Presenters Scott Hassler and Ingo Pape brought out the best in the demonstration horses at the 2014 USDF Sport Horse Prospect Development Forum, presented by Dressage at Devon. This program, designed by the USDF Sport Horse Committee, is focused on developing a consistent and logical training program for the three year old dressage prospect. Committee Chair Kristi Wysocki said “We wanted to bridge the gap between the education and competition programs USDF provides for young in-hand horses and USEF provides for Young Horses (4 - 6 years old).
Historically, we had no way to help breeders and owners make a smooth transition between the two, so this program is the bridge we’ve long been waiting for. The program creates a highly valuable opportunity for breeders, owners, and trainers to meet, get to know one another, and to focus on this much needed phase of producing our future prospects in this country.”
The forum included demonstrations from lunging in a halter for the first time, progressing through the steps to lunging with a rider. Willy Arts, head trainer of DG Bar Ranch, generously took the time to demonstrate safe and logical methods for lunging. Hassler and Pape then worked with several three and four year olds under saddle, to demonstrate the early training process, a critical first stage for these youngsters’ careers as dressage sport horses.
Over 125 spectators attended, and filled many note pages with information gleaned from the experts. The riders who participated in the forum were talented, yet willing to take every bit of advice given by the presenters. Every horse improved through the process and had a positive experience with the forum setting. Demonstration horses showed a wide range of experience, from a three year old with just a few months of training, and away from home for the first time, to a four year old that showed at the USEF Young Horse Championships in August.
This gave the spectators a clear progression of the initial training steps. Each horse had its unique stage of training and personalities. Hassler and Pape masterfully helped each rider enhance their communication skills with their horse in a positive and effective manner. One spectator said “I came here looking for a trainer who can start my young horses. I am so excited that I have choices. There were some super riders here that really know how to ride these three-year-olds.”
California Dressage Society generously hosted an evening reception, followed by an additional lecture by Hassler and Pape. The theme of the weekend was safe, clear, logical communication with the dressage prospect horse. Hassler said “It’s much easier to take your time and develop the training slowly and correctly, than to rush and have to fix a problem you create.”
Contributing sponsor Dressage Training Online videotaped the two-day forum. Their generosity will enable many others around the country to experience the sessions online. This will allow USDF to provide the forum as continuing education for riders, owners, and breeders around the country. Planning for the 2015 Sport Horse Prospect Development Forum is already underway. Visit the
USDF website to stay apprised of the upcoming dates and location.