The USEF High Performance Dressage Committee conducted a series of three clinics over the course of the 2009-2010 Florida winter season to promote the development of high caliber horse and rider combinations. Eligible horse and rider combinations were selected from the Grand Prix A List and/or the Grand Prix B list on the 2009 USEF High Performance Dressage Long List as well as from the Developing Horse and Rider List. Pairs could also receive a special invitation based on recent performances at FEI and/or National Championship(s) or CDI competitions. The clinic series proved to be very popular with and informational to the participants. The featured clinicians were Guenter Seidel, Kyra Kyrklund, Steffen Peters and Anne Gribbons. Gribbons, the USEF Technical Advisor, was present at each clinic adding her own training commentary as well as contributing her perspective as an experienced O judge. The first clinic in the series was held on December 12th and 13th, 2009 with Guenter Seidel and Anne Gribbons at Walter and Maryanne McPhail’s High Meadow Farm in Loxahatchee, FL. Eight horse and rider combinations participated in the clinic including, Chris Hickey on Cabana Boy, Todd Flettrich on Otto, Tara Stegen on New Tango, Katherine Bateson-Chandler on Dea II, Courtney King-Dye on Don Principe, Jan Brons on Tetubod, George Williams on Don Bailey and Shelly Francis on Wig Wam.
Throughout the training sessions, Guenter emphasized the importance of keeping the horses stride for stride in front of the seat while maintaining the horses’ natural rhythm. His presentation was very patient as he honed in on each individual horse and rider’s needs. He encouraged more expression and impulsion without losing the horse’s balance or desire.
The clinic was very enthusiastically received by the riders. George Williams commented that, “The same meticulous qualities that Guenter is known for in his riding, he also brings to his teaching. He is very exacting, demanding the best efforts from the rider, which of course in turn produces better results from the horses. I thoroughly enjoyed working with him and to this day feel I still benefit from his straight forward words of wisdom”.
On February 8th, 2010 the second USEF Dressage Masters training session clinic was conducted by Kyra Kyrklund and Anne Gribbons at the Jim Brandon Equestrian Center in Wellington, Florida. This clinic was planned as part of the High Performance Clinic Series. Clinic participants included JJ Tate, Leslie Morse on Tip Top 962, Tuny Page on Ice Cup, Shawna Harding on Come On III, Michael Barisone on Taz, Sharon McCusker on Juli Sherif and Melissa Taylor on Schumacker Solyst.
Kyra worked with each participant creating terrific results. Kyra is known for bringing her keen perspective to each clinic and training experience that she presents and the riders were very enthusiastic.
Tuny Page commented, “Kyra is a master through and through. She has a profound understanding of the characteristics that produce a top Grand Prix horse such as collection, self carriage and engagement. Kyra has a magical way of knowing how to help a horse improve in a way that a woman can do with ease”.
The third clinic in the USEF’s High Performance Clinic Series was held on February 19th through 21st with Steffen Peters and Anne Gribbons at Betsy Juliano’s Havensafe Farm in Wellington, Florida. Participating in the clinic were Liz Austin and Olivier, George Williams and Havensafe’s Spirit Freedom, Lauren Sammis on Highfield Casmirov, Tuny Page on Ice Cup, Shawna Harding with Come On III, Tina Konyot and Calecto V, Courtney King-Dye on Don Principe and Melissa Taylor with Shumacker Solyst.
The format for this clinic was the following. Day 1, training with Steffen for a 45 minute session. Day 2 was a test ride in full show attire with Anne Gribbons judging followed by a group video review of the tests with Anne and Steffen. On day 3, 45 minute training sessions with Steffen and Anne focused on test improvements.
This unique format proved to be very popular with the attendees and helpful to have a realistic show experience. Another aspect that the clinic participants enjoyed was the camaraderie that they felt during the group discussions when viewing the tests.
This clinic had a very dynamic composition. High Performance Dressage Committee member, Kathy Connelly commented, “ Steffen is an excellent and relaxed communicator and able to immediately focus on what each horse and rider combination needed. He emphasized the importance of the riders’ feeling their horses’ dial of energy and creating the desired amount by doing less to gain more. His suggestions reflected his tremendous experience.
Anne always brings tremendous enthusiasm and human insight to her training and judging. The wealth of information and experience that she brings to our Dressage program as Technical Adviser is invaluable."