It's All About the Lipizzans: An Interview With Conrad Schumacher
Tuesday, September 22, 2015
Posted by Esther Buonanno
In anticipation of the Tempel Lipizzans exhibition at Dressage at Devon’s 40th Anniversary, Conrad Schumacher comments on the legacy and relevance of the training, exhibition and breed in the United States. The original herd, primarily from Piber, was imported in 1958 by Founders Tempel and Esther Smith. The mission since then has been to promote not just the breed (now considered an endangered domestic breed) but the art of classical training in the United States.
What is your history with Tempel Lipizzans?
In 1999, I had the task of forming the Young Rider training program. There was Young Rider competition at that time but no education for it. I had experience with this and was called by the USET. Tempel Farms was the host of the North American Young Rider Championships and was the number one place for it in the US at that time.
During my time at Tempel Farms I had the contact with Karl Mikolka among others discussing and watching the training of these horses. That’s how I became close with the Lipizzans. I am now serving as Master Coach of the training staff making visits 4 times a year and setting goals and expectations for months at a time.
How would you describe the current horses in training?
Like with any training program, our future is in the young and the strength of early training. We have many good prospects that are going in a good way and only getting better. The trainers exemplify brave classical riding with a sound understanding of the strengths of each horse.
What will spectators see in the Quadrille presentation at Devon?
They will see true classical riding in harmony.
Do high school movements have any relevance to modern day competitive dressage?
The Airs Above the Ground is a classical layer that we can’t touch with our sport due to the breeding and conformation of the sport horses. It should be appreciated as part of the heritage of the art of dressage and the Lipizzan breed.
That said, I believe there will be more exciting and performance-ready components that will enter the competitive arena in the future. For example, there is great potential to show harmony and movement in a nice pas de deux that will make the sport more fun for spectators.
What is the significance of a classical dressage training center in the US? What is special about Tempel Farms?
A classical training center is badly needed and rare in the United States. It’s very special for this reason. It is a place where one can get a classical horsemanship education based on a system that is beyond just one person’s ideas. In Germany we have places like this hosted at stud farms, they provide additional opportunities from the individual Master Trainers that one could train with.
When it comes to your young people who want a foundation in classical horsemanship, Tempel Farms has it all. One can learn the training system, the veterinarian care, the breeding program, stable management, feeding techniques and preventative care for the equine athletes. In some places, horses are ridden incorrectly due to lack of education. People must understand that the conformation and abilities of a horse may set and exceed limits for a horse to function at its best.
How is Tempel Farms preservation of the Lipizzan breed important?
Without people who breed these horses they will die off. There are not enough Lipizzans in the world. It’s very hard to buy them in Europe. It’s about our culture, where we come back. If you’re a horseman and you don’t like the Lipizzans then you don’t understand the great relevance. Everyone should understand the importance of the Lipizzans.
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