A few weeks ago, I had the privilege to watch some wonderful dressage lessons taught by someone I’ve known for many years. He was one of my own dressage instructors back in my early days of competing in the earliest days of the California Dressage Society.
Before the creation of CDS, the earliest introduction of dressage came from the influence of European instructors, especially from Germany and Austria. We would meet in the arena located in the large ‘backyard’ of Kyra Downton,an Olympic Dressage team member in the late 1960’s who was located in the Bay Area/ Penninsula of Northern California. We rode whatever horses we owned at the time, often ex TB racehorses, Quarter Horses, part Appaloosas and Arabians. We were honored by education from Hermann Friedlander, Elizabeth Friedlander- Searle, Col Hans Moeller, Waldemar Seunig, Henry Burchard and more. In 1968, some of us got the pleasure of seeing Col Alois Podhajsky come from Austria to give coaching to Kyra as she prepped for the 1968 Olympics in Mexico.
As years went by and dressage grew in popularity in USA and California, I met Jeff A. Moore via Elizabeth Friedlander-Searle. He was a young fellow at the time, and evolved over the years into a competitor, a trainer and clinician, and a judge. He and Elizabeth created Osierlea, a facility for education that was a marvelous place to gain more knowledge about dressage and more. My mother, sister and I often went to their 5 day clinics and loved the learning.
Time evolves knowledge in various ways. As my path of learning incorporated more perspectives of understanding the animals we were riding, rather than focus only on the goals of competition, I’ve found the best variable in my world was the courage to change my perspectives and techniques. As my parents would advise us kids, ‘the only constant in life is change’.
The reason for this blog is that after many decades of experiencing the more German, somewhat hard-driving style of education from Jeff A. Moore, these recent clinics I’ve audited were stunning…his style of teaching is changed!! While he still holds a load of knowledge of what to learn, his ways of moving along that path is way different than I recall. He focuses the rider more to observing what information the horse is conveying, both in physical and behavioral ways. He instructs a path of more humane styles of puzzle solving rather than demanding results than I’ve heard before. I am never one to say any colleague is the perfect match for everyone at all times…but the courage it must take for a professional like him to shift his style from ‘goal achieving, Get It Done’ to HOW one may get there, in more humane styles that were respectful to the horse, is something I really admire in anyone, of any field.
The French styles of dressage have captured my dressage style of attention more these last years, such as Col Christian Carde and Phillipe Karl seem more along the lines I am interested in learning to following. Manolo Mendez is another I’m eager to learn more from as well.
Thanks to Jeff and Elizabeth, a great portion of my dressage world was influenced greatly by meeting and learning from the Baron Hans Von Blixen-Finecke. When I was asked to be the illustrator of his last book called “The Art of Training”, my world became solid in the reality and necessity of riders to better understand both human and horse anatomy, bio mechanics of movement and ways each of our brains function.
So to you all who may enjoy reading these blogs, I encourage and applaud any of you who keep you minds open to observing and learning, who keep your hearts open to the kindness and fairness of developing a partnership with your horses, and to enjoying the art of Living on this Planet!