in a long time it makes sense why that wasn’t my path. I had to learn a different version of success. A version where the horse was the judge, not the person sitting outside of the arena. I learned how to really feel. I learned how to let go. I learned how to trust. I learned how to play. I learned how to laugh in the saddle again. I learned the true friendship a horse can offer when you drop your expectations and appreciate what they offer. I learned to think outside of the box and I am continuously challenged to thinking outside of the box.

The time Fable and I spent developing a new language and mending our partnership has been an experience I wouldn’t change for the world. Because of everything we’ve learned together, Fable is now in the best shape of his life. His muscles are balanced, his coat is dappled, mane and tail are full and shiny, his lungs are in great shape, his feet are allowing him to move the best he can.

The moment that ignited the idea of showing again happened last weekend when a student of mine came out for a lesson with him… Fable knew he had a new set of eyes and his fancy ‘dressage’ tack on with his bit and everything. As she sent him out on the circle he showed her his piaffe… Through the entire lesson he continued to be a ham with his expressive and engaged trot with incredible cadence and softness. He was dancing. I couldn’t help but think he was telling me now is the time.

THESE are the reasons I have set the goals of achieving my USDF Silver and Gold Medals. My horse. He’s telling me he is ready. This time, it is for Fable. 

Fable is the horse of a lifetime and he has offered to dance, it would be a shame not to accept. He is putting his his whole heart into what he does and it’s time for me to let go of my fears and do the same.