Dressage 4 Kids: 13th Weekend Educational Program

We (my dad and I) are on our way home from the 13th annual D4K WEP. Being my first D4K-related event, I came not knowing what to expect, in any way. Overall, it was a very interesting and fun experience!! I encourage all riders of any age to sign up for these events, as everyone- from 8 to 60+ years old- got something out of it. I certainly did! Even though all of the classes and speakers were interesting, I especially enjoyed Laura Graves, Ayden Uhlir, Rob Postleb, Donna Decker, and Steve Karus. Here’s why:

Laura Graves: Laura spoke mostly about her journey, from growing up in Green Mountain state, to competing in the U.S., to traveling around Europe. She explained the ups and owns, how to tackle them both, how to adjust when things don’t go as planned, et cetera. Her story was incredibly interesting and entertaining to listen to, and I could definitely picture in my mind all that happened.

Ayden Uhlir: Ayden is the first equestrian to be sponsored by Nike, who hopes to merge more into our world in the future. She spoke about her story, and how to deal with financial issues, particularly through sponsors. She told us to be very persistent so that they always have your name in the back of their mind, and to always to straight to the top: CEO, Manager, etc. Her talk was also very interesting, and impressive for her second public talk!

Rob Postleb: Rob’s lecture was titled “Teaching and Training at Home VS Coaching and Riding at a Show,” and it was just that. He explained very good strategies on how to progress in your training, and how to adjust your riding/teaching at a show. Some good points made included:

-Coach @ Show- being positive and optimistic for your student… they will probably know when the ride did not go so well, they don’t need you to point it out as well!

– Teacher @ Home- knowing how to adjust your strategies for different kids- some you need to sack them over the head with a 2-by-4, some will cry if you look at them funny….

– Riding @ Show- don’t bother trying to cram new strategies in during schooling; it’s too late!

– Riding @ Home- when preforming a movement, know whether it was good or bad, and why. Be prepared to explain this to your trainer!

Donna Decker: Donna has accomplished several feats in her life, including being the youngest Olympic trial qualifier for the 1976 Olympic swim team, being the fastest sprinter in the world going into the 1980 Olympics (which the USA boycotted), and successfully summiting the world’s highest peaks, including Mt. Everest. Her talk mostly consisted of how she was physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually strong enough to climb these mountains (figuratively and literally). She tied in words of advice (such as surrounding yourself with people who support you and your dreams) to her story of the climb up Mt. Everest.

Steve Karus: Steve is the Head of Farrier Services at the Cornell University College. So, naturally, he talked about shoeing (To Shoe Or Not To Shoe). He emphasized on his invented method,  WIDTH, an acronym standing for Work, Intensity, Duration, Terrain, and Horse. He explained she shooing differences between a working draft horse to a backyard OTTB. One of the most interesting aspects of this lecture, which I had never even heard of, was subtly manipulating the shoe to help with conformation defects, as well as to enhance the gaits of the horse. For example, the upper-level dressage horse may need more leg support on the hind legs while (usually) in soft footing, while the plow horse will need good traction for all-weather conditions.

Overall, I was very impressed by Lendon’s work and her crew’s work. I fully appreciate their hard work to help us young riders, and absolutely cannot wait for the next D4K event (I have already started studying for the written test this summer!!). These lectures were truly inspiring to listen to, and I enjoyed my weekend throughly!!

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