Re­mem­ber­ing Wal­ter Zettl

The guardian an­gel of dres­sage horses

Dressage Today - - Content - By Linda Par­elli, at the re­quest of Heide Zettl

From the mo­ment you saw wal­ter zettl teach­ing, you knew there was some­thing truly spe­cial about this man—his pas­sion for horses, his lov­ing and giv­ing way of teach­ing. what he taught was way be­yond dres­sage lessons. he com­mu­ni­cated a phi­los­o­phy and ex­em­pli­fied the kind of calm­ness and pa­tience that horses and rid­ers adore in their teach­ers.

wal­ter was born in the for­mer re­pub­lic of czecho­slo­va­kia and im­mi­grated to canada in 1981. his pas­sion for horses started early in life and he was just 16 when he en­tered the rid­ing school of bad Kissin­gen in Kron­berg, Lud­wigs­burg. At 21 he was the youngest per­son ever to be awarded the ger­man Fed­er­a­tion gold rid­ing medal. not only did wal­ter train and com­pete at grand prix in both dres­sage and jump­ing, he ran schools and be­came a re­spected and sought-af­ter trainer. in 198T he coached dres­sage for the cana­dian Three-day event Team at the Los Angeles olympics and dur­ing this time he was awarded by the prov­ince of on­tario in recog­ni­tion for dis­tin­guished per­for­mance. over the last 15 years he trav­eled and con­ducted sem­i­nars for the uSdF, be­came Ad­vi­sor emer­i­tus for Dres­sage To­day, built a bridge be­tween nat­u­ral horse­man­ship and dres­sage and was in­ducted into the Toronto cadora dres­sage hall of Fame and, this year, has been nom­i­nated for the uSdF hall of Fame.

Wal­ter was a man the in­sid­ers knew and re­spected. Among his friends were the great egon von nein­dorff and col. Kurd Al­brecht von zieg­ner, and he talked of­ten of his “boss” col. her­bert w. Aust and re­counted won­der­ful sto­ries about not be­ing al­lowed to touch the reins when a young horse bucked and that they didn’t can­ter young horses for the first two years of train­ing.

Wal­ter’s care­ful and con­sid­er­ate way was groomed by the greats, but the in­tegrity of the man him­self ran deep. The ti­tle of his video, “A mat­ter of Trust,” and his books, Dres­sage in Har­mony, The Cir­cle of Trust and Ask Wal­ter, in them­selves are an in­sight into his values. he gave his full at­ten­tion, pas­sion and re­spect to ev­ery level of rider and ev­ery breed and type of horse that stepped into his ring.

“Soft, soft, soft,” is what this

LEFT: Wal­ter teach­ing at a clinic in Welling­ton, Florida, in 2006.

BE­LOW: Wal­ter's in­duc­tion into the Toronto CADORA Dres­sage As­so­ci­a­tion Hall of Fame, 2011.

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