Bartels Family Enthuses the Crowds at 2011 British Dressage Convention
Dressage fans were offered an insight into the Dutch system of training, as current world team gold medallist Imke Schellekens-Bartels and her family took to the stage to host the 2011 British Dressage convention, Hartpury College 26-27 November. Alongside Tineke and Joep Bartels, Imke demonstrated speed control and suppling techniques on her small tour Jazz gelding Toots.
FEI Steward Dan Chapman commented, “What an impressive horse; what was nice to see was that they rode him (Toots) in exactly the same way as they were training the others. The very first thing they look for is relaxation and softening, and they will not progress with the work until the horse has found its stability.”
A stand-out quality from this year’s convention was the camaraderie and team spirit between the family Bartels. Spectators saw the dynamic between them and how each had their own strengths to bring to the table. While Joep honed in on the rider psychology side of the sport, Imke and Tineke advised each other throughout the training sessions, with Imke regularly asking her mother’s opinion whilst riding and also, as she trained the other demonstration riders: Samantha Thurman-Baker, Sophie Wells, Emma Corbett and Lisa Marriott.
Getting the basics right was a common theme throughout the two days; Lisa Marriott’s six year old Paris took a long time to settle, and Tineke joked to the audience, “If you want to go and grab a coffee; we will take as long as it takes!”
Tineke and Imke demonstrated that by working towards a simple system of straightness through the body, an even feel in both reins and responsiveness to the aids, you will always have something to come back to. Once the horse accepts everything you ask of it, it will be in the relaxed state necessary to perform the movements. They emphasised the importance of having the horse completely listening to your aids, moving forward straight away from the leg, and immediately coming back to you through the hand, with no grey area or confusion between the aids.
Demonstration rider, 18 year old Samantha Thurman-Baker was praised by the audience for her attention to detail and quiet riding style. With her own ten year old grand prix gelding Spring Pascal, the youngster, who is usually trained by Carl Hester and her mother Dianne, worked with the Bartels on calming techniques. “He’s a very hot horse,” Sam explained. “It was an amazing opportunity (to train with the Bartels), as we need as many options as we can to calm him down. It was just what both he and I needed. The similarities to our usual training were that we focused on getting him down and through; before he’s down in the neck and listening we can’t move on. The main difference for us was the focus on his straightness through the body; the straightening work definitely made him concentrate more.”
Visitors described the event as ‘inspiring’ and ‘thought provoking’, with one person dubbing it as, “The best convention since Conrad Schumacher.” British Dressage would like to thank the Bartels family, the staff at Hartpury, and convention sponsor The National Saddle Centre for producing such a marvelous event.
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