EAT | Pot Roast

Hey Barn Babes!

We have a little something different for you today. We’ve been sharing recipes at the barn and I thought, why not share with all of you as well?! A little different than clinic notes and horses for sale, but hopefully one of these dishes will bring a little fun to your day.

So today enjoy this delicious pot roast recipe that we’ve tweaked from Cafe Delites (originally recipe here: https://cafedelites.com/slow-cooked-balsamic-pot-roast/)

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 pounds chuck roast, boneless and trimmed of excess fat (I used a top round because I wanted a lean meal)
  • 2 yellow onions chopped
  • 8 cloves garlic minced or smashed with the back of a spoon
  • 1 pound baby potatoes halved
  • 4 large carrots, cut into 1 to 2 inch pieces
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (splurge on the good stuff, it makes a difference)
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 teaspoons crushed bouillon (or one packet)
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
  • 1 – 2 cups reduced-sodium beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons plain flour 
  • 2 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley, to serve

DIRECTIONS :

  • Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).
  • Season roast all over with a good amount of salt and pepper.
  • Heat oil in a dutch oven or oven-proof pot over medium-high heat.
  • Sear roast until brown on all sides, anywhere from four to ten minutes per side.
  • Transfer roast to a plate.
  • Sauté 2 chopped onions onions until transparent, then add 8 cloves minced garlic and cook for 30 seconds until fragrant.
  • Add 1 cup stock and 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar to deglaze your pan, scraping up any browned bits.
  • Whisk in the 2 tablespoons of flour and let cook for about 4 minutes (don’t worry about any lumps, they will cook out).
  • Add the potatoes, carrots, 2 tbs mustard, 1 tbs brown sugar, 2 tsp thyme and 2 tsp bouillon. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir about.
  • Transfer roast back into the pot.
  • Bring to a simmer, cover with lid and transfer to the oven. Roast for 3-4 hours until the meat is tender and falling apart. (Check roast after 1 1/2 hours. If the liquid has mostly been absorbed, stir in 1 cup of extra broth and continue cooking.)
  • Transfer the roast, carrots, and potatoes to a warm plate.
  • Cut the roast into thick slices, and serve with the vegetables. Spoon pan juices

I served with a salad but would be great with grits too mmmm. Or fresh crispy green beans!

The original recipe called for celery which I would omit when cooking again, and I had given all the big carrots to the horses so I used carrot chips but for sure use the proper carrots if you can. The flavor is perfectly decadent without being too much. And there’s basically nothing ‘bad’ in the dish so it was nice to have a comforting treat without being too rich! Five stars.

STEFFEN PETERS CLINIC | FEBRUARY 20, 2021

We were lucky to welcome Steffen Peters back to Copper Light this past Saturday for a half day of lessons and once again find ourselves full of renewed zest for the sport and training. Below, please enjoy a few of my takeaways from the morning and visit our instagram highlight for some video. Cheers to fabulous trainers who elevate and inspire us all!

Next to the farm we welcome Janet Foy on March 9th. Fingers crossed that we’ll impress her with our dedicated schooling while she was away! As always, we would love for you to join us to audit the lessons, all rider spots are filled. If you would like to be alerted about clinics upcoming at Copper Light, please shoot us a message to ride@copperlightfarm.com or call Lindsey for details. You can also find a list of upcoming events here.


Steffen was noticeably inspired to start the day, chatting about theory as we walked through the barn to the morning’s first lesson. When a top coach is jazzed up about training, you certainly take notice. Did he listen to an awesome podcast on the drive up? Did he have a super week of training? I may never know. But much to my delight, he continued to talk about his approach to training and marvel that horses can learn things so quickly as the day went on.

During our first visit with Steffen, the very obvious resounding theme of the day was raising our standards. And while he certainly continued to remind us of that on Saturday, our second visit was filled with reveling in the fact that our horses can learn all these things we’re asking them to do, and subsequently using the ‘training moments’ and clear explanations so that they learn to offer the movements on their own.

He introduced us to his approach on training moments during our first clinic and really expanded on it with each rider this time. When one of our riders was working on collected canter toward pirouette, her horse took two steps behind in trot which she quickly corrected. Steffen encouraged that rather than the rider quickly covering the mistake, she could use the mistake to help train the right response. He said, “there you missed a training moment. Even that little trot step is the perfect time to say lets go a moment forward. When I collect you, the last thing you should think about is a trot step.” He encouraged our riders in collected work to go forward three or four strides if their horses broke gaits, got heavy in the bridle or got sticky. In doing so the horses will learn that we still want forward. Eventually after enough times of this cycle repeating, he will learn that collection never means a shift in gait and will ‘offer the movement’ himself. If the horse picks up the wrong lead, just go forward, change back and carry on. He told us not to make a big deal over mistakes, don’t tell them they’re wrong, just show them what could be better. To one rider who was working on keeping her horse going while collected (maybe this is the actual theme of our day?!), he said, “I test this degree of collection with very little leg. I don’t say don’t break don’t break don’t break. If he breaks, I’ll take care of it.” This is the training moment. Are you with me? Letting the horse break from canter to trot and then scooping him back into the canter is. the. training. moment. Simple, yet somehow revolutionary.

“The building block for collection is energy.”

He reminded us that struggling through the movements is sort of missing the point. If you are just struggling to half pass with your horse coming up in the contact and bracing his neck, why not stop and circle to adjust the elasticity and suppleness and then attempt the half pass again? This is training, not showing, after all. He told us with consistent high expectations, “they should learn to offer the movement. We have to educate them that they are so cooperative that they offer the movement. And then again we can hide the aids a bit more. So many horses move huge but the rider is really really working, I’m sorry but that’s not what my vision is of dressage. Same idea, when you struggle through the movement, don’t just continue with the half pass. Try to make a difference.”

To support the concept of the horse learning to offer the movement, he presented us with the idea of habit forming. Repeatedly he told us that he performs certain things (such as walk halt, squaring up in the halt) regularly every single day and that eventually it will become a habit. Some things he is a stickler about. With each rider he stressed that he works on halting square every single time. To one rider he said, “I do this every single time with my horses, I’m not exaggerating, ten twelve fifteen halts. Because then it becomes a habit for them to square up. Before you know it, you do it two hundred times, and they get it! It’s not a huge step forward, it’s closing them up. That’s fascinating how horses can learn and how those little things can make a huge difference. The ability of a horse to learn is fascinating. We just have to tap into that ability. The quicker you can correct a horse to be square, if you correct this immediately the quicker they learn.”

I was struck by how often he told us about how much he practiced particular things. Repeatedly he said, “I can’t tell you how many times I practice this at home.” As in my last clinic recap, it’s hard to say that on paper without it sounding like he or I are speaking of drilling. That’s not it at all. It’s never drill, all just consistency which leads to good habits. He was particularly generous in the expectation level while training the square halts. When a horse reacted and moved the indicated leg, he declared it good enough and the pair moved on. Whereas in most everything else we worked on, perfection was the only answer. In the halts, the right idea was the answer. One of our pairs worked on this in the beginning of their ride, moving each leg independently into square as they halted, and then mid-ride while working on something else, Steffen threw a random halt at them and the horse instantly squared himself. VOILA! It turns out, practice really does make perfect.

He taught us again not to hold our horses in anything; don’t hold them in the gait, in the frame, in the tempo. Show them what we want and then teach them how to learn to offer it themselves. He reminded us to “make a difference” with the aid, get the reaction you’re seeking and not hold the horse. Short quick aids. He told one rider try not to ride rhythmical aids, that he wakes them up with an aid and then the leg is there to support. He motivated all the riders to find the place the horse used his body and topline best and encourage the horse to hold himself there.

And of course our day was filled with reminding ourselves to reach for the highest standards to achieve the training moments that become habits. In everything, Steffen reminded us, “let’s be picky about the smallest thing” and to not give points away for no reason. Take this narrative from part of a session for example;

If we just hope or pray that it gets better, it won’t necessarily make a difference. So when he had a trot step in there, I would have pushed him forward for three to four strides and said hey buddy we were relaxing in walk but you didn’t truly respond into the canter. So no problem that he makes that mistake but I always try to do something about it. I call it a training opportunity.

Let’s be picky about the smallest little thing. The next time he picks up the wrong lead, even then I would go forward. I would just change back to the correct lead. We’re not going to make a big deal about it.

Horse picks up outside lead in walk-canter transition, rider continues forward and does a flying change to correct lead.

Yes! Very good decision. That was training. You follow me? We could just bring him back to walk and get the transition again but then they don’t learn. We should not just get on our horses every day and just repeat the movement, then they don’t learn. This is training.

The level of expectation was again so different from anything I’ve experience before. Not in a frustrated, gosh-we-have-to-do-that-over way. It’s simply, you can do better. You can expect better. And to some he said, “you don’t have to accept that anymore.” Mind. Blown. We know better, so we should do better. It’s as simple as that. Being a stickler for the details every time will make it less confusing to the horse, and more rewarding for us both. He continually spoke about how fascinating it is that our horses can perform the way that they do, which to me seemed like quite a contenting train of thought. There is so much joy in even small successes when training a horse. The first clean flying change (heck the first ugly flying change!), when you have an absolutely beautiful canter depart after putting in the work on your transitions, when a judge rewards your fastidious efforts at square halts, when your horse is revved up for the piaffe and gives you a fantastic feeling. There is so much joy to be had in reward for all of our efforts! Steffen said something that really resonated with us about exhaling from the soul during these moments;

It might sound funny but, I do this in the test, I exhale from my soul. I don’t just exhale. I exhale from my soul.

And I do it in the training so many times. When I do something exciting and I do a halt, all of a sudden the horse does the same thing. You feel that they go ahhhh.

I feel like exhaling from the soul, it might sound a little far fetched for some people, but it’s really what I believe is so important.

They really chill out and understand that yes there is some excitement and pressure, but there is always that time where we take a deep breath.

It was another eye opening day with Steffen. One of those days where you’re not quite sure you absorbed it all so you re-watch the video and re-read your notes over and over. He has this unique tranquility that doesn’t generally coincide with a top level of perfection, that in itself makes the audience hang on every word. Watching him ride is the epitome of this serene consistency that he approaches training with. So fluid, so peaceful, so effective. We were fortunate beyond words to get a glimpse into his training system and I can’t thank him enough for being so generous with his time. Thank you again to our lovely auditors who joined us (and served as pole crew during one ride!), can’t wait to see you all again soon!


PS I take a lot of notes, enjoy! 😉

TRAINING TIDBITS

  • I think you can expect more from that. You were clucking there and you put your leg on and I think I would have expected a trot step. I know he can do a trot transition, what I don’t know is if he can scoot a moment into the trot and truly respect your aid.
  • So no problem that he makes that mistake but I always try to do something about it. I call it a training opportunity.
  • Let’s be picky about the smallest little thing. Next time he picks up the wrong lead, even then I would go forward. And I would just change back to the correct lead. We’re not going to make a big deal about it, you don’t need to worry.
  • Very good decision. That was training. You follow me? We could just bring him back to walk and get the transition again but then they don’t learn. We should not just get on our horses every day and just repeat the movement, then they don’t learn. That’s training.
  • Let’s not give points away. For that same aid for the upper levels, the judges say well you’ve done that walk-canter transition since second level. If that doesn’t work at the PSG of course they’re going to give a four or a five. So let’s not give the points away, let’s have the highest standard about every single movement we do.
  • We know from the walk pirouette he wants to get a little bit lazy and when we try to engage him he tries to get a little behind us. So when we ask for a little travers canter he might slow down. Any time you feel that you go quickly forward back into a little lengthening, and forget about the travers canter and get him nicely in front of the leg again.
  • When you hold the leg too long, he might think about a few half steps, he might think piaffe. Use short quick aids.
  • Never struggle through the movement. When things become a little complicated… let’s find a way to explain to them and get a moment to give.
  • When you lose energy, don’t just fill up the energy that you lost. You fill up more energy. Go for a little lengthening.
  • You were so happy with the canter pirouette that he was resting already in the transition. He can rest afterwards. Sometimes I just give him the rein and let him go immediately and let him go right back to the walk. But that’s because I want to praise him instantly. Give him an instant reward. Horses have a very short attention span. So when we reward them immediately they get it. So once in a while when I teach something really big, I let him walk like you just did. But next time I’m going to be much more careful about collecting them before the walk like I’m going to come down the centerline for the salute.
  • While he’s stretching while he’s relaxing, he can still respect your leg. And then it becomes a habit for him to move nicely actively forward. Horses can march forward like this. Let’s take a quick moment to look at the hip and the stifle in walk. That reach and overstride comes from the hip and the stifle. That range of motion can be very therapeutic for them. That’s why I always believe in an extended walk, to truly get that exercise and stretch from the hips and the stifle.
  • I love my horses. I truly do. But also to a certain extent they’re also my business partner. Because t’s a pretty serious business at the Olympic level. So I love them but love and a good partnership doesn’t work without respect. I don’t think a good marriage works without respect either.
  • I do this every single time with my horses, I’m not exaggerating, ten twelve fifteen halts. Because then it becomes a habit for them to square up. Before you know it, you do it two hundred times, and they get it! It’s not a huge step forward, it’s closing them up. That’s fascinating how horses can learn and how those little things can make a huge difference. The ability of a horse to learn is fascinating. We just have to tap into that ability. The quicker you can correct a horse to be square, if you correct this immediately the quicker they learn.
  • Send him forward to create energy and then collect him and increase the suppleness in the topline and consequently the lighter contact.
  • You don’t need to accept any more when you go to the halt that his first reaction is to brace out of the gait. The second he braces against you in the transition, there is a very low chance that he’s going to square up.
  • I want this to be understood, when we collect them that they don’t go against us. From the poll back to the quarters that the frame becomes shorter. I want him to understand when we ride transitions from medium to collected canter, that he does give in the topline.
  • I like the feeling that they’re so relaxed in walk and they start walking bigger because of my leg aid. They go bigger because of the gentle touch of the calf. I practice every single day that after some exciting movements – we have passage or one tempis -that they show a perfect walk.
  • We don’t want to drive every stride within the rhythm. I try not to use a rhythmical aid. I try to wake them up and then my leg is there. If the calf is not enough, then I come a little bit firmer with my aid.
  • I really believe in this elasticity that we can ask a horse to reach from hip and the stifles
  • I find that in canter any horse (even one with a canter that is challenging), to a certain extent they learn the connection easier than in trot. If you ride a circle with the haunches in and they truly stay active and the hind leg is the center of the pirouette they have to come under just to balance the movement. So instead of pressing the horse strong from behind into the bit where they might come under, to me it’s too strong its too forceful. So why not use a movement such as the canter pirouette to engage the hind legs a bit. Then incorporating those movements into the collected work.
  • Don’t wait too long, go forward. Only natural when we ask them to sit a little bit more that they want to slow down a bit.
  • I’ve seen many horses that have a normal trot and a huge passage.
  • We want to be aware that when they learn it, it takes a tremendous amount of strength. So we do that very very briefly. Slowly build it up and then eventually try to maintain it in a half pass, which will be even ten times harder.
  • When we pick up the reins immediately there should be an answer. You don’t have to accept that any more.
  • There you missed a training moment. Even that little trot step is the perfect to say lets go a moment forward. when I collect you the last thing you should think about is a trot step.
  • And if it’s too hard we go from canter pirouette back to walk pirouette to explain to him what we want.
  • The walk can get bigger if you can ride them gently forward. I cant even tell you how much I practice this at home. The perfect frame for the extended walk, the perfect tempo. So then it becomes a habit. I call it money in the savings account. Then when that works you can take a breather in the test.
  • It might sound funny but, I do this in the test – I exhale from my soul. I don’t just exhale. I exhale from my soul. And I do it in the training so many times. When I do something exciting and I do a halt, all of a sudden the horse does the same thing. You feel that… they go ahhhh. I feel like exhaling from the soul, it might sound a little far fetched for some people, but it’s really what I believe is so important. They really chill out and understand that yes there is some excitement and pressure, but there is always that time where we take a deep breath.
  • It’s only logical that any horse wants to bring the haunches in when we ask them to collect. It’s easier.
  • Never lose the elasticity in the topline. Nothing’s more important. The topline needs to be loose and the contact needs to be comfortable.
  • Never struggle through the movement and just ride it and repeat it. Always try to make a difference and teach him.
  • When you give an inch, they can take an inch. They don’t need to take more than that.
  • The whole idea of bending a horse around the inner leg. I find that so beneficial for canter pirouettes, half passes.
  • They have to, wait have too is too forceful, they should learn to offer the movement. We have to educate them that they are so cooperative that they offer the movement. And then again we can hide the aids a bit more. So many horses move huge but the rider is really really working, I’m sorry but that’s not what my vision is of dressage. Same idea, when you struggle through the movement, don’t just continue with the half pass. Try to make a difference.
  • There’s no champion that falls out of the sky.
  • I test this degree of collection with very little leg. I don’t say don’t break don’t break don’t break. If he breaks, I’ll take care of it.
  • The building block for collection is energy.
  • I never had a horse that I taught the collection in canter that didn’t break to the trot. I never had one. Don’t doubt yourself. Explore a little.
  • Don’t use the whip to send them forward. (!!!!)

Clinic Auditing

With our second visit from Steffen Peters (and third visit from Janet Foy!) upcoming, we’ve received a lot of questions about auditing at Copper Light. We will always welcome auditors to the farm unless our trainer requests a closed day so come on out and join the fun! I believe strongly in soaking up every drop of education, so we’ll continue to welcome auditors for no fee as much as we can. Having access to top riders and trainers is an absolute privilege and we’d love to share it with enthusiastic riders!

With all of our recent inquiries from riders new to the farm, I thought we’d put some helpful information together to make your first visit as much fun as possible. Visiting a new place can be a little intimidating, but we’re a friendly bunch and would love to meet you. As always if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to call, email or direct message on our social media.

What is a dressage clinic?

When we host a trainer for a dressage clinic, we are inviting a well known expert to the farm that we don’t get to train with regularly. It can be a great supplement to regular coaching from your local trainer and lend some new perspective. Rather than teaching one lesson, clinicians see and train six to ten riders a day in 45 minute to hour long sessions. Clinic lessons are generally open to auditors – that’s you! – to watch and learn while the rider is taught on his or her horse. Some clinics are single days and up to three days. Occasionally a clinician specializes in one are such as in hand training of piaffe or is a top level judge that we can “ride a test” for and receive feedback before a show. Clinics offer an fantastic opportunity for riders to experience a higher level or see new approaches.

Clinics at Copper Light Farm

Our farm is very accessible, just a few miles off highway 95 with ample parking. You can find a parking spot in the front trailer lot, the small lot behind the original barn or the large lot in front of the main barn. Then make your way into the main barn which is the big grey barn next to the outdoor arena. You’ll see the covered arena behind the main barn and that’s where we’ll have our lessons, no rain will stop us! As you walk through the main barn, you’ll notice snacks, drinks and coffee in the breezeway in the middle of the barn, please help yourself! For full day clinics (six or more rides), we always include a lunch break. For half day clinics we will have pastries and light faire available. If food is out, it’s for you! Please don’t be shy about grabbing a snack or a drink anytime throughout the day. If you need help finding anything or making a cup of nespresso, just ask the staff!

Life is a bit different during covid and we do require all visitors to maintain social distancing from our visiting trainer, staff and riders. Masks are not required but no one will be offended if you feel more comfortable masked. Our food items are always individually wrapped and tongs are available.

It’s always a good idea to arrive a 10-15 minutes early so you can get a lay of the land, grab a snack or water, use the restroom, or boop a cute horse as you walk by. Fritz says he’ll doing something cute for a face rub.

It’s perfectly acceptable to quietly leave the arena to take a break, just be conscientious of things that might spook a horse or distract a rider; don’t move your chair right as they turn the corner toward you, crinkle up your chip bag as they start a canter pirouette, etc. You don’t have to sit still like a bunny during clinic lessons, but generally this is not the place to chat (even if it’s about the ride), clinics are lovely with friends but socializing during sessions is missing the point. Soak up every word our fantastic coach says and go even further to enhance your experience by taking notes, writing down questions and observations and making notes about affective exercises to try. The simple act of note taking is proven to help learning and retention, bonus! To reap even greater benefits, go over your notes afterward with your trainer or friends that also attended, discussion is often the path to better clarity!

During clinics you’ll see a variety of different level horse and riders, different breeds and types. Some are looking to move up a level and hone details, some are just eager to learn from the best. Everyone is working on something so do be kind and offer encouragement. As a group, riders are generally pretty hard on themselves and external criticism isn’t productive. It takes a lot of courage to ride in front of a crowd and tough trainers, I don’t think you’ll see me under the lights at global any time soon – how do they do it?! We generally have a waiting list for clinic lessons and our boarders will be prioritized but we do welcome outside riders to join! If you’d like to receive clinic announcements please email ride@copperlightfarm.com.

Clinic Auditing Dos and Dont’s:

Do:

  • Bring a chair, at Copper Light some seating is available but limited.
  • Maintain social distance from the trainer, staff and riders.
  • Take advantage of this learning opportunity and take notes, write down questions and draw out exercises.
  • Help yourself to snacks and beverages (at Copper Light, everywhere is different but we like snacks!).
  • Arrive 10-15 minutes early to find a seat and get settled in.
  • Please park in designated parking areas only and not on the grass.
  • Offer your encouragement and support to the riders.
  • Be courteous of your timing when arriving or exiting the arena, opening a folding chair, etc.
  • Let our trainer enjoy his or her lunch break.
  • Ask before taking photo or video.

Don’t:

  • Crowd the personal space of our trainer, riders or staff who we should be socially distant from.
  • Bust out your umbrella ringside. Horses + umbrellas generally don’t mix.
  • Bring your dog. The riders are really invested in their lesson so let’s do our best to not offer any distractions.
  • Park on the grass (which will give the horse hubby a mental breakdown).
  • Feel bad about having a snack. It’s there for you!
  • Chat during sessions. This is time to learn, socializing comes after when we can all discuss what we watched.
  • Ask questions to the trainer unless invited to. Each lesson time is dedicated to the rider. Many clinicians will have Q&A time during a break but it is not appropriate to ask questions during a lesson.
  • Smoke. Our property is strictly no smoking, as are most farms.

We’re ecstatic to welcome Steffen back for a half day this Saturday, February 20th from 8:30-12:30. As this is a half day clinic, we will have light faire available. Enthusiastic auditors are welcome to join us!

RIDE TIMES:

8:30 Mona Blackburn
Daiquiri | Third Level
Painted Black x Donnerhall, 12yo Gelding

9:30 Jackie Kinney
Donaferdi | Grand Prix
Donatelli x Consul, 17yo Gelding

10:30 Anne Book Campione
Zem | Intermediaire 1
Krack C x Goodtimes, 15yo Gelding

11:30 Lindsey Auclair
King Leo | Second Level
Continental Jester x Doc’s Sorrel Top, 17yo Gelding
owned by Margot McConnel

Steffen Peters Clinic | February 6, 2021

We were beyond lucky to host the four-time Olympian, three-time USEF Horseman of the Year and one of my absolute favorite riders to watch in person. We had a fantastic day learning from the best and it’s safe to say that our expectations of ourselves are firmly elevated. We’re all still basking in the glow of the enlightenment . Where do I even begin?

Let’s start with expectations.

If you’re enthusiastic enough to watch a full clinic with any trainer, you’ll generally notice that there is a common message that applies to every ride, no matter the level. With Steffen, it was undoubtedly that our expectations need to be elevated.

When I say that he elevates your expectations of yourself and your horse, I mean it in the truest sense. He was by far the most exacting coach I’ve ever ridden with. He didn’t expect us to be perfect, but he expected us to keep trying until we got it perfect. He said, “if you accept less than perfect, you will continually get less than perfect.”

An almost-perfect transition is not perfect, so try again. There was no bark to this demand, simply the fact that we should all expect more than we were. He was e x a c t i n g.

In the best way possible. He forced us to refine aids, transitions, movements, that we didn’t even realize could be refined to that level. Each rider expressed to me that his standards were eye opening. Our ‘good enough’ has flown right out the window. He mentioned more than once that the horse might break or show confusion multiple times, that is the actual training moment. Don’t be afraid of the mistakes, use them to train. Eventually they will realize, ‘oh ok, she’s going to be a stickler about this’ and rise to the standard we have set. He said, “it’s all in your expectations and your standards, how you expect them to listen to your aids.” For me, it was that I was continually asking for forward whereas I should ask for forward and expect the horse to continue without constantly nagging. For another rider, he reminded her not to carry the horse when he was heavy or long. He said, “I absolutely refuse to push him every stride.” Show him what you expect and tell him to keep it there. Set your intention and have high expectations for the response. When you don’t get the exact right response, try again, don’t accept almost-right.

“It’s all in your expectations and your standards, how you expect them to listen to your aids”

– Steffen Peters

Do you guys realize how much almost-right we all were accepting? I find it hard to explain how inspiring this new standard of expectation feels without it sounding like we want to be drill sergeants who suck the fun out of riding. Because that’s the opposite of what this feels like and what we intend. So here’s the thing… absolutely nailing it is SO MUCH FUN. It’s so fun to feel the difference in the perfect transition compared to the prior not-so-perfect transition. It’s SO fun to feel the difference in the perfect collected canter versus the really hard to maintain collected canter. There’s no ego, there’s no getting mad at the horses when they’re taking an easier way, it’s just the absolute dedication to nailing it. Every time. And being so proud and appreciative to the horse when you do. Hurrah.

We’ve all heard it before that every moment with horses you’re training, but he cemented it as he said to one rider, “every time you pick up the contact you’re training.” Every time, guys. He said, “we should teach our horses every single day. We should train them. Dressage at the end of the day is teaching.” He told us that they are entitled to their opinions, entitled to tell us that the work is hard or that they don’t understand, but they don’t need to argue about it. So we maintain consistent expectations for responses to aids and then the horse has clarity in our consistency.

He also reminded us regularly to ‘make a difference’ with the aids. He repeated to several riders that we should make a difference when we use the spur in particular, don’t just use it to maintain the movement. When one horse needed to move off the right leg and then had a very clear reaction when the right spur was applied well, he said, “make a difference with the right spur, yes! That to me is training!” A clear concise aid was given, and a clear concise answer was received. It was beautiful to see lightbulbs flicker all day.

The same thought about making a difference applied within the gaits as well. To one rider he said, “Never have the feeling that you’re struggling through a movement, make a difference.” Meaning, don’t just say this is hard for us, let’s just get through it. The point of this adventure is not to struggle through.

I was struck that for every pair, he worked with us to find what worked for that horse in particular. He told one rider, ‘we want to find for every horse the most appropriate frame where they say ‘here I can carry myself here I get a little bit lighter’. For my mount in particular, I hadn’t even realized how long he gets from the base of the neck. We are generally well connected in the bridle and seemingly through, but he was consistently wanting to stretch. Steffen told me that the stretch is (of course) a good thing at the right moment, but for this horse it’s where he wants to go constantly but it isn’t best for his body. We worked diligently to find a new balance where he can take weight off his forehand. As Steffen said, the horse as a creature is not designed to carry weight on the forehand. So if we teach them to carry behind, we’ll preserve them and do their bodies a service.

Expectations, it turns out, are everything. When I went from (what for me was a difficult to achieve) collected canter back out to medium, I kept encouraging him forward with my hand rather than keeping the neck up where it needed to be to keep him loaded behind. This very basic but difficult task brought everything full circle for me. Insert lightbulb here. If I’d had higher expectations of our level of forward from the beginning, it would have been lightyears easier to achieve a balanced forward out of the collection.

There is so much that I’m not touching on, but I can confidently say that all of our riders (and hopefully our auditors) all walked away from our day with Steffen with exceptionally raised expectations of ourselves and the clarity of our aids.

We had better do our homework because we’re insanely lucky to have Steffen returning to us for a half day on Saturday, February 20th! Somebody pinch me, I can’t believe our good fortune! We would love to invite friendly, socially distant, eager to learn auditors to join us again. Can’t wait to see you all soon!


Some of my quick notes:

  • Every time you pick up the contact you’re training.
  • To me it’s all about two things; the horse can either accept the bit and respect the bit or they spend the rest of their life working against the bit. They have to accept the leg aid seat aid and just as much they have to accept the rein aid. 
  • You don’t want to use the whip to punish him but you can use the whip a little bit the next time he goes against you when you pick up the rein.
  • Make a difference with the spur, don’t just use it to maintain the movement. 
  • We should teach our horses every single day. We should train them. Dressage at the end of the day is teaching. 
  • Never have the feeling that you’re struggling through a movement, make a difference. 
  • It’s all in your expectations and your standards, how you expect them to listen to your aids.
  • We want to find for every horse the most appropriate frame where they say ‘here I can carry myself here I get a little bit lighter’.
  • You can check in there, did my horse yield to the leg and yield to the rein? At the end of the day they should use their. muscles to carry themselves, not your muscles. Use your strength briefly to make a difference.
  • That needs to sink in, this giving in the top line (Proper connected halt walk transition) 
  • Stay on top of it. He’s entitled to an option about the contact but he doesn’t need to argue about it. 
  • A half halt in the most simplistic way needs to be totally understood and respected – in that order.
  • They have to understand the meaning of the half halt and the result of the half halt.
  • Make a difference with the right spur. Yes, that to me is training! 
  • They learn to offer the movement – if you have to force the rein back it’s always trouble. 
  • When you squeeze into the bridle he needs to respond.
  • When I have a horse that wants to dive a little, I do lots of transitions within the gait.
  • Don’t be too tough on yourself, if you give the right aid he should respond behind.

2021-02-20T12:55:00

  days

  hours  minutes  seconds

until

Steffen Peters returns to Copper Light!


About Steffen:

Memorably, at the Atlanta Olympic games, Steffen won team bronze on the U.S. Olympic team with his horse Udon purchased by his father as a three year old. In 2009, he rode Ravel to win the FEI Rolex World Cup finals, then swept the Grand Prix, the Special and the Freestyle at Aachen – a feat no American had ever done. That same year United States Dressage Federation named Ravel horse of the year. He earned both Individual and Team Bronze at the World Equestrian Games in Lexington, Kentucky, in 2010, also on Ravel. Steffen won Team and Individual Gold at the 2011 and 2015 Pan American Games (on Weltino’s Magic and Legolas 92, respectively).

Most recently, at the Adequan Global Dressage Festival CDI4*, Steffen and Suppenkasper landed at the top of the leaderboard in both the Grand Prix and the Special, which he told Chronicle of the Horse is his favorite test with its “beautiful transitions from extended trot to passage.” For more information about Steffen and his training, please visit https://www.spetersdressage.com