14 Tips From Hu­ber­tus Schmidt

In­side a ses­sion from the Old Master Se­ries


The Ger­man dres­sage master and Olympian of­fered his knowl­edge and in­sight dur­ing an Old Master Se­ries clinic, which aims to fur­ther dres­sage ed­u­ca­tion for all.

It was Septem­ber—time for the Old Master Se­ries that is a reg­u­lar oc­ca­sion at Anke Ott Young’s Avalon Farm in North Salem, New York—and the great Ger­man ed­u­ca­tor Hu­ber­tus Schmidt was fea­tured. The mis­sion of the Old Master Se­ries is for masters to share their wealth of knowl­edge gained through their lengthy rid­ing and train­ing ca­reers. Schmidt has rid­den 77 horses who have placed in the Grand Prix and 50 of those he started him­self. That’s a lot of ex­pe­ri­ence! Young makes these events free to au­di­tors, and pro­ceeds gath­ered from a silent auc­tion, a raf­fle and do­na­tions go to the Norma Pfriem Breast Care Cen­ter.

Here are 14 tips worth shar­ing from Schmidt’s train­ing ses­sions:

1. The Not-So-Bor­ing Warm-Up

Some peo­ple think the warm-up is bor­ing, but for Schmidt, it’s the most im­por­tant part of the ride—the time when his horse de­vel­ops the re­lax­ation and sup­ple­ness that he will try to re­tain through­out the more dif­fi­cult work. His warm-up is the same with ev­ery horse, whether it’s a 4-year-old or a Grand Prix horse, and he takes as much time as is needed.

2. How to Be­gin Your Warm-Up

Cor­rect flex­ion and bend are the red line that fol­lows through from the warm-up into all the rest of your ride. They are the prepa­ra­tion for ev­ery fig­ure and move­ment, and they make the horse sup­ple. Once cor­rect flex­ion and bend­ing are con­firmed, it is easy to work the horse’s whole body in warm-up ex­er­cises that in­crease sup­ple­ness.

3. Sup­ple­ness Tests

Schmidt rec­om­mends tran­si­tions be­tween work­ing trot and work­ing can­ter on a 20-me­ter cir­cle to de­velop sup­ple­ness, through­ness and straight­ness. Many rid­ers have a prob­lem with the ac­cu­racy of the 20-me­ter cir­cle. But when you can get that and do the tran­si­tions with a con­sis­tent frame and con­tact, 100 per­cent cor­rect bend­ing, con­nec­tion on the out­side rein and light­ness on the in­side—and you can do that in both di­rec­tions, it’s a clear sign that your horse is sup­ple enough to be­gin col­lected work.

You can’t move on to the work ses­sion and col­lect if your horse runs when you use your seat and legs. You also need to be able to give the rein with­out the horse run­ning away. With a hot horse, it can take a long time be­fore you are able to push. (Schmidt means with the calf, not the whip and spur).

Jan­nike Gray demon­strates cor­rect flex­ion and bend on Ra­vanti C, a 9-year-old Prix St. Georges mare by Ru­bin­stein/Depar­dieu.

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