Friday, 3 July 2009

Dressage Scales Of Training - "It's NOT the pyramid" William Micklem goes to say:

"In the dressage world Herbert Rehbein was considered the professional’s professional – a humble genius. He won the Hamburg Dressage Derby eight times and seven titles in the German Professionals Championships. He was voted 'Trainer of the Year' by the International Trainers Club in 1991 and in '94, and the German Federation conferred on him the title of 'Riding Master'. In 1977 and ‘78 I was lucky enough to spend two short periods at his training stables, Gronwoldhof, when Lucinda Green traveled there for training with, among others, her Badminton winner Be Fair.


I was delighted to find that one of the retired equine residents at Gronwoldhof was Alwin Schockemöhle’s great Show Jumping World Champion Donald Rex. However I was even more delighted to watch an athletic 4 year working, who was the apple of Herbert’s eye…his name was Pik Bube. It was no surprise that he went on to become world famous, both as a multiple Grand Prix winner and as a Dressage stallion. His success further cemented the reputation of the Hannoverian Stud book, despite the fact that he was half Thoroughbred, as was Reiner Klimke’s greatest dressage horse, the ‘Westphalian’ Ahlerich.

Herbert Rehbein trained with Bubi Gunther, who together with Willie Schulteis and Joseph Neckermann were trained by the Father of modern German dressage Otto Lorke. They in turn trained Harry Boldt, Reiner Klimke and the majority of todays top trainers including Conrad Schumacher and Jean Bemelmans. What a dynasty! What they have collectively achieved means their words have huge significance.


Herbert Rehbein didn’t say much to me but his few words were all gems. In particular he said that most people misunderstand the ‘Scales of Training’, even in Germany! His point was that the scales are like the notes on a piano and all six of the scales have to eventually work together for top results and that none of the scales should be worked at individually.

I believe this is actually what Chris Irwin was saying in his last blog regarding the fifth in the scale, Straightness. However I regret that I take issue with Chris and with all the many others who present the scales as a pyramid. It is not presented as such in the manuals of the German National Equestrian Federation….instead it is a linear structure and with good reason. If it was to be presented as a pyramid the base of the pyramid would not be relaxation, as Chris suggests, but the first in the scale which is Rhythm. While at the top of the pyramid it would be the sixth in the scale, Collection. Thankfully we have moved on from the early aims of dressage, which did have collection as the ultimate aim, and resulted in disastrous and often cruel consequences for horses. No, our ultimate aim is to have a happy athlete doing a whole range of exercises within a range of both collected and extended paces."

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