The Teacher’s Course is designed to work with trainers and instructors that are already established as professionals. At the end of the three years the professionals can test to whatever level they have attained. It may be level one, or it can be higher. One distinction of Philippe Karl’s program that sets the teaching certification apart from any other program currently held in the U.S. is that each teacher must produce a student trained to the current level that the teacher is testing for. At the testing exam for level one the teacher must present a demonstration of their riding, teach a lesson to an unknown student, provide a demonstration of their student riding at level one, and also give an oral lecture session without the aid of any materials and only about 20 minutes to prepare. At level two the trainers are expected to pass a jumping exam. You can find all the information about Philippe Karl and his philosophy on his website: http://www.philippe-karl.com/. You can find specific information about the exam requirements here: http://www.philippe-karl.com/428/School_of_Légèreté_»/English/»_Exam_requirements.html.
Jumping is one of the most exciting things to watch at the clinics in Pennsylvania. On the last day of the clinic the DQ’s and the Cowboys go jumping. At the very first clinic it was really simple work. A few ground poles pushed together to make it easy for the horses to take their first fence.
There was a big take home message from the first clinic in April. One of the ponies did not want to jump and the clinician encouraged the rider to teach the horse the way of the thorns and the roses. The pony kept stopping and refusing fences. Rather than use force to get the horse over the fence, the clinician suggested a neat alternative. Every time the horse stopped at the fence the rider was expected to turn the horse around and canter him going away from the fence. The message was, “if you refuse the fence, it’s very difficult to go the other direction.” After about thirty feet she turned her horse around and calmly and quietly approached the fence again. If the horse refused, she turned and made it challenging to go away from the fence. After this was repeated several times the horse jumped the fence in a very relaxed and quiet manner. It was much easier to take the fence then to turn around and canter off each time after refusing.
In July there was another great jumping lesson. The clinician set up a gymnastic series with the lowest element at the end. This was designed to set the horse up for success and help him leave the gymnastic with the idea that it gets easier at the end of the line. This really helps horses that are new to gymnastics leave with a relaxed feeling about the line.
In October there was another fantastic exercise to help develop a better canter in the horses. There was a series of four poles (not too high, but enough to jump) at a canter distance on a curved line. After all four fences were raised the horses had to bounce in and out around the curved line. This was designed to help improve the canter of all the horses.
It will be another six months before the Teacher’s Course begins next April. I have an open clinic planned with Stephanie Durand, a certified instructor of the school, for November 8-11 in McGraw, NY. Stephanie is a great teacher, fantastic professional, and takes whatever time is necessary to teach each student and rider combinations. There is still time to sign up to audit and ride. Please visit my website at http://www.lanecovedressage.com/ if you are interested in learning more about this opportunity.
For those of you that are not convenient to NY, please note that open clinics with licensed instructors of the school are also currently being held in Eustis, Florida, Seattle, Washington (Cadbury Farm: http://www.cadburyfarm.com/), Chase, British Columbia (For The Horse: http://www.forthehorse.com/), and in the Toronto area. U.S. based Teacher’s Courses are currently being held in Mercersberg, PA (http://pkinpa.com/) and Sante Fe (http://www.santafepk.com/).
Photo: Missy Huges and River. Missy is a student participating in the Teacher’s Course in Mercerseberg, PA. She resides in Illinois.