Philipp Waeffler Olympic Head Coach
Great Britain Pentathlon Team
October 2, 2010
I trust you are well and in "full gear" as always, eventhough I know you have quite a few things on your plate right now... How is Ryan doing - all right?
I definately need to update you regarding my first week, past ECI visit... (if it gets too long, just poor a whisky and contine, excuse my elaborate...!).
Return last Sunday, Monday on the horse to test out a new Pentathlon horse Katie has for a 2 week trial. It was frustrating... I rode this horse, easy ride, really, but zero sparkle, so foreign warm blood - nothing I felt I am constantly working doing something. Of course he is responsive if using the whip once etc., but there is no rolling motion. I jumped a few jumps, great jumping, big jump, honest, great, but just not fwd enough - what do do? Rhythm 1 and 2 and... cannot be felt, not to mention my form and posture on the horse if you are always working...grrrrhhh!
Howver next morning I rode him again on the flat, little bit better, but I did not get the tune out of him (yet) and the coach could not (did not help). However, later that day I set of for Switzerland, arrived late night had a few whiskys with my dad before goin to bed. But: For Thursday morning I booked myself in for a riding lesson at the barn we used to train for Pentathlon with our former coach (he runs a sales barn/ showjumper barn in Switzerland and rides himself at S level and has working students etc.). Little small talk etc., but since I know you are only as good as your last ride, I kept things rather low, just said yes, I rode more again recently. One other student in the clas it turned out to be an international eventer who started training showjumping with him, bringing along a nice 6 year old.
So, Felix (the coach) said: We will do mainly gymnastic works today, Philipp your horse is a nice mare, but needs really soft hands, leg and seat and she will do everything for you... Good, I thought, now Philipp, riding to your ellbows, leg and seat and 1 and 2 and Gymastic, yeah as Michael taught me to do..! Warming up etc. - good, few xs - good Philipp, let's start with the line he said: His line was x to jump in - bounce - gate knee high - 1 stride- vertical few inches higher - 1 stride vertical few inches higher - 1 stride oxer - 3 stride WALL! SO 5 in a line. I went through it, felt nice, okay come again slighthly softer left hand Philipp, I said to myself come on lift your rip cage, fine, he said keep going and come again - bloody hell, while entering the line I noticed that he put the oxer up to 4 foot, well better lift your rip cage than and so we did it a few times afterwards - great.
He did smile, but did not give much chance to talk and started to work with me on a bend line XOxer to Oxer in 6 or 5 strides (well I had to do what he said, it was not a whising concert...). Finally little course as you would do including the line (no roll back though, that is Cintas special!!!), change leads of verticals and again and he of course it was 3.6- 4 foot by now and I though I did a pretty good job, but he said: We do it again, because nowbody said we are adding strides, I said 5 strides to the oxer and we gallopp such a course and do not stumble around as houswives. Oh, all right. Well, great morning and do you know what my lesson was: Never try to trick a proper riding coach... he figured out the second jump I have been riding recently and thought we are not going to mess around and allowing Philipp a compleacant ride...bugger!!! After the lesson he said, good see you tomorrow same time... wowh - okay...
Next day he put me on a dutch 6 year old he has sold to a customer, decent 30-50'000 horse he said, it's time to give you the feel for sporthorse as I like them today. Wowiewoie Michael... 1 and 2 and ride and nothing and jump and come again and that was all I did and distances where 99% there and him shouting fwd with your hand, but soft for God sakes (if I thought I was soft...) and just keep your leg on as the wind would touch its belly and not like a German (he said!!!) and say hoooh hooh in the line and you see... The horse just felt amazing and 4 foot fences seemt to come to us and he popped over! Lesson over he jumped on a horse and said - lets go for a hack and now you can tell me where you have been in America and of course I noticed right away you have been on a horse recently. His final comment was, well we better send you for 3 months over there! I wish I could...
MICHAEL, THANK YOU SO MUCH! IT IS SLIGHTLY SINKING, BUT THE MORE I KNOW THE MORE I KNOW I DON'T KNOW (that's how I currently feel. This quote is not from me by the way and unfortunately not from Shakespear, but from Einstaein!).THE PUZZLE STARTS TO FIT TOGETHER - THANKS TO YOU, BUT I REALIZE THERE IS SO MUCH MORE I NEED AND WANT TO LEARN FROM YOU.
If you think that was it for this week, well get another whisky... I met with Kurt (75 year old proper horseman, remember Nebos driving, jumping horse, spoken about at lunch in pioneertown). He bought once a TB, 5 years old of the butcher because she was so mad, he wanted to by this horse as a filly, but they said she is worth a fortune and we are going to make lots of money with her... It took Kurt 6 months to even put a saddle on her. Finally she lived until 25, he competed her and she gave 2 nice colts and tought us all not to pull on the reins... Kurt has very soft spot for TBs, he sat me down, after I told him about my visit to you in CA, he took pen and paper and had me to tell the entire 2 weeks and asked for all the distances and all the exercises.
This was great for me, like a theory exam and he said thanks God such riding trainers and horsemen still exist, I thought they are all gone, but we used to have them in former days! After that, Kurt said: get your breeches Philipp we take two 6 year old, green horses for a hack they need to gallopp once with joy in the forest! Great, the last part of the trail ride was learning to stand still or trot on a long rein and stretch downhill and look and see new things, mainly learning it is all right, the guy on my back is my friend and not and idiot (Kurt's words). Now it is 4 pm on Saturday and I think I will have whisky and switch on the the TV and watch Kenntucky, pack my bags and fly back to England tomorrow!
Take care and speak to you soon, your friend Philipp
Melanie McCann, Canadian National Team
June 21, 2010
I just wanted to tell you about my ride in Berlin after all the training we did.
Not sure if you saw any of the competition online, but the riding course was set over a hilly field with jumps uphill and downhill. I drew a great big horse named Leo. He lived at the riding barn on site so he was quite familiar with the surroundings. The warm up went great. I talked to Leo before I got on and throughout the warm-up. He loved to jump but was a bit slow during warm-up. I kept him on the rail and even though he was a bit drifty, I tried to get him listening to my leg yields as much as possible. Right before we went into the jumping ring, I gave him a little wake up with the stick like you taught me and we were good to go. I was able to sit up coming into fences and concentrate on the next jump coming up rather then the whole course being a blur. Leo was much stronger and faster once in the ring, but that was maybe his competition side showing. We had a few rails and no time penalties. The most important thing for me was that I felt like I belonged in the ring and that I was more then capable of performing. Even though I rode a very good horse, there was no doubt in my mind that I couldn't have ridden any of the horses in the competition.
John taped the ride and I am waiting for him to send it to me so I can send it on to you. I just wanted to let you know that my week riding with you made all the difference in that event for me, BUT i still have lots of work to do, of course. I look forward to seeing you at Canadian Nationals!
Melanie (Canadian National Team)
P.S. Say Hi to everyone at ECI for me!
May 8, 2010
Hope all is well over in Budapest. I have been following online when I can.
So I wanted to give you an update from PS about my riding. First of all, this week has flown by. I have been riding 2-3 times per day on a different horse each time. We started from scratch working on everything. Micheal is an incredible coach. He says riding is mental. Once you get the physical aids down, it's all mental and I completely agree with him. I have changed my seat entirely. The way I sit in the saddle is different then what I was taught and how I rode before. I sit back, my hip angle is closed, my hands are high, my back is open and soft and my chest is out. My butt is always in the tack even over jumps and through transitions. We started the first few days over small jumps, TONS of flat work and feeling the horse, being relaxed and constantly striving to ride my real estate (which is key to organization). I was so tense when I first got here and got on a horse. Now, he can put me on anything and they are all the same, well with small differences that you deal with by being a sensitive rider. I have time to breathe on the horse...who knew!! Riding is like music, and the horse is the beat. I go around the ring counting 1-2-1-2 and the jumps come to me and the only thing I have to do is sit straight, leg on and guide with my hands and mostly leg.
I have had my frustrations, but they have never been a bid deal and we just look at what happened and do it even better the next time. Implusion and energy in the horse is everything! At Equestrian Centers International we live by 3 words: Confidence, Committment, and Conviction. That is how you ride a horse. I have been lucky enough to watch many riders go and discuss their strengths and weaknesses as well. I am looking forward to my last days here as I feel I have made huge jumps forward in my riding, my confidence and my relationships with horses. It is all about a friendship with your horse. You and your horse must fall in love and work as a team from the second you meet. As a rider, your mind must be clear and your job has to be defined before you start and you must believe so you can perform.
I have many more notes from the week that I will share with you as well.
Melanie (Canadian National Team)