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Dreamcrest Seminar Kicks off Spring in Ontario
Port Perry, ON, Canada
by Amber Heintzberger

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Hugh Morshead
As the snow begins to melt, it's time to get ready for the spring events to begin. Coaches need to make sure that they are up to date on their educational requirements, and what better way to do this than with a Spring Eventing Seminar, held at the beautiful Dreamcrest Equestrian Center on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Organized by the OHTA and OEF, the seminar gave participants the opportunity to participate in four out of eight sessions. The only complaint was that everyone had to choose four, and miss the other four. Topics included coaching dressage for Entry to Pre-Training level and from Training to Preliminary level with FEI judge Jo Young, and a session on revisions to the rules of eventing, also with Jo Young; coaching jumping, from Entry to Pre-Training level and from Training to Preliminary level, with Canadian team member, Level III coach and Dreamcrest owner Ian Roberts; cross-country course-building and tips for cross-county riding, with FEI course designer Hugh Morshead; and lameness diagnosis and treatment, with Drs. Melissa McKee and Mike Pownall, of McKee-Pownall Veterinary Services.

Turnout was strong, and participants traveled from all over Ontario to take part in the seminar. The coaching sessions had both a discussion as well as a coaching demonstration in the arena, encouraging feedback and participation from the group.

Young has an analytical approach strongly rooted in the British system, and incorporates a great deal of visualization in her lessons, such as asking a student that tipped to one side to imagine that she wore a very heavy earring in the opposite ear, to encourage her sit up straight. Her no-nonsense style got straight to the point and she made sure that participants answered plenty of questions, to make sure that they were paying attention.

Young recalled that during her own education as a coach, she and other candidates were required to go to a cocktail party to observe the students that they would teach the following day. "The point," she said, "is that life predicts how we will ride. Posture is important, and observing a student's habits will give you clues as to how they will ride."

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Jo Young
Roberts' more laid-back approach was no less effective, as he schooled his students over fences and encouraged the group to analyse the effectiveness of the exercise, which consisted of a cavaletti, one short stride to an "X", and another short stride to a cavaletti. He reminded coaches to keep things interested, which he demonstrated by incorporated a short bending line into the grid, and then having the students jump a single, low barrel to practice narrow fences.

"Event horses may not question what we point them at," he advised. "Therefore, never point them at something they can't do. The coach has to have a pretty good idea of what the horse and rider are capable of; you have to push, but know when to push."

Morshead discussed 'dirty secrets of the cross-country course designer', giving riders tips about the construction of various fences as they relate to the lay of the land, and how to ride them. His explanations of how jumps are built gave riders and coaches a practical viewpoint of the nuts and bolts side of cross-country courses.

"I was glad to have the opportunity to explain what I try to do, and assist the riders to recognize the intention of the course builder," he said after the discussion.

Dr. McKee used a Powerpoint presentation to illustrate new technology in diagnosing and treating lamenesses, notably with photos of the new MRI room at their practice, one of only two in Canada. Though not inexpensive, MRI can detect lamenesses that other methods fail to illuminate. She also discussed traditional and alternative therapies and medications, citing specific cases and what worked or didn't work to help their patients.

Education Chair of the Ontario Horse Trial Association, MH Lessard organized the seminar. She explained that the OHT always has a spring seminar, and that she decided to double target coaches and riders by tying in the coaching development aspect to meet the needs of coaches. "Mentoring is a big thing, because people are finding it hard to get mentoring hours," she said. "There aren't enough mentors to go around, so we try to organize things like this."

Ian Roberts said that he was glad to offer his facilities for the occasion. "We're looking at getting people out of the rut," he said. "It's always good to see some different ideas and variations of what we do."


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