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Spin off : what does it take to make it to GP ?

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  • Spin off : what does it take to make it to GP ?

    I was reading the thread about 'Top rider mistakes'. And a poster mentioned that you needed to take at least 3 lessons/week and audit or go to a clinic once a month.

    Well, let's be realistic there ... not going to happen in my world.

    I hope it doesn't take 3 lessons a week and a lot of clinic auditing to get to GP or I will never get there.

    I'm a pro (young horse trainer) and I'm currently working with a stallion I started 5 years ago. I was an eventer till 4 Years ago.
    Right now we are struggling to make our way up and to be honest so far I have not been able to take more than a lesson every 2 months or so.
    I'm trying to get to the point where I can get 2 or 3 lessons/months but there is no way I will be able to find the time or money for more than that.

    Is there hope to actually make your own GP horse if you don't have access to a schoolmaster or if you can't lesson at least once a week ?

    I have shown succesfully up to 4th level (with an other horse), and right now I feel stuck somewhere between 2nd level and PSG ... Still not confirmed on some 2nd level stuff, but way further along on some other areas and could probably pull it off on some sequences of the PSG.

    I have been trying to be very careful to not skip any basics in my horse's training, and while we have sucessfully graduated from the 20m circle era, I still feel that everyday I find little holes here and there in the training.

    Any input ? Experience ?

    I have been lucky to work with some very good trainers (I'm very picky and at least I know that the little instruction I'm getting is correct).

  • #2
    Haven't shown above first level, mind you, but - and I hate to say this - but it takes money. Not a large fortune, but it does take enough money. No matter who you are and how good you are, you eyes on the ground.


    • #3
      How did you get to grand prix
      The first one...

      Bred him myself - he was born when I was 14 and I had only ever had event horses until then. The highest level I had ridden at was level 2/3 (medium in Australia).
      Broke him to saddle myself
      Trained him myself with clinicians (Oliveira, Eichinger, Boldt,)
      Compteted him to 64% in front of International judges
      Then sold him and he made the US Barcelona long list

      The second one
      Bred myself
      Broke to saddle by my brother
      Trained with clinicians
      Sold to South Korea

      The third on
      as above except sold to Japan

      Fourth one... better get my act together as she's getting very fat in the paddock.

      Neither of my parents rode. We had to travel 2 hours for a dressage lesson and 3 hours for a dressage competition (at least while my horse was young then we moved closer to the city)

      Never had a schoolmaster. Never got lessons on a weekly basis. Didn't win championships at each level. Just tapped tapped away at it. Never had any money or a great income either.

      If you've got that extra splash of talent you can train a horse to Grand Prix. Making National Teams or representing your country - that might be a different story.


      • #4
        Originally posted by mademoiselle View Post
        Is there hope to actually make your own GP horse if you don't have access to a schoolmaster or if you can't lesson at least once a week ?

        I have shown succesfully up to 4th level (with an other horse), and right now I feel stuck somewhere between 2nd level and PSG ... Still not confirmed on some 2nd level stuff, but way further along on some other areas and could probably pull it off on some sequences of the PSG.
        Yes there is hope, it will just take longer.

        If you are already doing some PSG sequences you are obviously no slouch. And if you recognize that some Second Level stuff still needs some work you are obviously not delusional. Just keep at it. Inch by inch.

        Some people just get off on telling everyone else that dressage is impossible.
        The Noodlehttp://tiny.cc/NGKmT&http://tiny.cc/gioSA
        Boy Wonderhttp://tiny.cc/G9290
        The Hana is nuts! NUTS!!http://tinyurl.com/SOCRAZY


        • #5
          Yes, it is possible with the right guidance and DEFINITELY you need a mirror (to review your work...real time) and a clear plan/methodology. (Have a student who has produced 5 gp horses and did it basically with the same situation as you.)

          Keep a journal, so that you start to understand how things really interconnect in training the upper levels, and ALWAYS look for faults in BASICS. i.e. if a horse is getting stuck in becoming too shortened/vertical can you IMMEDIATELY go back to chewing the bit from the hand for a few strides. Can you get the horse to stand on the outside rein in the corners? Can you do si w/o need of inside rein at all? Can you have the horse stand on the inside rein on the long sides? Be ruthless with yourself about straightness and YOUR EQUITATION/TIMING (the ERRORS are almost ALWAYS THERE).

          Learning HOW to do something is perfecting skills. If you have the equitation and timing which has allowed you to do medium levels of collection and their basic exercise, and understand the amplitude needed to jump big fences you are ahead of the curve of learning.

          You should be working in hand RIGHT NOW to start the basis of piaffe. i.e. walk/halt from raising and lowering the whip, transfers into go/stop, go diagonal steps, go a few steps of piaffe. So that within 6 months that is well started BEFORE you 'need it'. This should come BEFORE you start passage. You must understand HOW a hh must be manifest (horse folds hind leg joints more because it is up and open).

          There must be DAILY employment of exercises with greater lateral flexibility (i.e. esp shoulder fore/shoulder in/renvers which control the shoulders), esp on curved lines/figure 8s (si to counter si/travers to r and si ti r/t to counter si). Lots of transitions within a gait MAINTAINING the same tempo!
          I.D.E.A. yoda


          • #6
            Dedication and focus can overcome a lot of obsticles. I hear riders tell me every day what holds them back, but usually it is really their personal decisions and priorities. I do think some talent is necessary, but even that is useless if you don't want it bad enough.

            Lessons are important, so are eyes on the ground, but I have gone through periods without either, and that didn't stop me.

            I actually think that horse management decisions stop more people than what they'd like to know. A horse at GP has to be VERY SOUND.

            Originally posted by meupatdoes View Post
            Some people just get off on telling everyone else that dressage is impossible.


            • #7
              I've brought a couple horses to GP, never had any money or support, and just did what I could. If you're the kind of person that can take good advice and use it, there's no reason why not. I think, while it's wonderful to have someone helping you all along, figuring out how to do it by yourself and making mistakes is just as valuable. Almost any horse can get to GP, but it helps to be athletic. I think sound has a LOT to do with conditioning--don't keep them in a stall most of the time and think they can work an hour a day and do it.

              I never was in a situation where someone could tell me I couldn't do it. Like Robert Heinlein's The Cat Who Walked Through Walls, a lot of limitations come from within the mind. My first horse (as in ever) I put one tempis on myself. When I had my friend, who was one of the top riders in the country, come and did a clinic, he told me he didn't think the horse could do tempis. He didn't know what to say when I told him I had already taught him them, and showed him.


              • #8
                "When I had my friend, who was one of the top riders in the country, come and did a clinic, he told me he didn't think the horse could do tempis. He didn't know what to say when I told him I had already taught him them."

                @beenthere: That's awesome!!! Good for you for believing in your horse


                • #9
                  I think someone told me once... "Just keep working at it... And try not to piss your horse off too much."

                  Not GP myself but they were and I do believe that I am doing my best at working at it and without pissing my horse off too much.

                  I rarely have a bad ride these days keeping this in mind

                  Progress is relative
                  ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~


                  • #10
                    A sound horse that is yours.

                    Seriously, while I've never even ridden close to GP, I've either had bad luck with a few injuries to my horses, or age catching up to them, or I've put really solid basics on a horse, made them ready for first level, and then had them sold out from under me.

                    Good luck!
                    Here Be Dragons: My blog about venturing beyond the lower levels as a dressage amateur.


                    • #11
                      You will need a good trainer (one who has developed several GP horses), money for said trainer and for shows, the ability to ride well at shows, a lot of time and dedication, the capacity to be a good student, and the right horse.

                      I disagree with a previous poster who said that about any horse can do Grand Prix, just as I disagree that any rider can show GP. If your goal is to get decent scores (say 60% or better) at open shows, then most horses just don't have what it takes. If your goal is to learn at home and not show, then more horses are capable of schooling a housewife-type GP... but will never be able to actually show at that level. You can't really call your horse a "GP horse" unless you've pulled down the scores to prove it.

                      The following thread is informative:


                      • #12
                        If your passionate and have a desire to learn as much as possible, you can do it. You will only go as fat as you desire and work hard for. Read as many dressage articles and books as possible.


                        • #13
                          I suggest that people get the dvds of Philippe Karl and his students if you do not think that almost any (sound) horse cannot do all the movement of GP. Are they 'competitive world class movers'? No, but first you learn HOW to train, and then you show what you have trained IF that fits economically into the picture. And you do not have to (spend the $$ to)'show' to become educated. Certainly apprenticeship is THE best way (watch/copy/think/develop). There are many top trainers (in europe) which do NOT show, and many who are the 'forces behind the winners' who develop the horses which are winning at GP whose names are not known here. Certainly there are plenty of 4ecoles trained horses which ARE GP and have NEVER shown. Imho there are plenty of people showing 'housewife' GP which is poor riding of already trained horses.
                          I.D.E.A. yoda


                          • #14
                            *raises hand* that would be me you are referencing. The point was if you want to be a top competitor at that level of this game, you've got to eat, sleep and breathe it, plus have bucks. Look at ANY top athlete, they aren't lessoning once a week... it's an all consuming passion. Think Michael Phelps just puts in 30 minutes at the Y every day?

                            If you want to be able to develop your own GP horse some day, really what you need is passion, drive, dedication, and education... LOTS of it. Money helps, but only to an extent. How you choose to get that education is where $ and time come in.
                            I do quarterly short course intensives with my instructor, have daily conversations with my past instructor on theory and execution, and I clinic with every qualified clinician that comes within an hour of my barn that is in my price range. I ride for 3-4 hours a day, 5 days a week, rain or shine. I have an extensive library, and read from it every day (which is usually where the topics with the past instructor come from). I don't just want to be good rider, I strive for amazing. To be amazing, you have to want it like you want to breathe.

                            Excuses are just a way of lying to yourself about how you really feel.
                            chaque pas est fait ensemble


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Petstorejunkie View Post
                              Excuses are just a way of lying to yourself about how you really feel.


                              • #16
                                Ideally you ride 7 days a week and 8 hours a day, and you can ride horses 2x a day (once mounted and once in hand/driving/lungeing/jumping/hack/caveletti/etc). And ride ANYTHING anyone offers. (this is why apprenticing..for free...at a stud farm in europe gives you MUCH more time riding under supervision....and how several top international competitors have gotten their starts). Always depends upon how much you want it and what you are willing to give up to get what you want.
                                I.D.E.A. yoda


                                • #17
                                  One thing that others haven't mentioned is having someone video your rides - at least once a week. If this person is knowledgeable, ask that they comment when they see an 'ah-HA' moment - or 'you need to work on that' issue. If your videographer doesn't really know what s/he is looking at, then YOU try to comment - loudly enough for the camera mic to pick it up. Not only will this help you remember exactly how a movement felt at the moment, but it will also help your core strength. Lendon ALWAYS amazed me, as she talked her way through a 20 minute demonstration!

                                  You might also contact one or two specific trainers to ask if they would critique video for you - perhaps once a month. This would cost FAR less than clinics/lessons - but give you good, solid feedback from experienced GP riders/trainers/competitors. I'd start with a couple I'd cliniced with - the ones you learned most from.

                                  Best of luck!

                                  Equine Photography in the Northeast


                                  • #18
                                    Blood, sweat and tears

                                    I feel your pain, well I don't really, but I do have an idea of what you are dealing with.
                                    The answer is, Yes you can get to GP on your own, with clinics and help even if it isn't 3X a week.
                                    You will need some outside help though.
                                    Mirrors are really really useful, as is videotape.

                                    I am almost there, we started 6 yrs ago, the horse had never been shown at any level though he was started U/S.

                                    I clinic as much as I can, I work with 3 different trainers as they become available.
                                    I have mirrors in my arena.
                                    I get someone to video me when I show (though I HATE watching those videos, it's painful but enlightening).

                                    We are currently PSG/I1 and working on GP moves.

                                    One thing I did was to save up the money to go to Florida this last winter and work with a trainer for 2 months. I didn't show or compete, I just trained. I did what I had to do to pay the bills. Wasn't a fancy barn, but it meant regular instruction.
                                    That daily pounding made all the difference.

                                    This is NOT the same as being competitive at FEI. We don't get huge scores, but we steadily crawl our way up the ladder.

                                    We got a 63% at I1 in March so it is working.

                                    If I can do it, you can do it.

                                    Best of luck
                                    Melyni (PhD) PAS, Dipl. ACAN.
                                    Sign up for the Equine nutrition enewsletter on www.foxdenequine.com
                                    New edition of book is out:
                                    Horse Nutrition Handbook.



                                    • Original Poster


                                      I would like to thank everybody for all the replies!

                                      - I'm working on getting mirrors

                                      - One of my friends takes some videos of my lessons (it is so painfull to watch though...)

                                      - I have already started the in hand work and had a BNT do some long lining to help with half steps and piaffe (it seems that my horse is pretty gifted for it ) - While we are far from real piaffe, my horse has been jump started on the first steps.

                                      - Having my own barn and having groomed at the highest level, I'm very careful about my horse's health and so far he is doing good physically)

                                      My main issues are money and time. The money part is not what worries me. I have enough money to make it work.
                                      Time on the other hand is the hardest part of the equation. I have a barn full of horses and clients (which is a good thing to be able to afford lessons and shows), but I have 2 young kids, a marriage and a household to run. So, at the stage of my life I can't just leave for 2 months or even for a week to just go and ride.

                                      But on the bright side, I ride between 4 and 8 horses a day, I take usually 3 or 4 horses/shows. So I get a lot of saddle time, ring time and all that.

                                      But as stated in my 1st post, I'm a young horse trainer, so the bulk of my daily riding is spent on Training/1st level horses. Which requires different type of skills that the upper level stuff.

                                      I'm not trying to make any excuses, I'm hard working (my horse was not halter broke when I got him and most trainers that see him say that he has had good training and that he is ready to move up). I just want to be realistic.

                                      Had a lesson 2 weeks ago and an other one today and I feel that I'm moving forward (even if the main message today was to use more outside rein ... you would think that it would be a given by now).



                                      • #20
                                        Can you lease another horse that's trained past the numbers? I've found 2 is a magic number to offset the greenie equitational defense mechanism.
                                        chaque pas est fait ensemble