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Anne Gribbons, FEI Dressage judge and rider
Describe a typical day in the life of an 'O' judge:
It really has not changed as much as people think - I start every day ( when I am at the farm) by riding my own horses Alazan, Atlantic and until recently Aureat, my 13 year old Grand Prix horse who just sold to a talented Swedish Young Rider and will return home to Sweden in the next few weeks. After that I start teaching lessons ( in the Winter/Spring there are up to 8 lessons each day), fly off to horse shows, show as often as my hectic schedule permits, but my priority has always been riding and training.
Where do you see the US Dressage in 10 years :
We now have a pipeline ( so to speak) in place - starting with Equitation to the Junior Championship, to North American Young Rider Championship, to the Brentina Cup. If we, as Americans, continue to invest and follow up, as well as provide good help to our riders, we will in the future ( maybe within the next 10 years) become a real match for the Europeans, mostly the Germans and Dutch. One of the biggest accomplishments in the US Dressage was bringing Klaus Balkenhol on board as our National Dressage Coach. He has been incredibly helpful in bridging the gap between the US and European Dressage. Hopefully he will continue for many years to come and eventually hand over his job to an American. There are a number of internationally successful US riders who would be able to handle such responsibilities.
What would you improve in the US Dressage:
Basics, basics, basics !
Riders need to learn the system, learn to pay their dues on the lunge line, to not let overwhelming ambition cloud their judgment. There is no overnight success in dressage. I have said it in the past and I say it again - A green rider does not belong on a green horse. Invest in a solid schoolmaster and leave the training and riding of your youngster to an advanced rider or professional. I have a plaque hanging on the outside of my cover ring - Nobody can teach you riding like a horse ( C.S. Lewis).
Tell us about your current horses:
Alazan - 10 year old, 16.3 hands hands, chestnut Swedish gelding - the Equine version of a Jack Russell Terrier. Alazan is in his first year at Grand Prix and just loves it. He drags my husband David to the trailer to go to the show. Believe me, it was not always like that. When he learned the one tempis, he would routinely take off with my Assistant. However, once he understood what to do, he just became a huge showman. Atlantic - 7 year old, 17.1 hands ( yes, I know - he is way to big for me) Oldenburg gelding - freakishly talented, with 3 outstanding gaits - not an Amateur horse, but most of the really top horses are not. A lover, not a fighter - he is a favorite in the barn.
What makes you smile ( besides a good dressage test):
Great music, dancing, opera ( my favorite is Rigoletto), lessons during which horse and rider appear to be moving via remote control, students who get IT and getting my luggage upon arrival at whichever airport I happen to be at.
By Elly Schobel (www.thehomestedt.com)
Photo credits: Dreamphoto
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