L.A. Chapter members Heather Neely and Anita Sohus participated in this year's Linda O'Carroll Memorial Adult Amateur Clinic with Volker Broman. The clinic was held April 10–12 at the Bob Stern's Training Stables in Riverside, CA.
Heather was the L.A. Chapter representative.
I would like to send a HUGE THANK YOU to both the California Dressage Society and in particular the Los Angeles Chapter for sponsoring the Lina O’Carroll Southern Region Adult Amateur Clinic and my participation. I had been watching my email waiting to find out whose name would be drawn from the hat and was thrilled to find it out it was me! I had ridden previously with Volker Brommann prior to his relocation to northern California and was excited to be part of this wonderful annual educational opportunity.
Carol Tice did an amazing job scheduling the riders and making sure everything hummed along each day – from move-in, to our group dinner at a quirky Mexican restaurant/sculpture garden, to final departure, without missing a beat. The host facility was in a quiet setting (although the proximity to a regional airport made it difficult to hear some of Volker’s instruction when watching the other riders, particularly on Saturday, but it didn’t seem to faze any of the horses) and all the horses settled right in and were relaxed during their lessons. I overheard several riders commenting on how they did not have the nervous, tense horses they were expecting. Always a good thing! Our host Robette and her wonderful foreman Manuel kept the grounds immaculate, the stalls clean, the visiting horses fed and the arenas well-maintained. We all appreciated all the work that went into spiffing up the barns and the covered arena in advance of this event.
Volker Brommann is an amazing instructor with a wonderful sense of humor and an eagle-sharp eye that dials into each horse and rider with amazing accuracy. He systematically and patiently worked each horse and rider combination through the training scale – Saturday’s rides focused on relaxation, rhythm, and contact and having us riders constantly going back to these basics while maintaining an active tempo that kept the horse in their own balance. Sunday, he built on these skills in a progressive manner, stacking the building blocks to keep the horse supple and happy in their work. Each horse and rider combination improved on the second day, and smiles were in abundant supply. I was fortunate that my coach was able to watch my ride on the first day and helps me continue with Volker’s exercises during my schooling at home.
I cannot emphasize enough how wonderful it is that CDS underwrites these clinics. Think of all the work that goes into hosting these in three locations so that us adult amateurs have the opportunity to spend two days fully immersed in dressage, learning from highly qualified instructors, snacking (!), and auditing other rides. EVERY adult amateur should put their name in the hat or send in their check to reserve a spot on the wait list or, at the least, take a day to audit. You will learn a lot and your horse will thank you.
Anita took an available space in the clinic. Anita rode Cezanne, her 24-year old, 16.2 hh dark bay Swedish gelding. Anita and Cezanne train with Peggy Klump at Flintridge and show lightly at third level.
Thank you for the opportunity to ride in the CDS Amateur Clinic Southern Region in Riverside with Volker Bromman. It was a fun weekend. Thank you to Carol Tice for organizing it (and many other clinics), to Robette Stern for allowing us to use her property, and to the Pomona Chapter for the pizza dinner and daily snack fare. Stern Training Stables, along the Santa Ana River, has been in Robette's family for over 60 years, and she can do it all, from being a world champion on her paint horse to driving a mean tractor to drag the arena. We were grateful for the covered arena although fortunately it was not crazy hot. Saturday there were noisy touch and goes overhead from the local Flabob airport, including a cool biplane, but they must have "blue laws" because they weren't flying on Sunday morning. I have audited several CDS amateur clinics closer to home, but this was my first time riding in one. Many thanks to barn mate Petra Jorgensen for videoing us on Sunday--seeing is believing, as they say, so I can no longer deny everything Peggy says about my posture. Volker is a fun clinician, low key, encouraging, with a dry humor and many great visual analogies. At the Friday night pizza dinner he talked about format and expectations for the weekend, and stressed that we were all where we were due to our hard work with our own trainers, so he would just look for tweaks that could make improvements. He wasn't sure what to expect of my 24-year old schoolmaster Cezanne, but from our first steps Cez showed that age is only a state of mind (plus attentive management). He seemed to quite enjoy the attention and showed beautiful forward trot work with his huge suspension and big overcrossing on his half passes. Volker encouraged me to encourage Cez to step more under behind: "you have a long Cadillac, make it more compact, like a Fiat!" He also chided me on the sloppiness of my circles, noting that if I start my turns down center line a little short rather than starting too large, then I can adjust. We also practiced flying changes; Volker described changes as "just canter departs." We shared our rides with barn mate Jan Bennett and Pico, and did some fun figures together. As we halted together, Volker commented on the too large distance between us, at which we pointed to each other's horses and said "He kicks, and He strikes!" so Volker was glad to listen to the riders! It was a shame there weren't more auditors, and I was really glad Peggy came because she gained a lot of specific insights from Volker that she is applying to our work. Isn't that what dressage is all about, continuing to learn?