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Training with Olympic rider and German team coach Monica Theodorescu

Training with Olympic rider and German team coach Monica Theodorescu

This week, during the largest French equestrian fair Equita Lyon, Camille had the opportunity to train her six years old Hanoverian gelding Fétiche de Hus with German team trainer and Olympic rider Monica Theodorescu. 

The Société Hippique Française, organisation in charge of young horse competitions in France, invited the best dressage horses from each generation born in our country to attend this event. The goal is to promote our home breeding and encourage local breeders. "Tigrou", by Don Juan de Hus x Belissimo was born in Haras de Hus. 


Monica Theodorescu was Olympic champion with the German team in Seoul 1988, Barcelona 1992 and Atlanta 1996. She is also World and European champion. Since 2012, the German Equestrian Olympic Committee appointed her team trainer. 


A thirty minutes session was given to each horse, starting with a 4 years old, then moving up to a 5 and a 6 years old to clearly explain the expected progression and development of balance, attitude, movement according to each age. 


After a short warming up with Tigrou in the tent next door, Camille entered the main arena. This annual event being quite popular, it welcomes most French dressage fans. The place was pretty crowded and hot. It was actually Tigrou's very first indoor competition. He had already won two CDIs this year, qualified for World Breeding championships in Ermelo and won a silver medal at French championship last September. 


Monica pointed out that a six years old horse is still growing and building up muscle. However advanced he horse, this must be taken into account in the daily training and the rider should expect the horse to change physically quite a lot in the coming year. 


Camille chose to start with canter work, repeating transitions from collected to working canter on a circle line. Monica pointed out how important that was to keep the horse forwards while teaching him to stay uphill and in balance. She asked for a solid tempo and ground covering canter. She insisted the horse should be rounder and lower in the frame to be fully relaxed over the back. Collected canter should not come from a strong hand action but the rider should simply let the horse collect by himself. 


Starting with large working pirouettes on a fifteen meter circle, Monica reminded how important the inside leg is to keep the horse forward. Whenever the rhythm is impaired, it is important to come back to a more active and forward canter. There should not bee too much angle in the exercice, the hind legs not coming excessively in as the shoulders must keep turning. It is essential to keep the neck and pole supple. After a long collected session and between exercices, it is important to let to horse relax and stretch on a longer rein.


After a break in walk, we moved on to trot work. Again, Monica asked for the horse to be a bit rounder, lower with a supple neck. She suggested to train on a longer rein and longer neck length to make the trot overall more swinging and elastic. Hands must stay in front. Starting shoulder in, speed should not increase. In half passes, the horse should go forwards and not only sideways. She appreciated Tigrou's consistent trot rhythm throughout the session, including in lateral work which she insisted was an excellent model of good basic quality in the paces and serious training.


The contact and balance of the horse really improved during our training. We gave Tigrou a bit more neck frame and asked for shorter trot steps to check the possibilities for collection in the futur. Monica underlined he was quick to react in his hind legs. The horse should not be too high in the frame, his top line could get too tense. She reminded in training if the nose comes behind the vertical from time to time it is not a major mistake. He might need this at moments to develop and balance himself. Of course, it should never be the result of a rider pulling backwards but on a soft contact the horse's top line can be a bit rounder. 


At the end of the session, Camille let the horse stretch down, first in a sitting trot, hands forwards and pushing to the contact, then also in canter and finally rising trot. The horse becomes more and more engaged from behind, forwards and balanced.


Monica congratulated Camille for a lovely training session, acknowledging Tigrou's excellent level of training in particular solid flying changes and overall good behaviour, potential and quality of paces. It was a very interesting experience and once again Tigrou was absolutely focused, willing and generous.