The 2006 Brentina Cup winners Liz Austin and her Dutch warmblood stallion Olivier (by Idocus) are currently in Germany training with Klaus Balkenhol. They are both having a blast and Liz is learning classical dressage from a great master.
Join Liz on her German expedition via her weblog. Here is a little excerpt:
"I have actually been doing things at night now, like watching movies, going to dinner, watching Balkenhol home videos, etc., so I haven’t been as diligent about writing. Sorry about that! Fizzy is doing very well, and I am hoping to show him soon. He had Sunday off, like usual, and had a light day on Monday as he had his feet done.
My lessons with Klaus have been so fantastic, and I feel like I am learning so much. I also try to watch as much as I can, especially Klaus (for obvious reasons) and Belli (since she has been working with him for so long, obviously). They are both such quiet, effective riders, most of the time it is difficult to even see their aids! Of course, that is what dressage is all about, but it can be a little tricky when you are trying to learn how they are using their aids.
So far I think the most important lesson I have learned is about letting the horse work for himself. I am lucky in that Fizzy has a super “Go” button, but sometimes, for example in the canter pirouettes, I push too much, and make things more difficult than they should be. On Monday we schooled the canter pirouettes just a little, and they were so much easier than they have been in the past (before coming to Germany). I think it is because I am learning to push less, and allow more. It is an incredible feeling.
But the MOST incredible feeling I have had since I’ve been here was today, in a trot half-pass. Fizzy is very good at half-pass anyway, but sometimes I think I get too strong in asking for the bend. “Forceful” is the wrong word to use, because I don’t think I could ever force Fizzy to do anything, but you know how you almost push for something too hard, that you get in the way? Well, today in our trot zig-zag, he made a lovely half-pass left, a nice change of bend, and then a nice half-pass right. I have been making sure after a half-halt I always become soft (obviously so) with the rein, and give my hands forward so that I give Fizzy room to “grow” in front. It was the most “ah-ha!” moment I’ve ever had."