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Ride With A Plan ~ Do Your Homework

It amazes me that many riders don't set goals and make short and long term plans when setting up their horse training sessions and show schedules. And they don't do their homework between lessons.

There certainly is a such a thing as too much horse show time. The show season can be extremely stressful to your horse. Between the change in location, footing, turnout, water, company, noise, trailering and the hard work you will demand of him it is not too smart to just show and show til there is nowhere to go.

There is also such a thing as too much schooling time. It is not just about how often you school though regularity is important. It is about how wisely you use the time.

As a dressage clinician I see many good hearted and well meaning riders that arrive at the clinic expecting some sort of miracle. Generally we ( my husband Paul is also a Grand Prix dressage trainer), do manage to give every participant at least one 'ah ha' moment. When you school your horse, every tim…
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Making a Finished Dressage Horse Part 2 Video Teach In

There was a hiatus over the summer with the training of our young mare,  Gambol's Middernacht aka Midi due to various issues such as busy times with haymaking and giving clinics, plus Paul's shoulder injury which sidelined lots of plans. However, on a good note, hubbie's shoulder is on the mend after a few injections. Last week we were able to enter Midi into our full training schedule and she has had six sessions in eight days.

If you would like to follow along with our video training program please subscribe to our You Tube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCkwOcl5m8yH7K8Zy8ZU3H2g to receive updates as they are posted.

There are six sessions to view and the progress Midi has made has been awesome. Please note you need to click on the You Tube link to view.



Session 1 on 11/13 was actually filmed as we were showcasing Midi to a prospective purchaser. Midi was very tense about the 'intruders' especially as the gentleman was a very tall person who she seemed a bi…

How Did You Do This Show Season?

For me the close of summer heralds an end to a busy coaching season in the North East and like most clinicians the Fall months will keep me extra busy as riders recover from their exhibitions in the arena and come back to full schooling mode. 



A select few students have qualified for the National championships, others are wrapping up their season at Dressage at Devon. For the majority of competitors the expenses of the show season hang heavily on the annual budget but the barn is bright with ribbons of a variety of colors demonstrating to all their sojourn into the world of the sport of dressage.

If the show season did not go as well as you had hoped this is a great time to reflect and take stock of a few key ingredients that you may have been missing in your quest for success.

Here is a list of thoughts to consider before you trot down the center line again.

Did I prepare my horse properly for the task I set? Most importantly was he 100 % sound? Was he 100% fit and prepared for the tests…

Making a Finished Dressage Horse: Part I

We have started many horses over the years at Willowview Hill Farm. Naturally much thought and planning goes into every horse we produce. Which stallion to choose? Which vet to trust? The delight of the moment of birth and imprint training that follows is truly wonderful.

Then the weaning, the years of daily handling, new introductions to everything a horse should know and confidently manage and then when the time is right, longe work and backing.



Here is a video of how we start our youngsters to train to the saddle. This video is of our Gambol's Middernacht WVH. You will hear some deep outward breaths from behind the camera, which Midi hears and do relax her. I am teaching her to trust me as a 2nd ground person, so when she is mounted for riding she still has a person on the floor to look toward for help. The point in the video where Paul says, " Now you've seen it," is Midi noticing the banner on the side wall. She had previously been frightened by the indoor light…

Andalusian and Lusitano Horses Outsized?

Twenty plus years ago, well before the full on marketing of ANCCE/PRE Andalusians and IALHA Lusitanos and Andalusians in the USA, little me was busy in Spain and Portugal buying these breeds and breeding horses in both Spain and Portugal for importation to our New York farm.

I was becoming disenfranchised with the ridiculous amount of OCD in the Hanoverian breed after buying, breeding and importing Hanoverians for over 26 years. When Gerd Brunken, the vet at Verden H.Q.Vhw, told me that 65 % of all the stallions they saw as two year olds had OCD lesions that were quickly removed via arthroscope before the stallions went to market at Celle I was stunned. My then German vet, who worked on my breeding program with warmbloods in the U.K. told me the same thing.

"Now look at the X-rays for those that are too clean," he explained. What was a girl to do? I loved my Hanoverians and warmbloods but this just wasn't working. When we had to put down a seven year old Oldenburg after …

I'm incensed ~ How far we've come in the sport of dressage. NOT.

I just finished watching one of the Dutch dressage team members show her first Grand Prix test with her latest horse. I won't name names. Well O.K. I will. It does as usual, begin with an A. That covers a few riders I know.

I am incensed. How can the F.E.I. and those that dictate the ethics of the sport of dressage not only sanction this sort of dressage work, but continue to reward it. The marks given for this particular abysmal performance actually stated 'good'.

The beautiful horse, who clearly has talent and a great heart showed almost no diagonal trot work, his piaffe/passage work was awful and there was no walk. AT ALL.

This rollkur training damages all the joints of the horse including the jawbone, and the use of alcohol to numb swishing tails and any sign of bad behavior masked by God knows what concoctions that somehow pass scrutiny is mind-blowing.

Alois Podhasky and Dr. Reiner Klimke and the like will be turning in their graves. How can this type of training be j…

The Glory of Interning Abroad: Fact or Fiction

I look back at dressage in the U.S.A. with a mix of emotions, pride and naive goodwill. Life was a little different for me here in the beautiful States because my heritage was different and also I suppose my view of Europe as a result.

Gosh. Back in those late 1980's dressage was in such infancy here in the U.S.A. Sorry, but it was. While I keenly followed Keen and Hilda Gurney as icons on this continent, and Charles de Kunffy gamely developed foreign (well, new U.S.A. green carders back then,) such as Gunther and Steffan, I confess to being a bit mesmerized by what was happening.

Today things have changed. A LOT. But while many of us sort our clinicians and horses from Europe as the 'go to' for advancing our skill set, today things have changed. Or, have they?

I have spent time intensively studying in Germany, Switzerland and Britain, Portugal. These experiences have been developmentally helpful. But definitive? Not so much. It amuses me today in a sad sort of way, to see…