Animals & Wildlife Magazine

Christoph Hess Squad Training Session

By Kc2610 @kc2610
One of the exciting things I haven't had chance to blog about yet was last weekend's clinic with the one and only Christoph Hess! Christoph is the Director of Training for the German Olympic Committee for Equestrian Sports (DOKR) and is a FEI 'I' judge in 3 day eventing and dressage. He is overall an extremely respected figure in the Equine world and has made many valuable contributions to the sport. As a member of Great Britain's Young Rider Prime Squad, I was selected to attend this clinic with him where I rode through the Young Rider Team Test (PSG) which he judged, then had a 15-20 minute training session to improve on aspects of the test.
Back in 2008, when I was only 15, I rode with Christoph in a clinic in Sydney with my FEI pony. It was in front of a huge crowd of people as I was the pony demonstration rider, so very nerve-racking but extremely valuable! I clearly remember him getting me to gallop around the Sydney International Equestrian Centre's indoor with my reins at the buckle to get rid of my pony's tension. It worked!
So this time it was in a different country, on a different (and much bigger) horse, with a much smaller crowd (only team members/parents) and a panel of selectors watching. Seb did an 'okay' test, we are still in that transition mode into the new method of Sandy's training so are still working on getting it away from home in a test situation. It was the training part that I was really looking forward to!
First off Christoph said he loved my way of riding, that I was very sympathetic. He asked who I trained with and when I said "Sandy Phillips" he immediately knew why I rode like I did. We worked on Seb's walk to make it more active to get a better rhythm. Then we did some walk/trot transitions to get him active from the first stride of walk and quicker off the leg into trot. We gradually built up to some bigger trot work with the whip on his shoulder to get him more uphill. He ended up with his legs around his ears (which he loves doing) and Christoph was impressed with his ability. He said he was a "very positive horse" with a good attitude towards work. Go Seb!
All of these squad training sessions increase your confidence bit by bit. It's like every time I go there I realize again why I am on the squad and am further inspired towards team selection. The selectors and Chef D'Equipes really put a lot of effort into helping us riders get to where we want to be. Their support is always appreciated and their efforts are definitely put to good use!

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