Sunday, May 17, 2009

Conrad Schumacher--Part 4

Next up was a 2001 Arabian Stallion. This little horse was extremely talented and looked like a much bigger horse. If I was looking for an Arabian sport horse to breed my mare to, he'd be the one.

Conrad Quotes:

Don’t look on the horse like you’re a policemen.

When the horse is behind the vertical but comes up when the rider gives, that’s OK. If the horse drops behind the vertical and nothing is in your hand, that’s a problem.

It’s not good to always have the neck in the same outline. It makes horses stiff. Have them a little up, a little down, etc. Move their necks around.


Next was another large warmblood on the lazy side.

Big horses must be trained carefully and need to come more over the back.

Exercises for big, lazy horses that like to run:

  • Go down the long side in medium trot, walk just before the corner, turn on haunches (immediately), and go into medium trot. Repeat in every corner. This gets the horse in front of your leg. Works well for a lazy horse. Repeat many times until the horse is forward and coming over the back.

  • Trot—reinback—trot.

  • Shoulder-in—Half Pass—Shoulder-in---Half Pass (Makes the horse work on the spine)

  • Start the diagonal at the walk, then trot, half pass on diagonal (same direction as first turn on diagonal).


  • Over-prepare for the horse show so that the show movements are easy. Many riders ride about 70 percent at a horse show. This doesn’t mean you drill the show movements, it means you ride movements that are more challenging so show movements are easy to ride.

Develop working patterns: These patterns are more difficult than what a test would require or what you’d encounter on the show grounds. Start three weeks before a show.

Practice riding corners: Put a cone about 2.5 meters from corner and ride between cone and the wall. A properly ridden corner gives you more horse when you come out of it.


  • Put a cone about 2.5 meters from each corner and ride between cone and the wall. Add two more about 18 meters out to make a 20-meter square.
  • Ride a square in the walk, trot, and canter, riding outside the cones.
  • With the cones in the corners, circle in a counter canter. Don’t go between cones and the wall when in counter canter. Do a flying change, then ride between cone and wall in true canter. Do a flying change to counter canter, repeat. Don’t cross between cones and wall in counter canter. After changing to the correct lead go between cones. (Prevents horse from running away after changes).

Training Mental Fitness

How do you become more confident on the horse? Not through riderless pursuits or through working out. Mental fitness must be trained on a moving horse without wearing out the horse.

Next came a woman who rode preliminary-level eventing on a large Hanoverian (Is there any other kind?). Only 1 percent of the riders in Germany are eventers, yet Germany does really well in eventing because of the dressage background.

A rideable horse can be brought to the outside rein, not held onto it. If you can bring the horse to the outside rein, he is rideable.

The German system works for everyone because it is based on the experiences of thousands of riders and horses. The French and other systems were based on what worked for one rider and certain types of horses. Not everyone can ride like that one rider.


A dressage horse needs to be a rectangle not a square, but not because of a long back. Instead because of a huge front part and long lines. A short back is a stiff back. A rectangular type of horse is easier to corner, like a Porsche. Too long a legs, such as a square horse make it difficult to corner. The neck should come out of the shoulder at a 90-degree angle.

The horse should have a good, natural connection from mouth to hindquarters.

Headbone should not be higher than the first bone of the neck. The horse should have a wide jaw for freedom in the neck. You should be able to put a fist in the space underneath the jaw. You can tolerate the absence of one of these characteristics, but not both.

The mouth needs to be big enough to accommodate a double bridle.

The horse needs natural active hind legs.

Tail which moves easily indicates a flexible spine.

Joints need to be big and stable, with straight feet.

The end of the withers should be the middle of the horse.

In Germany they say look at the horse at 3 days, 3 months, and 3 years to determine how it’ll turn out. If not, you’ll get the wrong impression.

Temperament: A good temperament is 85 percent of the battle. You can’t put it in, it must be there. Look for quiet eyes.

Conrad doesn’t go by bloodlines too much, unless it to avoid a bloodline.

Each year in Germany there are 80,000 mares, 55,000 offspring, and 5000 elite horses. Too many buys and not so many good horses.

Starting to Work on the Upper Levels

Avoid trouble in the changes by training everywhere, not just on the diagonal, or the horse will connect a problem with changes with the diagonal.

There is a solution to every problem.

The next horse was an older mare built downhill with a flat croup. She was brought out in the conformation section as an example of very poor conformation, yet a horse who can do the work with proper riding.

If you have an horse with an active hindleg and willing to go into the hand, you can overcome conformational issues.

Walk/canter transitions get a horse better balanced. When riding the canter, think about reining back. Work to get haunches under in the reinback.


  • 10 canter strides, 5 walk strides, repeat.
  • Center from reinback: I walk step, RB, Canter,
  • If changes are croup high, circle in the corner, go to next arena letter, change, immediately volte.
  • Trot down the long side, shoulder-in to renver. At the end of the arena, circle 20 m. and hold renver, keeping bend with body and not hands.

I hope you're all enjoying these posts. I have a few more weeks to go. I'll try to post next Sunday.


HorsesAndTurbos said...

I love these posts, Jamie...even though most I won't ever use (unless I win the lottery and can afford not only lessons but an upper level horse) but a lot has helped me with my mare just working the basics.


littledog said...

Thanks Jamie, I also love these posts. I've been working on last week's exercises, with mixed results. We're not even close to "upper level", but trotting long on the good side and getting a relaxed but forward and engaged trot on the hard side has helped us get a decently-balanced canter on both sides! The left is still harder for him (due to past surgery), but asking for a counter-canter and then a relaxed lead change is helping us to get a nice relaxed canter in whatever direction I ask of him. Asking for the canter from the walk, after some lateral exercises in both directions (leg yields at walk and trot on different-sized circles, since he tends to anticipate the canter transition) helps a lot.