Monica Burssens Grows Skills Under Tutelage of German Dressage Master Klaus Balkenhol

Photo: Monica Burssens recently spent time honing her skills with Klaus Balkenhol in Germany.  (Photo courtesy of Monica Burssens)
Photo: Monica Burssens recently spent time honing her skills with Klaus Balkenhol in Germany. (Photo courtesy of Monica Burssens)

Wellington, FL - Monica Burssens, daughter of international dressage rider Patrick and Marisol Burssens of the International Dressage Academy in Wellington, Florida, recently spent a month nurturing her skills in the dressage arena with renowned German master Klaus Balkenhol. Burssens immersed herself in the pinnacle of German dressage at Balkenhol’s facility in Rosendahl, Germany, and plans to use the experience to build her list of accomplishments and improve her own horses here in the United States. The 27-year-old dressage rider already has a number of accomplishments to her name, including being short listed for the 2011 Pan Am Games and competing internationally at the CDI level. She opted to put in a month of hard work in Germany to build her skill set and learn from the best. She also was able to see her five-year-old Oldenburg mare, Elfentanz (Fidertanz x De Niro) around the barn, competed at the Bundeschampionat with one of Klaus’s riders. The Burssens purchased Escada, as the mare is known around the barn, a year and a half ago in Germany and put her in training with Balkenhol.

Monica met Balkenhol 15 years ago when her family first moved to Florida. The German master would come to school her father, also a successful international competitor. “I always loved Klaus’s way of working with horses and his classical training principles,” said Burssens. “The horse always comes first; there are no shortcuts, only good training. He is a master and a true horseman.”

Monica had the opportunity to ride many horses during her stay besides her own mare. “All of their horses, from the green 4-year-olds to the 18-year-old Grand Prix schoolmaster named Easy, are a joy to ride,” said Burssens. “You can really feel the difference when a horse is happy and willing to work.”

After her experience in Germany, Burssens hopes to go back every summer to train with Klaus and continue to benefit from his training. “The work paid off,” she said. “I would do it all over again and want to always keep learning. One of my favorite quotes from Klaus is ‘It’s not the horses that have to learn to understand the humans; it’s the humans that have to learn to understand the horses.’”
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