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Showing posts from 2014

Dressage Bit Contact: The Dreaded Break at the 3rd Vertebrae and How to Resolve it

Schooling challenges: Inheriting a horse that has been trained incorrectly and breaks at the 3rd vertebrae - It is much easier to work a horse correctly from the beginning than to have to 'fix' an issue later on as we all know. Our latest equine protegee, this lovely stallion - has received minimal training and but has shown at Training Level in Canada ~ however somewhere along the line he was ridden incorrectly and allowed to hide behind the vertical. Though he scored well the judges comments noted inconsistent contact.

As he does not have an excessively long neck this is an interesting achievement. How to resolve it?

We'll begin by working him a little in front or above the bit, sending him forward and setting a good rhythm from the get go. Then we'll encourage him to take the reins and stretch over his back and out down in front, without putting his head too low i.e. not below the knee - he must learn to take the contact and to take his part of it consistently. Thi…

The Importance of Following Etiquette as a Dressage Clinician

I originally posted this on facebook as the Willowview Hill Farm Tip of the Week - but felt it was worth re-broadcasting here. I feel strongly ( can't you tell), that some clinicians give the rest of us a bad name and urge all trainers to examine carefully the folks they trust to come to their barns to offer clinician services.

As any trainer knows, we all need good eyes on the ground to keep us progressing and on track. Bringing in a clinician can bring you new students/boarders, give you a fresh look and new approach in solving training issues and also give you guidance in your own career.

If you are a trainer and have developed your talents to the level of clinician, then it is important that you follow clear etiquette when walking in to another trainers horse operation:-
1. It is NOT OK to start back soliciting their clients that are presently boarding/training with them. It is not OK to contact their clients directly without copying in the barn trainer/owner on each con…

How Many Riding Lessons A Week Do You Take?

As a trainer it is easy to say that you can never have enough instruction to advance your education. Too often I see folks training their horses diligently but heading completely down the wrong track. Naturally you want to step in and say something but of course that is not a good idea. Who wants advice they haven't asked for after all.

Whether you are re-training an OTTB, starting a young horse in his career or showing a schoolmaster at FEI to garner a USDF medal, it is important that you have sincerely good help from a ground person. And it is quality of the lessons not the quantity that counts folks. Although to progress and stay on track I'd say a minimum of two lessons a week and training alone three or four times a week.

I used to say that anyone can train as long as they have more knowledge than you do - but I don't believe that anymore. Unless you have made horses to Grand Prix, shown that level - how can you have the necessary vision to make adjustments in trainin…

FEI General Assembly Forum in Lausanne Endurance Scandal Tarnishes Leadership?

Politics rage on as usual apparently. I cannot believe that Princess Haya was endorsed as FEI President given her connection through her husband ( Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum) who was marked at the center of the endurance racing scandal. The stories of horse deaths and blatant rule breaking have rightfully highlighted the equestrian world to a much larger audience and here we are, as protectors of the horse or so we claim, allowing this endorsement to happen. Although let's face it, the FEI never seem to take much notice of what the competitor thinks.


The meeting of course includes very few actual riders or competitors although at the recent meeting Ludger Beerbaum was present and brought up several good points about warm up footing and the star rating system of Event Classification. Poor old Rolex,
banished in favor of Longines does not even warrant a mention for all their sponsorship of the European World Cup in the past. Not smart is it? A sponsor like Rolex who has d…

The Excitement of Starting A Dressage Horse Prospect

As many of you know our small breeding operation at Willowview Hill Farm based now in Stamford, New York and for some years also duplicated in the U.K.,  has produced some super horses since 1993. It's hard to believe that we've been at this that long. As Spring 2014 is now on the horizon it is with renewed excitement we begin more youngsters under saddle.

It is a labor or love from inception design, conception through the 11 month pregnancy, then birth and and imprint training. So after all that daily handling and lesson teaching in hand it is finally time this Spring for us to start up three fillies and introduce them to work under saddle. We are very excited!


All three fillies are sired by Gambol. With KWPN ( GOV and others too) approval and strong Dutch warmblood genetics, Gambol himself was competed on the world stage by Canadian Ashley Holzer. His babies here have all inherited his excellent elevated and world class gaits and beautiful comformation. Our mares have added …

Classical Dressage - Are we reinventing? Who are we kidding....

Sometimes you feel the need to stand up on your soap box and this is one of them. I may not be at Hyde Park Corner in London, but I do think this message can still garner an interested audience of dressage aficionados if not the common man.


We can talk about offering classical dressage training. We can talk about competitive sporthorse dressage training and discuss German versus French until the cows come home. But really folks. If you study the classics, you will find Baucher, Fillis, Steinbrecht, L'Hotte, DeCarpentry and so many others already expounded on everything you see today. No - not seeing the Duke of Newcastle included ( God forbid we should mention the British having anything to do with it, though the latest successes of the Brits Carl Hester, Laura Bechtolsheimer and Charlotte DuJardin etc. might make you wonder). Are the great riders of today such as Kyra Kyrklund influenced more by Nuno Oliveria, Brenderup or Alois Podhasky or none of the above? Aren't we all se…