News from our Siglavy Slava
Vacation Visit at the "Von-Neindorff-Stiftung" (Chat Corner)
Authored: Wednesday, December 30th, 2009 - 08:51
Free days should be well used. Thus yesterday the arranged meeting with Prof. Schnitzer, "Von-Neindorf-Stiftung", and Siglavy Slava (v. Siglavy Servola) took place.
At the arrival a much less snotty atmosphere was perceptible among the attendees; in my eyes a positive development. In the riding hall two horses were present: a young Spanish horse and a white horse with a charming characteristic flair: S. Slava.
Prof. Schnitzer had arranged the presentation of the stallion with the young rider Christopher and the trainer and riding instructor Axel Schmidt with perfect punctuality.
What my eyes see pleases me. The one year ago completely degenerated stallion moves with ease and trustfully beneath his young rider, eager and contentedly. I hear a whisper: "Christopher adores this horse" - this was easy to notice, watching the rider beaming with joy.
Getting in closer contact, a friendly and amiable horses' face approaches me to inspect me curiously.
Later Prof. Schnitzer introduces me to all the horses of the Institute and he presents me his own two horses in-hand and beneath the saddle. The handling, the acceptance, the respect and the trust were beautiful - this word describes it most likely in the best way. Noticeable but consistently friendly „bitching" in certain situations was acknowledges with a grin, which naturally appealed to me. A horse is not a machine and shouldn't be one. We are also no machines and do not function precisely accurate.
Providing the 27 years old Holsteinerian mare owned by the professor with the title "bird" was received with a smile; it surely was noticed that I took my hat off to the white lady, highly appreciating her personality.
The long conversation we had on this and that were conducted in an extremely friendly atmosphere, even though this was our first meeting at all.
It simply was a relaxed and beautiful afternoon.
Siglavy Slava seems to recover more and more from his teenage years, and this pleases us exceptionally!
This article has been drawn from an Internet source (lipizzanerzucht.bloggospace.de). Unfortunately, the author is unknown.
Interview with Mr. Schmidt in the Magazine Cavallo, Edition 03/2009:
"A high Hat"
Axel Schmidt follows in large footsteps: the freelance riding instructor becomes functional and operational manager of the renowned Neindorff-Institute in Karlsruhe. There he intends to conserve the proven and rediscover the forgotten.
CAVALLO: These are large footsteps you're stepping into. How do you feel as successor of von Neindorff?
Schmidt: Egon von Neindorff cannot and will not ever be replaced by anybody. Insofar there won't be a Neindorff-successor either. But I am completely committed to what he represented. I will try to consistently follow his way of classical riding and to not meander.
CAVALLO: Which meanders do you see?
Schmidt: A lot of mischief happens in the name of the classic. Competitive riding cannot be called classical any more, and baroque riding is at least questionable. A tricorn and a powdered wig don't create a classical rider. And the name Neindorff is dropped conspicuously often.
CAVALLO: Why does that bother you?
Schmidt: I knew Egon von Neindorff, I have been teached by him and I made an internship at the institute. I really value him very much, personally and professionally. But I protest against being called a Neindorff-scholar. I have never trained one of his horses. It is sad that his name is used in an inflationary way. But there are some people who see this differently.
CAVALLO: You have been teaching at the institute since last year. What triggered the idea to take over the management?
Schmidt: I have been asked. After considering this intensively together with my spouse, at first I declined it. The hat is too high and too large I thought. But then I started to hold lessons and courses. Like this I was able to get to know everything, unhurriedly becoming acquainted with the institute. That convinced me.
CAVALLO: What do you intend to change?
Schmidt: Nothing. That's exactly the point: conserve the proven and revive lost aspects of classical dressage, these are my missions. This last temple mustn't get lost.
CAVALLO: How do you want to achieve that?
Schmidt: The task is huge. But the foundations laid by Dr. Wachtarz in the last four years are really good. Fortunately, he and the other riding instructor will stay with the institute.
CAVALLO: What do you plan for 2009?
Schmidt: There are two upcoming anniversaries: The promotion association will turn 20, and the historical equestrian stables and hall are occupied by the institute now since 6o years. Both will be celebrated duly.
Riders Journal: Why do your riders prefer the von Neindorff Institute to other riding schools or clubs?
Axel Schmidt: Among the adults there are many that have already had some quite bad experiences with other riding schools and would like to follow our path. Another important principle is to correct each other and to endorse that. One must not show off being a Neindorff student, but rather mount the horse and proove it by riding.
Riders Journal: What are the emphases of your training? How long do the phases and steps take?
Axel Schmidt: Nobody kann set a timetable, it depends on each individual student. The lunging phase will take until we can account for him not falling off in a group lesson. He needs to be able to trot and canter, he needs to be able to sit. The training of posture will allways continue in the following lessons to avoid that the rider gets tense on the horse. We also try to verbally convey this posture experience, but that isn't easy. There are limits in imparting a feeling, it needs to be learned. Later we also work something out at the lunge or we solve possible problems in private lessons. It is also important to teach that a trained horse is a schoolmaster that does not need to function at the push of a button, but that the rider is the one who has to learn how to give the correct aids.
Riders Journal: How does the typical procedure look like when you train one of your horses?
Axel Schmidt: The training depends completely on the horse, on its interior and exterior. One cannot say "today I'll do this or that". I have a goal in mind in the terms of the education scale - harmony, extension and responsiveness - towards that I want to work, everything else the horse will tell me. Not the age is important, what the horse can do, but the education level, and that determines the future way: if the back is stabilized, one can proceed, but eventually one needs to take a step back now and then, that depends on the horse. Naturally, variety is also an important topic, that's why working with cavalettis is integrated into the training regularly. The basic principle is: Take your time, because it is wrong to ask too much from the horse too early, but one should also not just let the time pass and miss the moment. My experience is that it is amazing how much the horses give to us if they are trained correctly. My own unique definition of classical training is:
One needs to ride in a way that the horse is not constrained in its charisma, its beauty and its thoughts.
Riders Journal: Did you ever decline a horse or a rider?
Axel Schmidt: Horses only if the had a health problem. With riders it is like that: the principle is that every rider gets his chance, he only needs to seize it and he needs to stay committed. Riders who search for bogus success, who just want to learn som tricks and convert the riding lesson into a debate may stay away. The rider has to want to learn - learn from the horse to feel what he needs to do.
Riders Journal: How would you conclude the most important principles for the training of horse and rider?
Axel Schmidt: The horse tells us what to do. This is a recurring theme throughout the whole training. To progress along the path of the principles outlined by Mr. von Neindorff, building on natural predispositions of the horse, with the goal of getting as close as possible and acting to the best of our knowledge and belief.
Riders Journal: Which special contributions can and shoud be provided by the Riding Institute?
Axel Schmidt: What makes it special is that we continue to follow the path that has been started in 1949 and that continuously has been refined without being misled, especially in modern times. That one continues in that way how good riding can be felt and learned in a time where a lot of things have already gotten out of hand, where various modern ways of riding pop up and the FN tries to paddle back with lectures such as ,Better Riding". Whoever sat on a horse that really shows loose calmness will want to experience that again and again, it's like an addiction. Loose calmness can only be achieved by work, and one needs to search hard for horses that have that quality. We want to conserve what I for example have been allowed to learn and feel in the lessons of Mr. von Neindorff.
Riders Journal: I deliberately did not ask you about the term "classical", because in the meanwhile it is quite fraught and interpreted in any possible direction. Therefore I'm phrasing it differently: Why do you think that this way of training is worth being coserved and authorative, and what does it make sustainable?
Axel Schmidt: Riding has developed into a cultural asset in more than 2000 years. Classical does not only mean traditional, it also means precise and it means proven. It has been proven in the times of cavalry. If one bought a horse, one wanted that it to last. Bought with three years and after one year of basic training it was supposed to last another 16 years. That in itself is proof, keeping the horse healthy is the main concern. You can observe that during our events where horses aged 20 years are participating.
Interview conducted by Daniela Frühauf