Olympian Debbie McDonald Inspires Confidence and Accountability at Rutledge Farm Sessions

Middleburg, Va. – September 17, 2019 – Olympian and Technical Advisor/Chef d’ Equipe for the U.S. Dressage Team, Debbie McDonald, headed to historic Middleburg, Virginia to host a two-day clinic as a part of the 2019 Rutledge Farm Sessions clinic series. Welcoming dressage riders of all levels, McDonald’s focused on correcting contact, improving self-carriage and holding riders accountable.

Debbie McDonald with Aleco Bravo-Greenberg

Each day began with Nikki Smith’s young horse Salerno and concluded with Lucy Tidd’s grand prix mount Ellert HB, but through each level McDonald focused on athletes maintaining the correct connection with their mounts as they worked through several exercises to improve their balance and master each movement.

Brandi Benedict riding Song Of Fire

McDonald noted, “You must be consistent and ask repeatedly. It’s never a one time fix [in Dressage] – it’s constant communication. It will become seamless aids when you’ve taught them through repetition.

“Patience is everything – you can not hurry a horse. They all learn at a different pace. It’s important you know what your horse can handle and process. You can not be greedy and want more, more, more. You have to be sensitive to the thought of a horse understanding it and don’t get caught up in giving them too much information at a time. Any sign of a hint that he understands an exercise, move on – never go long enough to lose it,” and “a lot of problems with connection can be fixed with your position.”

Professional athlete Thorsten Kramer rode Quistador S (Quarterback x Stayante), an 11-year-old Oldenburg gelding working at the Prix St. George level with McDonald.
“I love Debbie,” expressed Kamer. “The biggest thing is that she’s really empathetic to the horse and rider, but she’s also demanding enough to make it real and honest. That’s the biggest thing – that we work on movement and exercises, yes, but it’s more a matter of keeping it real and keeping it honest. If it’s not real and it’s not honest, yes you can do tricks or whatever, but like she said, when you go into the ring it has to not only be good but look good. That is when the connection with the horse needs to be honest, and that’s the biggest thing.”

Thorsten Kramer riding Quistador S

Melissa Palmer lives just 20 minutes away from Rutledge Farm, and was thrilled to have the opportunity to work with McDonald aboard her 7-year-old Oldenburg 2nd level mare Reagan 10 (Belissimo M/San Amour/Don Shufro).

“I was super excited to have the opportunity, but you think, ‘Can you really get that much out of just two lessons?’ I have to say I already felt like I got a lot out of Saturday, but she really gave me some good tools Sunday to take home to work through this tough phase that we’re in for our training.”

Palmer added, “Rutledge is a beautiful property and a beautiful facility. It’s a lovely place for a clinic and I welcome the opportunity to come back again for a future clinic.”

Melissa Palmer riding Reagan 10

“I had never been here, I’d heard a lot about it though and I know there are a lot of clinicians here from the elite level.” said McDonald at the end of the weekend. “It’s quite a facility here. I think it’s the start of something really big in our country and something really needed.”

Rutledge Farm owner Aleco Bravo-Greenberg was honored to host McDonald at the facility for the weekend. “Debbie is such a gifted instructor,” he commented. “She did an amazing job honing in on what each horse and rider needed to work on and helping them find tools to improve. It was wonderful to be able to have such an amazing clinic at our facility and Debbie was great to work with.”

To read a full recap of the first day of McDonald’s Rutledge Farm Session, click here.

Click here to check out ten important training tips from Sunday’s portion of the clinic.

Lucy Tidd and Ellert HB with Debbie McDonald

The Rutledge Farm Sessions brings exclusive educational opportunities to riders and professionals in Middleburg, Virginia. Drawing from a pool of Olympic medalists and International Champion clinicians, Rutledge Farm offers monthly clinics for riders at all levels and of all disciplines, including dressage, show jumping, eventing, and equitation.

The 2019 Rutledge Farm Sessions clinic series will continue with Olympic gold-medalist Will Simpson, followed by Olympic bronze-medalist Ali Brock, two-time Olympic gold-medalist Phillip Dutton, and renowned champion equitation trainer Stacia Madden.

To find out more information about clinics offered during this year’s Rutledge Farm Sessions, visit www.rutledgefarm.com/clinics

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