Our First Show of 2017

On Sunday Bo and sale horse Teddy went to Waterloo Hunt Club for our first recognized show of the year in Michigan! Teddy schooled beautifully. This adorable 3rd level schoolmaster is still looking for his special person! Bo and I received our second qualifying score at I1. So now we are qualified at PSG and I1. I'm looking forward to the next show in a couple weeks! Footage of Bo's ride and some photos are below. 

Fun with Janet Foy

Bo and I had a great time riding with USEF S and FEI 5* Judge Janet Foy at Brilliant Reflection Farm May 6-7. Special thanks to Lisa Weasel for giving me the opportunity to ride Bo and to The Dressage Foundation's Karen Skvarla Fund for giving me funding to attend this educational opportunity! Click the picture to read the full report. 

Welcome Sale Horse Teddy!

Welcome to sale horse, Teddy! Teddy is a 2002 registered Half-Welsh gelding. He is 15 hands and cute as can be. Teddy is a real worker-bee. He has a big walk, a trot that tracks up, and a smooth canter. Easy off the leg and in the hand, this guy is going to be a great fit for a rider wanting a lower level schoolmaster. Oh, and he loves going for hacks around the field. He's schooling second/third level work and has been well cared for by the same owner since he was purchased from the breeder. Want to know more about Teddy? Email me at claraetzeldressage@yahoo.com or call or text 440-669-5714!

One Tempis

Forgive my hiatus from the blog! Since my last post, I have gone home to teach and train, and am back training in Florida. During my time here, I've been shadowing an equine veterinarian, Dr. Meg Miller Turpin, who specializes in internal medicine. I will do a special post on my time with Dr. Turpin soon, which has been an amazing experience. I continue to train in the saddle and at the gym daily (shout out to Ultima Fitness, which is a seriously great gym with the most friendly staff). 

Today Bo did 7 beautiful one tempis. This horse is really proving he has the brain, body, and boldness to be a Grand Prix horse. It is so fun to enjoy his progress on his back : ). As our time in the sunshine state draws near an end, I am excited about the upcoming show season, clinics in the near future, and all the opportunities that once seemed distant but are now within my grasp. 


Tonight was the US PRE party at Global. There were so many super riders and beautiful PREs to watch. I was excited by the quality of training displayed by the horse and rider pairs from less seasoned horses all the way to Grand Prix. The PREs shown to the crowd tonight exemplified the workmanlike and willing attitude of the breed and also that PREs can be the horse of any color. We saw black PREs, shades of grey, and bay (including an especially gorgeous chocolate bay). I want to pick one of every color to come home with me : ) The evening was emceed by Kim Boyer and Robert Dover, and was a great event.


Essential Oils

Bo is really digging the Florida experience. Who can blame him? On Monday he got a special essential oil treatment from Cari Swanson. Cari used a variety of essential oils and massage to help keep Bo healthy and performing at his best. You can tell by the pictures that 1. Bo loves Cari and 2. he was really into the treatment. Thanks, Cari for teaching me about this new modality! Read more about Cari and the essential oils on her website.

New Shoes

I love getting new shoes. I kinda feel like Bo feels the same way. Today he got swanky new treads courtesy of Luis Montoya. Thanks Luis! Bo felt the need to participate in the process from time to time. Now he's got his new shoes on and added spring in his step!

Round Two

Today was the second day of the USDF FEI Trainers Conference. Clinicans Lilo Fore and Hans-Christian Matthiesen did an excellent job today of facilitating learning for participants by asking demo riders to execute movements from certain tests, have the audience score the movements, each offer their own scores and reasoning, and then work with the rider to improve the the movement before executing the movement again and receiving a second round of scores. This format resulted in (what I found to be) more useful discussions about scoring methodology, how to make a movement better, and actually witnessing the movement improve, thereby receiving even higher scores from the audience, Lilo, and Hans-Christian. Thanks again to the Northern Ohio Dressage Association (NODA) for awarding me a grant to attend this event! I will be writing a follow-up article about the Trainers Conference for an upcoming NODA Newsletter.  

Hans-Christian explaining an aspect of the new FEI 7 Year Old Test to the audience. 

Hans-Christian explaining an aspect of the new FEI 7 Year Old Test to the audience. 

Trainers Conference

Today was the start of the USDF FEI Trainers Conference at beautiful High Meadow Farm in Loxahatchee. This event is held in conjunction with the USEF Judges Forum, so the judges are also attending this event to receive continuing education hours.

We watched Hans-Christian Matthiesen and Lilo Fore work with 7 different horse and rider pairs. We had lots of high quality horses of varying ages, from seven year olds to an eighteen year old. Tomorrow is day two of the conference. A special shout out to the NODA for awarding me a grant to attend this awesome educational event!

Hans-Christian and Lilo take a question from the audience at the end of a lesson

Hans-Christian and Lilo take a question from the audience at the end of a lesson

Judges Forum

Today was all about classroom learning! The USEF Judges Forum was held in West Palm Beach and was such a valuable (but long) day. All USEF Judges were invited as were USDF L Graduates. We had so much material to cover that we went nearly an hour over schedule until almost 6PM, whew! Lilo Fore lead the discussion most of the day on judging methodology with Lisa Gorretta elaborating on the technical delegate side of competitions. Perhaps one of the most exciting parts of the day was when Lisa brought out all the different types of bits and bridles that are legal and illegal. The afternoon was comprised of videos of tests and discussion. Most of the S and R judges offered opinions of the rides we watched, as many were upper level rides. The USDF FEI Trainers Conference is tomorrow and Tuesday.

Since the forum ran over, I was nearly out of daylight by the time I got to the barn. So Bo got a lunge and grooming session before getting tucked in for the evening.

Day Three

Well I can thoroughly say Bo has adapted to Florida. It seems the sunshine, palm trees, and warm breezes appease the horses as much as the humans. Bo was super today. I warmed him up and then a good friend of mine came to ride him. My friend brought her saddle, the colors of which match Bo quite well!

Open Concept

Bo is adjusting to the Florida sunshine and warmer weather so well. He is really into this whole open concept thing. From the stalls, to the grooming area, to the wash rack, everything about this barn maximizes airflow. After I schooled Bo, I watched Leif (the trainer who owns this lovely facility) have a lesson with Heather Blitz. There was some real, positive progression throughout the lesson, which makes me excited to take a lesson with Heather.

He's here!

Bo made it to Florida! Whew, glad to have him here and settled in. Today I schooled him in the arena, and we walked around the property. He seems delighted to be in a more hospitable climate for a horse who is fully clipped : )

Welcome to Wellington!

I have made it to Wellington! Today I am spending the day at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival watching riders warm up for the national show and CDI. The showing starts tomorrow, so today is pretty quiet. On my way here I stopped by a local tack shop to pick up some new schooling gloves and a shirt. 

It is cool to watch a group of mounted riders walking across a crosswalk specifically for horses. Horses are the number one priority here. Works for me. I will ride tomorrow so will have more photos and updates then : )

June 2nd Already?!?

How is it June 2nd already? This year is moving so swiftly it's hard to keep up with the pace. Even though my life continues to become more and more busy, I am thankful to have a great group of horses I am working with and am looking forward to continuting with the L Program and showing myself this summer. 

Part 2 of the L Program is this weekend! Tomorrow I fly to Denver to begin the D1 session at the Colorado Horse Park. Dorie Vlatten-Schmitz of CARA, who hosted Part 1 is again organizing Part 2. It is a huge undertaking to run just one part of the L Program, but to organize all 6 sessions in 3 different states requires some real logistical prowess. Thanks, Dorie and all your volunteers for making this program run so smoothly!

In other news, County Saddlery has brought me on to be part of their trainer program. I have ridden in a County for the past 10 years, and I love how their saddles fit a variety of horse's backs so well! 

Stay tuned for updates. Summer is just getting started but my schedule is full of equestrian endeavors!

County saddles are "Best for Backs"

County saddles are "Best for Backs"

MDA Janet Foy Symposium

Last weekend, I attended the MDA Janet Foy Symposium. The MDA allowed me to host a silent auction benefitting The Dressage Foundation on Saturday of the symposium. I set up my silent auction early before the day began, then was able to watch the riders work with Janet for the day. 

The symposium was organized with riders from Training Level through Grand Prix, with some levels having one horse/rider pair and others with two horse/rider pairs. Janet had so much useful information that resonated with me, especially because I am currently in the USDF L Judges Program (and Janet happens to be an upcoming faculty member in my program). 

Since Janet is both a USEF S and FEI 4* Judge she took some time to talk about what she looks for when she judges throughout the day. She talked about a level balance at training/first level with the horse carrying equal weight on all 4 legs. Once the second level horses and above came to the ring, she wanted to see the horses carry more weight on their hind legs, with more collection clearly visible in the FEI horses. Janet described second level as "the great black hole of training," because it is such a challenging transition from first level.

She made a few points that really stood out to me. She said,"The horse is the piece of the sport we should all love." The horse should be "in front of your leg, behind your hand, on your seat," which is wording I have been repeating to myself when I am in the saddle. Janet said, "dressage is about going forward." This statement was reiterated throughout the day, but especially visible when she was working with a Grand Prix pair, making transitions between medium trot and passage. Janet helped the pair think about riding forward with power into passage instead of bringing the horse back to passage. Another helpful point Janet made was about straightness, which a lot of riders misunderstand and think their horse must be completely straight in the body to achieve. Not so. Janet said straightness is "riding the horse along the line of travel." Therefore, the horse can have bend and positioning in their body and still be "straight."

If you haven't listened to Janet teach or talk at a conference, she is a complete inspiration, hilarious, and joy to listen to. She is clear in her instruction and identifies problems that riders can address to make their riding on their horse much improved, which was visible in just the short amount of time each pair worked with her on Saturday. 

Everything I have learned in Part I of the L Program has made me believe every rider competing whether an amateur or pro would benefit from taking that part of the program. Janet's description of what she looks for at the horses at each level helped solidify my understanding of how judges get their scores-which was super timing, because I have the C Session coming up this weekend!

To learn more about the Midwest Dressage Association click here

Silent Auction Table

Silent Auction Table



Insights from Dr. Kraig Kulikowski on Equine Sports Medicine

There were many speakers at the 2016 USDF/USEF Young Rider Graduate Program that offered invaluable advice. 

Dr. Kraig Kulikowski was one of the speakers at the 2016 USDF/USEF Young Rider Graduate Program whose presentation left a big impression on me.  An established Equine Veterinarian, dressage rider and competitor through FEI Prix St. Georges, Dr. Kulikowski's speech gave participants of the program specific insight into the topic of Equine Sports Medicine. 

Dr. Kulikowski introduced areas of Equine Sports Medicine that need to be managed. These areas include:

1) Feet
2) Spine
3) Dental
4) Any specific issue known

Dr. Kulikowski stated that Equine Sports Medicine is designed to help:

1) Choose appropriate equine athletes
2) Maintain each athlete at their highest level of performance
3) Rehab equine athletes after injury
4) Extend the useful career of equine athletes; provide them an opportunity to do something else comfortably; retire

I really appreciated Dr. Kulikowski's presentation, which gave me a step-by-step guide of identifying a horse for top sport from a veterinarian's point of view, including how to conduct a pre-purchase exam for a dressage sport horse. Dr. Kulikowski made practical points throughout his talk, was happy to arnswer questions and gave many real-world examples to help partipants understand the importance of Equine Sports Medicine in all stages of a horse's life. 

To learn more about Dr. Kraig Kulikowski and his practice click HERE

USDF/USEF Young Rider Graduate Program

I have taken a little bit of a hiatus from the blog, but there are so many exciting events I am attending this year, I am back to posting!

I was really excited to attend the USDF/USEF Young Rider Graduate Program January 15-16! I have attended this conference before, which is a weekend event held every other year in West Palm Beach, FL for riders 20-28 riding and competing at third level or above. 

This program is a weekend of lectures from top professionals in the equestrian industry, including veterinarians, riders, trainers, breeders, coaches, lawyers and other professionals. It is so enlightening, refreshing and invigorating to hear the experiences of other industry professionals, many of whom offer their life story and bits of advice, even if they are at the conference to speak on a specific topic. 

Having attended this conference before, I had an idea of the weekend's flow. That said, the information from this program was invaluable, and I am so grateful I was able to attend.  Many different topics were covered over the weekend, such as sponsorship, horse syndicates, structuring a business, evaluating dressage horses for top sport, and opportunities as professionals in the industry in the USA and abroad. 

There was a palpable anticipation that I felt each morning, as I waited to hear from the top-notch list of presenters for the day.  This year they had speakers like Dr. Kraig Kulikowski speaking about Equine Sports Medicine, Olympian Christine Traurig speaking about the USEF Young Horse Program, and Para-Olympian Rebecca Hart speaking about Horse Syndication. 

There was an overwhelming theme from many presenters (especially those from USEF) that increased funding and support is going to develop high performance combinations. Many presenters, like Rebecca Hart, were open about the fact that international competition requires creativity, connections, and a network of support. Lawyer, Yvonne Ocrant spoke to the legal aspect of syndication, which was information program participants were thrilled to learn more about.

As if the classroom learning was not thrilling enough (which I assure you it was), the  Adequan Global Dressage Festival 1 CDI-W  had rescheduled the FEI Grand Prix Freestyle presented by AMCI Group to benefit Brooke USA for Saturday night (due to bad weather Friday).  Some participants, myself included, chose to go watch the freestyles after the program was over for the day.

All in all the weekend was such a blast. I walked away with many new ideas and contacts. As always, the weekend was well run, thanks to USDF Youth Programs Coordinator, Roz Kinstler, and Jan Scarborough, USDF Education Coordinator, as well as other staff at USDF and USEF. 

Chiropractic for Your Horse

Chiropractic care is not just a great way to keep your spine aligned, but also a super tool to improve overall wellness for your horse. Every month, my vet, who is certified in chiropractic and acupuncture for equines, treats the horses I have in training. Horses are adjusted all the way from the mandible to tail, including knees and hocks.

We ask so much of our dressage horses, whether they are young and still growing or mature and competing. Chiropractic care can enable the horse to use their body in a good way. You don't need to have a major issue, like a horse with a sore, sensitive back to realize it is time for an adjustment. Consider chiropractic care for your equine athlete much like your own maintenance for you body, be it yoga, massage, chiropractic care, etc. Prevention is the best medicine!