Seven of us met in the beautiful Hereford countryside, Sheepcote Equestrian Centre, for a day of outstanding learning and understanding of the dressage horse from the turn of the century to present day.
David and Serena Pincus were our generous hosts and mentors for the day, and tackled their subject with clarity, deep insight and huge knowledge, and with the wisdom of having “seen it all”. Tucked in the cosy cottage next to a fire, we all sat in a group and listened.
David explained the thinking behind the breeding of the warmblood dressage horse from eighty years ago to between the wars and after the Second World War. The Germans wanted to breed the best horse for the military – sound, with natural movement, rideability and to be a sports horse. They also invented the scales of training, ensuring horses and riders were all trained consistently.
Much insightful discussion ensued, and comparisons were made between the approaches of the various nations, and the differences between then and now, including considering whether the stated aims have been achieved. In assessing that, we turned to discussing the nature of true ‘collection’ in the dressage horse, together with what the judges of today are looking for and how they are influencing the type of horse and movement which gain high marks – which is in turn determining what sorts of horses are now being bred and produced. Many examples were discussed and fascinating stories shared.
After a sandwich lunch, and more conversations, we ventured outside where we were treated to an outstanding in-hand demonstration. David showed us a selection of horses, both inexperienced and experienced, working on piaffe. He discussed his approaches to each horse, given their stage of training, and their varied personalities and talents (and sheer size). All horses were happy and calm, gaining much praise and many polos for their work.
It was a joy and privilege to listen and to watch this incredible horseman at work. David and Serena couldn’t have been more welcoming or generous with the insights and knowledge they imparted to us fortunate F&I members. It was a wonderful and inspiring day.
We are all very grateful to Carol Bennitt for organising the day with two such masters and as always to our outstanding organisation for continuing to put on these unique days.
Thank you to David and Serena, and thank you to F&I.