Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘dressage team’

TSB caught up with Anne Gribbons, FEI/USEF dressage judge, former Technical Director of the US Dressage Team, and author of the wonderful book of “dressage time travel” COLLECTIVE REMARKS, and we asked for her thoughts on the 2016 Olympic Dressage competition, underway now in Rio de Janeiro. Here are her insights as we begin Day 2. (For Anne’s refreshingly honest and brutally funny perspective on past Olympics and other international competitions, as well as all manner of dressage-related subjects, check out COLLECTIVE REMARKS!)

 

ANNE & STEFAN

Anne Gribbons with Steffen Peters in 2010.

 

After all the misgivings about Brazil not being able to handle the Olympics, it has come out of the starting box with flair. The eventing coverage was fabulous, the cross-country course beautiful and challenging, and the surprises many. Perhaps that is why I will always love combined training the most, because things can change in a heartbeat and each second can present a different landscape. And you can actually be competing, driving home without a ribbon, and still completely elated because the horse jumped so well it made your heart sing. Obviously, this is not the feeling you would have if something  goes awry on the Olympic course, and I am sure both Phillip Dutton and Ingrid Klimke were less than amused after brilliant dressage rides with the odd mishaps they had, which completely changed their standings at the top. 

Now the dressage is on, where the risk is limited and the element of surprise is a rarity. At this level, we expect each equipage to know its lessons well, and few mishaps to occur in the test. What we look for and revel in is the finely tuned communication between horse and rider. We search for  the balance, the self-carriage, the connection between the hand of the rider and the mouth of the horse. Harmony and yet full power when horse  and rider together reach for their ultimate best is what thrills us and keeps us glued to the screen. Watching it at home is a miracle, until it is not. When the streaming  momentarily shuts off, you get rudely pulled back to reality. With impeccable timing, this happens just as your country’s horse enters the ring. 

And I mentioned no surprises? Well, not true the first day when the Dutch star Parzival was retired by his rider who felt he was not quite up to the task. Good horsemanship, but a blow to the Dutch team, while it gave an opening to the Americans. We are talking fractions of a point here, and with no drop score left, the Dutch are more vulnerable. Since Kasey Perry-Glass had a very solid ride once she got past the first five movements when Dublet was busy in the mouth and Kasey was a bit tense, our chances looked even better after her ride. The Germans are powering on, and nobody expects any other team to catch up with them. In spite of one imploding pirouette and another weak one, Dorothee Schneider showed such strength in the rest of her work on Showtime that they gathered over 80%. And the 21-year-old Sönke Rothenberger who went first in the German team on his 10-year-old horse shows all the signs of growing up in a horse family. He admits he gets help from his father, Olympic rider Sven Rothenberger, but insists that his true calling is actually jumping. Well, if dressage is only his sideline, wait until he focuses on it! 

Riding for England, Fiona Bigwood had a very impressive ride on a wonderfully elastic and submissive mare named Orthilia. Imagine coming back from an injury that robs you of sight in one eye and putting on such a spot-on performance where balance and accuracy is of essence. Hats off to this lady who received a well-earned 77-plus% as a forerunner to more great scores expected by the remaining Brits, who are expected to finish in at least silver position. 

And then there is the US with four great quality horses and well prepared riders. Over the last two years all these combinations have gradually become more seasoned. Except for Roosevelt, I know all the team horses very well, and I am well aware of  the capacity of each. We already saw what Dublet was able to do, and believe me, there is so much more in that horse! Verdades is becoming seasoned and stronger and should have no trouble staying as focused on Laura Graves as he usually is in this comparatively quiet atmosphere. I can understand why the Chef D’ Equipe would make that combination the anchor by putting them last, because Legolas can, at times, be a little too fired up and lose concentration. However, Steffen Peters’ masterly riding has overcome that tendency in his shows as lately, and when they are on, he and Legolas can gather many valuable points. 

So, when I am writing this I am, like all of you, keeping my fingers crossed and hopes high for our team. Go USA!

–Anne Gribbons

CLICK IMAGE TO ORDER

CLICK IMAGE TO ORDER

COLLECTIVE REMARKS by Anne Gribbons is available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

CLICK HERE for more information or to order.

 

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and DVDs, is a small business based on a farm in rural Vermont.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

JackCR

COLLECTIVE REMARKS by Anne Gribbons features original cartoons by dressage trainer and illustrator Karen Rohlf.

When I was nine and working my first “muck-for-lessons” detail, I had my earliest encounter with the Jack Russell Terrier. The young woman who ran the barn and gave me said lessons had a pair of crazed little dogs: The black-and-white one was “Pie” (short for Piebald) and the brown-and-white one was “Skew” (yes, as you might imagine, for Skewbald), and they happily spent their days torturing hoof trimmings out back by the manure pile or terrorizing my family’s cats, who occasionally made the mistake of tailing me up the hill in the back field that joined our properties.

Being young and a “first generation horse lover,” I didn’t know then what I know now—that Jack Russells are sought, bought, and traded on the horse show circuit like push-button ponies. In her new book COLLECTIVE REMARKS, FEI dressage judge and former Technical Advisor to the US Dressage Team Anne Gribbons explains a little about this phenomenon—what she calls “An Affliction Called ‘Jack Russells.'”

COLLECTIVE REMARKS by Anne Gribbons is available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.

 

Many of Us Suffer from an Affliction Called “Jack Russells”

Early on, our family always had dogs of “proper” size (at least knee-high) that displayed “normal” dog behavior. The Jack Russell terror in our house started with a phone call from friends who were at a terrier trial and saw these “adorable puppies” just desperate for a good home. At the time, neither my husband nor I had a clue about terrier trials or the fact that a Jack Russell is never desperate for anything.

With a lot of encouragement from people who were really just looking for partners in crime, we agreed to look at the puppy. It was a female, about fist-size. She looked harmless enough, and like all puppies, was irresistible. She moved in and immediately took over operations.

We named her Digger, and that stopped her from ever digging anything. Instead, she concentrated on climbing trees. Her great passion in life was squirrels, and in pursuit of her prey she would hurl herself into the trees and tear up the branches in complete oblivion to the fact that this was not a dog thing to do.

If she ever downed a squirrel, I’m sure it was from a heart attack, since the creatures certainly never expected the dog to follow them up the tree.

We were forever approached by visitors who would hesitantly ask us if we thought that there was a dog in the tree out front. We would once again drag out the ladder and get Digger down while the people sighed in relief (relief that they weren’t crazy).

 

Scary Jack

Don’t think for a minute that a Jack doesn’t know exactly what it is doing and why. They are truly scary.

One weekend, my mother informed me that she “had a surprise for me.” Strange things happen when Mother visits, and I sure was surprised when she showed up with another Jack Russell puppy. It was a present from my groom, who got a puppy from us for Christmas two years earlier.

Payback is a bitch, but in this case it was a dog, and we named him Chipper.

Chipper had eyes just like Lady in Lady and the Tramp—big, brown and sparkling—and Digger tolerated him, although she found his fascination with fetching balls, sticks, and anything people would throw a bit much. When we lost Digger to sudden heart failure, I thought a breather from the Jacks would be nice, but then our borrowed live-in kid wanted a puppy, and the circus was on again.

At a show in Tampa, Florida, I found Scooter. He was the opposite of the ugly duckling: As a puppy he was adorable, and every day he matured to become more splay-footed, cross-eyed, and long-backed. His final shape is odd, to say the least, but Mother Nature tries to keep things in balance, and Scooter is one of the smartest dogs I have ever met.

He is a hunter to the core. Left to his own devices, he will use the dawn’s early light to pile up half a dozen rats, who find themselves dead before they even wake up in the morning. He never barks, just strikes and kills without a sound—and goes on to the next victim.

Chipper loved to torture Scooter when he was a puppy. He would keep Scooter at bay by growling and snapping and generally demonstrating who was in charge at every opportunity. One day Scooter, now much heavier and certainly twice the length of Chipper, decided he’d had enough. He promptly bit Chipper’s ear off. As my husband dove for the half ear to rescue it, Scooter looked him squarely in the eye and swallowed hard. All gone!

After repeated fights, both dogs were neutered, a feature that only slightly tempered their urge to kill each other but in no way got rid of their basic aggressiveness. Both of them will stand up to a dog any size at the drop of a hat. I think the breed is missing the gene that helps evaluate size because it’s hard to imagine that every Jack Russell was born with a Napoleonic complex.

 

The Trials

Recently, we hosted a regional championship Jack Russell trials, complete with agility, go-to-ground, races, conformation, and some other classes. A glaring omission in the prize list was a class for obedience—what a surprise! The Jacks are the nightmare of every dog school instructor, and perhaps the accepted fact that they “don’t train well” is one of the reasons for the popularity that they enjoy with horse people.

After all, when you spend all day schooling horses, you have little energy left to train the dog. If the dog is known to be virtually untrainable, you can shrug, sigh, and apologize for his unruly behavior while feeling confident that everyone understands that things are beyond your control.

One positive feature is the “easy handling,” which allows you to carry, transport, wash, and hide in hotel rooms this little dog, which will wake up the whole hotel with his sharp barking if the spirit moves him.

The Jacks always stray where they aren’t supposed to be at horse shows, but they rarely get in trouble (although you do). They have a sixth sense about horses and appear to know from birth how to avoid being flattened by their hooves, even while in hot pursuit of game.

A good hunting Jack—which is 99 percent of them—is far better than a cat as a deterrent for rats, since they waste no time playing games. They just carry on like little killing machines, displaying the most ardent bloodthirst and pure joy in hunting. They may look sweet and innocent curled up on the couch, but you can see your little pooch get up, stretch, yawn and say to himself, “Well, I think I’ll go kill something.”

 

Everything but Boring

A few years ago, I ran into a man at Dressage at Devon in Pennsylvania who was posted next to a cage with four Jack Russell puppies. All our relatives and friends had at least one by then, so I wasn’t interested, but I had a German girl with me who went all aflame and ran to call her parents about the possibilities of becoming owned by a Jack Russell.

While she was away, the man with the puppies asked me, “Don’t you want a puppy?”

“Absolutely not,” I said, “I can’t stand them.”

The man hesitated, then leaned closer to me and whispered, “Neither can I. These belong to my wife.”

We then commiserated about the horrors of the breed until we ran out of breath.

“So,” he asked when we were finally through, “how many Jacks do you have?”

I reluctantly admitted to two. He also had two, in addition to the puppies. We each confessed we probably would always have at least one around.

“Why is that?” I asked.

“Because,” said the man, “all other dogs bore me.”

 

In COLLECTIVE REMARKS: A Journey through the American Dressage Evolution: Where It’s Been, Where We Are, and Where We Need to Be, Anne Gribbons shares the best (and in some cases, the worst!) of her personal experiences over the last 40 years as a rider, trainer, breeder, facility owner, sponsor, competitor, instructor, coach, and judge. With almost 70 chapters based on Anne’s popular “Between Rounds” column in The Chronicle of the Horse, readers essentially experience “time travel,” reliving challenges and celebrations alike, with the opportunity to critically ponder the changing face of dressage in the United States over two decades.

Anyone with an interest in dressage, its controversies, its most famous names, and its future in the United States will enjoy Anne’s stories, but the true value is in her ideas for improving our horses, our riders, and our ability to compete on the international scene with success and integrity in the years to come.

Download another FREE excerpt from COLLECTIVE REMARKS by CLICKING HERE.

 

CLICK IMAGE TO ORDER NOW

CLICK IMAGE TO ORDER NOW

 

Read Full Post »

Kristen McDonald speaks with Anne Gribbons, who she has groomed for since

Kristen McDonald speaks with FEI dressage judge and former Technical Advisor to the US Dressage Team Anne Gribbons.

Kristen McDonald, groom for former Technical Advisor of the US Dressage Team Anne Gribbons, grew up a member of the US Pony Club, competing in amateur eventing, dressage, and hunter shows. She began at Anne’s training facility, Knoll Dressage outside of Orlando, Florida, as a working student before working her way up to becoming Anne’s personal groom. In DRESSAGE WITH MIND, BODY & SOUL, the exciting new book from renowned animal behaviorist Linda Tellington-Jones, Kristen shares her thoughts on the role of the groom in the dressage horse’s life:

“There is an old Irish tale that depicts the island of Inishnills, where unicorns run free. Only those who believe in the magic power of the unicorns could ever be lucky enough to witness their purity and beauty, and perhaps earn their companionship. The man who acknowledges the unicorn as sacred and treats him with love and respect will have an ever-faithful friend and partner of unparalleled magnificence.

“A good partnership works both ways. Like the unicorn who devotes himself to the man who believes in his magic, the horse will willingly carry his rider safely if, in return, the rider does everything within his means to make the experience as comfortable and safe as possible.

“As riders, we must listen to the horse and learn his language, just as the horse strives to learn ours. I believe that learning to hear what the horse is telling you starts long before you are ready to get on his back.

“As a professional groom the very best advice I can give is to know your horse and his body. Not only does this ensure you catch small physical problems (strains or injuries) before they become bigger, more painful, and more expensive to deal with, but it also helps you discover the methods of handling the horse that keep him happy and sound.

“For example, the stallion I ride loves a metal curry rubbed gently but firmly all over his back. How do I know he loves it? When I begin to use the curry in slow, circular motions, he sighs, drops his head, and sticks out his nose, indicating I found ‘The Spot.’

“Another horse in my care is incredibly sensitive to any grooming. I must move really slowly, using only the softest brushes in my kit as I try to find the places he enjoys being touched before I move on to the areas that cause him anxiety—his back and underbelly. This horse is an excellent example of one who directs me to potential health problems by using body language—he now receives chiropractic treatment for his lower back, which is sometimes sore, and is on a special diet and medication for a mild tendency to develop stomach ulcers. As I am his only groom, I am very in tune to when his ailments may be flaring up: his behavior changes in his stall, on the cross-ties, and under saddle.

“When I ride, I like to use lots of praise to reward good work. I want the horse to know he has performed well so he is happy to do it again in the future. Once mounted, I always begin by giving the horse a sugar cube before he steps off. This helps teach your horse to stand still while you mount (he’s waiting for the sugar cube!), but I also have a friend who calls the practice ‘putting a quarter in’—I’m setting my horse up for an enjoyable ride by beginning with a positive moment.

“Working for Anne Gribbons has been the experience of a lifetime. She is one of my best friends, as well as my boss and trainer, because she knows that I love her horses as much as she does and will stop at nothing to care for and protect them. I feel we owe it to our horses to treat them fairly and provide for them. We expect them to grant us a ride on their back, pull a heavy load, or breed with another horse of our choosing. More often than not, they are willing and compliant to do our bidding. Only when we have attempted to learn the language of the horse can we even begin to repay him for his service and obedience.”

You can read more about grooming for optimal dressage performance in DRESSAGE WITH MIND, BODY & SOUL, which is available now from the TSB online bookstore.

Lindagraphic

CLICK HERE TO ORDER NOW

Read Full Post »

Janet Foy has a new book and a new blog!

We had the chance to catch up with Janet Foy, author of the new book DRESSAGE FOR THE NOT-SO-PERFECT HORSE, between her efforts to help her neighbors in Colorado who are facing the devastating wildfires. We understand that today a change in weather has helped with the firefighting efforts—our thoughts are with everyone in the area and hope that those who have been evacuated can return home soon.

Janet is keeping people apprised of what’s happening with the fires on her new blog: CLICK HERE FOR JANET’S LATEST UPDATES.

Of course, it was only a couple weeks ago that Janet was one of a select group of judges responsible for helping to choose the US Dressage Team—those who will represent the United States in London in August. Read on to get her thoughts the team selection, as well as her new book DRESSAGE FOR THE NOT-SO-PERFECT HORSE, which is available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is always FREE.

TSB: You have a brand new book and a brand new blog—how does it feel to be publishing what you know and what you’re thinking in print and online?

JF: It opens up a whole new world to me. Of all the ways I am involved in dressage, I love teaching the best. To be able to reach a larger audience is wonderful and very exciting!

Janet, judge Lois Yukins, and US Dressage Team member Tina Konyot at the USET party.

TSB: It’s an Olympic year and you of course had a hand in the USEF Dressage Festival of Champions at Gladstone. How did it feel to be judging this year’s field? Were there real standouts or are our top competitors riding neck and neck? What do you think of this year’s team and their chances in London?

JF: When selecting a team, it is always an honor to be asked, but the judging is of course more stressful. This year we had so many good candidates that were not separated by much when they came to Gladstone. I was especially impressed with Tina Konyot’s first Grand Prix Special. I love giving “10’s”!

As far as our chances at the Olympics, this year will be no doubt the strongest competition the world has ever seen. The Germans have come up with an amazing group of horses and riders. The Danish are also strong and Spain has two top riders. Great Britain has three horses who can all score in the 80%. I hope all our riders have a clean test and after than we will just have to wait and see! If all three of our riders ride to the top of their standard, we could medal.

TSB: If you were trapped on a desert island with a horse and a book, what breed of horse would it be and which book would you choose?

JF: As far as the book I can tell you it would be a mystery book with lots of plots and twists and murder and mayhem. I don’t go much for the flowery romance books, although I wouldn’t mind being stranded with one of the cover models!

As far as the horse, the breed wouldn’t matter. I would want something about 16.1, no taller—remember, I am short and on a desert island I might not find a suitable mounting block. Since I might not have a saddle either, I think the horse’s gaits would have to be maybe a bit boring, given my age! However, the ideal horse would be black, with four white socks and a little white star. Something with a little bit of Arabian and beautiful. Also the horse would need a brain! Smart enough to know what I want and dumb enough to do it.

TSB: What’s in your refrigerator at all times?

JF: Greek Yogurt

TSB: What is your idea of perfect happiness?

 JF: Having my husband, my good friends, my dog Britta, all my wild birds I feed, and my flower and vegetable garden around me at all times. Also, no more airplanes!

TSB: Tell us about the first time you remember sitting on a horse.

JF: I was five and my grandfather took me to a dude stable for a riding lesson. It was a big horse and a Western saddle. They sat me on top and led me around for 30 minutes. I was hooked!

TSB: Tell us about the first time you remember falling off a horse.

JF: I was riding my horse home and was still in the pasture, which was about 200 acres. I was bareback with just a halter and lead rope. Someone shot a gun off in the woods and my horse took off. We got to the road with the barbed-wire fence, and my horse turned left and I went through the fence, breaking all three strands of wire and doing some major damage to my face and arm. Required a trip to the hospital and quite a few stitches.

TSB: What is the quality you most like in a friend?

JF: Not being judgmental and being a good listener. Don’t give me advice unless I ask for it!

TSB: What is the quality you most like in a horse?

JF: The desire to please you.

Janet’s next day job? Cavalia photo by Karl Gehring/The Denver Post.

TSB: If you could do one thing on horseback that you haven’t yet done, what would it be?

JF: Ride in a Cavalia performance!

TSB: What is your idea of the perfect meal?

JF: Well, I love to cook and have taken classes at the Cordon Bleu in London. Organic fresh foods are what I like to cook. I prefer fish, a wonderful salad, and no dessert. I don’t have a sweet tooth.

TSB: What is your idea of the perfect vacation?

JF: Flying to one place and staying for 10 days. I love cruises. I love beaches. My husband and I love to dive. One of our favorite trips was a visit to the Great Barrier Reef after I judged a show in Sydney. We got on a live-aboard dive boat for a week. Awesome!

TSB: If you could have a conversation with one famous person, alive or dead, who would it be?

JF: This is maybe a little shallow, but since I lived in England for two years, I learned to just love the Royal Family. So I would say lunch and shopping with Princess Diana!

TSB: What is your motto?

 JF: Look at every mistake the horse makes as a training opportunity.

CLICK HERE TO ORDER YOUR COPY OF DRESSAGE FOR THE NOT-SO-PERFECT HORSE TODAY

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: