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Conrad Schumacher - GER

His passion for dressage was ignited during his long association as pupil of mentor Dr. Josef Neckerman. At the age of 32, after 10 years successfully riding at the national and international level, Conrad focused his extensive knowledge and experience on training others. He began with the German juniors and young rider teams. As his experience and successes grew, Conrad began to understand the importance of placing more emphasis on educating the rider.

The classical German approach to dressage is based on the method of training that the German cavalry developed. The funding for the army horses was limited. Therefore, the German cavalry developed a system to keep the horses healthy and working for many years. By placing more weight on the haunches and lightening the forehand, the horses stayed sound for longer periods of time. As a consequence, the breeding of warmbloods changed. The training system demanded horses that accepted collection more easily. The fact that collection also elevated the forehand and the horse’s movement looked more beautiful was a side effect that was highly welcomed by riders and spectators, once dressage training turned into a sport after WWII. 

After the war many of the cavalry officers, who were experts in horsemanship and training, were jobless and started teaching horses and riders in riding schools all over Germany. Additionally, the German Equestrian Federation began to transform the cavalry field manual into what is now known as the German principles of riding that constitute the German training system. Both the availability and the pedagogical calling of experts, who trained horses and people according to a single set of rules, and the German Equestrian Federation’s endeavor to systematize that set of rules explains why the classical German dressage system is still the dominant training method in Germany. The classical German dressage system consists of a training scale that starts with relaxation. Relaxation promotes the horse to move through his whole body and use it effectively. Thereby, it stays healthy and becomes a long-term competition partner. This is also the basis for Schumacher’s system.