Jan Brink's First Clinic in America Hosted by Arredando Dressage

Four-time Swedish dressage champion, the #2 dressage rider in the world, who rides the #1 horse, winner of the Aachen Championships in 2005, and Bronze medallist at the 2005 European Dressage Championships, just held his first clinic in America, which attracted at least 160 auditors.

Think it isn’t possible to have such an impressive resume at the age of 46? Think again. Sweden’s Jan Brink is the name and his star horse is the Swedish stallion Bjorsells Briar. Bjorsells Briar, 15, is by Magini out of Charis by Krocket and is bred and owned by Hans-Yngve Göransson. Brink trains Briar at his Tullstorp Dressage Stable in Sweden.

Hosted by the Arredondo Dressage Society, Brink made the flight from Hassleholm, Sweden to Gainesville, Fla. to hold a symposium at the University of Florida’s Horse Teaching Unit, March 10-12.

“This is the first time I have been in the United States for a symposium or clinic,” said Brink, who juggles a busy schedule that consists of competing in world-class competitions, running a barn with 36 horses in it, going to the Olympics and securing enough wins to be named the #2 dressage rider in the world. “I am going to do this more later on, when I am not competing so much at Olympic level and at world championships and am just running my business. But now, you have to choose, and there is no time...”

By Shaneen Kohler

Brink Appeals To All Riding Levels

Brink tried to appeal to all riding levels at the symposium. “If we only had top riders here, doing piaffe and passage and all the difficult things, it would be fine for an hour or two.” But, the people who ride as a hobby would not relate. “It is not their world. Their world might be as a First or Second Level rider.” Brink showed them exercises they could take home with them to incorporate into their routine, exercises that would inspire them to say, “I can try to do that.”

One of the most common mistakes he sees riders making is the use of the inside rein. When people are turning their horse, for example, in a circle or to the left or right, they are putting too much on the inside rein, he said. The horse will get over-bent and the shoulder will run out. Rather, an outside rein should be used and the neck kept “quite straight.”

He also encouraged auditors and riders to know their riding style and find a horse that complements it, especially if you are an amateur rider with only one horse. “I love a horse with a lot of energy and electricity, but that is because I can ride a horse like that.” That type of horse is not for everyone.

By Shaneen Kohler

Dressage is for Many Breeds

The breed is not as important. For dressage to be global, it needs to appeal to a wide field, he said. Some of the breeds represented at the symposium were Arabians, Lipizzaners, Oldenburgs, Holsteiners, Rheinlanders and Dutch, Danish and Swedish warmbloods.

Riders were Jodie Kelly, Diane Ritz, Jami Van Uitert, Laura Wharton, Susanne Benne, Leslie Eden, Lisa Giltner, Jean Thornton, Noelle Shema, Alison Brock, Sharon Jerdeman, Hannah Johnson, Alex Robertson, Maya Sniadecky, Heather Stalker, Sue Kolstad and Sofia Wahlstedt.

However, be sure to stretch your limits mentally. “If you never try to go up to your limits and stretch, then you will never move up. But you have to play with it. You can’t push your limits all the time.” He said some people are limiting their riding potential because they like to stay in the “comfort zone.”

Brink is king of going beyond the comfort zone, to the delight of all who are mesmerized by his performances. Described as a “phenomenal rider,” Brink and Briar’s latest accomplishment is a championship at CHIO Aachen 2005, which Brink defines as “the best show in the world. Aachen is a really, really big thing to be in. My wins there in 2005 were my greatest accomplishments.”

His next stop? With the World Equestrian Games being held in Germany in August, there is a pretty good bet that’s where you will see the next remarkable performances by Jan Brink and Bjorsells Briar.

By Shaneen Kohler

From the Bleachers…

At least 160 auditors took advantage of this opportunity to watch Jan Brink in action, and all were full of praise concerning Brink’s training methods.

Susannah Howells of High Springs, Fla., who is the 2005 U.S. Dressage Federation Region 3 Grand Prix champion with her horse Tango, said Brink “was really helpful with exercises. The best thing was when he explained how he developed the piaffe in one of Briar’s sons. He made it almost like a game, which encouraged the horse to be more responsive and energetic.” She said he also explained the use of the outside rein in a way that was understandable.

Laurie Kelly of Destin, Fla., whose daughter Jodie was riding, said the most impressive part of the lecture was the way he was “extremely conscious of keeping your horse happy and in a good environment.” She said he reinforced the importance of the walk and encouraged 45-minute walks on the long rein to build muscle. “He used positive reinforcement with riders, too,” added Kelly, who mentioned that her daughter is excited about an exercise he taught her that will help her horse learn the rhythm of piaffe.

Tracy Bregman of Ocala, Fla. said it was nice to hear someone tell you not to be afraid and to try new things. He even encouraged us to try other disciplines with our dressage horses, saying that just because you have a Grand Prix Level horse doesn’t mean you shouldn’t hack, walk or jump him. He also reminded us that you need to keep their minds fresh and remember to have fun. “Pressure your horse to have progress but know where the line is.”

Karen Miller of Alachua, Fla., a Second Level rider, said Brink “holds your interest.” He also encouraged lessons. As #2 dressage rider in the world, even he takes lessons, he told us. “That impressed me. He said you cannot have eyes on the ground when you are on top of a horse.”

Leanna Totten of High Springs, Fla. commended him for his clear directions. “Riders seem to really understand the point he is trying to get across. I hope he returns and I have the opportunity to ride with him.”

Gigha Steinman Audits and Reports on the Jan Brink Clinic - Lots of detail and tips from the dressage star.