Leaving Paradise

By Debra Reinhardt, April 02, 2015

Three months are gone and, sadly, we must return home. It went by so quickly. But when I look back, I can only say—WOW! The number of rides I watched, the number of lessons I watched, the number of talks I went to, the number of days I scribed CDI classes—WOW! Then you add in two lessons a week, riding Al everyday (ok—he got one day off!) and doing the barn work, it was a lot in a short period of time. I am returning, hopefully, with better knowledge, a better seat and a better understanding of this new level of riding.

I do have to thank Bill Warren (pictured below) for coming twice a week to give me a lesson at 7:30am. I found out from many of his clients he normally does not like to get up that early, and for that I want to thank him BIG time! Both Al and I are better partners, and I certainly learned a lot.

Also very important, I need to thank Jen Huber, Al's owner. Not only for letting me ride and learn with him, but for inviting us to Florida to her barn. I could not have done it without the invite and her help to show me the ways. I know I have said thank you many times, but thank you, Jen!!!

Lastly, and most importantly, I want to thank my husband, Steve, for pushing me to go, for having faith in me that I could do such an adventure on my own and for being so supportive with my equines! I am, however, not sure that Steve totally understands what he has created as I talked about plans for next year all the way home. He truly is my best friend! Thank you!

This has been a dream come true. Every moment is a memory that will never be forgotten. I am closing this blog and saying goodbye. But not without telling you all, no matter how impossible a dream may seem, never dismiss it!

See you on the centerline....Debra


Clinic with Jenny Susser and Linda Parelli

By Debra Reinhardt, March 19, 2015

Johnny Robb
Credit: Johnny Robb
(Left to right) Krystalanne Shingler (of ShowChic), Linda Parelli, Jenny Susser, Michele Hundt (owner of ShowChic) and Terri Kane of Diamante Farms (a Shop Talk sponsor)

Here it is in the middle of March with only a few weeks left in paradise. I mentioned before that there are many educational opportunities to take advantage of. Besides watching riding (which I have done a lot), there are other educational seminars, talks, etc. Show Chic presented an evening with Jenny Susser and Linda Parelli.

What a great combination!!! While I have heard Jenny several times, have participated in one of her riding clinics and pleased to have her as a friend, she always brings something new and interesting to the table. She talked about using your brain and how it works and how to organize your brain to help with your riding and working with your horse(s). This is so important whether you are just riding to ride or preparing to show. If you stay organized in your preparation, you will start with a better chance of success. I always love to hear her talk.

On the other hand, this was the first time I had heard Linda speak, and she discussed how horses think. Horses think of us as their predator... WOW! Think about that!!! What we are asking them to do and for thousands of years their genetics tell them to run away… far, far away from us. Linda did a short demonstration with two volunteers from the audience. One person left the room while the other person was told they needed to make the person do three simple tasks. The catch was they could not use their voice, hands, nothing. They could only use this empty water bottle to touch them. When the person returned, after 10 minutes of trying to get them to even do one task and both were getting upset and angry...Linda stepped in. She showed how to get the person to do the tasks and within minutes all three tasks were accomplished. Moral of the story, gain the trust, show compassion and treat with kindness.

This clinic was so inspiring. I am hoping we can get these two ladies up to the northeast to do an all-day clinic.

Meanwhile, I continue to ride, take my lessons, watch riding when I can and socialize, of course!!!! I will try to write one last post when I am packing up and returning home.


Learning to Ride Al the Right Way

By Debra Reinhardt, February 26, 2015

Time seems to be going quickly. I only have six weeks left here in paradise. Yes, we are having very cold weather here and there. But it is nothing like what is happening in CT! So, I am not saying anything about the weather being cold here!

As promised, here are some photos of Al and me working in a lesson with Bill Warren. In order for me to take a lesson with Bill, it has to be at 7:30am so that he can get to his barn at White Fences and start teaching his clients. I enjoy each lesson, and Bill gets very intense in helping me work through issues and training. While Al is fully Grand Prix trained, it is more like training me to make sure Al does not try to use one of his three million evasions. It seems the more a horse is trained, the more evasions they have to avoid work. Of course as soon as I get an evasion figured out, Al is right there with another one. However, we are certainly progressing and have made some huge steps.

I keep speaking of the many advantages to being down here (other than weather). As I have said, you are totally immersed in riding, but there is more than just that. Another great activity is going to horse shows to watch the Grand Prix and Grand Prix Freestyles with top riders from many different countries. It is educational to see the riders’ improvements from CDI to CDI. Well, most are improving!

Until next time...


Wellington: A Dressage Student's Classroom

By Debra Reinhardt, February 09, 2015

I cannot believe a month has already gone by! Now I am totally focused on learning how to ride Al! I am able to take two lessons each week, and at each lesson I get a homework assignment for the next one! I will send a photo of Al and I as soon as I get someone to take it.

There is an additional benefit to being here in Florida, which I am just finding it out. There are so many trainers in one place here from top Olympic riders/trainers to wonderful trainers who love helping everyone. You are able to go and watch lessons pretty much anywhere, which makes the learning experience even  better. Conrad Schumacher has been in  Florida since January 22nd and I went to see
Conrad Schumacher and Emma Wright
him first on January 27th. It was great to watch him work with the riders. A week later I went again and saw two of the same riders. I could see the improvements in transitions and quality of the movements. Yes there were still issues but it was extremely educational.

One of the riders that I had seen the week before was cantering outside the ring on the galloping track in Conrad's direction. I must of had a curious look on my face because  Conrad explained that they took this horse to a schooling show for his first Grand Prix test and he became a totally different horse. He apparently  became  looky, fresh, pushy, etc. Conrad explained he needed a different  approach to take the “steam out of the pot.”  The horse became so soft in the jaw and pole when he came into the ring to start work! The third time I saw this pair they looked so calm and relaxed (this is a photo of them working on piaffe).

I will send more later, and I promise a photo of Al and me!

 


A Dressage Rider's Dream Come True

By Debra Reinhardt, February 05, 2015

I've always ridden as an Adult Amateur. I've had to work to finance my hobby, and at times that has taken me away from riding long enough that I had trouble progressing. Being able to come to Florida has never made sense before, as I never had the money and felt I never had a suitable horse or was at a place in my riding that I would benefit. This year, for the first time, that all changed. At the moment, I have the opportunity to ride a well-trained, older Grand Prix horse and we are both having a blast!
 
But let me back up a little ….
 
About three years ago I was given a horse to ride. His name was Al Pacino. Al had taken his owner, Jen Huber, to Grand Prix, winning the 2008 USDF Adult Amateur GP Championship. Shortly after I started riding him, Al had a major injury that put him off for nearly a year. Then, as many of you know, last winter in the northeast was terrible, and Al, at 21-years-old, did not stay as fit as he should and had a tough time with the cold. After all, he had always been in Florida for the winters with Jen.
 
But this winter, Al and I had a fantastic opportunity to accompany Jen at her beautiful farm in Wellington, Florida. This is a HUGE deal for me! Not only is this the first time I even thought of spending the whole winter in FL, but the first time I felt I had a horse that made it worthwhile. As an Adult Amateur this is a huge step for me. Especially because my trainer, Vicki Hammers-O'Neil, wasn’t coming with me, which meant I had to work with someone new. The other VERY hard thing was to leave my 27-year-old horse, Satch, in Connecticut. He is still doing a lot of the Prix St. Georges work, and I just love him SO much. But he, unlike Al, dislikes the heat and humidity. So he stayed home and is being leased while I’m away.
 
On December 27, my husband, Steve, my son, Rob, and I left for Florida. We arrived on December 29 at a cute little cottage that I am renting through March, and Al arrived in wonderful condition the next day. It took us a few days of hand walking and light under saddle work before we started working in lessons with William Warren.

My husband and son returned to CT on January 8th. It was 82 degrees here and 17 in CT when they landed! I must say I felt guilty. But I’ve kept busy. Shortly after arriving, Centerline Events, my show management company, was used for a CDI and I was the show secretary. I was also a Technical Delegate at the Global Dressage Festival for the following week.

Now, I am totally focused on training. I have no intentions to compete, as I really want to lesson and learn as much as I can from Al.
 
I’ll share more … so stay tuned!

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