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Training with Carl Hester


This January Ally Rogers, trainer at Massar Farms in Arlington, TN, had the opportunity to ride with 2012 Olympic gold medalist Carl Hester of the UK. Carl was in Wellington, FL the week of January 13th for the Dressage World Masters, and to work with his longtime student Katherine Bateson-Chandler.  Katherine was a member of the 2010 U.S. team for the World Equestrian Games (WEG) in Lexington, KY and is the owner of the horse Absolute, whom Ally been training for almost three years while Katherine has been busy in the International competitive dressage scene. Katherine spends close to eight months of the year in the UK training with Mr. Hester. Ally and Katherine have been friends for close to twenty years, so Katherine entrusts her talented Dutch Warmblood to Ally while she is gone. Absolute, aka “Lenny” is Katherine's 8-year-old KWPN gelding. Ally has been showing him Fourth level and schooling Prix St George.

Ally traveled to Wellington in January to drop “Lenny” off to Katherine for the winter season. While there, she was offered the opportunity to ride Lenny several days with Mr. Hester.  Hester was actually the one who discovered Lenny for Katherine in England and facilitated the sale, so he is well acquainted with the horse.

“Carl has an incredible eye and was quickly able to address the core of Lenny’s and my issues,” Ally said. “Lenny is a hot, tense, and sometimes very spooky horse who loses the ability to connect to the bridle through his back, and he curls behind the vertical. Through patient repetition of forward and back with slow aids, teaching Lenny to deal with his tension by going towards the rider’s hand instead of away from it, there was a marked increase in the degree of relaxation and connection, especially by the second day of riding.” Hester also worked on Ally's position with quiet, but steady contact with her legs and hands, never taking the aids away totally, as the return of the aids causes him to overreact.

Ally felt especially fortunate to have this opportunity in a private clinic, not available to the public, and hosted at a gorgeous facility owned by Jane Clark, Katherine's sponsor. Clark is the former director of the USEF and owner of top dressage, jumpers and driving horses. Lenny will stay with Katherine for a month or so then return to Ally as Katherine concentrates on competing her new star, Alcazar. Then she travels to Britain to train with Carl with the goal of qualifying for the 2014 World Equestrian Games in Normandy, France.

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