Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Henk van Bergen clinic Labor Day weekend

I attended a Henk van Bergen clinic over the weekend that was not too far from my home. I found out about it last-minute from a friend/fellow trainer, and I am so glad that we took the time to attend.

Mr. Van Bergen has a long and impressive resume of riding, training and coaching internationally. I won't go into it here, as it would take up too much of the post, and I want to preserve the space for more current musings. I provided the link over his name and a few more here to make it easy for you to research his history.


short bio on USDF website about the 2009 FEI Trainer's Conference:


I am always impressed by the quiet effectiveness of the masters that I have had the opportunity to observe (and train with). Mr. Van Bergen is certainly no exception, as I got to watch him ride a horse that had been ridden by his regular trainer the day before. The regular trainer, Luiz Denizard (who hosted the clinic), had done a very good job with the horse the day before, no doubt, and I certainly don't want to minimize his work...however, when Mr. van Bergen worked the horse through the session, the reason that I include Mr. Van Bergen in the class of "master" was apparent, and I think that Lu would certainly agree with me, since it is to HIS credit that he seeks guidance from Mr. Van Bergen, and is also generous enough to share the clinic with outside riders and auditors (spectators).

The quality of the horses and the riders was very high overall. Lu was incredibly welcoming, the other riders were warm and friendly, and the facility was beautifully maintained and the covered arena was superb. It was also "private" enough that one didn't feel like a "number", or an inconvenience. I can't say enough about it.

I also have to say, in closing, that Mr. Van Bergen is one of the most articulate, accomodating, humorous and generous horsemen I have ever met. He and I had a couple of fairly long conversations during the breaks, and we covered many topics both general and specific, and he is down to earth, straight to the point, honest and generous all at once. His knowledge of the inner workings of the competition world and the FEI is as valuable as his training knowledge.

I am looking forward to the next clinic, and I will make sure that if there is a spot after Lu and his students, that I get a spot to ride. :-)

Also, for those of you that are farther away, he will again be the clinician at the 2010 FEI trainers clinic in Loxahatchee, FL (Wellington area) in January. He did the clinic in 2009, and was invited back by the USDF, because of the great praise for the 2009 clinic. I did not attend the 2009 clinic, but I know exactly why he received such high praise and the return invitation. I have attached a couple links (above) so you can read up about him. I know I don't normally "jump on the bandwagon" in terms of BNT's (Big Name Trainers), but I do recognize a master when I meet one and see him work, and to find a master with not only the skill for the horse, but the skill to IMPART the knowledge to every level of rider is truly special. Henk van Bergen is that master.

I thank Franzi Pfeiffer (my friend/fellow trainer) for letting me know about the clinic, and Luiz Denizard (whom I had not heard of before, but who I hope will become a friend/fellow trainer) for hosting the clinic and making me and my young rider student who accompanied me to the clinic feel so welcome. Auditors are not always treated so well.

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