Sutherlin, OR—The Dutch Warmblood Studbook of North America (KWPN-NA) is pleased to welcome national young dressage horse coach Scott Hassler as a featured presenter at its 20th Annual Meeting in Wellington, Florida, March 6-8, 2008. The three-day event features some of the greatest movers and shakers in the sport. In addition to Hassler, Geoff Teall and John Madden are also giving in-depth presentations with demo horses and riders. These exciting interactive workshops are just part of the festivities and educational opportunities available.
Scott Hassler has developed more than 25 horses to the Grand Prix level. He studied under the masters Herbert Rehbein and Harry Boldt and has worked with numerous other top trainers. Scott has a unique passion not just for training, but also for breeding and young horse development. Hassler took a few minutes from his busy schedule to answer several questions that offer a taste of the topics he will cover during the KWPN-NA annual meeting.
Do North Americans understand what type of horse is suitable for the FEI young horse classes?
Over the last few years there has been a shift in education and understanding for the quality of horses in these classes. The “gifted” horse is what these classes call for and people have come a long ways and have a greater understanding of that.
As the young horse coach traveling around the country, what trends have you discovered about North America's young horses?
The trend I see is that sometimes teamwork is missing with a young horse. The horse doesn’t always have a team and we have to be thinking that way. You have to come with all of the ingredients, the right horse from the breeder that moves to the right hands and develops it correctly and then perhaps passes it to the next hands. The quality of the horses here is better and better, but we need better management and good advice to develop these horses. Sometimes you can also see this problem on the other side of management where the horse is being pushed too hard to do the classes and just being pushed through.
Another trend I see that I really appreciate is the attention that is being given to breeders and young horse here now.
What skills do horses headed for the FEI young horses need to have? How can a breeder assess their stock?
They need to have three good gaits, good thoroughness and rideability, suppleness and with nice contact. I call them the “gifted children”. If you have a horse with two great gaits you can sometimes overcome one weak gait, but only the expression of the gait. They still have to have all of the other things--rideablitily, suppleness, contact, etc.
The look of the horse/rider combination is also important. This comes out more here than it does in the other classes. A beautiful seat, great position on the horse, coordination of aids; the rider should make it look effortless.
When assessing your stock it is always good to not fall into the breeder’s trap. Sometimes you get caught up in your own world. This can mean that sometimes you are too critical and sometimes not enough. More eyes on a horse can be helpful. You really want to get the honest opinion of someone else. You might have a superstar in hand but that does not always mean you have the same thing under saddle. Don’t get caught up in what was good; look at what is good and be open and objective.
How can breeders find trainers skilled in working with young horses?
It is becoming easier to find skilled trainers. The trends are bringing out riders that are interested in riding young horses. There are several types of riders you will find that are really good at working with the young horses. Some of them you will find are really good at starting the young horse, teaching them all of the basics including going forward. You usually find these people by word of mouth. These riders do not get enough credit for the work they do. The second type of rider is one who will take them after they know the basics. In addition to looking in the dressage circles for these riders you should have a look outside dressage, i.e. event riders. They will teach the youngsters to be free and fit in their body and their minds, cantering outside and using their bodies.
When looking for a trainer to work with your young horse it is important not just that they are good, but ask yourself, does that rider fit my horse? Look at the individual traits of your horse: is he the forward type or does he need confidence? Make sure that the horse and rider’s traits fit.
How can breeders use the young horse classes to market their horses?
Anything you accomplish [in these classes can be used to market your young horse.] Successful doesn’t always mean first place; what is important is the impression that is made. It is most important to make a good impression. It might be better to take time or compete in the regular classes if you are not going to make a good impression [in the FEI Young Horse classes.] Success and [making a] good impression market a horse.
If my horse isn’t ready for the FEI young horse classes, what are my alternatives?
I like to think that we have three vertical lines for horses and ideally they all come to intersect some day at the FEI level.
The first vertical line, or “left” line is the FEI young horse classes. This line is for the “gifted horse.”
The second vertical line or “middle” line is the regular tests. This would be the USDF Materiale or regular classes.
The third vertical or “right” line is just a working line without competitions.
It is not important which line you take, and no line is more important than another. What is important is seeing and developing a horse correctly. You have to find the right avenue for each individual horse. Good horsemanship will tell you which is the correct line for any given horse and help you make the best impression.
The KWPN-NA Annual Meeting is open to all who are interested in sport horses, breeding and training. Pre-registered members are welcome for $150, non-members and walk-in registrations is $200 for the entire event. Check out details at http://www.kwpn-na.org
or call 1-541-459-3232.
About the KWPN-NA
In 1983, the Dutch Warmblood Studbook in North America was established as the North American Department of the Royal Warmblood Studbook of the Netherlands (KWPN) in order to promote breeding and enjoyment of the KWPN horse in North America.
To learn more about KWPN-NA membership, stallions and breeding, visit http://www.kwpn-na.org
PHOTO: Scott Hassler and Harmony's Rousseau
Credit: Richard Malmgren
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<a href="http://www.equestrianmag.com/article/scott-hassler-kwpn-na-meeting-2-08.html">Scott Hassler a Featured Presenter at the KWPN-NA Annual Meeting</a> ~ EquestrianMag.com