Dressage Professional Initiative Overview

Jacqueline Boonekamp instructs Richard Williams on "Joker." Photo courtesy of Rachel Laufer

This article won the 2022 GMO Newsletter Award for a first person article for GMOs with 175-499 members. It originally appeared in the Northern Ohio Dressage Association newsletter, NODA News, 2022/Issue 8.

The USDF Group Member Organization (GMO) Newsletter Awards are designed to recognize outstanding efforts by GMOs that produce newsletters. Awards in two categories will be presented for exemplary articles. Nominations are due by August 31st. Only an official representative of a GMO may submit the nomination. For a nomination form follow this link.

July 8 and 9 my calendar read: “DPI, 8.30 -5.30.” The “smiley face” next to it expressing my hopes of an interesting course for trainers; totally up my alley!

Up front Danielle Menteer had already gathered what each of us would like to know more about, who could add to these days in any way (ex. Schooling horse) and we were to fill out a questionnaire and submit that to Richard Williams. This made me feel very engaged and the way everyone pitched in already gave an impression of camaraderie.

The days started by making sure my horse simulator named “Joker” and all the items I always use in my lessons on him got packed. I normally travel back home to the Netherlands for such training, so the drive being under an hour already felt like such a gift! It simply wouldn’t take out too much out of my daily life and still be able to invest in myself as an instructor.

The gorgeous location at Shade Tree Farm was awaiting all of us. We spent the morning introducing ourselves and Richard went thru his interactive presentation. He made it clear that it was our course, he was there to fulfill our needs.

After the delicious lunch, that was generously donated by Jeni Gaffney, Richard had a short individual moment with each of us, again ready to answer any specific questions and guiding each of us in the right direction.

The afternoon was filled with some demo riders and a few of us on horses made available by Sarah Freeman. While we taught and implemented our gained knowledge of the morning program, he gave us pointers. All completely different horses and riders and every aspect, from biomechanics in the riders and horse as well as how to explain the specific exercise was to be executed. Some of us rounded up the day with a late dinner and you can only imagine the topics and fun conversations we had there too.

The second day Richard wanted to point out the importance of the seat, so we started with Richard offering himself as my student on my horse simulator. Richard was a bit skeptic initially but as I made him go through the shortened routine of my lessons, he eventually came off very impressed and said even he learned a thing or two. He referred to the why and how of biomechanics through-out the day and the rest of the presentation. We rounded the morning up with another wonderful donated 5-star lunch!

The riding part that followed with one of us teaching the other (and our wonderful demo riders!) was already from another level compared to the first day. The “shoulder-in” as an answer to most issues, got executed numerous times. We were all from different levels, different backgrounds, different stages in our equine career, but all respected that and we all were open to learn and that was so visible in the quality we performed in our second day.

What I also liked about the set-up of the course, is that both days were recorded, so be-sides all the notes we made, we were also able to look back on the recording when needed.

Although we initially didn’t know each other, many phone numbers got exchanged. The Cleveland area is heading towards a new generation of trainers that are in it for the long haul; helping horses by helping the riders and what one trainer doesn’t know, we now have a net-work to lean on.

I went home with a big smile, so my calendar wasn’t lying! I left hungry for more, so can’t wait for the next session in November!

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