About 70 people braved chilly weather to watch the third annual symposium at Michael Poulin's Dressage Center International in DeLeon Springs, FL, January 10 & 11. Dr. Volker Moritz, "O" Judge, returned for the third year as clinician, this time joined by Ingrid Klimke, international rider and trainer in dressage as well as 3 day eventing.
The theme throughout the weekend was patient, kind riding that adheres to the training scale. Ms. Klimke is an excellent teacher. She is very articulate and encouraging to the riders while still pushing them always to try harder and to ask more of their horses.
Once again, the Poulins and everyone at DCI put on a great symposium with very good horses and riders with an atmosphere that encouraged questions and discussions.
The Training Scale with Dr. Moritz
The subject of the first day was the basic training of the horse through 3rd level. The day began with a short lecture by Dr. Moritz on the training scale. "The horse must be obedient, but man must understand the needs of the horse." Dr. Moritz began his talk with this quote from Xenophon. By maintaining to the training scale, the rider can create a willing, obedient horse without the use of force. He emphasized that the training scale should always be in the forefront of the minds of riders, trainers and judges.
Dr. Moritz then presented a video made by the German Federation on the basic training of the dressage horse. The video showed beautiful examples of correct riding and training according to the training scale. Ms. Klimke was asked about the difference between eventing dressage and "normal" dressage. She said there is no difference. She believes that event riders, dressage riders and jumper riders should all use the same basic training to create rhythmic, supple, balanced horses prepared to go on in whatever discipline the rider chooses.
On the Lunge Line with Ingrid Klimke
The mounted sessions began with Jackie Paxton's 3 year old stallion, Picarde, by the Hanoverian sire Picaro. Picarde was just beginning his education on the lunge line and had been ridden 3 times prior to the symposium. He was quite excited by his new surroundings and the large crowd. Ms. Klimke took over the lungeing in order to make him more obedient. "He must be obedient from the beginning," she said. "If he runs over you, get in front of him and stop him quickly."
Ms. Klimke wanted the aids (whether on the ground or under saddle) to be quick and definite, especially with a stallion. She wanted him in front of her aids from the very beginning, even on the lunge line. She likes to use long side reins or long running reins from early on to encourage the horses to stretch down. Picarde improved very much on the lunge line, and Jackie got on and did a little walk, trot and his first canter under saddle, on the lunge. Klimke wanted active, forward gaits with very soft, even contact. Jackie then walked him briefly off of the lunge line before dismounting. Klimke reminded the auditors that the horse's education begins on the ground, with good manners. "The horse must work for you and with you from the beginning," she said.
Relaxing the Young Horse
The next two sessions were demonstrating Training and First level work. All horses were warmed up in big, active gaits with soft contact on both reins encouraging the horses to stretch down and out to the hand. Klimke frequently asked all the riders to let the horses chew the reins out of the hands. She used this both as a way of relaxing the horses and as a way of improving the connection over the back. She also insisted on quick reactions from the horse, even in the warm up stage.
Gwen Poulin rode Don Greco, a 4 year old Hanoverian gelding by Don Primero owned by Sandra Nelson. Klimke was glad to hear that this horse had not been shown yet. She likes to work with the horses as 3 year olds and take them to their first shows at 4, but not necessarily compete them. "His first experiences must be good ones, because horses have such a good memory," she said. She thinks it is usually better to start serious work with the young horse in the winter between their 4th and 5th year.
After a warming lunch of hot chili and sandwiches, sponsored by Mary Phelps of Markel Insurance, there was a session dedicated to caveletti work. Klimke used 4 poles on the open side of a 20 meter circle for trot work. This improved the horses balance, coordination, and added cadence to their trots.
Transitions from trot to canter were added once the horses were proficient at trotting the poles. The horses would trot the poles, take the canter, canter around the closed side of the circle, trot before the poles, and repeat.
This made the horses very sensitive to the aids and improved their balance. She then used the caveletti at the highest setting for canter work.
First one caveletti was set for the horse to canter over and then another was added with a bounce in between. Heather Bender rode her Grand Prix gelding, Bona Sera, over the two caveletti to improve the jump in the canter stride and the coordination of the hind legs. Ms. Klimke wanted the riders to sit a little forward and lighter over the caveletti and then back to a dressage seat afterwards.
Straightness and Collection
The afternoon focused on Second and Third Levels where straightness and collection were improved. The warm up remained primarily the same for the horses. Collection was gradually added through transitions, but the gaits always remained very forward and active. "Collection can only come out of impulsion," Klimke said. Nancy Kotting and her beautiful 6 year old Dutch gelding, Paleo, demonstrated at Second Level.
Ms. Klimke had them work on trot-walk-trot transitions at the 4 points of the circle, gradually changing into half halts instead of full transitions to the walk Medium trot was added on the open side of the circle from time to time to keep the impulsion. Ms. Klimke always wanted the riders to be quieter and more giving with the hand in order to keep the horses out on the vertical and reaching for the bit.
Asking for the Potential
The second day began with demonstrations of the new FEI 5 Year Old Test and FEI 6 Year Old Test. Linda Todenhagen and Sir Rocco demonstrated the 5 year old test which has working and medium gaits, simple changes in the canter, counter canter and a turn on the haunches at the walk. There was much discussion on the difficulty of these tests. Dr. Moritz said, "Both tests, in terms of degree of difficulty, are completely appropriate for the age of the horse." He said that the reason this much is asked of these young horses is because there are so many good horses now that in order pick the best ones the difficulty must be increased. "We are asking for the potential of the horse as a future FEI horse," he said.
The rest of the day focused on upper level work from Fourth Level through Grand Prix. Tina Konyot on the brilliant KWPN mare by Sultan, Anna Karina owned by Sally Miller wowed the crowd, and Volker Moritiz, with her brilliant piaffe and passage. "Zoopa!" was the comment from Moritz and they demonstrated the movements.
Ms. Klimke still wanted the same basic warm up with these horses: active, working trot rising and canter on the snaffle only with the horse reaching for the contact. "You want the big movement later, so you must ask for activity early on," she said. The upper level movements were improved by always going back to the basics and improving the quality of the gaits. "Always the flying change is as good as the quality of the canter," Klimke said. "Big, jumping canter equals big, jumping changes." Dr. Moritz had riders ride parts of the FEI tests. The riders would be asked to do the same movement many times in a row and to gradually improve the balance and add more expression each time.
Maintaining Training Scale to Obtain Success
Dr. Moritz and Ms. Klimke did an excellent job throughout the weekend and were very kind and thoughtful in answering the many questions from the auditors.
They both insisted that the basics be correct in the horses whether they were beginning under saddle or competing at Grand Prix.
By diligently maintaining the training scale they could improve each horse without force from the rider or stress to the horse. It was straight forward, classical training, and it was a joy to watch.
By Eliza Sydnor for DressageDaily.com
Training/Lunge horse----Jackie Paxton-Picarde 3yr Hann Stallion by Picaro owned by Paxton Farm
Training Level----Gwen Poulin- DonGreco 5yr Hann. gelding by Don Primero owned by Sandra Nelson
First Level---Alison McKellar- Rimar 5yr Dutch Gelding by Idocus owned by Alison McKellar
First Level---Michael Etherly Draco 7yr Hanoverian gelding by Donnerhall owned by Michael Etherly
Cavaletti-Katherine Poulin- Brilliant Too 7yr Dutch gelding by Brilliant owned by Sharon Poulin
Cavaletti-Heather Bender Bona Sera-14yr Hann gelding by Bolero owned by Heather Bender
Second Level-Nancy Kotting- Paleo 6yr Dutch Gelding by Jazz owned by Nancy Kotting
Third Level-Katherine Poulin-Luxor 10yr Dutch Gelding by Rinaldo owned by Jamie Chittum
Third Level-Linda Todenhagen- Sir Ricco-7yr Trak Gelding by Enrico Caruso owned by Molly Fine
Fourth Level-Karin Offield-Oz 7yr Dutch Gelding by Wagenaar
Owned by Karin Offield-Ried
Fourth Level- Susannah Howells- Tango 10yr Holsteiner geldin gby Cathargo owned by Susannah
PSG-Linda Pinto-Welladay Classic 11yr Danish Gelding by World Record owned by Linda Pinto
Michael Etherly -Katalina 10yr Dutch Mare by Burggraff owned by Karin Offield-Reid FOR SALE
Inter I-Katherine Poulin - Herb Commander 19yr TB gelding by Herb Water owned by Katherine
Grand Prix-Tina Konyot-Anna Karenina-11yr Dutch Mare owned by Sally Miller
Grand Prix-Heather Bender-Winwood 8yr Hann Gelding by Weltmeyer owned by