Cutler Farm and Warren-McMullin Dressage Played Host to Conrad Schumacher Clinic
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
One important element in his system for improving riders, was the development of the mental fitness of riders. And while there are any number of people who are excellent mental coaches, Schumacher said he has learned that riders need a different kind of mental training for several reasons. One is that riding involves a partnership with another living creature. "We can't use the horse's body to win medals the way other athletes use their own body. In our sport, the human being wants to win a medal. The horse wants to stay in the comfort zone." The mental training of a rider must take place on a moving animal and in a situation in which things are constantly changing. "We need to make decisions on a horse, not on a couch," Schumacher said.
Another difference between competitive riders and other athletes is that success in competitive riding requires decades of commitment. Most riders have 20 years or more of riding experience under their belts before they hit something like the Olympics. And that means they need to stay focused day after day for years. Because horses react to the mood of the rider, it means that no matter what happens in a rider's life over the years, he or she must approach that horse with the same mood every day of every year during the course of their partnership. "The giving of the aids changes when we are moody so we need to be in the same mood each day we ride," he said.
Schumacher will be in the U.S. for much of October taking his symposium message from coast to coast before heading home to Germany. But, once the Florida circuit gets into full swing, he said he'll be heading there to do a bit of teaching and coaching as he takes a break from the German winter. "It's a lot of time traveling, but I enjoy it," he said.
Photo: Conrad Schumacher, Bill Warren, Bill McMullin, Donna Cameron and mounted on the horse is Lainey Johnson