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What happened to break you through to the FEI?

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  • What happened to break you through to the FEI?

    As most of us ammies know, the rubber hits the road at 3rd/4th level. For those of you who have managed to break through, what was the situation that broke you through that wall? A certain horse or trainer? A working student position? Just a different mindset? Would love to know others experiences that helped them make that next step!
    When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.

  • #2
    1. Horse -- Not a popular breed or type. But a heart as big as he is. And a love for hard work. Who thinks tempis, passage, piaffe, pirouettes are great things to do.

    2. Trainers -- top notch trainers that have been there done that with a great variety of horses from unbroke youngsters to finished GP horses. And willing to work with anyone who tries.

    3. Work -- me being willing to drive a hour each way 6 days a week to go ride and get instruction. After work.

    4. Luck


    • #3
      1. Mare who is hot and talented enough. Not completely in the off breed category, but not your usual candidate. Finds certain things easy, finds other things not so much. Is willing to put up with silly amounts of BS without going nuts.

      2. Trainers/training- going through and finding (by experience) someone who is a) alright with training a pony, and b) giving me the time of day.

      3. Rider- Riding after work five to six days a week. Conditioning work two of those.

      4. Support crew- People who are willing to keep us sane/sound/fit for the road ahead. This includes but is not limited to: SO, Vet, Farrier, Massage Therapist, Physical Therapist, Barn Owner, Barn Manager, Coach/Trainer, Mum/Dad, Business Partner and community at large.

      5. Sheer dumb luck.

      6. Wheeling and dealing. FEI is not cheap. Bargain hunting is essential, being able to barter is even better.
      It is rare to see a rider who is truly passionate about the horse and his training, taking a profound interest in dressage with self-abnegation, and making this extraordinarily subtle work one of the dominant motivations of his life.\"


      • #4
        Being a working student!


        • Original Poster

          It sounds like it's getting all those things together that is the tough part, huh? I've had the instructors/barn/support crew, but not the horse, and vise versa. Hmmmmm

          I'm ready for full steam ahead, and am hoping to find the most efficient (for a poor person ) path to FEI. Keep em coming!!
          When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.


          • #6
            capable horse
            working with a plan every ride


            • #7
              For me it was the horse. I had a fabulous schoolmaster and learned so much correct feel from him that it has helped me train my young horse. My young horse is very talented and smart and really wants to please me, so training her to do the movements has been fairly straightforward.

              I think having the horse is essential.

              I also think you have to be consistent. I am at the barn 7 days a week and I have a system for training my horse. I have done it on less than a lesson a week (in fact, I have not had any lessons since August--just a clinic).

              I have a friend who showed her horse PSG last year--she trained him from backing--and while it took her longer than me to get her horse to PSG, she got to PSG, despite time out every year (about a month) over the holidays, family vacations, and having a second child during this time. This is without having put the horse in training with anyone, but with taking lessons and clinics. Her horse has a great brain.

              She also had a fabulous schoolmaster when she started, like I did, and we both did full training then and learned alot. So again, I think the horse is the most important.


              • #8
                I was the luckiest child in the world as my mother gave me the ride on her GP horse when I was very small. But as children my sister and I both got to ride her upper levels horses as a matter of course to teach us the correct "feel". My first FEI ride at a show was when I was 12 and I had to do the YR Individual test as an HC - there were no Junior tests then. It had a 6 loop serpentine and 3's & 4's, plus 1/2 pirouettes. Now that was 22 years ago...

                When I was a YR, we had the Conrad Schumacher clinics at Gladstone as a part of the 'system' to help train our horses. Mom and I still incorporate some of those exercises into the daily training of the horses. The 'chalk talks' that were like a classroom session were the backbone of each day and I only wish they had been video taped...such a fantastic resource. Mom had had a super German instructor who had taught her the Training System in the 60's & 70's and had grown up with many of the old masters who came over after WWII, so Conrad was a bit of a refresher in the 90's for all of us.

                All of that aside, since we breed our own FEI horses, I will freely admit the really special ones do have the talent for the movements from the beginning. There is nothing more fun that riding a horse at the upper levels than the one that you've brought along from birth. Love, love, love it! It is not without heartbreak, sweat, some tears and the occasional bit of frustration...but it is a joy unlike any other to wear the tail coat for the first time on 'your baby'.

                To summarize - I'd say the first thing that was required is the talent and reaction time to ride the more intricate movements correctly, followed by the instruction, the gifted, durable and sound horse, then the dedication to put in the hours necessary to bring the horses along and finally the financial resources to bring everything together. It is a real juggling act at times but it is possible.
                Watermark Farm
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                • #9
                  Originally posted by fizzyfuzzybuzzy View Post
                  As most of us ammies know, the rubber hits the road at 3rd/4th level. For those of you who have managed to break through, what was the situation that broke you through that wall? A certain horse or trainer? A working student position? Just a different mindset? Would love to know others experiences that helped them make that next step!
                  When you ask about "breaking thru to FEI" to me it means at licensed shows under licensed judges......

                  I think lots of folks school the movements and some even show at schooling shows (ususally under judges not officially qualified to judge at this level)......

                  To me that isn't "breaking thru to FEI"......

                  I suppose it depends alot on how you define breaking thru to FEI......

                  For example I know of one horse that showed schooling shows last year (locally) and earned championships thru 3rd, 4th and PSG....but these scores were earned at "schooling" shows under judges not qualified to judge at that level.....I don't interpret this as a "true" FEI breakthru (there was no competition either) and would be curious to see how this horse performed at a licensed competition at these levels to accurately evaluate "success" (as I would define it) at these levels.........I believe in this case the option to skip licensed shows was mostly financially based (smart!, imho)....still this was a nice horse and it was FUN to see the whole family involved!!!.....

                  Starting with schooling shows is a smart option for practicing, well used by many of us ammies!......but no competition, judges not qualified etc....imho, doesn't mean one has successfully achieved "FEI level competition".......


                  • #10
                    Silver Image...that comes thru as "sour grapes"!

                    To answer the OP.. The right horse, the right trainer, the right time in life to give free rein to the determination to get there.
                    Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

                    Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by merrygoround View Post
                      Silver Image...that comes thru as "sour grapes"!
                      I didn't think these comments were "sour grapes" In fact credit was given for making cost and experience decisions.
                      My interpretation of the original question was how did people get to the point of showing FEI classes at Recognized shows.

                      Like other ammies, the path was not complicated but not easy.

                      1. Found a schoolmaster - NOT expensive by dressage standards. Some luck here, unbelievable learning experience.
                      2 HARD work - including lunge line lessons to learn to sit the trot; consistent training, weekly by mid-level trainer, then monthly by better, tougher upper level trainer. Focus was important - this was something I badly wanted, and I put other things to the side. As I got to PSG, the trainer helped me not just to ride the movements, but how to ride the TEST when things are happening much faster, and little time to regroup.

                      Note that I am no spring chicken. Bought said schoolmaster when I was 51...and doing training level.
                      Note number 2 is that the show miles are important; it is difficult even w/ a trained horse to start showing at the upper levels. I know those who have tried, and are not successful because of nerves, lack of ring experience.
                      We don't get less brave; we get a bigger sense of self-preservation........


                      • #12
                        Well I guess I finally qualify to join a group on this board I have shown at recognized shows at FEI.

                        1. Definitely the right horse with the right mind. I've owned him since he was two, backed and trained him myself. He is not overly talented or really an acceptable breed but has a heart as big as this state.

                        2. Regular, weekly lessons with someone who didn't care that I had an "off breed" or a horse that was built so downhill that he has almost 1 1/2 inches between wither and croup (or elbow and stifle). Oh and lunge lessons, lots of them.

                        3. A focus on proper conditioning above and beyond schooling figures.

                        4. Being a vet doesn't hurt in this one case. Not just because of the obvious but because I could pick up extra hours and extra shifts to pay for that one show I really couldn't afford or that one clinic, etc.

                        5. Luck - a whole lot of it 'cause as big as the horse's heart is, he's not easy
                        Ranch of Last Resort


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by merrygoround View Post
                          Silver Image...that comes thru as "sour grapes"!

                          To answer the OP.. The right horse, the right trainer, the right time in life to give free rein to the determination to get there.
                          LOL, mgr.......NOT AT ALL!.....I think everybody in the club (?) was happy to see them have so much FUN last year!!!......And btw, it was neat to see that the folks showing this horse, while proud of their accomplishments were also humble about the reality of it just being "schooling shows" without any competition..........

                          Everybodys' definition of success is different depending on their goals and experiences and the roads they choose.......frankly everybody isn't "Olympic material".....imho, of course.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Silver~Image~Farm View Post
                            When you ask about "breaking thru to FEI" to me it means at licensed shows under licensed judges......

                            I think lots of folks school the movements and some even show at schooling shows (ususally under judges not officially qualified to judge at this level)......

                            To me that isn't "breaking thru to FEI"......

                            I suppose it depends alot on how you define breaking thru to FEI......
                            Yes, training FEI and showing FEI is a 2 different things and price of the horse will be affected from that. My answer would still be the same:

                            Showed PSG on a capable horse aka schoolmaster up to mid 60%.
                            Trained-up from training level 2 of my horses, training solid PSG test and showing 4th level up to mid 60%. It still took a capable horse, with good canter, that had a brain, desire to learn, loved humans, had good enough conformation to stay sound thru the levels.

                            From me both pathways still required a plan for every ride, a clear understanding how to teach horse for a long term, so that horse will learn and be able to repeat the commands. Clear understanding how horses learn and how humans "speak" horse language: clear commands, clear demands, clear rewards, clear reprimands. Good body balance, motor skills, strong abs. Also, ability for me as a rider/trainer to back up when horse needs to.
                            Last edited by Dressage Art; Mar. 19, 2010, 04:28 PM.


                            • #15
                              1. A capable horse. I think more horses can do FEI than people think.

                              2. A very capable trainer who has trained/shown at GP. You don't need to spend $300/hr but it is worth training with someone who has *trained* and shown to GP and can help *you* with *your* horse. Some big names aren't worth it, some are.

                              3. Having super capable GP-level trainer ride your horse so you can watch. This is the fastest/easiest way to understand both your and your horse's faults, and often illuminates where you "think" you're doing well but aren't. It also illuminates where your horse excels but you didn't think he/she excelled or you don't as a rider. This is sooooo invaluable, imo.

                              4. Videotape your rides in clinics. Videotape your show rides and watch them while glancing at the test. DO it again. Do it again. Do it again. Sometimes the ride feels very different from how it looks, especially if you have a good eye for "looking" at nice FEI rides. It's easy to understand that "that extension felt good but looked really crappy! I have to push more!"

                              5. Ride a schoolmaster who shows you how it's supposed to go. Ride as many as you can!

                              6. Ride bunches of different horses who may or may not be easy. Riding a schoolmaster is great, but other horses will hone your reflexes and mind so that you can handle a multitude of situations as they come up in the ring...which is what most of us have to deal with.
                              Proud member of the Colbert Dressage Nation