I’m writing this post after riding and listening to Conrad Schumacher teach over the past 3 days. I believe this is my 5th clinic with the German Master. My preference is to ride with the same clinicians over and over again. It is in this way that I understand their training system. Having context for me as a rider and for the clinician is paramount to the learning process. I prefer the continuity of this to doing one time rides with many different people. The coming together in this setting with like-minded people helps me stay on the path of becoming a better rider, trainer and teacher.
Over the past 3 days I’ve watched probably 20 lessons. Mr. Schumacher is a methodical, classical trainer. He can be a bit of a task master, for which I will always be eternally grateful. I love praise; who wouldn’t? What I don’t love is a pat on the back that I don’t deserve. I don’t need “fun, fair, positive”. I’d much rather have “do it again and do it right”. If that happens then I know if praise is given, it isn’t faint praise; but, the real deal. Mr. Schumacher made my day when he said: “This is an FEI horse and your training is correct.”
I wrote about my experience with Mr. Schumacher last year here: http://rightstartdressage.com/index.php/hds-fei-training-series-with-conrad-schumacher-feb-2016/
The theme of this clinic was ‘control of the neck’. He showed over and over that without the ability to put your horse’s neck lower you could never get control of the horse’s back. This applied to both Grand Prix horses as well as young horses. One of the best ways to ensure this happens is for the rider to have arms that hang loosely and hands forward to the mouth. You should never start the work when the neck is in the way.
My mare is large at 17+ hands. She can take over; particularly in the canter. This was addressed classically by either halting at the moment she began bracing/running or by making a small volte. When the first volte does not correct the issue, it must be “doubled” until you feel a change. He stressed that you should slow down and/or start slow to keep the feeling for what you want to do.
I had an amazing 3 days. I learned so much. In my striving for excellence I think I made it this time. Many thanks to the Houston Dressage Society for supporting this clinic.
Here is a short clip from Day 1: https://youtu.be/BnZ16MqU9so