Well, I made it! I achieved six months of working my tail off in exchange for the German riding experience. I am happy to report that I learned a ton. Hof Börnsen, owned by the Klemt’s, allowed me to come to their farm and assist in the riding and training of some of the horses there in training with Sven Dapper and Judy Allmeling. They are very generous to extend this opportunity, and for that, I thank them.
One of the major highlights was just to be a part of the intensive dressage experience. Professionals at the barn, professionals in the area and at shows, amateurs, young riders, practically everyone with a horse was built into this system of training horses for dressage. No one was messing around, no matter what the goal was, they had a plan to get results. This is just the feeling I got in Germany no matter where I went. People are not necessarily more serious; they are just more organized about getting each horse to where he needs to be. This was inspiring!
Another important factor was, of course, the work on my seat and position. I always strive to be the best I can be and have had amazing help along the way in the U.S. Here in Germany, the instructors had just a little deeper idea for my seat. They were generous with the horses I could ride—several a day and nearly thirty different ones over the course of six months—and they steered me in a way to feel deeper and more connected in the saddle. It is, of course, still a work in progress, but now I feel my standard is higher for myself, and I know I am coming home a better rider than when I left.
The third thing I found amazing were the shows. The quantity and quality of the horses and riders—even at the local level—was very high. The shows were big events with spectators, restaurants and vendors. Often, there was jumping at the same time so the crowds were drawn for that. People were meeting their friends, bringing their families and sometimes even attending the late-night parties that punctuated Friday or Saturday nights.
I am happy I came! I will be back stateside at the end of November after some other horsey travels, which I will elaborate on soon.
Here are just a couple more photo from my time in Germany: