From riding and training demonstrations, to lectures and discussions, there were many highlights at the third annual Global Dressage Forum, held October 6 and 7, 2003, at the Dressage Academy in Hooge Mierde, Holland. More than 250 riders, trainers, and judges from 20 countries participated. The Global Dressage Forum was presented by the international dressage rider Richard Davison and the President of the International Dressage Trainers Club (IDTC) David Hunt.
Global Forum Day One
Kicking off the forum, European champion Ulla Salzgeber gave an exciting interview about preparing for the European Championships in Hickstead while her horse Rusty was under scrutiny following a positive dope test at the World Cup in Gothenburg – he had been medicated for a skin condition. Although she had to compete under tremendous pressure, Salzgeber managed to win the title with a close to perfect performance. During her clinic at the Forum, Salzgeber rode her horse Wall Street and explained the details of her preparation for a big international dressage class.
‘Judging’ was the topic for the remainder of the day. Hans van Zetten, an expert in gymnastics, gave a lecture on the practice of judging other Olympic sports. He explained the necessity to have an extensive handbook, or so-called ‘code of points’, where the details of every movement and the possible mistakes have to be explained in detail. After an interesting discussion with the audience, it was the current Olympic champion Anky van Grunsven who concluded, "We must think about what we can learn from the experiences of other artistic sports."
The evening’s program featured the evaluation of Hickstead, which sparked an interesting confrontation between judges and trainers. The audience was very impressed with the openness shown by the judges, especially by Mariette Withages, the President of the FEI Dressage Committee. While there has been some controversy, it became clear during the evening’s discussion that the Hickstead judging had been quite correct. Ms. Withages disclosed that the FEI is preparing a handbook for dressage judging. A draft will be presented to riders and trainers next year.
Global Forum Day 2
On the second day of the Global Dressage Forum, ex-Chief Rider of the Spanish Riding School Arthur Kottas gave an impressive demonstration of work ‘from the ground’ and showed the real art of working horses ‘in hand’. Kottas demonstrated the skill and kindness that is essential to producing a relaxed horse that is working through its whole body. Afterwards, Kottas’s daughter rode the horse while he explained his training methods.
Kottas himself climbed into the saddle during the second clinic of the day, which was presented by Richard Weis from Australia. It was a great moment for Weis, as he told the audience he had always considered Kottas to have the best seat of all riders. Weis is an Alexander Therapist and specializes in the correct seat of the rider. He talked about body dynamics and body awareness. Weis explained his work as a therapist and trainer, and even managed to get the whole audience of 250 persons moving around and jumping in some exercises.
The German Equestrian Federation (FN) presented the afternoon session featuring veterinarian Dr. Gerd Heuschman who gave a lecture on the anatomy of the horse. Christoph Hess of the FN and Holger Schmezer, the national trainer for Germany, presented four horses and riders from top national young rider level to Grand Prix. An explanation was given of the German ‘Piaf Förder Preis’, which is a successful competition for young riders who are on their way to Grand Prix level.
The forum wrapped up with an evening Trainers’ Buffet, at which IDTC President David Hunt presented the IDTC award to Wiltrud Duckeck, who headed up the Trainers Club with her late husband Hermann Duckeck for many years.