Coventry Equestrian Center

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In Stride...
Vol.: 1 Issue 3: November 2003

Hello! It is said that three is a charm so I hope this third newsletter fills the bill. I love putting them together. What I hate is they are too big for email; however the good news is that someone is supposed to show me how to zip a file and maybe that will work. The bad news is that doing these newsletters makes me realize how short a month actually is, as it is November already. This is the big month for the WPDA banquet and America's Thanksgiving. We all have a lot to be thankful for so may you all, myself inlcuded, say thanks every day for our wonderful life and our beautiful experiences shared with our horses and each other.

News News News News News

tonystrombergphoto.jpg (photo)

Melissa, who owns Dakota, is opening a coffee shop on the border of Mt Lebanon and Upper St. Clair. (My husband's restaurant is on the border of Mt. Lebanon and Upper St. Clair, hmmmm.) And, fittingly, her coffee ship is called Blue Horse Coffee. Not only is Melissa (fondly known as Mel) opening this shop this month, but she will be selling her own brand of bottled water called Blue Horse Water. Just wait till you see the label! In her store she will sell all kinds of coffee and water, but also teas and pastry. (My kind of shop.)

Another strong attraction is going to be the art work she is having, imported from the famous equine photographer Tony Stromberg from New Mexico. Check out his web site Then go to Mel's Blue Horse Coffee shop, sip on a tantalizing coffee drink or an herbal health drink and contemplate how the heck you will ever afford one of Tony's photographs! Good Luck, Melissa and partner Annette, "may the horse be with you!" Oh, yes, Blue Horse Coffee also has a website,


New Faces in the Barn!...

Spirit and Margo with Lynn, Spirit's "ex-Mom"

Spirit is new this year, too - also a Quarter Horse. (What did I tell ya, Quarter Horses rule!) Soon they will be the majority and not the minority! Sadly, Spirit took Link's stall. Link has found a new home in Cranberry Township, and interestingly, Spirit moved in from Cranberry. At least that is what they tell us. Spirit is owned by Kristen Perryman (Yes, another Kristen only she is nicer.) Spirit also likes to trail ride.however he is trained in dressage. Hmmm, looks a sthough Kristen and Spirit came to the right place. Margo, Kristen's daughter also plans to ride Spirit. Can anyone guess how Spirit got his name? Hint, he was born on October 31st.

Trainer and friend, Kerri Gregg, had another child, only this time a girl, Riley Allison Gregg. She was born at 11:15 am the 7th of October at 6 pounds and 1 ounce. According to Kerri, "she is tiny but mighty". (Sort of like her mother!) Because Kerri has been busy having babies we have not seen her at the barn. Maybe soon. Her son, Talon is not too happy he prefers Riley to his mother. He does not understand why he does not come first any more. Kerri is looking forward to coming back to work. Viva la motherhood.

Kristin (note spelled with an i) has been going south for lessons now, and remarkably Johannis is a different horse. For all of you who know her struggles, she is now riding him in a very fancy snaffle. It is called a Conrad Schumacher Jumping Training Snaffle. But, he likes it and she is tickled pink. We also learned a new way of lunging with equipment called the Pessoa. This lunging apparatus not only holds the head down like the ropes we have been using, but it has a piece that goes behind the haunches to encourage them to tuck.

What, politics?

Kristin Hermann for WPDA President

Hello! I am running for President of WPDA because I feel a strong need to unify the club with all the stables and members in the Western PA area. I think we have a great club and I have been a member for over 20 years. I served on the board for nine years for nearly every position offered except President. Even when I was not on the board for a few years, I still worked behind the scenes.

Dressage is my passion, and it has been for over 25 years. Since 1978 I have been learning about dressage, applying dressage, teaching and training dressage, reading and writing dressage and, thank God, not dreaming about dressage. I think that now our club needs a strong President to maintain all the good qualities our club's committees have developed over the years. I want to see the WPDA branch out and communicate with other local horse clubs. I think we should network with other organizations to make dressage a foundation for all horse organizations. In other words, we need to cross train with our neighbours who ride but do not understand that the word dressage only means training!

I also would like to promote additional USA Equestrian dressage shows in this area. I think we need more shows in the area not just the spring and fall shows. In order to do this, we need to maintain our strong foundation and not let single issue problems demise our volunteer organization. To stay a successful club, members need to support their organization and not clutch to negativity spoken in their barns. Instead, come to our board meetings - let your voice be heard. Your WPDA board wants everything that the members want, too. Help us be the best we can be.

The WPDA has more money in its accounts than ever before. This is because of its supportive members. Let's keep it going; let's support one another. We do not all have to have the same philosophies about our approaches to dressage whether French, German, or Spanish, we just need to support our common denominator which is dressage!

Also, our club needs to get more involved with our Region 1 representatives. How many of you know that one of our very members is the secretary for Region1? I have an agenda, and anyone who would like to talk with me after I am voted in as President, please call or email me:

from Walter Zettl's book "Dressage in Harmony"

How do you train horses? Well, if you follow this famous German Training Scale, you will succeed. However, I have my own beginner's version of the Training Scale. I call it the three Rs. Does that sound familiar? So, instead of having to remember another new system, just remember that your three Rs stand for Relaxed, Rhythmic and Round (instead of Contact). Voila! Your horse must first be relaxed before you can influence it, then it must have rhythm before you can ask it to round. But, if you ask your horse to go round before it is relaxed and has a good rhythm, you will likely short circuit your communication with your horse. In other words, not be able to communicate with your aids. After you acquire your three Rs with training (relaxed, rhythmic and round) - the hardest part of training - then you ride your horse forward (impulsion) and straight. Out of those ingredients, with a lot in between, comes collection. Your three Rs are the most important - they are the foundation.

A question that is often asked is, "does rhythm mean forward?" There is no doubt that a lot of riders confuse rhythm with forward. What is forward and how does it differ from rhythm? Well, we will save that for another newsletter, but I will tell you that forward is not rushed or hurried. Hint: a horse should go rhythmically forward. The 2003 USDF Directory has a Glossary of judges terms. In this little gem, The Glossary of Judges Terms states: "Forward indicates the direction in which the horse does not indicate how he gets there. References to specifics such as impulsion, energy, reach, length of stride, in front of the leg, and tempo more accurately express how the horse should proceed in a forward direction."

The USDF Directory is a big source of information in a little package. This little tiny booklet lists all the USDF shows and awards, Dressage Protocol, and copies of all the tests. To order yourself a 2004 edition, log onto

Please Advise:

This is my new Arabian mare doing a Walk Trot test this summer at a dressage schooling show. (She was a brood mare prior to buying her.)

Jane and Telly

This is a very pretty mare, who looks happy and attentive in her work. Her mouth is closed and she is relaxed. For a Walk Trot test, the new requirements as of 2003 are for the horse to have its nose just slightly in front of the vertical and this mare has that position perfect. Her neck is long as she is stretching through her top line to seek contact with the bit. However, she needs to have more impulsion, and stride more into the contact too. You can see that she is under tracking at the trot and not stepping under herself or her riders seat. Remember that often talked about phrase, "in front of your leg"? Well, this horse is not in front of her rider's leg, but behind the rider's legs and as a result not stepping through or under. This quiet rider just needs to send this horse more forward so that the stride of the hind leg steps into the print left by the front hooves. Then the horse will be using its top line from poll to tail and stretching through its top line establishing a contact with the bit from back to front. More forward, but with rhythm of course.

The rider looks very quiet. Her hands are low and steady; the leg is positioned well. The rider is slightly inclined a bit too forward from her hips. If she brought her shoulders a little further back this may help to engage this mare more forward. If she does bring her shoulders back, she must be cautious as to not pull back on the reins in the process and shorten this lovely neck, but to still enable this mare to use her long neck. The horse's neck is like the cat's tail, it is a balancing rod and if you shut this down, all the unconstrained movement required will be lost. Shoulders back, chin up - ride like you want to be showing and the attitude will gracefully reflect in your horse's way of going.

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