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View Full Version : Who's the best Classical dressage trainer in Nothern VA



shantihorse
Aug. 14, 2009, 04:31 PM
Looking for a classical dressage (kind to the horse!! and rider!!) trainer in Northern VA. Preferably near Millwood, VA.

SBF
Aug. 14, 2009, 04:39 PM
I PM'd you.

rileyt
Aug. 14, 2009, 05:38 PM
There are several good ones in NOVA. Mary Flood (Lovettesville), Marina Genn (Leesburg) and our own DressageDiosa (Marshall) are all very good.

But if by "kind" you mean anything close to soft/easy/gentle--- you're barking up the wrong tree.

Most good classical riders know how hard dressage is. They demand fit riders and fit horses. And its anything but easy.

Having said that, all three of the people above have reputations for being good honest professionals. They're not going to berate you (but they aren't going to blow sunshine up your ars either!) ;)

shantihorse
Aug. 14, 2009, 07:24 PM
Oh, I'm all about classical dressage, no short cuts! But I don't need to be yelled at all the time, that's no way to learn. And I don't like trainers who are
mean to the horse, of course discipline when needed, but also should praise when they do a good thing.

slc2
Aug. 14, 2009, 07:30 PM
wow.

shantihorse
Aug. 14, 2009, 11:45 PM
wow.

hmm?

slc2
Aug. 15, 2009, 07:27 AM
The thread just represents a lot of different ideas about dressage and trainers. I think many people have an idealism about dressage and training that isn't practical. I think rileyt summed it up.

sid
Aug. 15, 2009, 10:03 AM
Candy Allen is excellent.

YankeeLawyer
Aug. 15, 2009, 01:09 PM
I think anyone looking for a trainer really needs to get out there and watch some of these people teach. Some of the trainers mentioned are excellent and some trainers just think they are excellent.

sid
Aug. 15, 2009, 01:47 PM
YL - I agree!

Roan
Aug. 15, 2009, 02:13 PM
I think anyone looking for a trainer really needs to get out there and watch some of these people teach. Some of the trainers mentioned are excellent and some trainers just think they are excellent.

Agreed.

Shantihorse,

I already PM'd you. You'd probably be more than welcome to come out while Trainer is working with the student above me and watch her teach. I sit with her all the time to learn and educate my "eye". I've gotten much better at "seeing" how things are supposed to be this way.

Eileen

lstevenson
Aug. 15, 2009, 05:40 PM
some trainers just think they are excellent.


I agree. One that was mentioned in particular. :winkgrin:

sid
Aug. 15, 2009, 08:30 PM
Regardless of the interest that may be picqued by the last several posts (as in..."one of the named are no good as implied")...as in everything, finding a good match for rider/horse/trainer is often done by trial and error.

Finding a good fit is a personal choice, whatever the endeavor.

shantihorse
Aug. 16, 2009, 01:12 PM
Regardless of the interest that may be picqued by the last several posts (as in..."one of the named are no good as implied")...as in everything, finding a good match for rider/horse/trainer is often done by trial and error.

Finding a good fit is a personal choice, whatever the endeavor.

I totally agree, but it's worth trying the most recommend first, then working down the line!

TKR
Aug. 16, 2009, 03:04 PM
A friend/client of mine in N. Va. rides with Candy Allen and loves her. She is a very quiet, compassionate, fundamental rider who likes to take her time with her horse. She is doing great with him and Candy -- showing at lower levels and winning and progressing well. She bought this young horse from me and went through some difficulties with another trainer before riding with Candy.
PennyG

Bellfleur
Aug. 16, 2009, 04:30 PM
There is Nadine Schlonsok. Young but proving to be quite brilliant and quite a good instructor. German but exceptionally understanding and kind with the horses. Very classically trained. In Bluemont so quite close to Millwood.

spotted mustang
Aug. 16, 2009, 05:18 PM
German but exceptionally understanding and kind with the horses.

"but"? :lol Are you implying Germans usually aren't?

sid
Aug. 16, 2009, 07:43 PM
Spotted Mustang..that's what I was thinking also.:confused:

I don't think there is a "best" trainer. If the goal is to find one whose instruction is grounded in the classical method that's one thing and a good thing, IMO.

The rest of the equation is to find one that communicates that effectively to both the horse and to the rider. Every instructor has their own teaching "style" to influence the rider as well as the horse.

What's "best" for one person (or particular horse), isn't necessarity the "best" for another. If you can find one that is a good fit on both levels, then you'll be satisfied.

Look, can you believe that Boleem was actually pulled from Robert Dover who was the owner's first choice, when the horse was starting into the FEI levels (this was in the early 90s)? Owner not happy, horse not happy. Many would consider him the "best" at the time. Yet he wasn't for that horse, or for that owner. Who knows? A switch to the Poulins was made and it was a perfect fit and they brought him all the way up to Olympic qualifiers.

Moral of the story: This happens at all levels and with many people...just have to find the right fit, as an owner, a rider and for the horse.

CapitolDesign
Aug. 17, 2009, 10:37 AM
I am a freelance dressage trainer in NoVa and sometimes notice that students pay the higher travel fee to have me come down from MD, because there don't have the hugest selection of trainers in their particular area.

Compared to Maryland, where there is an FEI trainer every 10 miles, I look forward to the day that there are more people like Alison Head, Lauren Sprieser, etc. in Northern Virginia that students can work with and grow an even greater interest in our sport.

YankeeLawyer
Aug. 17, 2009, 12:25 PM
I am a freelance dressage trainer in NoVa and sometimes notice that students pay the higher travel fee to have me come down from MD, because there don't have the hugest selection of trainers in their particular area.

Compared to Maryland, where there is an FEI trainer every 10 miles, I look forward to the day that there are more people like Alison Head, Lauren Sprieser, etc. in Northern Virginia that students can work with and grow an even greater interest in our sport.

Hmm. Well, I think there are a number of good trainers in NOVA, so I am not sure what your statement is based on. People are perhaps willing to pay your travel fee because they like training with you. In addition, many of the better trainers in NOVA will NOT travel, which is a source of frustration for those who own their own facilities. Hence, the few who will travel are greatly appreciated and probably very much in demand.

SaddleFitterVA
Aug. 17, 2009, 12:56 PM
There are a number of good trainers in NoVA. You just need to find one that YOU like and fits you and your horse. And, you should probably look past the "classical" label. "Classical" is tossed about by an awful lot of trainers who aren't all that great, but hide behind "classical".

I started riding with DressageDiosa a little over a year ago, didn't realize she was here online until I'd been riding with her for several months. A neighbor was using my ring to take lessons, I watched her teach, liked what I saw and started taking lessons with her. I mostly go down to her farm these days as I don't have enough people to consistently schedule her here. My horses are happy, and my scores have come up 8-10 percentage points since I started riding with her.

I still have another 8-10 percentage points to go, but hey, not too shabby. And, I get to play on my horse in her pond after lessons if it is seriously hot.:D

I started riding with her for convenience (at my farm), but continued because I have fun and we are making progress. There are probably a few others around I would also enjoy and make progress with too.

There are several good people in the area.

blackhorsegirl
Aug. 17, 2009, 06:30 PM
There are lots of good instructors in Northern Virginia. There are some that aren't so good. See whose students are winning at shows and year end awards. Watch them teach a lesson or lessons. Take one lesson and see if you think there's a match. Find out if the instructor with whom you are interested is, in fact, a student, her/his self. Are they training with top clinicians? Are they, in some way, furthering their education?

Avoid the drama queens (or kings) or those over-inflated with their own ego. Those fueled with too much drama and ego can have you spending your time walking on egg shells. While taking a lunch break at a clinic I was riding in, there was discussion on how to change trainers. Some found this to be an unpleasant experience laced with hurt feelings, angry words, and explosions. The clinician--a national judge--brought us back to earth. She said this was a business and we were the consumer. We have the right to take our business where we are most happy. Her final thought was: "Do not let drama rob you of your passion."

There you have it. Go where you are happy with the results.

Commander Cody
Aug. 17, 2009, 07:00 PM
Hmm. Well, I think there are a number of good trainers in NOVA, so I am not sure what your statement is based on. People are perhaps willing to pay your travel fee because they like training with you. In addition, many of the better trainers in NOVA will NOT travel, which is a source of frustration for those who own their own facilities. Hence, the few who will travel are greatly appreciated and probably very much in demand.

At least for me, traveling is difficult because my obligation is to my "in house" clients and their horses first and foremost and that makes for a pretty busy day. I'm not sure why that should frustrate you - it is just the way that for me is best to run my business as I like to be involved with all aspects of a horse's training and care. And of course with that comes constant work of having a farm to maintain and pay for. While it would be too much time to travel frequently for single lessons, I (and I would bet others) would certainly be happy to travel for a group of riders, and of course haul in lessons are another option.

I personally think it is great that we have access to a variety of different options - from good trainers who travel for most of their business to those of us who work out of our own farms and do more intensive training. And on top of that we have access to good clinicians (and BTW I haul to my lessons too).

SaddleFitterVA
Aug. 17, 2009, 07:27 PM
I agree with Commander Cody on why many trainers do not travel. I have my own farm as well, but am not a trainer, but it comes with all the work. I consider it a treat to get a lesson on my own farm. The earnings for a trainer to come for one or even 2 lessons when they do the driving, it doesn't make sense.

Also, Commander Cody's students seem to do pretty well in our shows. As does she!

trooper345
Aug. 18, 2009, 09:42 AM
I would recommend watching any trainer teach before you go to ride with them but would like to add Terry Smith at Riverside Equestrian in Bluemont, VA. She has an exceptional eye and is a very good instructor, talented and kind and EXTREMLY patient :)

www.riversideequestrian.org

YankeeLawyer
Aug. 18, 2009, 10:19 AM
At least for me, traveling is difficult because my obligation is to my "in house" clients and their horses first and foremost and that makes for a pretty busy day. I'm not sure why that should frustrate you - it is just the way that for me is best to run my business as I like to be involved with all aspects of a horse's training and care. And of course with that comes constant work of having a farm to maintain and pay for. While it would be too much time to travel frequently for single lessons, I (and I would bet others) would certainly be happy to travel for a group of riders, and of course haul in lessons are another option.

I personally think it is great that we have access to a variety of different options - from good trainers who travel for most of their business to those of us who work out of our own farms and do more intensive training. And on top of that we have access to good clinicians (and BTW I haul to my lessons too).

Honestly, do you want to know why it frustrates me? It frustrates me because I spent a fortune putting in an arena with all weather footing on my property and I have a professional quality facility that *I* pay for. It frustrates me when that ring goes unused and I have to travel to use an inferior ring elsewhere. I also have, at any given time, multiple horses in training and it is virtually impossible for me to haul them elsewhere for a lesson. It frustrates me to have to take my youngsters somewhere and expose then to who-knows-what germs and illnesses at a busy barn with show horses and imports and whatnot in and out all the time. And it REALLY annoys me to have to go to all the trouble of packing up everything and shipping my horses somewhere when it IS much easier for the trainer to hop in a car and drive what typically amounts to less than 8 miles to my farm. And by the way, I DO pay for their travel time as I understand that it is a business. If I were a trophy wife, perhaps I would have all day to travel about the countryside for a lesson.

But not to worry; I have an excellent trainer who is willing to travel. This young lady probably will ride for the US team in the not too distant future, and she is going to do it on horses given to her to ride because she does go the extra mile for her clients, is always gracious and kind, and is not a diva. I completely understand if other trainers have different priorities; it is their business and they can run it how they wish. But just as I can understand why a particular trainer may not wish to travel to a client, please at the very least extend clients the courtesy of understanding why they might be frustrated when trainers won't travel.

Commander Cody
Aug. 18, 2009, 01:10 PM
But not to worry; I have an excellent trainer who is willing to travel. This young lady probably will ride for the US team in the not too distant future, and she is going to do it on horses given to her to ride because she does go the extra mile for her clients, is always gracious and kind, and is not a diva. I completely understand if other trainers have different priorities; it is their business and they can run it how they wish. But just as I can understand why a particular trainer may not wish to travel to a client, please at the very least extend clients the courtesy of understanding why they might be frustrated when trainers won't travel.[/QUOTE]

But exactly my point! No need to be frustrated because you DO have someone good that you are happy with and who comes to you and those of us who have a different business model don't do it to offend you or anyone else. Believe me, I did my share of traveling from barn to barn when I was starting out. I just prefer a different way of working with horses now, where I live with them and know everything about them, from what they eat to their daily habits, just as you do with your horses at your farm. And what I can offer my clients is a consistent program for their riding and their horse, as well as someone to take care the horse and continue training when work and family obligations get in the way.

Just because someone doesn't spend the day on the road does not mean they are a "diva" or that they don't go the extra mile for their clients. I think my students would tell you otherwise. It's why we are so lucky here in NoVa and MD with so many options to choose from. And plenty of us who do haul-in lessons have good footing and quiet, safe facilities for guests.

But all this has gotten kind of off point, no?