Corinna Scheller Fleming is a USDF L Graduate with Distinction, a USDF Certified Instructor at Training-First Level, and a USDF Bronze Medalist. Corinna, who owns and operates Lost Island Farm in Falls Village, CT, judges dressage schooling shows and offers dressage clinics.
How long have you been involved in the sport?
I started riding as a child, over 45 years ago. Having grown up in Germany, there was no way of getting around dressage, and I took a liking to it early on.
How long have you been a USDF member?
I have been a USDF member for over 20 years.
What made you decide to participate in the USDF L Education Program?
Being a competitor and a trainer/coach of competitors it is imperative to understand “the other side of C”, the judge’s perspective, literally and figuratively. Judges also play an incredibly important role in educating competitors (at least those who want to be educated), and in the development of the sport. It is up to the judges to reward correct training and performance over flashy gaits and sloppy riding/training.
How long did it take to complete the program, start to finish?
Six months. I purposefully selected a program that was run from start to finish in this short period of time, over the winter months into summer, though it meant I had to fly from Connecticut to Tennessee. As a barn owner, trainer, and competitor it’s not easy to get away from home, and for me and my students it worked out best to compress this part of my education into the shortest possible amount of time.
I graduated from the program in the summer of 2003 and have audited the program since then to continue my education.
Do you plan to further your dressage education and to continue to apply what you learned in the program to become a licensed official?
Yes and no! It is of utmost importance to me to continue my education as an L Graduate, as well as a trainer/instructor/coach, which I do by attending programs and clinics as a participant or auditor. But the time and expenses required to become a successful licensed official is not in the stars for me while also owning and running a boarding and training facility.
Do you serve as a judge for schooling shows in your capacity as an L Graduate? If so, on average, how many per year?
Yes, I do. Pre-COVID it was 6-12 shows per year.
What impact did the program have on your dressage knowledge?
The program drove home the importance of details, preparations, and focus as a rider/trainer/instructor, and as a judge. It also opened my eyes to the world of horse and rider biomechanics.
Name three things you took away from the program that you think every rider should now:
ONLY 3? Without writing an essay? That’s a tough one!
The judge is your friend and cheers for you. The “negative” comments tell you what to improve upon, in order to get a higher score, and are not meant to bring you down. READ the judge’s comments and understand the meaning of each score. Keep in mind that the judge can only score and comment on what is happening during that particular test. The judge can only tell you what to improve, but not how – the how is the trainer’s job.
Every competitor should read the “purpose” description of each level as well as the “directive ideas” of each movement, to better understand what they are being judged on.
Understanding the actual, physical perspective of the judge is imperative. Dressage is built on the training pyramids for horse and rider. Know them inside and out!
Tell us about your horse:
Pictured is my Hanoverian Warmblood gelding, Lambada. I earned some of my required scores for the L Program on him. He taught me a lot about the highs and the lows of competing, and about being graceful on both ends of that spectrum. I owe him a lot, and I miss him every day.