Sub­mis­sion is the Goal At Ev­ery Level

Jo­hann Hin­ne­mann wel­comes Ad­e­quan USDF FEI-level Train­ers Con­fer­ence at­ten­dees to his in­ner cir­cle.

Dressage Today - - Content - Story and pho­tos by Kim F. Miller

Jo­hann Hin­ne­mann wel­comes Ad­e­quan USDF FEI-level Train­ers Con­fer­ence at­ten­dees to his in­ner cir­cle in Del Mar, Cal­i­for­nia.

Ger­many’s Jo­hann Hin­ne­mann of­fered at­ten­dees of this year’s Ad­e­quan® USDF FEI Train­ers Con­fer­ence in Del Mar, Cal­i­for­nia, a glimpse into his train­ing philoso­phies. With St­ef­fen Pe­ters and Kath­leen Raine among the demo riders, and Chris­tine Trau­rig as Hin­ne­mann’s as­sis­tant and trans­la­tor, the event had a fam­ily feel. The rest of the demo riders and the mostly up­per-level train­ers watch­ing and par­tic­i­pat­ing in postride dis­cus­sions got a two-day im­mer­sion in Hin­ne­mann’s meth­ods. A for­mer coach of the Ger­man, Dutch and Cana­dian teams, the Ger­man Reit­meis­ter is a sought-af­ter in­struc­tor and con­tin­ues to ride, breed and de­velop young horses in Ger­many and Cal­i­for­nia.

“Sub­mis­sion is the most im­por­tant goal in ev­ery stage of train­ing,” Hin­ne­mann be­gan at the Feb. 6–7 con­fer­ence held at the Del Mar Fair­grounds. “A sup­ple horse is not nec­es­sar­ily a sub­mis­sive horse. But a sub­mis­sive horse is for sure sup­ple.” He de­fined a sub­mis­sive horse as one who “does ev­ery­thing you ask from be­hind to front, front to be­hind, left to right and right to left.” He em­pha­sized tran­si­tions be­cause they are ex­er­cises that teach obe­di­ence while build­ing sup­ple­ness.

Hin­ne­mann de­scribed the horse’s in­tel­li­gence and will­ing­ness to work as “in­side sup­ple­ness,” and stressed that it was as crit­i­cal as phys­i­cal sup­ple­ness for suc­cess at ev­ery level. The open­ing halt on cen­ter­line and im­me­di­ate trot that fol­lows in most dres­sage tests show­case the rider’s abil­ity to at­tain the high­est de­gree of men­tal and phys­i­cal sup­ple­ness. “First, the horse trusts us to stand there, then he goes im­me­di­ately into the trot. That’s a point where we can show how good our train­ing is. That is the art of all rid­ing.”

Young Horses: Cul­ture and Telling Tails

Hin­ne­mann first learned to gauge young-horse suit­abil­ity from his grand­fa­ther, who worked with the fam­ily’s horses at their home farm in Ger­many. “Ev­ery year, one or two young­sters were gone quickly af­ter be­ing brought in from the fields, and one year I asked him why they were sold so fast. ‘They had no cul­ture,’ he told me. If they stepped on his feet in the barn aisle or some­thing, they were gone.”

The con­fer­ence be­gan with two 4-year-olds, Raine’s West­falian geld­ing Fi­garo and Emily Miles’ Rhein­lan­der stal­lion Sole Mio. Both em­bod­ied the clin­i­cian’s most pre­ferred young-horse traits: in­tel­li­gence and cul­ture. It’s a look in the eye and the face in­di­cat­ing “there’s some­thing go­ing

on be­tween the ears,” Hin­ne­mann ex­plained. He likes “an open eye with a trust­ful look. It’s a win­dow to the horse’s char­ac­ter and tem­per­a­ment and to how he con­nects to peo­ple.”

The two 4-year-olds re­ceived strong praise. “They carry their riders hap­pily, wait for their riders and lis­ten to them. They have in­side [men­tal] bal­ance. They’re not against any­thing and they try to work for us.”

Af­ter cul­ture and in­tel­li­gence comes over­all im­pres­sion and rhyth­mic ba­sic gaits. A work­ing hind leg and sup­ple­ness through the body are among the de­sir­able char­ac­ter­is­tics of a horse that’s “nat­u­rally closed up” in his body. At the same time, ground-cov­er­ing strides are good, too. A short can­non bone in the hind leg is a pre­ferred con­for­ma­tional trait be­cause it en­ables the horse to bend more in the hock.

A longer body is ap­peal­ing. “If there’s more dis­tance be­tween the ribs, it’s eas­ier for them to bend through the rib cage.” That’s key to lat­eral sup­ple­ness, as was demon­strated later in the clinic as the older horses learned or re­fined zig-zag half passes. He prefers a shorter neck be­cause that’s eas­ier to con­trol and col­lect, es­pe­cially for an ama­teur rider, and a smooth, rel­a­tively flat back with a place to put the sad­dle.

The tail plays a role in Hin­ne­mann’s anal­y­sis. “I never bought a horse without touch­ing the tail to find out about its thick­ness,” he said. “I like a big, thick tail. The the­ory be­hind that is, that most of the time if there’s not much hair or bone go­ing into the back, you can­not ex­pect much in the mid­dle of the spine, so there’s not much room for mus­cles. I want to see a strong enough bridge to carry me.”

Ques­tions from at­ten­dees were a big part of the con­fer­ence and an early ex­am­ple was, “If you had to choose be­tween a good trot and a good can­ter, which would it be?” Hin­ne­mann wanted “both,” of course, but chooses can­ter if needed. A good can­ter usu­ally goes with a good walk.

Se­condly, there’s that “sec­ond trot” that didn’t ex­ist in the Ger­man mas­ter’s early days. “When Reiner Klimke’s Ah­lerich won the 1984 Olympic Games, his nor­mal work­ing trot was like a car­riage horse,” Hin­ne­mann re­called. “To­day, breed­ing has de­vel­oped the abil­ity of the trot, and as train­ers we have learned to work more with it. Even with a young horse, at 5 or 6, we can de­velop the mus­cles and train the horse in a way that does not at all go against clas­si­cal train­ing. I had a horse who trot­ted for a 5, but once he learned the pas­sage, he trot­ted quite nicely.” Much of that work to im­prove the trot is done at the can­ter, Hin­ne­mann noted.

An­other rea­son to pri­or­i­tize can­ter qual­ity in a young horse is that the gait

makes up about 35 per­cent of up­per-level tests, Hin­ne­mann es­ti­mated. “And, es­pe­cially at my age, I go more to the can­ter than the trot!”

The ideal start­ing process at his home sta­ble, Krüster­hoff in Vo­erde, Ger­many, be­gins when home­breds come to the train­ing sta­ble at 2½ years of age to “play around with them.” They are sad­dled, longed, groomed and taught to lead and load in the trailer, ev­ery­thing ex­cept rid­ing, and they spend their days out­doors. In­tense train­ing ses­sions at any age are lim­ited to 20 to 30 min­utes, cou­pled with as much ac­tive, light-con­tact walk­ing as pos­si­ble and max­i­mum time spent freely mov­ing in pas­tures or turn-out. Hin­ne­mann shared sev­eral in­stances of horses greatly im­prov­ing their fit­ness, re­lax­ation and “in­side sup­ple­ness” by more time spent walk­ing and sim­ply be­ing out of their stalls.

The idea of brief in­ter­vals of in­tense train­ing was ap­plied to horses of all ages and ex­pe­ri­ence dur­ing the con­fer­ence. Whether in­tro­duc­ing or re­fin­ing a move­ment, riders were coached to main­tain it

for just a few strides be­fore mov­ing out in a re­laxed, yet for­ward stride.

Can­ter De­part

Among the thou­sands of tran­si­tions ex­e­cuted dur­ing the week­end, the can­ter de­part re­ceived the lion’s share of at­ten­tion. Pe­ters shared his ex­pe­ri­ence get­ting Hin­ne­mann’s help with the pas­sage–can­ter tran­si­tion dur­ing his hey­day with Ravel, who was “tricky” about that tran­si­tion. “Jo said ev­ery­thing from the Grand Prix is work­ing,” Pe­ters re­layed. “It’s the Train­ing Level tran­si­tions we’ve got to work on.” And this was when Pe­ters and Ravel were at their Aachen­win­ning peak.

With that in mind, Hin­ne­mann demon­strated how he trains the can­ter de­part in young horses, the first of sev­eral ex­er­cises that re­quire the un­der­step and power of the in­side hind leg. “The can­ter de­part is the most im­por­tant aid we have to teach. When we do a dou­ble pirou­ette, ev­ery stride is a can­ter de­part aid and this is where we start.”

Trot­ting on a cir­cle, Raine and Miles were coached to cue the can­ter just as they reached the rail, then come back down to the trot and re­peat the can­ter de­part at the same spot on the next revo­lu­tion. Pre­ci­sion is a big part of Hin­ne­mann’s teach­ing, and cue­ing the can­ter de­part at the same place re­peat­edly is a sim­ple, clear way to teach and re­in­force the aids to the horse. The next step was walk–can­ter tran­si­tions, re­quested with the same aids and at the same spot where the cir­cle track hit the rail. Work­ing in both di­rec­tions, “I like to stay on that ex­er­cise un­til the horse learns it 100 per­cent,” Hin­ne­mann said.

Walk–can­ter and can­ter–walk tran­si­tions were used in ev­ery ses­sion, of­ten in the midst of fly­ing-changes work and to calm the horse or build his con­fi­dence by re­turn­ing to some­thing he knows well. In the down­ward tran­si­tion from can­ter or trot to walk, how­ever, “don’t [give] the reins im­me­di­ately,” Hin­ne­mann stressed. “Too of­ten, that hap­pens and the horse thinks ‘Oh, now the walk.’ His back, belly and head go down.” He coached con­tin­u­ing 10 to 15 me­ters with con­tact and ac­tive walk aids to es­tab­lish that as habit. “That way you don’t even have to think about it in the test.”

Push in Down­ward Tran­si­tions

Work­ing with more ex­pe­ri­enced horses, Hin­ne­mann em­pha­sized that, “You push more in a down­ward tran­si­tion than in a for­ward tran­si­tion. I learned that from [Ger­man dres­sage leg­end] Ge­org Theodor­escu and have al­ways kept that sen­tence in mind.” A re­lated idea is that “you have to pas­sage into pi­affe and pi­affe into

pas­sage,” said Hin­ne­mann, all to­ward pro­duc­ing the quick step needed for high­level work. “You have to have your horse in front of your leg so you can push.”

The goal is a feel­ing Hin­ne­mann de­scribed as a ba­sic prin­ci­pal of train­ing. “It’s when you push from be­hind into the bit and there is a re­ac­tion be­cause the im­pul­sion is com­ing from be­hind,” he said. “The hand is quiet, the withers come high and the horse is sen­si­tive to the bit.” Con­tact is main­tained, the horse’s hindquar­ters are un­derneath him and his back and withers are high. When Hin­ne­mann re­quested Trau­rig’s help ar­tic­u­lat­ing the idea, she de­scribed it as “dif­fi­cult ter­mi­nol­ogy.” Trau­rig de­fined the sen­sa­tion in her De­cem­ber 2016 Dres­sage To­day ar­ti­cle ti­tled “Push­ing Away from the Bit.” At the con­fer­ence, she said, “It’s when the horse is pushed from a driv­ing aid to the re­straint of con­tact. It’s that mo­ment of re­ac­tion when the de­sire to go to the bit is there cou­pled with a high de­gree of re­spect for the con­tact.”

These ideas were put to prac­tice as Cal­i­for­nia-based dres­sage trainer David Wight­man prepped for the pirou­ette with the 8-year-old Hanove­rian geld­ing Sil­berpfeil, who has com­peted to De­vel­op­ing Horse Prix St. Georges. Seek­ing to take im­pul­sion into col­lec­tion and col­lec­tion back into im­pul­sion, Hin­ne­mann first had Wight­man do sim­ple changes, can­ter–walk, on the di­ag­o­nal to re­in­force the can­ter aids, then progress to three fly­ing changes on the di­ag­o­nal, fo­cus­ing on con­trol­ling the qual­ity of can­ter strides be­tween each change rather than the num­ber of strides in be­tween. Af­ter the third change, Hin­ne­mann asked for ex­tended can­ter to set a for­ward frame of mind, then to come back through the short side. The next step was a medium, then ex­tended, can­ter on the di­ag­o­nal with a sim­ple change at the rail. The idea is to get the horse com­ing back by him­self so the rider can push more be­cause the horse knows he needs to come back on his own.

Wight­man next did a few di­ag­o­nals with three-tem­pis with walk breaks on the short end. “A lot of horses [hold] their breath dur­ing changes,” Hin­ne­mann noted. “A walk break in be­tween shows them they’ve done well and ed­u­cates them how to breathe.”

They fin­ished the first day’s work by can­ter­ing down cen­ter­line, col­lect­ing into a pirou­ette can­ter for a few strides without turn­ing, re­sum­ing a work­ing can­ter, then col­lect­ing again for an­other few strides of pirou­ette can­ter in the other half of the cen­ter­line, again without turn­ing into an ac­tual par­tial pirou­ette. They were work­ing on get­ting Sil­berpfeil to sit and im­prove col­lec­tion in can­ter to prep for pirou­ette.

The next day, Hin­ne­mann ob­served that Sil­berpfeil’s can­ter was rounder and more through. They par­layed that in-front-the-leg work into the day’s trot fo­cus, pro­duc­ing half-steps that be­gin pi­affe and pas­sage work. Hin­ne­mann noted a com­mon mis­take with horses who have a nat­u­rally big trot. “Peo­ple want to de­velop the big trot. Then it’s dif­fi­cult to bring it back be­cause they have this big, strong mus­cle and it’s hard to get it back. So we do half-steps: al­ways pi­affe be­fore pas­sage. It’s the idea that in the end you will put them to­gether.”

Gait Qual­ity

Pe­ters, who was 17 when he first started rid­ing with Hin­ne­mann, rode a 6-yearold Rhein­lan­der stal­lion, Demetrios, dur­ing the con­fer­ence. Hin­ne­mann noted that the stal­lion had his sire’s (Di­a­mond Hit) nat­u­ral gift for pi­affe and pas­sage. He com­pli­mented the up­hill im­pres­sion and self-car­riage and pre­dicted that the young stal­lion’s slightly “high be­hind” frame would bal­ance out as he aged and de­vel­oped more mus­cle. To build Demetrios’ nat­u­ral at­tributes, Hin­ne­mann told Pe­ters to fo­cus on get­ting the horse’s nose out more, de­vel­op­ing more reach in the front legs and a trot with more el­e­va­tion and power. “Con­cen­trat­ing on that will de­velop the mus­cles and strength needed for pas­sage later,” he said.

With Pe­ters al­ter­nat­ing be­tween col­lected, work­ing and ex­tended trot, Hin­ne­mann ex­plained that the col­lected trot should have el­e­va­tion and enough ground cover for the hind hoof to nearly reach the im­print of the front hoof. The work­ing trot should have a bit of over­step and the ex­tended trot “as much as pos­si­ble.”

In one of sev­eral anec­dotes from dres­sage’s his­tory, Hin­ne­mann said that ground coverage has al­ways been an im­por­tant el­e­ment of gait qual­ity, but mea­sur­ing meth­ods have evolved. Ap­prox­i­mately 25 years ago, Ger­many’s Bun­de­scham­pi­onate for young horses re­quired them to main­tain cer­tain ground coverage of the gaits: 350 me­ters at the walk, 750 me­ters trot­ting and 1,500 me­ters at can­ter, each in three min­utes. Prior to that, Grand Prix tests had time lim­its, all to en­cour­age horses to cover the ground nicely.

Pe­ters and Demetrios moved on to ex­er­cises to build more leg cross­ing in half-pass. When in­tro­duc­ing the move­ment, Hin­ne­mann said horses are most com­fort­able start­ing at the cen­ter­line and mov­ing to­ward the rail. In a con­firmed half-pass, the horse is slightly flexed in the di­rec­tion of travel. How­ever, he told Pe­ters to be­gin like a leg yield, keep­ing the horse straight in his body and weight­ing his out­side seat bone to help

You push more in a down­ward tran­si­tion than in a for­ward tran­si­tion. —Ge­org Theodor­escu

the horse main­tain bal­ance and rhythm while cross­ing his legs over. It’s gym­nas­tic work that needs to de­velop step by step as the shoul­der frees up and cre­ates more reach and freedom.

Play Time

Hin­ne­mann of­ten talked about “playing” with the horse, and the idea was clearly demon­strated in ground­work with the mare D’Rosa, a 10-year-old Dan­ish Warm­blood that Raine trains and com­petes for client Four Roses Farm. Com­pet­ing at In­ter­me­di­aire I, the mare has be­come “much more through and obe­di­ent, and I think it’s a re­sult of us playing with her col­lec­tion and obe­di­ence with more dif­fi­cult ex­er­cises.”

The in-hand equip­ment in­volved side reins and an ex­tra rein se­cured near the pom­mel to counter the mare’s habit of drop­ping her head too low. Hin­ne­mann’s se­cret weapon was hav­ing a helper (Raine) stand near D’Rosa’s head to re­ward with sugar at just the right mo­ment. Too of­ten, the re­ward, ei­ther a pat or treat, is too late, so “we re­ward them for stop­ping,” he said. Prompt­ing pi­affe steps with ver­bal cues and light taps of a longe whip, Hin­ne­mann fo­cused on two or three steps at a time, then rest and a sugar. At 10, the mare is strong enough to do a half-length of the court, but he em­pha­sized keep­ing the work low pres­sure. Pi­affe and pas­sage steps were mixed with halts in which whip touches re­minded her to stand square and stay there.

Hav­ing learned it from “[his] friends at the school in Vi­enna,” ground­work is a reg­u­lar part of Hin­ne­mann’s train­ing rou­tine and sim­pler than it is of­ten por­trayed. “Peo­ple talk so much about the mas­ters of hand work,” he said. “It’s just playing around with horses. It gives you a con­nec­tion to the horse, you find out how he re­acts and it’s a good, smooth step into the dif­fi­cult ex­er­cises.” On Day 2, for ex­am­ple, he used a longe whip to lightly touch each leg while D’Rosa stood in place. The goal was to get her to lift and hold each leg while breath­ing without step­ping for­ward, set­ting the stage for do­ing the same in pi­affe.

In the End

“I hope we’ve given you a lit­tle view in­side the kitchen of our in­ner cir­cle,” said Hin­ne­mann at the end. “It has to be fun for the horse, and we’ve tried to show you how much fun we have with our horses, teach­ing them and train­ing them. We love the work and we do not do any­thing with cru­elty. Where cru­elty starts, in­tel­li­gence fin­ishes.”

Ger­man dres­sage trainer Jo­hann *KNNGMCNN ĂNKSJGF each day rid­ing his client’s horse, Dark Dy­namic, a Grand Prix vet­eran owned by U25 rider Sarah Runge. A stu­dent of his in Ger­many, she and the 15-year-old Han­nove­rian by Don Vino came to Cal­i­for­nia for the Ad­e­quan West Coast Dres­sage Fes­ti­val that sur­rounded the EONHGRGNEG Ì

“I’m into in­tel­li­gence,” said Hin­ne­mann when asked about his fa­vorite traits in a young horse. The 4-year-old Rhein­lan­der stal­lion Sole Mio em­bod­ied that and an­other trait, cul­ture—a will­ing­ness to lis­ten to and work hap­pily VKěJ JKS RKFGR 'MKĚX /KĚGS 5OĚG /KO KS OVNGF DX DRGGFGR .GSĚKG 9CěGRMCN Ì


Hin­ne­mann liked Le­hua Custer’s 8-year-old KWPN, F.J. Ramzes, and while JG GWPRGSSGF JKS ĚOXCĚěX ěO )GRMCN DRGF JORSGS JG OėGRGF %TSěGR JKS EGĚĚ PJONG NTMDGR ¢KN ECSG =SJG? VCNěGF ěO IGě RKF OH ěJCě ONG =JORSG? £


Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.