We started out our day at TyL Farm, owned by Kylee Lourie, and the home training base of Adrienne Lyle and Katie Duerhammer. Kylie welcomed us to her amazing facility and talked with us a little about what is most important to her at her barn – camaraderie, horsemanship, and a supportive team atmosphere where everyone works hard and cheers for each other.
First Adrienne taught Quinn Iverson and Beckham, a 14 year old gelding owned by Billie Davidson (Benetton Dream/Don Davidoff.) They work a lot on straightness – walking, halting, teaching him to stay aligned. Even in the halt, he likes to step his LF out, and that is the same misalignment he does in much of the work, so they just quietly work on that at walk and halt to start.
Make sure the bend is honest, and he doesn’t just pop the shoulder to the L or lean in to the R when you ask for bend.
Challenge the changes. Ask for an 8 now instead of a pleasant 7. Can you get him off the L leg sooner on the diagonal?
Never make a correction within a flying change. Worst thing you can do is nag them or kick them. For this horse, they had to make the changes small and slow and balanced because he was so crooked, and now they can add more volume without upsetting him in his brain. In the show ring she will probably tone it down slightly, but at home they push him a little out of his comfort zone.
In trot RPMs have to stay up when they collect him. Otherwise he gets too slow. He has such a huge trot. “Work him into the shape you want, activate, then relax your leg, and if he falls on the forehand, he gets a little consequence for that.” Renvers when tracking L, so he can’t lean on that R shoulder.
2 ways to make him straight – either you move his butt off your L leg, or you move his shoulders over to the left, just keep playing till he finds his center.
“They have to know there’s a place where pressure comes off. They won’t want to stay there if they’re only being held with pressure.”
The issue is rarely the flying changes, it usually calls out other problems. So working on those issues instead of working on the changes is what will improve the actual changes. When he first came and got nervous in the tempis, he would suck back behind the leg.
2 options – move the canter bigger and easier on the diagonal
Do a walk transition and make him walk to the contact on the diagonal correctly and in alignment.
Corrections are gradual, because they’re not a punishment, they’re an explanation.
“I do a lot of walk work, it’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I find it really helpful.”
“When I’m teaching changes – I don’t do them on the diagonal until they can do them everywhere else – quarterline, made up line, wherever. Once they have a problem anticipating on the diagonal, it’s very hard to fix.”
Next Adrienne taught Katie Duerhammer on Fair Play “Player,” a Fair Game/Sandro Hit coming 4 year old. He spent the summer hacking around, and a groom rode him a lot.
All horses have a weaker/stronger side, his weaker side is R. So we start out a lot to the L, so I give him a chance for success. Start L, so you can “stack everything up” before going the harder direction.
Young wiggly horses (he is narrow) can make you get all over the place in your position, but Katie is trying to stay steady in her core and get narrow and centered.
If the connection is busy and broken early on, often because riders are trying to make them move big and impressive, and it can be really be hard to fix later. Connection in the mouth is a reflection of what’s happening in their brain.
“Taking a step back is not admitting defeat, it’s building a foundation so you can increase understanding- either in horses or riders.” Katie Duerhammer
Next up Adrienne taught Quinn on Gremlin a coming 8 year old schooling pieces of PSG.
Super talented horse, very sensitive in connection. Naturally has a huge stride, so we’re always trying to teach him to compress and be smaller. He is one who needs very clear boundaries. He must be shorter in his body.
They are really picky on all the horses – babies to GP, when they take a walk break it has to be the best walk they have. So that when they show, it’s automatic.
Walk pirouette to half steps to canter pirouette exercise. He must learn to keep his hind legs farther under and get quicker.
The difference in this horse was remarkable from the start to the finish. He has a tricky conformation with a slightly long back, but he also has a ton of ability to sit down. It was amazing to see him transform from long and slow to compact and active behind.
Next up was a lesson for Christian Simonson on Zeaball Diawind (Furstenball/Zardin Firford.)
This horse likes things to be super methodical and gradual. Easy, quiet warmup and then gradually getting hind legs more under and pelvis to rotate through transitions within canter. Leg yield in canter to begin to loosen him up behind the saddle. Counter canter to make him sit more and get straighter.
Passage is an adding of energy not a taking back. If he’s strong on the L, MOLD him, make it more elastic. Don’t just get him off the L rein. In piaffe, he gets hot and quick in the hind leg, but goes out too quickly. Hang out in the in between space of small passage.
Little leg yielding in collection allows the horse to feel like they have somewhere for the pressure to go, and not like you’re driving them into a wall.
Then Adrienne rode Fürst Dream (Furstenball/Benetton Dream) – a coming 5 year old stallion owned by Betsy Juliano. They have had him for 2+ years. Goal in 2023 is to qualify for 5 year olds US Champs. “Dreamy” won 4 year old championships last year at Lamplight.
Work him 3 days a week “real stuff” and the rest is hacking, lungeing, water treadmill, etc.
Adrienne explains to him balance, self carriage and adjustability in his body. Super willing horse with the most lovely attitude. They were looking for a young horse for Adrienne. Heinrich Brinkman sent video, a rider friend of Adrienne’s in Germany tried him, but because it was the height of Covid, they couldn’t go see him in person. John Amber rode him when he first came, because they were preparing for the Olympics, and Adrienne couldn’t risk riding a young, unknown horse, even though he was very well behaved.
Adrienne and Betsy agree that their goal is not the World YH Champs. Goal is the US champs and then slowly developing them to FEI. They don’t want to push them to be competitive at the world YH Champs, because it doesn’t align with their training philosophy and goals.
Betsy – owns 12 horses now. In 2010, Adrienne and Debbie came for one month to FL and came to Havensafe, Betsy’s barn. Betsy got to know Adrienne and Debbie and watched their training and was always impressed by their horsemanship and commitment to correct, classical training. In 2015 a syndicate was formed for Salvino. This was originally the brain child of Akiko Yamazaki. In 2017, Betsy bought out the other owners and owns Salvino 100%.
With a sponsor, you have to ask why are they doing this? Is this their business? Sales? Betsy loves the horses and loves the process, the development is what she enjoys. She does not ever plan to sell the horses and doesn’t buy stallions for breeding. Her long term goals are to support Adrienne with horses that can make international teams for the US. For Morgan Klingensmith, Betsy wants to develop her as a rider to bring along horses as well. In Betsy’s company, she has named another executive as CEO, so she can step a little bit away and have some more time. She is present every time Adrienne is working her horses, unless she has a scheduling conflict.
She wants to start an international owners group for FEI here in the States. US needs to have more of a presence in the international scene and get involved with Trainers group, riders groups, participate in meetings so we can have a voice.
Biggest thing going into a big competition is to trust your training and not change what has gotten you there. Takes a long time to learn what works best for each horse – best after a day off? Best after two days of work? Tack walk first?
They charted Salvino’s temps leading up to Tokyo, because the heat and humidity were going to be so intense – how hot is he after 15 mins of work? 20 mins? If you need a 45 min warmup normally, but you can only work 20 mins until he gets too hot, you need to figure out how to get him at his best after only that amount of time. Salvino doesn’t like the heat, so they keep him cooler with AC units. He’s a big, black horse with a big neck – he gets hotter sooner. He gets grumpy when it’s hot.
Not every horse is going to be a GP horse, and that’s ok. There’s a huge need for well trained lower level or small tour horses. Let that horse shine as a PSG schoolmaster instead of forcing him to do GP and having him be unhappy or injure himself.
Adrienne keeps up a fitness program outside of riding – Pilates, interval training, physios that the team works with here in Wellington and on the road to big shows. It’s a non negotiable for her, because her body has to be comfortable, symmetrical, and supple.
In the afternoon we visited Top Meadow Farm, where Kathy Connelly trains. This is a gorgeous place that used to be a jumper farm and is now only focused on dressage. They had a humongous covered with fabulous footing, and Kathy shared with us her approach to long lining.
Long lining is a chance to see your horse and for them to see you. You can see the whole body of the horse and see what they are really doing with parts of their body that you can’t see when you’re riding.
When you’re long lining you have to have a “soft eye” and a “hard eye” – the hard eye is watching the horse’s head and eyes and keeping you safe. The soft eye is taking in the whole horse and assessing the whole body.
If horses don’t do things it’s because:
They can’t (something hurts, they’re not strong enough, etc)
They don’t understand
So it’s our job to explain things to them and help them to understand.
They’re very tactile, much more physically perceptive than humans.
The Whip is a timing wand not a punishment
Usually I do something first (riding, lungeing etc) and then long lining later.
Audio, visual and tactile is how the horses learn
Touching him right behind the rider’s leg, she does t want the skin to twitch. If he twitches, he’s keeping his barrel too tight and won’t be able to piaffe well.
Balance spots – where your vertical axis intersects with their horizontal axis. First thing we must do is create a balance – forward, light to the leg, straight.
Highly recommend to have a front end handler when you’re doing this. Work on the ground first, turn on the forehand, walk, halt, be respectful of my space.
Short bits are better than a long session. You can take them out a couple times a day, but super short, give them treats, make it fun. Never make it boring.
For a cold/lazy horse – usually they’re lazy because they don’t understand, not because they’re thick skinned. Use turn on the forehand to loosen their trunk. Then use a bounce whip, not a thwack. A thwack will make them brace their body.
Understand the Trunkae nerves – right under the leg of the rider, most people use the whip and their leg too far back on the horse’s barrel.
Horses’ Hind legs close together and then forward, not forward first. So if they learn to get narrow but they’re not stepping under enough, just take time. They must learn to lift through their shoulders and back, so the hind legs have somewhere to go farther under the body.
Kathy had all the YRs practice using the whip to knock down Dixi cups and learn the proper technique through the wrist. She learned long lining from Bachinger at the Spanish Riding School, and it’s such a great tool to have in your toolbox.
Our day ended with a gorgeous dinner at Beth and Jen Baumert’s home, where Margaret Duprey joined us. Margaret is a big supporter of dressage in the US and is donating up to $100,000 to TDF for this program specifically. The YRs were able to chat with her over dinner about her experiences as an owner and supporter of dressage horses and riders, show jumpers and Para Equestrians. Jenny Johnson, executive director of TDF, and Sara Weiss, director of programs, joined us as well.
Huge thank you to everyone who allowed us to come today and learn so much!