2006 USDF FEI-Level Trainers

High Meadow Farm, Loxahatchee, Florida, January 15-16

The theme for the two day clinic with Hubertus Schmidt was “Developing Power through Relaxation” and Mr. Schmidt explained it well. An all star list of demonstration trainers included Todd Flettrich, Michelle Gibson, Mary Ann Grant, Nancy Pugh Later, Catherine Morelli, Dr. Cesar Parra, Karen Lipp, Silke Rembacz, Alison Sader-Larson, Oded Shimoni, Jessica Jo Tate, and Lynda Alicki.

Lendon Gray, who conducted question and answer time with Mr. Schmidt, was thrilled to have Mr. Schmidt’s expert knowledge available to US riders. “His style is a straight forward, systematic and an uncomplicated approach to training. Our real goal is for the trainers who have attended this clinic to take home this knowledge to their students to improve the quality of dressage in the US. You really can’t go wrong with his training.”

Gunnar and Birgit Ostergaard who attended the conference Sunday added that no matter what level a trainer and rider is there is always something to be gained from attending these symposiums. "I came home with a lot of inspiration." said Ostergaard. "There is really nothing new in the training of dressage, but different trainers have different ways of explaining things." he added. "I was reminded of some exercises I remembered doing with the late Herbert Rehbein." Gunnar continued. "Doing the piaffe and passage on bended lines, not always on a straight line. I can't wait to get on my horse Monday and try it!"

Karen Lipp, a highly respected US rider and trainer, considered it a huge privilege to ride under the instruction of Mr. Schmidt. Karen was aboard Kayce Redmond’s “Lipton”, an up and coming FEI horse. “I believe that Hubertus Schmidt is one of the best riders in the world right now, and I think it’s really great of the USDF to make such an effort to educate our country’s elite professionals how to teach and train the higher level movements. Good teaching and training produces great riders.”

Mr. Schmidt emphasized that a horse that is not a huge mover by nature is not a big problem, but that the key to a more competitive horse lies in the correctness and quality of the movements, not in the extravagance of the horse’s gaits. Another main concern is keeping the proper amount of impulsion of the horse through the movements. He pointed out the significance of adjusting the pace slightly to create different desired effects on the way the horse would perform the movements. We must always keep the suppleness of the back in mind throughout all of the different stages of training.

High Meadow Farm, Loxahatchee, Florida, January 15-16

Hubertus Schmidt worked with horses at all levels of training, from younger horses to confirmed Grand Prix horses, and these principles stayed constant throughout the clinic.

He worked with riders on transitions within the gait, pointing out that the rider must be sensitive to the horses’ desire to either move forward, be lazy (behind the leg), or pulling tendencies and adjust the way they make those transitions accordingly. He worked on the correctness of the walk pirouettes, emphasizing the importance of the pirouette not being too big and the rider sitting to the inside. The steps need to be short and “up and down”, not so much crossing or forward.

He also pointed out that some horses tend to be too slow and too deep behind in the piaffe when the rider uses only the leg, so this can be supplemented by the whip. The passage doesn’t need to be quicker, it needs to be shorter. He then pointed out that in the event of the horse being too slow in the passage (to the point of almost walking behind), the whip can be needed.

Hopefully the information and knowledge Mr. Schmidt has shared with us these past two days can be taken out to help all dressage riders across the nation.

Stacy Gormley for DressageDaily.com