June 22, 2019
MDA Dressage Clinic
Mid-South Dressage Academy (MDA) in Hernando, Mississippi offered a two-day clinic with Martin Kuhn on March 9-10, 2019. Saturday turned out to be a very stormy, rainy day, but the horses seemed to take the circumstances in stride, as Martin put the riders through a variety of transition and bending exercises to improve their horses’ movements.
Martin Kuhn is a USDF Certified Instructor through Fourth Level and a USDF Bronze, Silver, and Gold Medalist. He has trained horses through Grand Prix level, but continues his education with long-time mentor Gerhard Politz and with Cindy Ishoy. He has also had the privilege of riding for Col. Christian Carde, Michael Poulin, and Lilo Fore, so his dressage knowledge and skills base is well established. He operates out of Star West stable in New Berlin, Illinois, where both he and his wife Kate are trainers/instructors.
MDA owner Elizabeth Clifton likes bringing Kuhn in for clinics several times a year. He is scheduled to return to MDA on: April 27-28, June 14-15, Sept. 21-22, Oct. 19-20, and Dec. 7-8, 2019. “Jamie [Lawrence, MDA trainer] knew him when she was younger, so that’s how we got started with him,” Elizabeth explained. “Jamie gives the rest of us what we need, but she wants a regular trainer too, and Martin fits that bill. We really like his style; his style matches our style. He is very organized; he has strong basics; and he is talented at making the horse good with ‘throughness’. He trains a lot of young horses and, now, we have a large group of youngsters here. He’s a good fit for us – developing good foundations with the young horses and the riders. We are pleased to have found a clinician that everyone enjoys working with, from whom everyone get something positive and energetic out of the clinics. Martin is also vested in MDA: he wants to see the horses here progress, and he has made a commitment to continue to come train us.”
Leigh-Angela Holbrook brought her third level, 11-year-old Dutch Warmblood horse Diardo to the clinic. She commented on her ride with Martin: “I loved it! He’s easy to understand and I can feel improvements right away. He pushes us the right amount with positive reinforcement.”
Lunch is always a treat at MDA, too. This weekend it was potluck from the clinic participants, including southwest salad; broccoli salad; homemade egg salad from Mary Cour Burrows’ chickens’ eggs, as well as a garden tart with fresh veggies from Mary’s garden; Palmetto salad; fresh rosemary bread just baked Saturday morning from the local bakery, Lady Bug; Jamie’s Keto soup; and the tastiest salt caramel cake imaginable!
After lunch, it was back to training with Martin, this time Jamie’s turn to work Silas. Martin put the afternoon horses through their paces with transitions, leg yielding, serpentines, and various suppling exercises. He was complimentary of the horses and gave each of them a big rub on the head.
During the break I asked Martin for any “seasoned” advice for our general readership. He replied that if there was any one overriding theme it is this: “The fastest way to make progress is to take your time. If you are focused on getting the movement accomplished, but the horse isn’t straight and through, it will be difficult. When all the basics are there, everything is easy. Take your time. If something doesn’t feel balanced, it probably isn’t; correct it. Then the movement will take care of itself.”
Martin operates out of a “nice family farm,” he said, in New Berlin, Illinois, outside of Springfield. He is a second generation dressage rider on his mother’s side, who rode when he was growing up, and a fourth generation dressage rider on his father’s side. The two biggest influences on his riding are Gerhard Politz and Cindy Ishoy. He generally rides about thirty horses per day and attends about 14 to 16 shows a year. He has a three-year-old son who is “into” tractors. Star West stable will soon be purchasing a new tractor and Martin said his son is excited about getting the new tractor. He had a pony for a short while and rode a little, but tractors are his interest now.
Find more information about Martin Kuhn at http://starwestonline.net/kuhn. Find out about events at MDA at: www.midsouthdressageacademy.org.
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