Middleburg, Va. – September 17, 2019 – Olympian and Technical Advisor/Chef d’ Equipe for the U.S. Dressage Team, Debbie McDonald, headed to historic Middleburg, Virginia to host a two-day clinic as a part of the 2019 Rutledge Farm Sessions clinic series. Welcoming dressage riders of all levels, McDonald’s focused on correcting contact, improving self-carriage and holding riders accountable.
Each day began with Nikki Smith’s young horse Salerno and concluded with Lucy Tidd’s grand prix mount Ellert HB, but through each level McDonald focused on athletes maintaining the correct connection with their mounts as they worked through several exercises to improve their balance and master each movement.
McDonald noted, “You must be consistent and ask repeatedly. It’s never a one time fix [in Dressage] – it’s constant communication. It will become seamless aids when you’ve taught them through repetition.
“Patience is everything – you can not hurry a horse. They all learn at a different pace. It’s important you know what your horse can handle and process. You can not be greedy and want more, more, more. You have to be sensitive to the thought of a horse understanding it and don’t get caught up in giving them too much information at a time. Any sign of a hint that he understands an exercise, move on – never go long enough to lose it,” and “a lot of problems with connection can be fixed with your position.”
“I was super excited to have the opportunity, but you think, ‘Can you really get that much out of just two lessons?’ I have to say I already felt like I got a lot out of Saturday, but she really gave me some good tools Sunday to take home to work through this tough phase that we’re in for our training.”
Rutledge Farm owner Aleco Bravo-Greenberg was honored to host McDonald at the facility for the weekend. “Debbie is such a gifted instructor,” he commented. “She did an amazing job honing in on what each horse and rider needed to work on and helping them find tools to improve. It was wonderful to be able to have such an amazing clinic at our facility and Debbie was great to work with.”
The 2019 Rutledge Farm Sessions clinic series will continue with Olympic gold-medalist Will Simpson, followed by Olympic bronze-medalist Ali Brock, two-time Olympic gold-medalist Phillip Dutton, and renowned champion equitation trainer Stacia Madden.
To find out more information about clinics offered during this year’s Rutledge Farm Sessions, visit www.rutledgefarm.com/clinics