2003 National Dressage Symposium with Kyra Kyrklund

Brad Cutshall and Portia

Only one man participated as a rider in the symposium, and he was the best prepared for understanding Kyrklund’s methods. For the last seven years Brad Cutshall has ridden on and off with Kyra Kyrklund, both in Sweden and in the United States. Riding Portia, an eight-year-old, 16.2h Swedish mare by Zenith, owned by Dr. Paula Lundi, Brad participated as an Intermediaire II rider at the symposium.

Cutshall said that he was first drawn to Kyrklund because of her reputation for producing good horses. She helped him immensely with Derris, a difficult horse that he has also trained with Sue Blinks.

“This is more for the audience so it’s not like you can work on your major weaknesses,” he said. “At home working with her it’s very tailored and focused on that horse’s weak points. It was made very clear here that you’re the guinea pig and you have to fit into her program.”

Cutshall said that he enjoys working with Kyrklund because her command of the English language lets her express exactly what she wants from a horse and rider. “At her place she’ll talk for hours about how she’d approach each horse,” he said. “She’s very open with her knowledge and easy to talk to.” He said that working with her again is fun for him and a good refresher course on her theories and technique.

“She gets very excited about things, she’s so passionate about the whole sport,” he said. “When I horse clicks into something she gets excited. I had a horse that she thought would never ‘get’ the passage, and he finally learned. She came outside to see him today to see him and was very pleased.”

Tami Crawford and Dakota

Several years ago Tami Crawford rode with Kyra Kyrklund in a symposium in Florida, when her horse Dakota was still at First level. This weekend Dakota was back as one of the Grand Prix horses in the Symposium in Kentucky.

Through several ups and downs with Dakota’s health over the past few years, Crawford is a deserving recipient of the chance to ride again with Kyrklund. She is also campaigning Markant, a stunning gray, on the small tour.

“I could hardly wait to work with her this weekend,” said Crawford, who last year placed fourth at the World Cup qualifier in Los Angeles with Dakota. “She’s really helped with his engagement in the canter, giving him more self carriage, and making it simple,” she said.

Crawford trains when she can with Robert Dover in Florida, and the rest of the year the mother of two is based in Tennessee, where she teaches and trains out of her home farm, riding in clinics when she has the opportunity.

“It’s been great because she has so many ideas and exercises. It’s not like it’s always perfect so you can see how she handles different problems. As an instructor it has helped show me how to deal with new problems in different ways.”

Sue Jaccoma and Harmony’s Coolio

Riding in the I-2 section, Sue Jaccoma of Maine said that Kyrklund gave her some good exercises to help her and her horses be more adjustable in the Piaffe and passage so that she won’t get ‘stuck’ in the movement.

Jaccoma is campaigning Harmony’s Coolio , a nine-year-old Holsteiner gelding, on the small tour, and Jellowa, a 12-year-old Dutch gelding by Obrecht, at Grand Prix, and trying to qualify for the Pan-Am Games this summer. She is sponsored by Leslie Malone’s Harmony Holsteiners in Colorado. Her good nature and quick smile made her an excellent participant in the symposium format.

Control is a word that was often used by Kyrklund throughout the weekend, controlling the movement, controlling the horse’s step, controlling the rider’s seat. The precision of dressage is based on the rider’s control. Jaccoma said that controlling every step helped her most with her own riding.

As an instructor, she said, “I’ve been riveted to the lower level sessions because I teach at those levels and she’s given some nice exercises. Her verbal skills are so wonderful; she sometimes makes allusions to things I hadn’t thought of. Her lesson on the rider’s position was especially remarkable."

by Amber Heintzberger

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