Britta Schoeffmann, Renaissane Woman at 2009 Equitana
Here's a lady who "wore many hats" at this year's Equitana: Britta Schoeffmann was one of the show's most sought-after participants. A born multi-tasker, she did appearances as a judge, as a trainer, as a coach and as an author.
One of her first stints was as a judge at a very interesting experiment. The International Equine Science Consulting proposed an alternative judging system, which assigns different aspects of a test to different judges. At Equitana, three judges saw three riders doing a "Dressurreiter-M" test (Fourth level).
One judge -- Johann Riegler, former Chief Rider at the Spanish Riding School in Vienna -- was responsible for "Seat and Aids". One -- Britta Schoeffmann, judge and author of the bestselling book "Exercises from A-Z" -- was responsible for the correctness of the movements and exercises. The third judge-- Klaus Balkenhol, expert trainer and tireless advocate of fair riding -- was responsible for the elements of the training scale.
"I think this is a highly interesting idea, because it forces the riders as well as the judges to concern themselves more intensely with the training scale", said Schoeffmann, who hopes that this will see a tryout at a real competition soon.
Schoeffmann also judged two other contests -- the "Show Cup", a fun exercise in team spirit, during which a number of riding clubs staged sometimes very elaborate and skilful theme presentations.
Together with Uwe Spenlen, Schoeffmann judges the "Barockpferdecup", which, due to a highly vague and unstructured draft schedule, presented a real and not very fair challenge to the judges. They had to decide between rewarding good riding and rewarding the rider whose horse was able to do the most difficult movements, no matter how imprecisely they were executed.
"The quality of the rides gets better with each Equitana. It's time to compose the draft schedule accordingly. I'd prefer to see horses doing a good St. Georg or Inter-I here instead of riders muddling through something not really resembling a Grand Prix."
Shortly before the competition, Schoeffmann earned much applause as a panelist. Discussing the question whether 'baroque' horses are better dressage horses with Jean Bemelmans and Richard Hinrichs, she appealed to "maintain the charme of the different breeds instead of trying to interbreed them with warmbloods, which may make them more compatible for high performance sports, but leads to a loss of variety and individuality."
The participants of the "Barockpferdecup" were Frederico Pinteaus aboard the Lusitano Urquilho, Jessica Süss and her Friesian Zorro, Jesus Tocino and the Cartujan Animoso XXX1 and Petra Stoltefuß and her PRE Completo.
It was Britta's work as a trainer that inspired her latest Book "Jedes Pferd ist anders" (All Horses are Different). Schoeffmann prefers to work with amateurs, and her students ride all kinds of horses. At Equitana, she presented a couple of training demonstrations with four different horses, showing what you can accomplish if you judge your horse's potential -- and his limits -- correctly and fairly.
Among her "test subjects" were Jana Ruff and Pinocchio, a free-born pony from the famous herd at Dülmen, who competes up to M-level; Patrizia Kaiser-Knoll and her Lusitano Urquilho; Julitta Sauels and her warmblood Lawinjo and Martina Heesen and her Haflinger pony Wildfang.
When presenter Volker Raulf jokingly challenged her to prove that she wasn't just all words, Schoeffmann climbed into Urquilho's saddle herself. But it was the small but spirited ponies, especially Pinocchio, who awed the audience the most.
All photos copyrighted Barbara Schnell
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