Ontario Equestrian hosted about 100 people to a day with Monica Theodorescu and Christilot Boylen, in September. The clinic focussed on training/coaching techniques with horses and rides from level 1 to PSG.
The audience was made up of coaches, trainers, officials and many enthusiasts, who soaked up the atmosphere, the learning experience, the catered lunch and the OE ‘swag’.
Monica Theodorescu is heralded with having a star-studded dressage career, including three German team gold medals from Olympic Games – 1988, 1992 and 1996; team gold and individual bronze at the World Championships in Stockholm in 1990. Having also two World Cup titles under her belt, she currently serves as the coach of the German dressage team.
Christilot Boylen, did what she has done for years for Canada. She had a vision, reached out to Monica extending the invitation to come to Canada and share her knowledge with Canadians and then followed it through to make it happen. Having followed Christilot’s career since I was young, I was not surprised to hear that she was the driving force behind this clinic.
She has represented Canada at five Olympic Games, four Pan Am Games and is STILL setting her sights competitively for the next year’s Olympics! She has had a major influence on dressage in Canada, as a coach, trainer and mentor to many Canadian riders.
With these two ladies in charge of the day’s activities, we were witness to a well-organized OE clinic. It was interesting to watch the riders perform their work under the eye of their own coaches; and then to have the coach hand over the (teaching) reins to Monica for her input. We observed riders warming up their horses, taking time to ensure that the horses were relaxed, yet ready to work.
For the most part, the coaches basically ran through their typical work session with their riders, while Monica and Christilot watched on. We were then treated to an outdoor barbeque, followed by a discussion of the German system, including reference to the training scale & education, ending with a Q & A session.
Among many of the things said that day was discussion of the way the horse is built and how it should work. “There is only one way – what we call ‘the correct way”. It’s true that we have lighter and more uphill horses than in the past, but a horse is still a horse. It has four legs, a head and a tail. German dressage Master Paul Stecken said, “There is only correct riding. That’s enough.” And this works for all the horses. Our Training Scale leaves enough room for differences: that is, some horses need to be rounder or more forward or slower. Some need more or less frequent transitions, but the Training Scale is still the way for all horses.
I will leave you to ponder on those thoughts. Until next time, enjoy your ride!