Rosie Simoes is a 20-year-old dressage rider and assistant trainer at Flying Dutchman Farm in Barrington Hills, Illinois. She is a USDF bronze, silver, and gold medalist, participant in Lendon Gray’s programs, and member of the USDF YPAS. She was selected as a participant in the Hannoveraner Verband’s Rider-Exchange Program and is spending the fall in Verden, Germany.
By Rosie Simoes
Another week has come and passed at the Hannoveraner Verband. We have experienced new and exciting things nearly everyday, from visiting high-end breeding facilities and watching stallion testing, to visiting the horse museum and site seeing to learn more about German culture. But, my main take away from this week is an underlying factor that is a huge component in the success of training any horse; you must have a plan.
Unlike in the United States, horses are a part of the German culture and a serious profession. Becoming a professional means understanding that there is a basic way to start and train a horse that establishes fundamental principles, no matter what the discipline. There is a high stress on the training scale and an in-depth education of the rider off the horse. Each week we have theory sessions revolving around correctness of training and basic gaits to enhance our riding abilities. Each horse we get on we focus on attaining rhythm in relation to looseness and contact while always keeping in mind that our positions impact the balance of these young horses. It is critical that we maintain correct posture while following the gaits of the horse to allow the natural movement without restriction.
I am extremely grateful, not only to our Program Director Daniel Fritz, but also to Juliane (Jule) Kunze-Bretschneider, the rider I am an assistant to for these two months. Both of them have been so insightful in teaching me how to be effective and productive on the young horses.
Each day I am reminded by Jule that I must have a plan in my head. Each horse I rode this week was a bit difference, but understanding their mentality, confirmation, and way of going was key to putting the horses in good balance in order to develop confidence and strength.
Having a plan with black and white riding and frequent rewards keeps the message clear to the horses while remaining fair. Jule stresses that the horses must have feed back from the rider to understand they are doing the right thing. She often tells me to pet the horse on the inside hand or to “give him air”, and expression she uses when she wants me to give the reins. I find this act as a reminder to give the horse a reason to breath and relax so they can further develop trust and confidence in the rider.
Whether I need to ride the horses with the neck up and out with an active hind leg, use frequent transitions to encourage him to step into the contact, or ride a bit deeper to get the horse’s back up, having a plan in mind for the individual and proactive riding is making the difference for these young horses. In the end, we hope to make them feel organized, interested, and prepared to excel in their work not only today, but in their future training.