From Endurance to Dressage
After watching Bozanich present, we checked out a second clinic, this one by noted hunter/jumper trainer, Nick Karazissis, Sr. The dressage people might not know him, as I didn't, but the hunter/jumper crowd might. When I mentioned his name to JL, she immediately shared that he is a well respected trainer, especially here on the west coast. His family owns/operates Far West Farms in Calabasas, California.
Karazissis's clinic was called, Using Gymnastics to Improve Form, which sounded great, even though he was teaching to the hunter/jumper crowd. All of our horses can benefit from gymnastic exercises so TM and I grabbed a seat.
He started his riders, all quite young - maybe in their late teens, over a line of cavaletti poles where the horses cantered. He talked about long strided horses going slower and shorter strided horses needing to move more quickly in order to clear the poles.
He next raised half of the poles into very low cross rails and sent the girls through again. Over the next hour, he slowly raised the cross rails into verticals and eventually two of the cavaletti poles became bounces. Ultimately, the horses were sent through a three line course with the verticals set to 3'6" and an oxer that was maybe two feet in width (hard to tell from where we were sitting).
What I really enjoyed seeing was how careful Karazissis was with the horses. Everything he did was to build their confidence, and as a consequence, the riders' confidence as well. He built the horses up from poles on the ground to the relatively lofty 3'6" verticals. The girls started with ground poles to help measure distance, but by the end, Karazissis removed even that aid to test their ability to maintain a consistent pace, adding or taking away a stride as necessary.
On a personal level, Karazissis was a very soothing presence in the arena. His instructions were clear and easy to understand, even for a non-jumper like myself, and his teaching style seemed very supportive. He used a method educators call scaffolding - build the student up, but keep lots of support in place. I probably liked him so well because his teaching style is very similar to my own trainer's style. I am guessing this must come from a classical hunter/jumper school of training. Just like in dressage, there is classical dressage that builds on a solid foundation, and then there is the hurry up and get it done group.
Not the best quality photos, but they'll give you a little sense of what the venue and riders were like.
TM and I are not hunter/jumpers and we don't plan on making that switch anytime soon, but this was a great clinic to watch. Unlike the Bozanich clinic from earlier in the day, this clinician was easy to understand, his lecture made sense, and we could see the result of his teaching be demonstrated by the riders.
More on the final clinic later in the week ...
About the Writer and Rider
I am a lifelong rider.
I began endurance riding in 1996 where I ultimately completed five, one-day 100 mile races, the 200-mile Death Valley Encounter, and numerous other 50, 65, and 75 mile races. I began showing dressage in 2010.
Welcome to my dressage journey.
About Speedy G
Speedy went from endurance horse to dressage horse. After helping me earn a USDF Bronze medal in the summer of 2020, he is now semi-retired. Speedy is a 2004, 15'1 hand, purebred Arabian gelding. His Arabian Horse Registry name is G Ima Starr FA.
Izzy was started as a four-year old and then spent the next 18 months in pasture growing up. I bought him as a six-year old, and together, we are showing at the lower levels. He is a 2008, 16'3 hand warmblood gelding. His Rheinland Pfalz-saar International (RPSI) name is Imperioso.
National Rider Awards
State Rider Awards
State Horse Awards
CDS Sapphire Rider Award
Third Level: 63.514%
Third Level: 62.105%
2023 Show Season
(r) Ride-a-Test Clinic
2023 Show Schedule
*** SCEC 10/15-16/22
2022 Completed …
(*) Tehachapi 5/22/22
(*) Tehachapi 7/24/22
(***) Tehachapi 8/28/22
2023 Qualifying Scores
Regional Adult Amateur Competition (RAAC)
Qualifying Training Level
3 Scores/2 Judges/60%:
Score 1: 62.115%