What Canoes And Dressage Have In Common

Jun 6, 2012 - 7:19 AM
Up close with Winyamaro. Photo by Anna Sylvan Jaffe.

Dear Rita,

As you have probably figured out by now, I am not doing any showing at the moment. I have not cantered down the centerline since last October at Devon, and I must admit it feels strange after YEARS of competing at least two to three times per month. But life is like canoeing a river—sometimes you can’t see the fork in the stream before you get to it, and then all of a sudden, the current has chosen for you.

Because I have not been competing, I had a lot more time to dedicate to other important aspects of our sport. I was nominated to the Executive Board of the International Dressage Riders Club during the winter, and I am trying to make a significant contribution to the ongoing issues the club has to face.

I am very pleased to announce that the problems with nominating a Riders Representative to the FEI Dressage Committee have been positively resolved. After much hard work from our Secretary General, Wayne Channon, and our President, Kyra Kyrklund, Kyra will take the vacant seat on the committee. We can now turn our attention to other pressing issues in the sport.

That’s the thing about rivers, Rita, sometimes you can’t avoid the white water. Don’t panic—it always looks a lot less dramatic from the other side. You just have to put your head down, paddle like hell and stay committed to your course.   

The IDRC remains dedicated to the ongoing process of improving our judging system in the sport of dressage. We are also working on several new rule proposals that we hope will increase fairness in the results. One of these proposals is to remove the running score for the current ride from the line of vision of the judges. Currently, a display of the running score is required at World Cup qualifiers. We hope to amend this not only for the World Cup tour, but also for FEI competitions worldwide.

All competitors seem to agree that smaller boards displaying the running score or even the individual scores of each judge are good for the transparency of the sport, but only when they are positioned so that the spectators can see them, not the judges.

Aside from IDRC business, recently I’ve spent a lot of time just floating along with my paddle in the bottom of the canoe. Anybody who has ever spent a significant amount of time in a canoe can tell you that it doesn’t really matter how strenuously you paddle, you are going where the river takes you no matter what. I have been observing that.

Winyamaro was injured 48 hours after I turned in an Olympic application last February. He is still recovering, but he will be back in action soon. When a beaver dam is not on the map it’s time to portage. Of course the timing has kept us out of the U.S. selection trials taking place this week and next at Gladstone. I am really disappointed to miss the action this year! But I am sure the competition will be intense and well fought. Go watch and support our USEF Dressage Team!

And of course, look for that looming USEF scoreboard! Will it be positioned at A or behind C where the judges can’t see it for our selection trials?? A note to the organizer: If you don’t want your view of the beautiful USET building ruined, just leave the scoreboard where it is and turn the arena around.

Sometimes one should pick up the paddle and make a small adjustment to the angle of the canoe in order to safely negotiate potential rocks in the river. Don’t just sit there when you can steer around the obstacle with a minimum amount of effort.

I wanted to go watch the selection trials because Gladstone is on my list of Favorite Places to Be. But I am working on two young, up-and-coming Grand Prix horses, and I won’t be able to get away for a few more weeks.  Piaffes need tuning! Keep your eyes open for Florencia and Hotmail. They will both be hitting the show ring soon—if not here in Germany, then in Florida this winter!

Yes, Rita, I am moving home in the fall, and directly to Florida it is! I don’t have an exact address yet, but it will be announced as soon as I am done herding cats and can get myself back into the canoe. I will be setting up a winter training camp near Wellington.

In the meantime, please go to Gladstone and cheer on our team!

I will be arriving in the States just after the trials are over for a bit of teaching.  I’m traversing the nation with a “Get Connected” clinic tour that ranges from Colorado to Pennsylvania to North Carolina to Michigan to Canada! Since the main theme of nearly every clinic I teach turns into “connection, connection, connection,” I thought I would just warn everybody before I show up: Get Connected!

Come by and say hello! We will be living in the same country, or at least the same hemisphere, very soon!  Here is my clinic schedule:

 I’m Catherine Haddad Staller, and I’m sayin it like it is from Vechta, Germany.

Training Tip of the Day: Practice making the canter stride smaller while keeping the ryhthm. Horses have to canter SMALL with the hind legs to do good pirouettes.






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