Early Days

Dr. Schacht Clinic Recap

Some posts take forever to post, don’t they? Without further ado, the Dr. Christian Schacht clinic recap.

Dr. Christian Schacht is a clinician who lives in Germany, and travels quite frequently all over the world to give clinics both on the flat and jumping. He is a vet, a judge, and has written books and produced videos about breeding, conformation, and of course riding and training.

I’ve had the pleasure to audit his clinics in the past: you can find the January 2013 recap here and the December 2013 recap here. I learned so much from auditing that I decided he was worth the significant fee (higher than I’d ever paid for a lesson before).

The night before the clinic, I was a bit nervous. Hemie’s never been to this barn and I thought it was quite possible that we might have some wigging-out antics. However, what really worried me was getting to the facility. In a trailer. This would be our first time loading up since the incident.

I got Hemie a trailer ride with the fabulous Chemaine Hurtado, who had a GIANT rig and Hemie got the double-wide, box-stall area in the back. Happily, he stepped right on, no problem.

Symphony Dressage’s nice trailer!

At the facility, I got Hemie settled in a day stall and I caught the last half of Karen’s lesson (of Not So Speedy Dressage). She and Sydney have come A LONG WAY since I saw them in December. It’s quite inspiring. Check out her blog for fabulous recap posts of the clinic.

Karen on Sydney

I watched several other rides too, including one where Christian himself hopped on, to help teach an 18-year old horse how to do a lead change.

Finally it was time for my lesson. Hemie was alert but overall fairly calm. Karen kindly ponied us around for a few minutes after I mounted, which certainly made Hemie feel more at ease. We entered the arena and Hemie went right to work.

He was such a good boy! No wigging out, no dancing around, no issues at all. It was by far the best dressage we’ve done at an outside facility. In fact, I’d say we got the level of work that we typically get at home, and we got it within just a few minutes. 

Of course, that “level of work” needed some help, which was the point of being there. Here are my main takeaways:
Rider Position & Aids
  • Lean back with shoulders. 
  • Sit deep in saddle.
  • Shorter reins.
  • Don’t look inside the turn – keep eyes over outside ear.
  • “Soften” means loosen the pinky finger only – just a very small release, do not lose contact.
  • On a circle, place outside hand at the wither and inside hand on the knee. Flex to the inside, very dramatic flex.
  • Inside bend leg yield around the circle.
  • Figure 8s – counterflex then true bend.

Reminders/General Notes
  • “Deep” means more arch in the neck, not a lower nose.
  • Be sure he bends his whole neck, not just at the poll.
  • Turn with the outside aids.
  • Use inside leg to shorten the canter stride.


  • Use a flash, unless you have a strong reason not to.
  • Be sure to have tight noseband – this makes the bit more stable and reduces nutcracker action on the tongue and bottom of the mouth.
Fabulous Quotes
  • “Think show jumping canter.”
  • “You are dancing together, not fighting.”
  • “Lovely horse.”
  • “If I were 20 years younger, I would take this horse eventing.”   <>

Overall I took away a feeling that I am too subtle with my aids and with the amount that I’m asking from Hemie – I need to be more dramatic overall, and expect faster, stronger results. I also need to focus more on correct positioning in order to be most effective.

Thank you so much to Karen for taking great photos – happily I thought we looked much better towards then end than at the beginning: the sign of an effective lesson.

9 comments on “Dr. Schacht Clinic Recap

  1. So fancy! Glad you enjoyed it.


  2. I'm curious about the flash remark – was it directed towards Hemie in particular, or a general recommendation?


  3. Both. He asked why I wasn't using one. I got a little tongue-tied and blabbed out “I don't know” (the real answer is I've never tried one and haven't felt the need to) and he remarked something to the effect that all horses should have one unless there's a particular reason they can't go in one.


  4. hmmm interesting about the flash. I would love to hear more on why he believes that. What a great compliment that he'd take your horse if younger. My trainer just had me do similar exercises, they are really fun when they “click” in your horses brain. Sounds like a great experience and you guys look great!


  5. Glad you had fun! I have to totally disagree about the noseband and the flash comment – my coach usually removes nosebands all together for schooling – but she is well versed with OTTBs and their quirky ways. Always good to get outside opinions though.


  6. Well adjusted tack never hurt anyone. ;-) Do you have a flash?


  7. Glad you got such a wonderful compliment, nothing can puff you up more then a compliment towards your horse :)


  8. Such great compliments about your baby lately, that's great!


  9. Glad you had a good lesson, Sarah. Hemie did a great job getting right to work. :0)


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