This week's trainer in the spotlight is dressage instructor Demelza Hawes from Lambourn, West Berkshire.
Hello, I’m Demelza. I introduce myself as a “Classical Dressage Trainer”.
For me, the adjective classical with reference to dressage training infers (first and foremost) the utmost respect for the horse, which leads to specific aspects of training. A horse should be trained at a pace dictated by his mental and physical ability, his own conformation, biomechanics and natural way of going… all of which can be improved by specific and appropriate exercises. No gadgets or force should be used. It is my long held belief that with these principles in mind it is not only possible to progressively build a trusting and fulfilling partnership with your horse but also minimize the risk of injury to the horse.
My own equestrian background has been in showing and dressage. Early on in life, aged eight, I won the championship at the Royal International Horse Show thus laying a foundation stone for a competition career, which progressed from showing to dressage. This progression was largely facilitated by the Irish Grand Prix rider Alison Davies. Her patience and attention to detail were a huge influence and set me distinctly on a path of classical training.
I worked and trained in Germany and later spent a year at the prestigious Cadre Noir in France gaining an internationally recognised and respected trainers qualification.
I am currently based in Lambourn where I train horses and coach riders. I prepare horses for sale, competition and compete client’s horses. I take horses for general schooling, breaking, young horse training and rehab. I also run regular flatwork and polework clinics in and around surrounding counties and in France.
With respect to rider coaching I asses the individual needs of both horse and rider with a view to the riders ambitions. I encourage body awareness and correct body use which is enhanced by either Pilates or Yoga. My own preference is for Yoga and I am currently training to become a qualified Yoga instructor. Once I’m qualified I hope to incorporate this knowledge into training courses for dressage riders of all levels.
To influence the horse, the importance of a good rider’s seat and balance cannot be under estimated. The combined detailed observation of both horse and rider biomechanics are a prerequisite for fine tuning both. Individual coaching plans are subject to the riders goals. Many of my pupils wish to compete but by no means all.
I believe that dressage, the French word for training, is for horses and not that horses are for dressage, and that training should not be rushed. All riders and horses can benefit from a classical approach to training. Training should be a joyful experience and I welcome pupils at all levels and on all types of horses.
I have two competition horses. My big boy Fabritzio stands at 17.2HH and I have had him since he was a foal. He is now working at Grand Pix at home and can be seen competing at PSG and Inter I. My little horse Disco Diva, also a homebred, stands at 15HH and is working at Advanced, competing at Advanced Medium.
I have done all of their training, from first born to their current level, and I aspire to reach Grand Prix with both. I feel they are an illustration that the classical methods mixed with my previous competition type training are a solid system for producing happy, healthy athletes.