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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Last week was a quiet one for Bentley and I but now we are back into full swing. Hubertus is back from FL and I had my first lesson on Monday. It was awesome, even though I did not school any movements while Herr Schmidt was away I had the best canter pirouettes to date! At least that's what Herr Schmidt said!!! It was super cool to know that I am developing the feel for what Herr Schmidt wants and I can work on it without any help too.

Today, Wednesday, my dad flies in to visit Bentley and I. I am very excited to show him our progress and mine as well. I just got done with another great lesson on Bentley, he was a little sticky today but I worked through it and Hubertus was very happy with the decisions I made. I have to say after riding 5 horses today my butt is sore. The more I work on my seat the more sore I am, at least I know I'm using new muscles!!

I can hardly believe that I have been training at Hubertus Schmidt's farm for about a month now, it seems so crazy to me. One goal I have always had is to train in Europe, although I would not say that this goal is completed because I still have so much more to learn. But my time here is almost up and I will remember this trip forever! There is no way I could have been able to train and stay in Germany without the help of my friends and family back home, Dressage4kids, and The Dressage Foundation. I can not wait to share my experiences with everyone at home.


Saturday, January 8, 2011

Week 3

The past week has been a very busy one for not just myself but everyone here at the farm. Hubertus' groom Martina has been very sick since Tuesday and I have taken over her job of getting all of Herr Schmidt's horses ready and taking care of them when he done. Sabrina and Emma both trainers here left for the show in Munster on Thursday, and since they can't come back to ride their horses they were split between Klaus, Emily, Endel, and myself on Friday and Saturday. So along with getting horses ready for Herr Schmidt I also had my lessons on Bentley and let me tell you I was tired after all of this. Each day Bentley and I make progress which is very exciting for me. We do work on the same things but they are getting more and more detailed as we go. Now instead of just worrying about the bend in the canter pirouettes, Hubertus has me thinking about more activity from the hind legs, and I still have to make sure that Bentley doesn't take over and turn by himself. Things from the first lesson still help me with the lessons today. My seat has improved greatly although I keep thinking I can do better and I keep aiming for that deep seat. Every horse I ride I think about my seat and make sure that I am using it properly.

On Friday I got to ride 4 horses besides Bentley. The one is a very talented 8 yr old that has a super swingy trot that I am trying to recreate on Bentley. Bentley's trot is much better but by no means is it a swingy trot. I also got to ride this horse on Saturday as well and I had a hard time keeping a goofy smile off of my face because he has such a cool trot and canter. My favorite horse in the barn is a 6 yr old Hengst (german for stallion) Hubertus has been training this past week and I have really enjoyed watching him ride this horse. The horse is about 4th level and Hubertus has been teaching him the canter pirouettes, he remains very calm when he makes a mistake and gives confidence to the young horse. Today I was able to ride the Hengst since Hubertus is at the show this weekend, although I didn't do any movements, I enjoyed the feeling I got while riding this horse. He is very soft in the jaw and is very easy to make round and he has AMAZING gaits, I just want to sit on him all day. I gave Bentley a light day of only stretching today because he has been working very hard.

It is super warm here today and all of the windows in the stalls are open for the horses to sick their heads out. Bentley loves it. He just stares out his window taking in all of the sights and sounds. Most of the snow is melted and you can see green grass everywhere which makes me very happy.
Hopefully it stays this way!


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Week 2

So it is 12:30 my time and I have already ridden 4 horses including another great lesson on Bentley.

I started my day riding a 5 yr old. He was very tricky this morning everything I tried he dismissed, I was in a losing battle with him. I finally went back to the walk let him have the reins for a bit and then picked him up and stayed at the walk to try and make him "soft sideways" as Herr Schmidt would say. It felt like 10 minutes but was really 2 and he gave in the jaw, after he gave it was like someone flipped the switch and we were back to where we have been progressing to this past 4 days of riding.

Then was a 6 yr old that I believe Herr Schmidt bred himself. While Elsa and I are walking around I notice that all 4 horses in the ring are mares, that never happens at Lendon's barn. There are more mares here then I have ever seen. Herr Schmidt rides at least 4 a day. Back to Elsa, she is a nice mover but a little stiff on her right side. She has a harder time developing the bend on the right and when the right is the outside rein she likes to hang on it. I will say that riding her is helping me to develop a deeper seat which Herr Schmidt is always after me for!! I have gotten much better but not without the price of being very sore.

Next was a 15 yr old mare that is here for some training and then to be sold. She has a super comfy canter and I really try to think about my seat when I ride her. She is very stiff and a little pushy but today was my 2nd ride on her and it was much improved.

Now for the fun part, my lesson on Bentley. The warm up is always the same posting trot making him soft in the jaw sideways, then short walk break before the canter making him soft sideways again. The right side has been amazing but the left he starts out a little tighter in the jaw. Once I can trot and canter him with both sides of his jaw soft we do a short walk break then back to the canter. We develop good half halts which used to be a pain but now I just sit and Ok mom I can collect says Bentley! Then we go on to do our half passes across the whole ring, which I was not easy when we first came but is getting better and better. I am able to half halt him on the outside rein without losing the sideways motion or the bend! After the half passes we go on to our schooling canter pirouettes. The left is always good now, its so easy for him. The right is a bit harder and I have to work more on keeping his hind legs jumping and swinging in. Easier said than done, it is much improved but still not as good as the left. Today for the first time I did 2 tempis with Bentley and they were perfect and easy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! After the 2's Hubertus had me go on the diagonal and ask for two 1 tempis, now I have never done 1 tempis on Bentley so I had no idea what to expect. So here I go on the diagonal making sure he is waiting and collected and not rushing, then I swing my left leg back and quickly swing my right leg back while I am putting my left forward, and wam bam we did two 1 tempis!!!!!!! Very exciting moment for Bentley and I. Then he had us do another 2 and Bentley did then effortlessly! Tomorrow if Bentley is as good about the two 1 tempis as he was today Hubertus said we can try for 3! We then went on to our trot work and the trot is slowly getting more swing it is harder than the canter for him so the trot progress isn't as big as the canter.

After lunch today I was able to ride a 2002 Trakehner stallion who has shown and won at Prix St George. Yesterday I had the honor of lunging him and he was crazy and today when Marcus asked if I could ride him I was a little nervous to say the least. Turns out though that he is super to ride. He has really nice gaits and I was able to concentrate on creating a good connection and my seat. Herr Schmidt also had me work on creating more swing in the trot so I can hopefully take that feeling and put it to use on Bentley!

My parents and brother are flying home today which leaves me all alone here in Germany. My roommate Endel doesn't come back from holiday at home until Jan 3rd so I am alone at the apartment but I must say I am doing quite well. I went grocery shopping and have a well stocked fridge and I can sometimes understand the Germany TV shows. Hope all is well back home.


Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas

Happy Holidays to everyone! Today the horses have off and my parents, brother, and I are spending Christmas in Paderborn, Germany. Wishing everyone the best!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Hubertus Schmidt's

Bentley and I arrived to Mr. Schmidt's on Sunday in the evening. What was supposed to take us 2 and a half hours turned into 4 and a half hours. Bentley was good on the truck so it wasn't a big deal, the weather is terrible here so I would rather be safe than sorry. On Monday Bentley had a light day of stretching and I watched everything! I mean everything all of the horses being ridden, how they are tacked up, and how they take care of their tack.

Tuesday I had what we will call an evaluation ride, Mr. Schmidt asked me to warm-up like I normally would and then he had me go through the movements in the Young Rider tests. He said there were some nice things and things we need to work on like the bend in the half passes and the pirouettes. All I could think in my head was YES, maybe Bentley can get those amazing half passes I was the top 2 Young Riders do in their freestyles, it's good to have a goal. After I was done Mr. Schmidt asked me if I would like to ride some other horses, YES!!!!!!!! The first horse he put me on was a 6 yr old stallion that I think I maybe falling in love with. He is the most supple and soft horse I have ever ridden. I am addicted to this feeling now. It was love at first flexion. I was also able to ride a 4 yr old that is learning Mr. Schmidt system and the horse sometimes has the feeling and sometimes he is like a rock, but he is learning.

Today, Wednesday. I have already ridden 2 horses plus Bentley. Bentley and I had a lesson with Hubertus who said we were much improved from yesterday. He wanted more swing from Bentley, although not perfect we were able to develop it, he wanted easier bend, check, and he wanted more activity without getting stronger, we didn't always have it but it's in there! We were then able to put all of this into the movements and let me tell you it was awesome. I had some of the best work on the canter pirouettes to date. I can't even imagine what a month will do. Well I have to go ride more horses since 2 of the trainers aren't here today there is more for me to ride!! Which I love!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Day 4

     Well today started off a bit rocky because I forgot to leave Bentley's morning grain out so I had to rush over to the Shahof very early to make sure he had his breakfast. Then I went back to the hotel to sleep for a bit more and eat breakfast. Afterwards my "team" and I headed to the barn where I took Bentley for a nice hand walk around the indoor while the young horses were being ridden. After having the weekend off they were quite excited and were jumping around. It was nice to see that their young horses aren't always perfectly behaved.
     Then after most of the dust had settled from the young horses, Bentley and I went out for a stretchy ride. He was a little tight to the left but at the end he was loose and supple. Lendon and I decided today would be a good easy day for him, since he has been feeling super and we don't want to peak before the competition. I can't believe we leave for the show tomorrow!!!!! Totally crazy.

    In the evening my parents and I headed back to the barn to hand walk Bentley again. I was able to watch Ann Kathrin Linsenhoff ride, OMG it was awesome! She was having a lesson with her husband Martin Rath. They worked on some amazing piaffe, what power this mare had, I couldn't believe it. While Ann Kathrin was riding her daughter was having a lesson on a pony at the other end of the ring and her step son Matthias Rath, the new rider of world record setting Totilas was riding as well. It was quite the evening of riding. I can't wait to watch the show this weekend and see some of the best riders in the world compete.


Sunday, December 12, 2010

Day 3

      The morning started off with going to the barn and doing our stretchy ride. Bentley felt much more supple than he did yesterday and the half halts were easier as well! After our ride Bentley went to the heater stall to relax and be groomed without being cold. The heater is quite large and very warm, he loved it! My dad gave him a nice grooming session while I cleaned and put everything away.

     After finishing at the barn we dropped Lendon off at the hotel so she could work on her computer and my parents and I walked around the Christmas fair. Besides the fair all of the stores are closed on Sunday. It was 12 O'clock and the place was packed barely enough room to walk through to find food and drinks. I knew right where I wanted to go but of course my parents wanted to take their time and walk slowly through the fair, then we finally made it the Spatzele booth. Oh my goodness it was good! Then we met up with the Canadian rider Jaimie Holland, her parents, and her trainer for these delicious Butter Waffles. They were very good, after eating our waffles we head up to the Castle in town, which actually is more like the town fort. It was very beautiful. From one of the upper sections we could see the Schahof and the horse van that brought the horses from the airport to the Schahof.

    We then went and picked up Lendon from the hotel and went back to the barn for our second ride. He came right out and felt super right from the beginning, I couldn't have been happier. We had a super ride, everything was just spot on. We did some of our freestyle movements and he was super. We haven't schooled any canter pirouettes since we left NY, and the first ones we did were SUPER!!!! And his extended canter HOLY **** it was big, I really had to think about letting him come back to a collected canter by himself and me not pulling. Easier said than done lol.

   After finishing at the barn we went and cleaned up for dinner at a nice German restaurant. Chestnuts are very popular in this region and they make a wonderful soup, I've had it at 2 different restaurants and both times it was great. Tomorrow the barn is back to its normal busyness and I can't wait to watch everyone ride again!