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 12, 2015

Awesome Clinic with Johann Hinnemann and Angelika Fromming

   A big "Thank you" must go out to Pineland Equestrian Center and Jennifer Dillon. This past weekend they hosted an amazing clinic with many opportunities for learning. Because I often host these types of events I do know how much work goes into the planning and hosting of such a weekend, and we must give them a lot of appreciation for bringing us these two amazing professionals on the same weekend, not any less of a feat is organizing the horses and riders and feeding everyone!
   I joined two great friends for the trip to Maine and we were not disappointed.
Saturday morning started in one of Pinelands conference rooms with Angelica Fromming and her computer and an amazing discussion about judging through  the levels. She was candid and to the point. Her explanations were clear and I really enjoyed how appreciative she was of the hard work that goes into the training and therefore understanding that although every horse may have a downside her interest was to reward the good.  Now that being said, she is also clear about what is required and true horsemanship with balanced back to front riding was a prerequisite to good points. The bantering between Ms Fromming and Mr Hinnemann was entertaining and gave us a clue of what was yet to come when the horses were brought in.
    The day went along from young horses through Grand Prix with many wonderful riders putting themselves out there for us to learn from. Both trainers were kind, clear and specific. The horses were amazing in their participation as the riders worked to understand what changes were being made and how to execute the difficult exercises. All I can say is that from back to front it is! Swinging through in the transitions and never loosing the back. We all know it, but watching Mr Hinnemann take these super trainers through his exercises with no compromise while still being kind to the horses and positive with the riders it was a great day!!
    At lunch on Saturday we also enjoyed a look into the world of Oak Hill Ranch owners and Heather Blitz point of view about breeding top warm bloods and this was super informative.
   Sunday we started right away with the riding. Mr Hinnemann and Ms Fromming took two horses and explained how to improve the paces through the movements to gain more points. This was a great demonstration with a lot of clear discussion about how to train horses correctly for higher marks, without taking short cuts or compromising.
    Then we went on to the riders from the day before, from training level through grand prix. The most noticeable thing was the relaxation level. All of the horses and riders came out with a much easier idea in mind, they knew that they could handle whatever would be thrown their way. The horses started off immediately with Mr Hinnemann"s warm up suggestions from the day before and the self carriage and ability to be in front of the leg was apparent even from the stands. It seemed from our point of view that the riders had a great time in their lessons and really got a positive feeling from the horses.
      We had to leave sadly before the stem cell lecture, but I heard from a friend that it was great, and so wonderful that they were able to offer yet another subject for learning.
     For me the only incredibly sad thing to see was the lack of young trainers attending. It was great to see friends and colleagues and catch up with people somewhere other than a horse show. However, it would be so nice if some of our up and coming trainers would take advantage of this amazing opportunity. I don't know if many people do not know these names? And how much they have contributed to the history in our sport? I would only suggest to all trainers that it is not only the people winning in the ring right now that know how to train. There are many people that created the training  systems for our new super stars to be where they are today. Seek these masters out and enjoy what they have to give us. It is much easier than having to figure things out on your own :)
        Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone that made it possible for us to attend this awesome event, and thank you to Jo Hinnemann and Angelica Fromming for your continued excitement and passion for teaching this amazing sport.
          Happy Riding,

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