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2015 USDF Region 7 General Membership Organization Volunteer of the Year!!! 

Melissa has a long history of leadership in CDS and USDF.  She has been USDF Vice President, Region 7 Regional Director, CDS President and is currently a CDS Director.  Her innovative programs and awards continue to benefit, inspire and reward members of the dressage community.  Programs including the CDS Regional Adult Amateurs Competition (RAAC) Roses Award for over 50 riders, and awards program for the critical and all important scribes in our shows were intitated by her.  The Volunteer of the Year Award was presented at the USDF Annual meeting by President George Williams.


2014 USDF Sport Horse Prospect Development forum


Under sunny skies at the beautiful DG Bar Ranch the USDF Sport Horse Prospect Development forum took place October 4-5 2014. A new program at USDF that Started at Devon, Sponsored by Dressage at Devon, California Dressage Society,,

 The speakers Scott Hassler, Ingo Pape and new faculty member Willy Arts gave us two days of this exciting program that none of the over one hundred twenty auditors wanted to leave there seats at any time for fear of missing something. It was exciting to have all American bred horses showing that American breeders are producing stars for the future.

Willy started the day with a lunging demonstration first with a halter then added the surcingle later in the day came back to work with the same horse with bridle and saddle and first ride.   Some of the key elements where using a breast collar to stabilize the surcingle and saddle from going too far back and not having to have the girth to tight on a young horse which could cause fear and bucking. Willy stated “Lunging is riding”, use the lunging to get the horse going from of the leg with the forward thinking work. Redirect with forward  , stay calm, no panic, use the same equipment in the sessions to be consistent. If you are stepping back the horse is falling in. walk towards the horses hindquarter and encourage always to go away from pressure in forward for a forward thinking horse . Work both sides of the horse to know how the horses move on each side, It can be different. All three of the speaker said contact was important from the first day. “ Always quality of gaits from the first day”. When later in the day the same horse That was lunged came out to have the first ride, Willy was very clear to lunge the horse first on both sides and use a breast collar with the saddle to stabilize the saddle. Have control of the horses stop and go before you mount the horse. The rider needs to be calm and confident for this first mounted ride. Willy states to work the horse until all is calm and remember voice commands as you did in the beginning of the starting of the horse.

There was lively questions and answers session between all horses during both days.

Scott Hassler and Ingo Pape worked with a wide variety of riders and horses. Continuing with the idea of forward and calm riding. All riders where reminded no stiffness in the riding, Relaxed  riders make relaxed horses. Scott started with the first rider. First start with the horses  rhythm. Horses have their own rhythms.  Pro active riding, not reactive riding to build the horses confidence. When the horse is gliding over the ground the horse is in his own balance. Scott wanted all the riders to own the saddle not just be in the saddle. Ride thinking about what is going on behind the saddle. The hindquarter and its activity shapes the neck. Ride forward in a balance back to front not front to back. Some of the key phases where,” remind the horse not fix the horse”. Warm up is not a time frame ,should have a plan. Be the horses coach not the trainer. In increasing the horse to lengthen go one mile an hour then when balanced add one more mile an hour and so on. The same applies in downward transitions , Your seat carries the energy not your hand.

Scott talked about the three paths a young horse can take, no path is better than the other. The three paths are stay home and school, second path is national tests and third is FEI Young Horse Classes and Championships.  As young horse mature differently mentally and physically all away check your goals against what the horse is showing you in the training. You can change your goals if needed anytime but don’t change your goals just because show season is near.  FEI Young horse must have presence be mature and well trained.

Ingo Pape was very insightful in evaluating the young horse. Body language is very important to understand in the young horse. Inner relaxation will lead to outer relaxation. No more flexation than from shoulder to shoulder. Ingo says a horse has to do something for a while to get the feel of the task.  Walk breaks are good in young horses for relax. Some of the key elements were, not faster and slower think bigger and smaller, don’t go for tempo go for activity, Boncey not quick, Lots of transitions  from the start but don’t drill. “Repeat, refresh and go forward”, Young horses need to stretch over the top line to keep the back. If you feel tension go back to stretch  downward . The walk can find the top line of the young horse.. The walk can be the mental state of the horse not what nature gave the horse.  Ingo does not like the whip as an aid it can cause unsafe rhythm. He repeated many times the flat side of the boot not the spur to get good forward.  Ingo wanted energy in the first trot steps if not from that repeat until you get that, Downward trans must have energy and balance in forward thinking as well. A good exercise to collect the horses canter was haunches in on the circle. Not for long periods but in and out. If you have a problem  like being herd bound, don’t always go to the problem, work on response to the forward have the horse on your aids and the problem will become smaller.

At Lunch on Saturday Willy Arts Presented a New KPWN approved stallion Gaspard De La Nuit  DG

Ravel X Sir Donnerhall  owned by Akiko Yamazaki and DG Bar ranch

What a treat!!!!

Saturday night was no host reception and lecture with Scott and Ingo. Horse management of young horse was most of the nights questions, Turn out handling stabling and so on.  after a video of Demon Hill from young horse to FEI. It was very impressive to see not only the horses training but the physical development over that time frame.   

Sunday was a practice of the auditors eye. The horse  were the same as the day before and we all were using our new found skills to anticipate what the speakers were going to say and do. We saw big changes on all the horses one day to the next, some horses more than others , But all got the idea of forward thinking. A sense of excitement was felt that we could go home with new tools and guidelines for our young horses. This bridge from sporthorse breeding inhand classes to young horse prospects to complete the pipeline to the FEI is so exciting.  I spend some time talking to some of the auditors during the breaks and the options were total excitement for this new program and wanted to know when we could have another one. The speakers where articulate and open, including all as a group with a common goal, a great beginning to new program.

DG Bar hospitality was wonderful as always. USDF was very organized with great goody bags and nice lunches from Panara bread every day. Kathy Robert should be commended for a job well done.

Riders :

Sarah Gammie, Canby Or riding, Renior MLW Hanoverian gelding

Sarah Lockman, Rancho Cucamonga, Ca riding , Geronimo KWPN Stallion

Ericka Reining, Rancho Murrieta , Ca riding ,Wredford Hanoverian gelding

Lindsay Bridges, Reno NV riding, D’Hot Toddy Hanoverian Mare

Lehua Custer, Moorpark, Ca riding, FJ Ramzes KWPN gelding

Ashlyn DeGroot, Handford, Ca riding, Gamebria DG KWPN Mare.