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Friday, April 13, 2012

Wizard WF gets an "International" stamp of approval!

Earlier this week Wizard traveled to Bedminster, NJ to work with Catherine Haddad Staller. For those of you who do not know Catherine, please take a few minutes and visit her website - International Dressage. Catherine is an internationally successful rider, trainer and breeder. Her blogs for The Chronicle of the Horse magazine provide the masses with some insight into the intricacies of nurturing talented horses and riders.

On the first day, Catherine had me and "Oz" work through the process of building more elasticity in the trot sans stirrups. Then it was time to show Catherine how our flying changes were progressing...and Oz did not disappoint! Up and down the sides of the arena and across the diagonals Catherine had us working on having clearer signals and building the relaxation into the timing of the aids so that the changes can become more expressive. The count is solid through the two tempis and even though Oz is offering the ones, Catherine says that for the time being, he must wait and do the longer counting sequences. After the canter work, she began to teach Oz the rudimentary steps of gaining more freedom in his shoulders for the piaffe, passage and trot work. In this work, Catherine compared him to Totilas in that Oz needs an education to artificially gain a greater range of motion in his shoulders and elbows. As it is done in Germany, this is a normal teaching stage and will carry over into improving the shoulder in all of his work.

This work is done in a very relaxed manner and Oz thought a new trick was just fascinating!

For their second lesson, Catherine had us working on improving my seat and the connection as our warm up. Then it was time for learning new skills! She had us begin with a 12m walk circle, gradually bringing his haunches in and then progressing to the same exercise in the canter, utilizing a few more forward strides from time to time to ensure plenty of jump with the inside hind leg. To the right - all is well! To the left - my legs were not up to the task of accepting my weight on my left foot. I happily handed Oz over to Catherine - it is not right to send him unclear signals when he always does what is asked of him!

After just a few moments, Catherine had Oz performing lovely working pirouettes and moved on to his canter work - checking to see what he knows, his reaction time, lightness and submission.

After finishing her undersaddle assessment, Catherine said, Oz is "smart", "sensitive to the aids" with a "perfect mouth" and "everyone should have a horse like this."

Oz will be 6 in May. To say that we are excited about his future (and that of his siblings and offspring) is a bit of an understatement.


  1. What a proud moment for you:) Are you and/or Oz going to be with Catherine for a while, or is she someone you go to when you need an outside eye and assessment? He is beautiful!!

  2. Regarding his appearance - thank you! I am a wee bit biased but I think he's a gorgeous fellow too! :) He might not be the embodiment of 'modern' but it all works!
    As far as training - we will work with Catherine as much as possible (scheduling, finances and my injury will dictate how frequently). For the time being Oz will be staying with me since Catherine is based in Germany and it is not feasible to send him away. I would love to have him 'finished' as a GP horse by her but we'll continue to muddle along. He is a very good boy to forgive my hamfisted/footed ways! :) Mom keeps a very close eye on what we are doing, so hopefully we can continue to improve and advance in a timely fashion.