For dressage enthusiasts, winter in Wellington is the best way to usher in the new year. Each year, familiar faces and new ideas, steeped in long standing traditions, are a big part of the equestrian community celebrations. 2013 will be no exception, especially with the debut of the Dressage Summit, a 3-day unprecedented event bringing together the best of classical dressage, competitive dressage training and natural horsemanship methods presented by five of the top names in the business. Featuring Klaus Balkenhol, Walter Zettl, Christoph Hess, and Linda and Pat Parelli, The Dressage Summit, will focus on working together to build stronger horse/human partnerships in classical dressage. These renowned presenters will demonstrate how to apply the fundamental principles of classical dressage to every level of the sport while respecting the dignity of both horse and human. This groundbreaking collaboration between dressage masters and top horsemen provides an exciting new perspective where dressage and natural horsemanship converge to enhance the training of the dressage athlete.
“Dressage is not only about the fancy piaffe,” states Christoph Hess, “It is about the art of the simple essentials like transitions, good riding and the careful training and development of the equine athlete.” Hess is an FEI ‘I’ judge in both dressage and eventing, and is currently the Head of Instruction and Head of the Personal Members Department at the DOKR, or German National Federation, which is the German equivalent to the United States Equestrian Federation. He is actively involved in the education of judges and instructors in Germany and worldwide. He has written and co-authored several books, videos, and articles, and conducts workshops, forums, and symposiums for judges, trainers, and riders throughout the international dressage and eventing communities. Hess will be presenting a tremendous amount of information gained over his years of experience throughout the event.
Klaus Balkenhol will also share his insight during the Dressage Summit. “Don't force the horse, it's all about the seat,” he instructs. Balkenhol is a German dressage trainer and rider with multiple Olympic medals to his name. He won Team Gold and Individual Bronze at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, and Team Gold at the 1998 Atlanta Olympics. He also won the Team Gold and Individual Silver at the 1994 World Equestrian Games, and has trained many champion riders. He is the author of several dressage books and he also served as coach of the US Olympic team in 2008.
Linda and Pat Parelli will also be contributing their vast experience with equine behavior, psychology, and training. In recent years, Linda Parelli has devoted herself to the study of classical dressage with dressage master Walter Zettl. Through this collaboration, and using her extensive knowledge of equine psychology, she has developed a systematic way to teach contact with the horse. Following the classical training scale, Linda Parelli’s “Game of Contact” provides a step-by-step method to train a horse to willingly seek contact with the bit, as well as solve problems associated with the bit.
Pat Parelli is known worldwide as the founder of Parelli Natural Horsemanship, and his ability to transform extremely challenging horses in any discipline into willing partners has kept him constant demand. The Parelli’s have had an impact on thousands of horses and riders from pleasure riders to some of the world’s most decorated riders such as American Olympic eventers Karen and David O’Connor, Spanish Olympic dressage rider Luis Lucio, and British Olympic show jumpers Robert and John Whitaker, to name a few. During the Summit, the Parellis will focus on the mental and emotional aspects of training horses, and how to use this knowledge to train successful, willing athletes at any level of competition. Their collaborative work with Walter Zettl has opened the door for their training techniques to merge with classical dressage principles for truly astounding results.
“It's a matter of trust and we need to make it playful so the horse enjoys his training,” states Zettl. “You should be able to train the most complicated maneuvers without the horse even realizing it is difficult.” Zettl has a lifetime of valuable experience that he will be sharing at the Summit, including his belief in the importance of cross training for the horse, patience for the rider, and the development of trust between them. His long list of global accomplishments includes numerous awards and medals. In 1984, he coached dressage for the Canadian 3-day event Team at the Los Angeles Summer Olympics. During this time he was recognized by the Province of Ontario for his Distinguished Performance in the field of amateur sport. For the last twenty-eight years Zettl has continued his lifelong work of teaching riders the art of dressage combined with communication with the horse. In 1998 his book “Dressage In Harmony” was published. He has also written many articles for German and US publications such as USDF Connection and Dressage Today. He also released a five-volume DVD library, an instructional series called “A Matter of Trust.” His latest work is a book entitled “The Circle of Trust”. In 2013 Walter will release his third book titled “Ask Walter”.