Thursday, Jun. 6, 2024

A Common Voice

Ringside at a local dressage show this spring, I heard another trainer tell her student to let her horse “seek mushrooms.” It’s an odd phrase, certainly enough to make one look up, but when I caught the eye of the trainer who said it—as did several others—it was because we recognized it. It’s a term Conrad Schumacher uses often in his teaching, and six or seven of us around the arena knew it because we’d all been through the USDF Advanced Young Rider program during his tenure as the program’s clinician.

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Ringside at a local dressage show this spring, I heard another trainer tell her student to let her horse “seek mushrooms.” It’s an odd phrase, certainly enough to make one look up, but when I caught the eye of the trainer who said it—as did several others—it was because we recognized it. It’s a term Conrad Schumacher uses often in his teaching, and six or seven of us around the arena knew it because we’d all been through the USDF Advanced Young Rider program during his tenure as the program’s clinician.

Mr. Schumacher is a great teacher, and we were lucky to have him for as long as we did. I can’t even begin to fathom how many of today’s rising stars, both amateurs and professionals, in the under-30 demographic took at least one of his lessons. But I think the greatest benefit to that program wasn’t that we got affordable access to a great clinician (though we loved that, too!), but that we all got to “grow up” into high performing dressage riders with a common voice in our training. We all speak, at least in part, the same training language, because we were educated (even just for a few days) in the same vein.

We now have a team coach at the national level: Anne Gribbons, an “O” judge and lifelong horseman, not to mention a high performance competitor in her own right. I’ve only met her in passing, but all the professionals whose opinions I hold dear rave about her, not only as a rider and coach, but as a diplomat and herder of cats.

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I look forward to seeing where she takes our program, but even more importantly, I look forward to again working under a common vision, a common language for riders at the high performance level. And I hope that with a new head of the program, we have a better system for bringing riders through the ranks, from those of us on the Developing Lists up to the Grand Prix A team. I hope that Anne’s knowledge and leadership not only creates excellence at the uppermost echelon, but creates depth.

Good luck, Anne!

LaurenSprieser.com
Sprieser Sporthorse

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