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Dressage in Australia fights back after equine flu

December 23, 2007


Ralf Isselhorst with Nichollas Fyffe riding Ferrero Rocher.

Ralf Isselhorst

Judy Dierks during a training clinic.
Pictures: EFA

Australian National Dressage Coach Ralf Isselhorst conduct clinics with the country's National Squad and other invited riders in Victoria and NSW, from December 7-14. Equine Influenza-enforced horse movement restrictions meant that it was not possible to hold one clinic in a central location, so conducting shorter clinics in several locations was the next best solution.

This indeed worked out for the best for several horse and rider combinations that are not on the National Squad but were invited to attend the clinics.

Isselhorst was enthusiastic about the opportunity he had to see up and coming horse and rider combinations as well the National Squad riders who are still in Australia.

"We must always be looking for new talented horses and riders, so seeing a wider group was very good. It's important that I see the riders and horses and how they are trained and also how they are progressing, but I do not need many days to do this in.

"It would be very good if in future I can see more new talented riders and horses. The clinic in Victoria showed me an excellent future Grand Prix prospect. I would like to see more of these developing horses and riders."

The non-Squad riders who were invited to the clinics were overwhelmingly enthusiastic about the opportunity to work with and be assessed by Isselhorse.

Lizzie Wilson-Fellows and Larapint Freespirit and Claire Wickins and Rolex were two of the invited rider/horse combinations at the SIEC clinic.

After the clinic Lizzie said, "Although my horse was a lot younger than the current squad horses it provided an invaluable chance to have him assessed as to his potential as a future FEI horse. Ralf was very supportive and enthusiastic in his encouragement to keep training and progressing with this horse, which is great! I really hope I could be considered for a future clinic if such an opportunity arises."

Claire was equally enthusiastic. "When I was invited to attend the clinic I knew that Rolex would not be fully fit as he was only just back in work after recovering from EI, but the opportunity to work with Ralf was too good to miss. His enthusiasm as a trainer is truly motivational and his comments about Rolex were really encouraging."

Rachel Sanna spoke for all the riders when she said it was "just so good to be back riding with other riders after all these months of working alone or not working at all. The clinic has been fantastic."

At the riders' meeting at SIEC High Performance Manager Brett Mace outlined the arrangements that may have to be put in place to have Australia's Olympic Squad horses and riders finish their preparation in Europe, beginning early in 2008.

Ralf believes "the sooner the better". He says Australian riders have to get as much experience of big time competition as possible before the Olympics.

"The Australian riders need to experience the tension and the atmosphere of the big European outdoor competitions. They have to get used to this situation and also be in a position to compare themselves against the top riders. They can't do that at Australian competitions.

"It would be ideal if the Australian team was in Europe and able to do the Sunshine Tour in Spain."



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