Wellington, Fla. – May 5, 2016 – The winter season in Wellington, Florida, brings the best dressage riders from around the world to compete and train. This season, with the support of wealth management advisor Gardy Bloemers and Taylor Harris Insurance Services, The Dressage Foundation invited the public on a tour of some of the top dressage farms in the winter equestrian capital.
Participants were able to watch a day in the life of top riders to see their normal training routines. The tour members made their first visit at Betsy Juliano’s Havensafe Farm to watch Laura Graves, Adrienne Lyle, Olivia LaGoy-Weltz, Kathy Connelly, Jennifer Baumert and Molly Paris.
The second stop was at Tuny Page’s Stillpoint Farm, a unique location where professional trainers collaborate to grow and succeed. Page, along with David Marcus and Nicholas Fyffe, gave a few lessons for the crowd. The final two stops were at Janne Rumbough’s MTICA Farm and Bell Tower Farm with Mikala Gundersen, who treated the auditors to a training session of My Lady.
Proceeds of the event go toward The Dressage Foundation’s International Dream Program, which gives selected young riders the opportunity to travel to Europe to visit top trainers this summer. Here are a few key takeaways from the Florida Dream Tour:
1. Expression comes through relaxation: “With Horizon, I work on in and out transitions like an accordion so she really uses her full range of motion,” Adrienne Lyle said. “If you can do that while maintaining the same balance and rhythm, you have rideability. If you lose that rideability and trust, and you resort to making them work from strength or kicking, they lose expression and get worried.”
2. Be fair to your horse and your training routine: “Diddy (Verdades) has one day completely off each week where he doesn’t even see a saddle,” Laura Graves said. “Another day of the week we do light stretching work like cavaletti or bareback hacks around the farm. When I do work him, I only want to train him with the highest quality. I never get on him and just want mediocre. If I expect that of a horse, he needs his own time. It’s important he has a say in his routine.”
3. Keep your horse on the aids: “The horse needs to be honest in front of your leg,” David Marcus said. “For example, look for the truth in the collected walk. You should be able to feel like anything is available with a simple aid: piaffe, canter, passage, anything.”
4. The warm-up is integral for success: “The horse must be working over the back to relax into their work,” Kathy Connelly said. “Stretching is not just in the beginning or end, but should be in the ride itself. It’s very rewarding to your training.”
5. Forward comes before collection: “Always go to the forward first or you will not have anything to bring back and collect,” Nicholas Fyffe said. “Ask for three expressive strides to make him a bit hotter, then bring him back. Always work on refining your half-halts while keeping the topline soft. “
6. Plan your ride: “Do not feel like you need to start your ride where you want to end up,” Olivia LaGoy-Weltz explained. “Your goal should be to ride in balance and for balance with a connection from the hind legs to the bit.”