Wellington, FL - Olympic Gold Medalist Hubertus Schmidt had great things to say about the improvement and connection between Todd Flettrich and his mount Otto on a recent trip to the United States. Teaching clinics and lessons for several clients in Florida, the German rider and trainer has been working with Flettrich for four years now and first saw the partnership with Otto in 2009. Flettrich and Otto are qualified to compete in the Selection Trials for the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games (WEG), which will be held in Lexington, KY, this fall, and Schmidt feels confident about their chances of making it onto the U.S. Team.
Based in Coatesville, PA, and Wellington, FL, Todd Flettrich has had a fantastic season with 13-year-old Otto, a Danish Warmblood gelding (Rambo X Rampal), owned by Cherry Knoll Farm. The pair first joined forces in 2009 and have since earned several top placings throughout the country. In addition to training in Germany with Schmidt last summer, Flettrich and Otto have also had personal coaching from Schmidt in Florida this season. Schmidt watches Flettrich ride and also occasionally rides Otto himself to work on the movements.
"Otto feels better than ever before," Schmidt said during his visit. "I know him from last summer and he had some good results at the German shows, but he was never this relaxed. He was not as loose and happy, and I think that he has definitely made some big steps forward."
"For sure, his piaffe and passage are absolutely fantastic and absolutely world-class," Schmidt said of Otto. "He can do it easy for an eight or nine, and when he is relaxed like this he makes super half passes. His trot work and his canter work are also great. The most important thing is that now he is really loose in his back and really supple and relaxed. He can do every change, and every pirouette; there is not really a weak point with him."
Following several years of training, Schmidt believes that Flettrich is a great rider who tries really hard to do well. "I think that Todd is really focused on his riding with his whole heart and he tries hard to improve and to get better," Schmidt stated. "He is sitting very well and he is not an aggressive rider at all, which I like a lot. He is very patient with the horses and he has a lot of confidence, so I like his way of riding."
"I think that he was good before, but he has learned a lot because he has had several different Grand Prix horses now," Schmidt continued. "In the time that I have trained him I think he has ridden five or six Grand Prix horses and he has for sure learned a little bit from each one. He is getting more and more experienced, which is also very important and I think it was very good that he could show more this year because it is also very important to have the test experience and show experience."
Flettrich hopes to travel to Germany again to compete in Aachen in July and get a couple of international shows in before the Selection Trials in August. Schmidt thinks that the international competitions will give Flettrich the opportunity to show that he is really ready to be a member of the U.S. Team. "Showing at a big international event can often be a lot of pressure compared to the American shows and Aachen is one of the biggest shows in the world, so that would be good for him to go there and have that experience," Schmidt noted. "I think Todd still has a good chance to qualify for the WEG. In Florida there were several shows where he was the best American, and I have to say that he has really improved. From February to now he has made a big step forward again and if he can show that here in Europe, then I think he will do well."
Todd Flettrich is based in Wellington, FL, has earned his USDF Silver and Gold Medals, and is a graduate of the USDF 'L' Judge Program. Flettrich competed at the North American Young Riders Championships (NAYRC) four times and won the Individual Gold Medal and Team Silver in 1991. Flettrich served as Region 1 Coach and Chef d'Equipe at NAYRC from 1988 through 1994. His student Catherine Malone won the Individual Gold in 2005. Flettrich's current mounts are owned by Cherry Knoll Farm. For more information, call Todd Flettrich at 484-459-2749.
Photo Credit: Todd Flettrich and Otto; Hubertus Schmidt. Photo © 2010 Lauren Fisher/PMG.