HDS FEI Training Series With Conrad Schumacher Feb 2016

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The Houston Dressage Society has been bringing Conrad Schumacher of Germany to Houston for an FEI Training Series. I have not been able to ride in the past but have audited. This past week I had the pleasure of riding with Mr. Schumacher for the first time. The 3 days I rode and audited were well worth the time and money. Many thanks to HDS for the opportunity.
I found him to be very clear and methodical in his exercises. I also liked his frankness: if he didn’t like something he wasn’t afraid to say so. On the other hand, he was free with his praise in a meaningful way. I want to present to all of you what I took away from this very educational opportunity. I’m going to break this information down into 3 parts: 1) Concepts, 2) Exercises, 3) Thoughts. Enjoy.

Concepts:
The more you can halt properly the better the horse will be in front of your leg.
Stay upright: head over heels.
Think Shoulder Fore with the rider’s hips not legs.
The horse’s neck must stay steady and round.
The rider’s body follows in the canter. Not pushing.
Do not help the horse in the canter. This causes the horse to become crooked.
Remember to allow on the outside rein.
Shoulders relax to reward.
Play the piano, outside shoulder relaxes w/ the turn
Horse must be open and forward to the hand.
If the horse is more solid in the hand you won’t have mistakes.
When ears are up the ½ halt is effective in the canter. This will aid the horse while it is up not on the way down.
Ride with quietness, determination, reward.
Do walk – canter transitions so you can ‘get a hold’ of the horse without pressure.
Must have clear aids to train the horse.
Can you go forward and back? Does the horse react to the leg?
To have an athletic horse you need forward transitions.
Canter walk transitions should be fluid not stopping then walking on.
Horses must be trained to go forward and to the bit.
Horses must come to true self carriage: this is a prerequisite for collection.
Into the halt with no resistance
Collection should proceed in steps and remain ‘horse friendly’
Prepare the movement so the horse is eager to do it

Exercises:
Turn on the forehand to canter transition.
On long side shoulder in change to haunches in.
On Center Line: S/I left, S/I right repeat.
If the horse breaks in the canter. Halt, reinback, lower neck to canter
Half pass right, leg yield left sit on right seat bone, canter pirouette.
Half pass straight, leg yield back. Keep arms and shoulders relaxed.
Very short collected walk alternating legs, 1 step reinback, then immediately canter
Shoulder in to walk to reinback to canter
Reinback 5 steps forward 5 steps reinback 5 steps
10m trot circles to wall then walk
Halt turn on the forehand: halt: turn on the forehand
Change direction on the long side with turn on the forehand. Horse must give the neck

Thoughts:
Think always: solid contact one hand, soft contact other side. Flexibility comes from shoulders and arms
Transitions- bring the horse to understanding with preparation and consistent aids
Horse needs to engage from behind. Needs to be forward.
The rider must be able to make the horse HAPPY at every movement.
*Ride with quietness, determination reward.
**You must give the impression that the horse pushes from behind and works through the back enough to carry the rider.
Reward with relaxing shoulders. (Conrad did not like people patting or otherwise rewarding their horses with their hands. He felt you should relax your body to reward.)
“Judging with never be objective. It will always be subjective. You must ride in a way that the judge cannot question anything.”
“As rider’s we sometimes think the feel away.”
**“Don’t mistake the horse’s misunderstanding for disobedience.” **

There was a great deal of meaningful information passed along from this 3-day training session. I’m going to close with a brief clip from my ride on day 3.

Conrad Schumacher Day 3

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