Three Days with Conrad Schumacher

in Blog,Events

Young rider Lindsey Parker; The indoor arena at Quailhurst; Auditors and Conrad Schumacher | Images by Molly Knott


Noted international dressage coach Conrad Schumacher travels to the Pacific Northwest from Germany in the Spring and Fall, so many riders look forward to his visits throughout the year. Deborah has been riding with Conrad for five years, and it was our pleasure here at Quailhurst to host three days of clinic rides and auditing for Northwest Oregon equestrians, many of whom who had not previously had the opportunity to learn from this master teacher.

Conrad’s clinic sessions always place a fundamental emphasis on the consistency of the contact and the security it provides the horse. Achieving contact via a forward going horse and correct rider position were the common focus throughout Day 1 rides.

Work over poles are another hallmark Schumacher exercise, such as the four poles on a 20 meter circle that riders navigated on Day 2. “Painfully obvious” was how Conrad described the exercise and its effectiveness on placing the horse on the outside aids was evident in rider after rider.

He also spoke of the different and sometimes overlooked qualities and skills that differentiate classical training at home from successful competitive riding, stating: “Mental fitness, defined warmup concepts, practicing tests at home, preparation, are all essential for peak competitive performance.”

For auditors, Conrad offered a thorough and accessible explanation of what he was asking each rider to do and why, with phrases that were simple and easy to remember. “You cannot have impulsion without contact”  and the important rider characteristics of “tranquility & determination” were common refrains during the three days, as auditors scribbled these and other gems into their notes. Both the uninitiated and repeat Conrad auditors can’t help but giggle at one of his favorite booming exclamations – “Seeking Mushrooms!” – as a horse drops its nose to the footing, fully stretching its neck and back after a good session of work.

Junior rider Claire Kiefel, who trains with Kathy Casey Dressage, enthusiastically described her experience riding with Conrad and summarized his characteristically progressive system: “I really like how he focused on the basics. He challenges you to do the basics really well so then the challenging things don’t feel so hard.”

Thank you to all the riders , more than 50 auditors who joined us over the three days, and especially to Gail Van Dermoere who organized the clinic. Deborah received numerous emails from attendees, many of whom expressed this as one of their best clinic experiences ever, and it was truly a pleasure to host everyone for this very educational event.

About Conrad Schumacher:

Mr. Schumacher trained young riders for USET from 1991-95, and since 1997, he has trained European Championship, World Championship, and Olympic riders including Ellen Bontje and Sven and Gonnelien Rothenberger. At the 1996 Olympics, he coached Ven and Gonnelien to their silver medal team finish for the Netherlands, and Sven to his individual bronze medal. From 1979 to 1989 he trained the European Young Rider Championship first-place team and individual medal winners. He has been the official trainer to the British World Equestrian and Olympic teams. He served as the exclusive trainer to the USDF Advanced Young Riders through 2004. In 1999, he conducted the USDF National Dressage Symposium and was featured at the 2000 Trainers’ Conference. In all, Schumacher’s students have won over 40 international medals.

The international dressage blog Eurodressage has an excellent article about Mr. Schumacher’s training system and philosophies here.

Professional rider Sarah Gammie | Video still by Equine Video Productions Deborah Hausman and Verona | Video still by Equine Video Productions Amateur rider Sharon Barton gets a high-five from Conrad Schumacher | Video still by Equine Video Productions Day 2 lunch in the wine tasting tent.

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