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Ottawa, Ontario—The Dressage Canada Coaching Committee is pleased to offer the Canadian dressage community two fantastic educational opportunities with international clinicians Ellen Bontje and Christoph Hess.  


The locations and dates for the symposiums are:

Agriplex, Cloverdale, BC, October 22–24, 2009

Royal Canadian Riding Academy, Cedar Valley, ON, October 26–28, 2009 

Bontje will bring her competitive skills and classical training techniques together for these three-day traveling symposiums.  She will ride, coach, train and lecture. Hess will address the philosophy and psychology of training horses with the goal of producing upper level dressage horses. Horses at various stages of their training and development will be presented and discussed. Auditors will be encouraged to participate during the symposiums.

Bontje, a member of the Dutch Dressage Team since 1988, has worked with Conrad Schumacher for more than twenty years. Riding the Dutch Warmblood stallion Silvano N, Bontje was a member of the silver medal Dutch Team at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games, where she placed sixth individually. The pair was also part of the silver medal winning team at the 1998 World Equestrian Games where they finished eighth individually. As an individual, Bontje also finished fifth at the 1994 World Championships, and fourth at the 1999 European Championships. Early in her career, Bontje began her apprenticeship with Joseph Neckermann and has made her home in Germany for the past 24 years where she is a manager and senior trainer for Schumacher at the Neuhof. She has trained many German advanced level riders who have achieved top placings and championships at national competitions in Germany.

Hess is a world renowned FEI and German dressage judge and trainer. He has worked for the German Equestrian Federation’s training department since 1978 and is presently the director of training & education at the German Olympic Committee. He is also an FEI—I judge for dressage and eventing and is a member of the FEI Eventing Committee. He is actively involved internationally in the education of judges and instructors, and he has judged and provided commentary for the FEI Young Horse Championships. At the symposiums, Mr. Hess will address the philosophy and psychology of training horses with the goal of producing upper level dressage horses. Horses at various stages of their training and development will be presented and discussed.

Horse/riders combinations will be accepted into the symposium in the following order of priority. A waiting list will be established, if necessary, based on the same priority as outlined below:

– 2009 Short & Long Listed horse/rider combinations 

– Horses ridden by 2009 Short or Long listed riders  

– 4/5/6 year-old horses with competition records from 2008 or 2009 and scores of 6.5 or higher in the corresponding FEI classes

– FEI riders with 2008 or 2009 scores of 63% or higher

– Horses ridden by Certified Level 3 Coaches 

– 2009 Junior and Young Riders 

– Grade IV IPEC Riders with competition record from 2008 or 2009

– Third and Fourth Level riders with scores of 65% or higher

All other horse/rider combinations accepted by level and score priority. Scores must be from 2008 or 2009 competitions.

“Dressage Canada’s Coaching Committee is very happy to be able to bring such renowned and competent clinicians to Canada for these symposiums,” noted Wendy Christoff, chair of the Dressage Canada Coaching Committee. “Our understanding of what makes an FEI horse from the young prospect to the finished Grand Prix horse will be clearer; and we as coaches and trainers will bring this knowledge to our students. It can only help us in our riding and teaching and training.”

The Dressage Canada Coaching Committee reserves the right to review and evaluate all applications received for lessons. Not all applicants will be approved, as space is limited. The symposiums will count towards updating hours for Equine Canada certified coaches.

Additional information and registration forms will be posted online at the Dressage Canada section of the Equine Canada website as soon as they become available.