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Young M&W Members Train Abroad

Published 12/01/2011

M&W members, Shauna Finneran and Eavan Murphy write about their training experiences abroad.

No one does it quite like the Germans and that is especially true concerning dressage, as we all know. We look in envy at their spectacular horses strutting up the centre line. So the best place to learn is from the best. In 200 I was lucky enough to win an Irish Horse Board bursary in the Silver Spurs. My trainer Vida Tansey suggested using it to go to Germany. She had heard of a two week course in the State College of Oldenberg run by Alexander Wortmann.

The main focus of the course was the rider’s position. From day one the German principles of riding were being drilled into our heads. During the dressage lessons there was strong emphasis on deepening the seat along with elasticity and correct position of the hands. However, for show jumping a light seat and controlled balance were encouraged.

In Germany anyone who wishes to compete must attain a licence verifying their standard. It is compulsory for all horse handlers, riders and non-riders alike, to attain the Basis Pass. This course prepares you for the first riding medal to be challenged, which is the Bronze medal class IV. This authorizes you to compete at Preliminary or Novice level and jump up to 1.10m. The Bronze medal class III permits you to compete at novice or elementary level and jump up to 1.40m. The Silver medal follows allowing you to ride up to Prix St Georges and jump up to 1.60m. Afterwards there is ‘Silver with Gold’, the Apprenticeship and finally the Gold medal which you receive when you win ten Grand Prix, the likes of Isabelle Werth and co. Unfortunately there is quite a bit to go.

A typical day of the course started with the assigned group doing ‘barn duty’ at 7:30. At 8 o’ clock the dressage lessons began. Once the lessons were finished we had our theory classes, which involved riding techniques and horse management. After lunch the first ride began their jumping lesson. Training was provided for those interested in lungeing. The day concluded with theory sessions. During the weekends we visited some top German yards like, Warendorf, Kasselmanns, and Heinrichs. We also went to an U25 international jumping and dressage show, which was great to see the international standard.

The experience was invaluable. It was a great opportunity to learn from the people who are at the top of our sport, which is ironic seeing as they were the last country to embrace dressage as a sport (a surprising piece of information passed on to us by Mr Wortmann). I spent two extremely enjoyable weeks there improving my riding and making long term friends. I returned last year and passed my Bronze medal class III, and am looking forward to going again this year.

—Eavan Murphy

My Time in Foster Meadows

Over the summer 2010, I got to experience what life is like in the dressage yard, Foster Meadow’s in New Hampshire, USA an opportunity I owe greatly to my trainer Vida Tansey. While there under the guidance of the wonderful Pam Goodrich I learned a vast amount of things both on and off the saddle. A regular day consisted of being in the barn for 6.30 am to hay, feed turnout etc, getting ready for a lesson with Pam. Travelling to work was never a problem as I lived in apartment over the barn with, barn manager, Ria Tansey,who took me under her wing almost all of the time, making sure being home sick was never a thing I experienced.

My first week there was most definitely the hardest, the main reason being - the HEAT was nothing like we are used to here in Ireland, combining the heat and vigorous lessons with Pam on a daily basis was tough! Although on the flip side the luxury of riding in conditions that rain hardly ever threatened was lovely to have.

Learning Pam’s concepts and ways of riding a horse was mind blowing. The concepts of adapting your way of riding to each different horse you sit on or whatever she was trying to teach me at certain times - my seat one day, legs another always went hand in hand with an insightful story or an experience Pam had at one time or another with a certain horse. I had the friendly face of the 5 yr old mare, Angie (above) to remind me of home as she arrived from the Tansey house only weeks before I arrived, it was great to have a partner who struggled with the heat for awhile like I did!

During my time in Foster Meadows I experienced riding an array of different horses, from young horse, to horses being retrained, and the horses that know it all like Pam’s ex Grand Prix horse Melville - who I was lucky enough to meet and ride. Experiencing Melville watching him been ridden, riding him, lunging him etc opened my eyes as to what a horse trained to the highest level can feel like only encouraging me further in the sport of dressage.

Overall the way they do things over in the States is different to how we do it over here at home, for example how they tow a box. Experiencing the different ways of doing things has only given me more options of how to either fix a problem from a training point of view, or other alternatives of pre-show preparations.

I was lucky enough to experience what an American dressage show was like during my stay there. The show in Woodstock, Vermont was like going to our Nationals, and according to Pam and Ria the show was local! Ria and her super talented mare Tacoma M were competiting at the weekend long show, at PSG and Inter 1 and brought home the first placed rosettes, notching up another successful win for Foster meadows and Midlands and Western!

The experience of being able to train in Foster Meadows has improved my outlook on how I ride, the training scale, and only increased my love dressage and inspired me for the future. On comparing notes to my other dressage based friends who have also had the chance to train abroad, I realise I got an absolute first hand experience of all the aspects of life at a dressage yard, the glamorous part’s like going to shows and riding ex grand prix to hand grazing in the afternoon and understanding how difficult it is to run a business/dressage/competitive barn. My hope is to finish my college work and eventually return back Stateside to train, and further increase my knowledge in the sport of dressage.

—Shauna Finneran

—Vida Tansey

News Archive

03.09.2017 - Fantastic Finale to Summer Dressage for the Midland & Western Region

26.04.2016 - Juniors on excellent form at Mullingar EC on 24th April

11.04.2016 - Fantastic results from M&W Region members at the 2016 National Winter Finals

13.09.2015 - Great results for M&W Region Members at the 2015 National Championships

13.09.2015 - Great results for M&W Region Members at the 2015 National Championships

23.06.2015 - Midland and Western Rider placed at Hickstead Dressage Master Championships

27.04.2015 - Winter League Winners 2014/2015

12.04.2015 - Cavan National Winter Finals 2015

26.08.2014 - Pony Europeans 2014

10.03.2014 - Winter League Winners 2013/2014

10.12.2013 - Midland and Western AGM 2013

17.10.2013 - Shauna Finneran shines in USA

17.04.2013 - League Results Winter 2012/2013

15.04.2013 - National Winter Finals

02.04.2013 - New Treasurer

05.09.2012 - Shauna Finneran’s blog to Training abroad

12.01.2011 - Young M&W Members Train Abroad

12.01.2011 - Midland and Western Dressage Club AGM and Annual Awards

04.01.2010 - Winners

04.01.2010 - Inspiration

09.07.2009 - Siobhan Cazabon Sullivan

16.04.2009 - Training Day with Pam Goodrich at Creagh EC on 09/04/2009

20.03.2009 - Palm Beach Dressage Derby

13.12.2008 - Youth Development Day

12.12.2008 - Dressage Demonstation With Donie

11.12.2008 - AGM

27.10.2008 - Hall of Fame for Western May

09.10.2008 - National Championships 26th-28th September 2008, Necarne Castle, Irvinestown, Co.Fermanagh

01.01.2008 - Beezies Sue R.I.D.