System of Training
“Riding is pleasant and can be made an art. And who would not be an artist? Only those, however, who try with their whole soul to understand the horse’s psychic disposition and who endeavour to establish perfect harmony by sensitive feel instead of crude force, are entitled to be called artists. Feel is no black magic, and anybody can acquire it to a considerable degree.”
Sarah’s formula for successful dressage combines the classical art of riding she studied in Vienna with the traditional German Scales of Training she subsequently studied in Europe. Fundamental emphasis is placed on Rhythm, progressing to “Losgelassenheit” (literally: 'letting Looseness through'), Contact, “Schwung" (Impulsion), Straightness and Collection.
Her ultimate goal is to achieve total relaxation of body and mind in both horse and rider. To achieve this the muscles and joints are used in a natural unrestrained manner, with maximum efficiency and minimum strain. The horse’s attitude becomes one of calmness and concentration. He can then use his energy to its full extent, because he is not tense, afraid or tired and therefore, shows no resistance. Her requirement is that the horse goes forward rhythmically and energetically, with loose muscles and a swinging back; that he carries his tail and his facial expression signals a willingness to work and concentrate on the rider’s aids. People often refer to this as Being Through.
With calmness, patience and consistency it is possible to refine and consolidate the horse’s natural gifts in a manner which is fun and rewarding for both horse and rider and, most importantly, ends each training session with them still the best of friends.
Sarah also has experience helping Eventers, when finishing on your dressage is just not enough to give them the qualifying results they need.
Finishing on your "Dressage"
As the demands on Eventers continue to increase, it is becoming more and more important to try and finish the event on your dressage score. But what happens when you achieve just that, and still find it is not quite enough?
Jade Lazenby on Masterblaster II
As well as pure Dressage, Sarah also has vast experience in the training of event riders for their dressage phase and coaches riders up to 4* level.
Many of her pupils have and are currently, competing Internationally, at various standards, from European Pony Team riders through to Seniors, including Badminton (2007 & 2008). Sarah's knowledge and understanding of the unique challenges faced by event horses, both mentally and physically keeps her in great demand amongst the eventing faternity.
Sarah was commissioned to write the article "The Event Rider's Secret Weapon" for Equestrian Now! Magazine about her particular approach to training for eventers.