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.