2003 National Dressage Symposium with Kyra Kyrklund

A’Dashi and Swedish Exclusive Sponsor Clothing

When Pelle and Lena Wedenmark of Swedish Exclusive in Miami, FL received their spring line of clothing from Eurostar, Pelle was showed the breeches to A’Dashi boutique owner Shirley Johnson, who was already interested in sponsoring clothing for the riders at Kyra Kyrklund’s symposium. Johnson’s good fashion sense kicked in and she noticed that a rust-colored, lightly tartan-patterned breech in the Eurostar line coordinated beautifully with a pale yellow vest, trimmed in a soft, deep orange, from Kyrklund’s “Kyra K.” line of clothing.

Johnson said, “In thirty years in this business I have never put together an outfit I liked better. It’s very special.”

It was a smart marketing step for both companies: “The riders came here because they adore Kyra; we have sold a lot of videos and books already,” said Pelle, who also conducted a book signing with Kyrklund.

“As a distributor for her line of clothing in the US this was a good way to showcase the project.” He also guesses that when the professionals riding in the seminar go home and their students see how attractive and functional the Kyra K clothing is that it will prompt more sales.

Johnson commented, I truly believe in everything the Kentucky Horse Park stands for and I’m happy that the USDF is moving its offices here so I want to support everything they do.” She continued, “I believe we should help the riders who help the country, and the riders here are helping to educate other riders. Even the best riders have issues that need to be worked on and this symposium is a win-win situation for everyone. It’s one of the best clinicians with some of the best riders on their best horses. They get an education and a few perks, and everyone who comes to audit benefits too.”

Jane Cleveland and Kavalier

Last year Jane was the highest-scoring American at the World Breeders Young Horse Championships in Verden, Germany riding xxx. She rode Kavalier at the Symposium, her first experience under Kyrklund’s tutelage. Having watched Kyrklund’s series of videos a number of years ago, she had some idea of what to expect. Cleveland also rode in the Schumacher Symposium last year.

“What’s neat about her is that she’s not constrained by ‘what the book says’,” said Cleveland about Kyrklund. “She uses the leg where it’s effective, not where it theoretically ‘should be’.”

Cleveland said that she didn’t discover any new problems in her horse over the course of the weekend, but did learn some new tools that were quickly effective for helping her horse. Kavalier was the first horse of the weekend that Kyrklund actually rode herself, and Cleveland said that it was helpful to watch him being ridden by Kyrklund. “I was proud of him because he was really good with her,” she said. “I knew what she was feeling because I’ve felt it myself so many times. I could feel the problem as she described it and I could watch her solve it,” When she re-mounted, Cleveland said that her horse was more through and had a better sense of self-carriage.

“You get used the horse when you ride it every day yourself and it’s valuable to have someone with a fresh perspective ride them,” she said. “She has high standards and it helped me realize where my horse should be.”

Comparing this symposium with last year, Cleveland said, “[Kyrklund and Schumacher] are both equal caliber, they just have different styles. He was very exercise-oriented, giving us different exercises to work on, which was fascinating; we suggested he write a book because he kept coming up with new ones. She approaches it more from a training and riding tools position.”

Rosalind Kinstler and Fruhsport

When Fruhsport, enters the arena, heads turn. With the presence of royalty he strides past onlookers and eyes follow his every movement. The 18.2h gelding is by by Frohwind Furioso II, and is co-owned by Helmut Schrant and Vanessa Carlson. Fruhsport is big, black, and handsome and his presence fills the stadium.

Bred in Chicago by Helmut Schrant, Fruhsport was an ugly duckling who developed into a swan according to his owner Rosalind Kinstler of Whitmore Lake, Michigan. Having first been introduced to the horse when he was owned by her clients Bill and Carla Cox, it soon became evident that he was too big for Carla’s 5’ frame. Even Kinstler, who is five and a half feet tall, is dwarfed by the ten-year-old gelding.

Having seen his potential and with the right price at the time, Kinstler bought him and watched him bloom. “All of this muscle on him now is the work,” she said. “He gets regular feed, no supplements – the closer to natural the better, I believe.”

She says that she has brought him along slowly to develop the muscles properly before putting pressure on him. “Now it’s paying off,” she grins.

Kinstler said that her sessions with Kyra Kyrklund helped to give them more finesse. “He knows a lot now but he needs fine-tuning to be an FEI horse.” Fruhsport has competed at Prix St. Georges but was in the fourth level group at the symposium. Over the winter she worked with Betsy Steiner and Hans Dressler in Florida. “With him it’s the fine tuning,” she continued. “He’s light and responsive so I have to not inadvertently over-ride, but at the same time push him and not settle for less.”

Molly Xanthopoulos and Jester

Entering the arena alongside the gallant Fruhsport, the 16.2h Jester looks like a pony. But when the 12-year-old strawberry roan KWPN gelding, (El Rosso/Orlandi), starts to perform, he turns heads as well.

Showing Prix St. Georges, Xanthopoulos and Jester also rode in the fourth level session with Kyrklund. Owned by Cynthia Butt and imported from the Netherlands, Jester has won several Horse of the Year and Region 2 Championship titles. “I’m having a great time with how he develops,” said Xanthopoulos.

Commenting on her rides with Kyrklund, she said, “I found it similar to my own background, stressing the basics. It’s a wonderful opportunity to be in the arena with [Kyrklund]. I’ve watched her videos and read her books so I knew what to expect.”

Continuing to explain, she said, “The first thing she did was make sure the basics were in order and build from there.

Saturday broke the ice and Sunday was more intense. Every chance you get to confirm your background makes you better as an upper-level rider. Everything comes from the basics. It’s also good to get help with the intricate details, but stressing that you always have somewhere to go back to when you get in trouble.”

Kovington and Kyra

For two years Kovington’s owner begged Bob Orton to take Kovington for training, but Orton didn’t want to deal with a stallion; especially a black Trakehner stallion. Fate would turn the tables when Kovington, known as “Toni” around the barn, spent the winter in Orton’s barn in Florida with in-hand trainer Russell Oden.

Sherra Kosch, Orton’s fiancée and Kovington’s rider since last year, said, “The more he was around the more we fell in love with him. It’s been an absolute whirlwind since the day we started. You set a goal and meet it. He’s a perfect stallion – he’s just started breeding, so he’s a man now,” she winks.

Kumi Smedley of Austin, TX is Toni’s owner. “As a stallion I wanted him to be with a professional,” she said. Their goal with the stallion is to qualify him as a five-year-old for the FEI Young Horse Breeders’ Championships. While she is focusing on dressage this year, Toni will also have to complete a Novice level horse trials to complete his stallion testing, which she plans to accomplish this autumn.

Kosch said that because she has never participated in a symposium such as Kyrklund’s she found the first day a bit confusing, but that Kyrklund made her very comfortable and is understanding of the horse. Kosch rode Toni in the First Level section. “We’re just lucky to ride,” she said. “It’s like we’re the guinea pigs.” Kosch said that she was not nervous when she rode with Kyrklund, but joked that she’d had the dry heaves the week before just thinking about it.

Kosh noted that Kovington was bred in the US, and said, “We’re breeding really good horses in this country. We’ve got the same bloodlines as they have in Europe and we need to support the US breeders. It’s not fair that breeders here are going bankrupt because everyone wants a horse that’s been on an airplane. Breeders put a lot of time and money into good horses over here.”

Of the symposium, she said, “The quality of riding here has been really impressive, especially to see all in one place. I look around and think, ‘Damn, I can’t ride better than that’!”

Smedley agreed, “I really saw a difference in the horses over the weekend. It was especially fun to watch Kyra ride them.”

Koffler Family

Lindsey and Reese Koffler didn’t have to drive far to get to the symposium. They live just down the road in Lexington. Daughters of the organizer, Margee Koffler, both girls are talented riders who have achieved national acclaim in the Young Rider ranks. Last year Reese, who spent a year in Germany working with Conrad Schumacher, represented the US at Coup d’Ameriques in Canada, and this year she hopes to qualify for the Pan-American Games. Lindsey helped out at the symposium and rode in the clinic with Sue Blinks on Monday and Tuesday afterwards.

Training regularly with Kathy Connolly in Florida, Reese spent the winter in the West Palm Beach area and took classes there for the semester. Though she is usually a student at the University of Kentucky, for the next two weeks she will have to commute between Florida and Kentucky to maintain her studies and her riding, with Lindsey riding Joery when she is away.

“It’s so cool to work with someone like Kyra,” said Reese. “I have to say I was nervous! The only other symposium I’ve done was with Mr. Schumacher and I was already comfortable working with him. It’s hard to come into something like this with so many people watching. If something goes wrong it’s not a bad thing though because the instructor is there to help you fix it.”

She noted that she would like to thank Markel Insurance Company, whom insures her family’s horses including mares and foals, for sponsoring the symposium.

“It’s been great fun to be involved with such a big event,” she added, noting that she too has been running errands for her mother all week.

A Word from the Organizer

Organizer Margee Koffler is also a breeder of elite show hunters at her family’s Maple Crest Farm as well as Chairman of the Development Committee for the USDF. Starting immediately after the Schumacher clinic in 2002, she has been planning this seminar for the past year. She said that part of the inspiration for holding the symposium at the Kentucky Horse Park is that the USDF recently moved its offices to Lexington from Lincoln, Nebraska. “We want to get the nation to focus on Lexington as a place for top events,” she said.

She said that John Nicholson, Executive Director of the Kentucky Horse Park, along with Director of Operations Rob Hinkle, jumped on the chance with a ‘can-do’ attitude and really made things happen. Since Kentucky lost the bid for the 2006 World Equestrian Games to Aachen, Germany, it is not out of the question that they will again seek the bid in 2010. Every little development helps.

“There were many reasons that the FEI chose Aachen over Lexington,” said Koffler. “We were disappointed but we’ll be ready for the next one. The Horse Park does a fabulous job with Rolex. They host excellent Grand Prix Jumping and a National dressage show here. USDF’s Region 2 will hold its championships here this year in the dressage complex with seven arenas. We’re starting there and want to build on that momentum.”

As for the symposium, she said, “Riding like any sport is one where you need to have someone watching you all the time. It’s a wonderful art form that requires great disciplines. We haven’t had any negative comments about the format so we’re not looking to change anything about the symposium, but maybe we’ll find some ways to improve.” She noted that the profits of the symposium will go to the Kentucky Horse Park to renovate the dressage complex.

Reception at Maple Crest Farm

On Saturday night a reception was held for symposium participants and sponsors at Maple Crest Farm, home of the Koffler family. Bruce and Margee Koffler and their children, Ian, Reese and Lindsey, welcomed guests to their home in style with an elegantly catered dinner. Small touches such as valet parking, a pianist, and a wine bar made the evening even more elegant.

Guests relaxed and enjoyed visiting with one another for several hours, with the opportunity to converse with symposium instructor Kyra Kyrklund, who willingly discussed horses and training into the late hours despite having been teaching since 7:00 that morning, and with more teaching scheduled for the same time the next day.

Her enthusiasm for horses is evident in her willingness to participate in discourse on the subject endlessly; it is no wonder that she has been so successful both as competitor and trainer.

Lena Wedenmark also surprised a few guests with her impressive skills as a pianist late in the evening. Never underestimate a horsewoman!

The Koffler family is also to be congratulated on the recent birth of a beautiful foal, which guests had the opportunity to see during the party.

Related Links
Horsesdaily Rider in the Spotlight: Kyra Kyrklund
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DressageDaily: American Dressage Symposium with Kyra Kyrklund
Dressagedaily: Leslie Morse Uses USET Grant to Train with Kyra Kyrklund
Dressagedaily: FEI Coup d'Ameriques: Individual Gold for Lindsey Koffler
DressageDaily: Koffler Sisters Off to a Good Start For Spring Season