Thursday, October 02, 2008

Horsemart meets Conrad Schumacher

I went to the National Championships at Stonleigh to catch up with some of our top riders. The main focus of the day was my pre-booked interview I had with Mr Conrad Schumacher, I was very nervous! He has released a training DVD which as a dressage fan myself I was very keen to get my hands on! Rhegan White from Aderro Dressage, an accomplished rider in her own right and producer of the DVD, joined us.

Conrad Schumacher is one of the world's foremost dressage trainers, having trained many students to international Olympic and World Championship level. He has been an influential force for successful teams from Germany, Holland, Great Britain and the USA. With his many years of experience, first as a rider then as a coach, trainer and judge, and his excellent command of the English language, Conrad is able to communicate with clarity and candour the correct path for over 4000 horse and rider combinations.

Conrad was born on his family's 300 acre farm in Neuhof, south of Frankfurt. He sat on his first pony when he was 4 years old and his father, a captain in the German cavalry, gave Conrad his first lessons in jumping, hunting, military exercises, carriage driving and dressage.

At the age of 21, Conrad's father negotiated a sale of land to Dr. Josef Neckerman, next door to the family farm and Conrad would begin his dressage training in earnest under the Dr. Neckerman's supervision for the next 12 years. It was during this time that Conrad learnt to ride with the exacting principles of classical dressage and so began his life time passion with the sport.

At the age of 32, after 10 years successfully riding at the national and international level, Conrad focused his extensive knowledge and experience on training others. As his experience and successes grew, Conrad began to understand the importance of placing more emphasis on educating the rider. Enhancing rider's physical and mental awareness to create maximum harmony with the horse is now the cornerstone of Conrad's training philosophy.

This dressage training philosophy has developed into a system with which he has used to train over 4000 rider/horse combinations around the world. The results are impressive!

Olympic Games: ( Dutch Team)
1992 team silver
1996 team silver, individual bronze
2000 team silver

World Championships: (Dutch Team)
1994 team silver, individual bronze
1998 team silver

European Championships (Dutch Team)
1993 team bronze
1995 team silver
1997 team silver
1999 team silver
2001 team silver

The total tally of international medals exceeds 40! In the words of General Secretary of the Royal Dutch Federation, Mr. G.L. De Jong, “Mr. Schumacher has proven to be one of the best dressage coaches in the world. .....several nations make use of the skills of Mr. Schumacher to improve their top riders from average international level to the Olympic top level.”

His focus on mental fitness and rider awareness are enhanced and developed through his training of the horse with the basic foundations of the scales of training, his prerequisites for optimum performance and his selection of working patterns to achieve correct execution of movements throughout the levels.

HM – Thank you for talking to us. How are you enjoying your time here in the UK

CS – I like coming to the UK very much.

HM – What inspired you to make the DVD?

CS – I was inspired because since I stopped training individuals for medals I realised that more help was needed to train trainers!
I hope I have been a big influence on British riders, I feel it is important to bring information to riders and trainers. A lot of the training DVD’s that are available focus on the technical side of dressage.

HM – what is the most common training problem you come across?

CS – Most riders say to me that my half pass to left is better than the right!

HM – Why is that?

CS- I think they think too technical and want to ride with no mistakes! Well that is like getting married and expecting perfection – after a few months you become tense, after a few years you become divorced!

HM – So how do you overcome that?

CS – I change the approach; break it down to the essence of the sport.

HM – How?

CS – You must teach a good seat, (HM- the DVD shows this really well)! become flexible and have good balance and of course the neck in right position then everything comes. Systematic training which creates the relaxed correct outline and not only focusing on the technical stuff. The technical side will come, technique with no feel will not work.

HM – Why do you think riders are fine at home and have trouble when reaching the showground?

CS - Riders are good at home but at show ground it doesn’t go as well. This is due to their own mental fitness and quality of preparation.

HM – You have mentioned mental fitness quite a lot why do you think this is so important?

CS – without is you will not be a champion. If you can improve it and be prepared when you reach the showground, then will become a good competitor.

HM – Is there going to be a series of the DVD’s

CS – Yes, this is the first it is at novice level but the information regardless of your level will help you set up and check your basics are correct.

HM – why is your DVD different?

CS – I am convinced that mine is the best because of the feel and mental fitness the technical stuff is easy!

HM - Can u teach feel?

CS – Absolutely. You must however approach it systematically

HM – so what response are you hoping to get from the DVD

CS – I made the DVD to help people to share the secrets! I hope people will watch it 3 or 4 times and find it simple to follow. I can give you a glass of water but I can’t make you drink it.
Good luck to you all with your training.

Thank you Conrad

I have to say I walked away from meeting him feeling so totally inspired. Not only that there is hope for me personally as a rider but that someone that has trained over 4500 horse and rider combinations to success is still passionate to help us all and share his philosophy and not keep it a secret!!!!

We are going to see Conrad train in November on a Clinic at the home of Rhegan White & Aderro Dressage Centre. We will follow up this remarkable man who is still here to help and so passionate about training in January.

The website to purchase the DVD from is