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Dressage Clinic with Katherine Mashbir


By Nancy Brannon

Massar Stables, on Orr Road near Arlington, Tenn., hosted a two-day clinic with Katherine Mashbir, Saturday February 23 and Sunday February 24, 2019. Katherine is a USDF Gold, Silver, and Bronze Medalist, who earned her Gold Medal on an off the track Thoroughbred that was finishing his second career as a 4-foot jumper. There was also a “meet & greet” lunch break each day at noon, at which Kathy Massey served two kinds of delicious soup, spinach salad, Mexican dip, and fresh bread.

Riders in the clinic said they really enjoyed Katherine’s approach and how well she explained things. Katherine commented that “all the riders are doing well. They look like they are improving.”

Katherine explained the benefits of dressage: “It’s all about helping the horses to improve their gaits, to ‘gymnasticize’ them, and relax them. A comfortable, well-moving happy horse will perform well in any discipline. So it’s really about moving from the hind legs, through the back, and into contact.

“It’s also about the rider learning to be in harmony and balance with the horse. Without a rider, a horse typically carries about 60 percent of his weight on his front feet. Then, when we put a rider on the horse, we have to teach the horse to be balanced with a rider. The ideal formula is balanced rider – balanced horse. And a balanced rider will help an unbalanced horse” gain his balance.

When training a horse, it’s the rider’s job to get the horse carrying his weight more or less equally on all four feet. We help the horse develop the muscles and strength he needs to adjust his balance laterally so that he carries an equal amount of his weight on his two front feet. As we’re developing the horse’s muscles and his ability to carry himself in longitudinal balance, keep in mind that horses have rear wheel drive. All of their power comes from their hind end; their ‘engine’ is in the rear. Developing balance means asking the horse to bring his hindquarters more under his center. His hindquarters need to move up under his center of gravity in order for him to be more balanced.

Training means systematic mental and physical development of the horse. “It’s hard work!” said Katherine. “Both rider and horse are athletes, and it’s all about having a happy athlete (the horse). It’s also about the welfare of the horse. We are their caretakers.”

Katherine finds that “most disobediences are pain related. There are very few – if any – bad horses. The responsibility is on the riders,” she said, to make sure that they are not doing anything to cause the horse pain. Katherine says that “any horse can be improved by dressage.”

Katherine currently resides in Leesburg, Virginia with her dog and three horses, where she is the owner and trainer at KLM Dressage and Sport Horses. She has studied with some of the top riders, trainers, and competitors in the dressage world, including Michelle Gibson, Hubert Rohrer, Stefan Wolff, and has cliniced with Linda Zang and Ulf Möller.

Katherine has a yearling filly from her FEI level competition mare (foaled in 2018) De Havilland, a 2001, 17.3 hands, black Hanoverian mare. Katherine showed her at Dressage at Devon a few years ago (~2013), where she earned one of only two scores at Fourth Level over 70%.

She has a seven-year-old, 16.2 hands, bay Hanoverian gelding, Brando M, who is by Belissimo M, the Olympic Grand Prix stallion and sire of some of the most talented dressage horses on the international Grand Prix stage. Isabell Werth’s Bella Rose is by Bellissimo M. Brando M is currently working at Third Level, but Katherine prefers to have a horse at FEI level before she does intensive showing.

And she has a coming three-year-old who is a half sister to Brando M.

Katherine teaches students at her stable in Virginia, but doesn’t do a lot of traveling to give clinics. “It is difficult to get away from the farm unless I have someone helping take care of the horses while I am away,” she said. This weekend she had a reliable helper taking care of her valuable horses in Virginia, and her dog traveled with her.

To find out more about Katherine and KLM Dressage, visit her website at:  Find her on facebook at: KLM Dressage and Sporthorses.

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