Dressage (a French term meaning "training") is a path and destination of competitive horse training, with competitions held at all levels from amateur to the Olympics. Its fundamental purpose is to develop, through standardized progressive training methods, a horse's natural athletic ability and willingness to perform, thereby maximizing its potential as a riding horse. At the peak of a dressage horse's gymnastic development, it can smoothly respond to a skilled rider's minimal aids by performing the requested movement while remaining relaxed and appearing effortless. Dressage is occasionally referred to as "Horse Ballet." Although the discipline has its roots in classical Greek horsemanship, mainly through the influence of Xenophon, dressage was first recognized as an important equestrian pursuit during the Renaissance in Western Europe. The great European riding masters of that period developed a sequential training system that has changed little since then and classical dressage is still considered the basis of trained modern dressage.

Early European aristocrats displayed their horses' training in equestrian pageants, but in modern dressage competition, successful training at the various levels is demonstrated through the performance of "tests," or prescribed series of movements within a standard arena. Judges evaluate each movement on the basis of an objective standard appropriate to the level of the test and assign each movement a score from zero to ten - zero being "not executed" and ten being "excellent." A score of nine (or "very good") is considered a particularly high mark, while a competitor achieving all sixes (or 60% overall) should be considering moving on to the next level.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Conrad Schumacher Clinic!

    The clinic with Mr Schumacher was more than I could have ever dreamed it would be! This morning as I reflect over the past four days I get even more excited about what the future will bring.
     The clinic started thursday with the adult phase. The lessons were fantastic. Mr Schumacher's ability to zero in on the most important factors, stay calm and patient and explain, explain, explain, created a day of overcoming hurdles for some and developing new skills for others.  This guy gets more done in 45 minutes than most people accomplish in a month. He is clear, relaxed and so positive it is impossible not to get what he is looking for. The horses become relaxed and the riders learn. The second day for some was easier. Everyone came energized for the next step and of course Mr. Schumacher did not disappoint us. He has an amazing combination in the  depth of his knowledge and his complete patience, this makes every lesson special. He knows when to push and when to wait. Even the way he tells you "Oh come on, just do it!" makes you feel like it is possible to do what he says. I had the luxury of watching most of these lessons as well as riding and I feel energized for the winter training!
      Friday afternoon the kids started arriving and what a fantastic group of kids we had! Everyone was wonderful. Such a group I was so happy to work with. Helpful, happy, ambitious yea! Congratulations to all of the girls for making the weekend even better with their positive attitudes and desire to be part of this amazing project.
        Mr Schumacher taught on and on and on. The lessons were so great. The girls all looked amazing. The nerves that some came in with quickly disappeared when they realized he was on their side and fighting for their riding. Everyone stepped up to the plate and worked at these dressage basics and communication that is so vital to good riding. Position, timing, body language and reward reward reward. Fantastic day. The lunch lecture that Bill McMullin did about judging was wonderful. His direct language about points and scores took some of the mystery away from the judging aspect of our sport. Taylor Lindsten performed a super example of the Junior team test for everyone and his discussion after was eye opening. Thank you to Bill for taking time out of your busy schedule to come and be part of our educational weekend.
          Saturday did not end after the lessons! We had a nice dinner where the girls and I had a minute to discuss some of our plans for Region 8 for the coming season (and beyond). I encourage all the Region 8 kids to stay in touch with me about their ideas for fundraising, education and competition. PLEASE!
          After dinner Mr Schumacher gave us a very informative lecture about Competition Preparation. He talked a bit about the weeks leading up to the show and the training strategy, as well as warming up and the test itself. His many experiences at all levels really makes this lecture amazing. Of course he always adds some fun personal stories that help us to realize that even in the top, competitors are human!
        Sunday came quickly! The lessons started early and the quality of the information was tangible. There was no converstaion going on in the auditor section as Mr Schumacher taught about collection and haunches giving in and throughness and and and. Awesome lessons to awesome girls who were willing and able to soak it all up.
         Lunch time was filled with the reality of the soundness issues that can come up. Dr. Brett Gaby gave us a very informative talk about, yes again, preparation! Planning ahead to avoid problems in the most important times. He and his assistant Becky Hicks presented a creative slide show that targeted long term soundness strategy as well as discussed the CDI jog and legal and illegal therapies. Dr Gaby has been super helpful to me in keeping our horses in the ring and happy and Region 8 is lucky to have him on our team!
         I loved every minute of it. My only regrets are that I am not able to watch every lesson and that at the end of the day I had to take the Master to the airport. 
          Thank you so much to everyone who came and made this weekend spectacular. The parentswere so helpful and positive. These girls are so lucky to have such great support behind them and their learning process. Thank you to the auditors that supported our event and their positive energy that helps to fuel our energy for the next projects.
          I am over the top with gratitude. THANK YOU!
                     Have fun while you ride well !

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