Touch n GO Farm

Whitesburg Georgia

Walter Zettl PDF Print E-mail
ride up to heaven…..not down into Hell.
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I met Walter Zettl in December of 2001 as a Grand Prix and Prix St. George demonstration rider at a dressage symposium in Atlanta. From the first lesson I admired his compassionate approach to training and constant consideration for the horse. Walter paid me the complement that my riding was accurate and that there was obvious harmony with my horses. That event was filmed by Mark Neihart and Heidi Zorn for what would become Walter's acclaimed "A Matter of Trust" video series. The first video premiered at 2002 Dressage at Devon. Much to my surprise, I and several of my students appeared throughout the tape. When Walter heard that I was competing at DaD, he came over and schooled my warm up. That was quite a treat.

In February of 2003 Walter came to Georgia and conducted a clinic that I hosted at Merichase Farm. When Mark and Heidi realized that many of the riders used in the first video would be participating, they drove up from Florida and filmed the entire event. Volume II was released in 2003 and Volume III in 2004. I was honored to see that Walter featured extensive footage of my students and the horses I trained.

walterzettl_2.jpgInstructing riders of all levels, I constantly remind them that a horse should willingly and enthusiastically “seek the hand.” Dressage training should always develop a constant two-way communication between horse and rider. Walter embraces this concept and constantly told me to “give” during lessons, even more than usual. The result was an immediate softening and more pleasant contact. There is a definite difference between a horse that simply yields to contact and one that actively seeks your hand. I always believed in that concept but Walter “opened the door” and deepened my understanding.

Another gift from Walter was the “Short-step trot.” I had schooled horses in piaffe from the walk and work-in-hand. I also train horses to have a very adjustable trot. Walter took the time to explain the nuances of teaching the piaffe from the trot. Working with Walter, I was fortunate enough to have horses in various stages of training and we worked on the slow-step trot method in almost every lesson. Now the concept is more than a few paragraphs in a book I read. It has become another valuable technique that I use with my student’s horses as well as my own. Due to this work with Walter, I set out to improve the quality of the piaffe and passage of my Grand Prix horse Fahrenheit. The method worked beautifully and those movements were the best they had ever been when he past away.

walterzettl_3.jpgAfter three years, I enjoy a fond relationship with Walter and his wife Heide. Conversations over meals, on the phone and in e-mail have only increased my appreciation for Walter's wisdom and kind nature. Participants in Walter’s clinics around the country say he refers to me as a "special soul" and the feeling is mutual. During the Zettl's last visit Walter made a comment to my husband on the way to the airport. He said, "Gigi is on the right path with her riding. She shouldn't look to the left. She shouldn't look to the right….only straight ahead." I treasure that remark.

walterzettl_4.jpgWatching “A Matter of Trust” Volume III you will notice an "In Memory" tribute to my Grand Prix horse Fahrenheit (Wendel) in the closing credits. It was a kind gesture from Walter acknowledging the special relationship he witnessed during our lessons.

He is one of a few trainers still committed to the classical principles of dressage. Because of Walter Zettl, I always try to “ride up to heaven…..not down into Hell.”

 
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