The Featured Clinician article series is being provided through a partnership between Event Clinics and the USEA.
Phyllis Dawsons’s dedication to horse and rider advancement includes serving as an Olympic Team Selector on the USEF Eventing Selection Committee, holding a faculty position with the USEA Instructors' Certification Program and judging the USEA Future Event Horse program.
As a veteran of the U.S. Eventing Team, her list of rider accomplishments includes top placings at four-star events all over the globe, as well as the highest-placed U.S. rider at the Seoul Olympic Games in 1988, where she finished 10th. Today she runs an extensive training and boarding operation at Windchase, her farm in Purcellville, Va.
Each winter, she holds a series of popular jump clinics in the Windchase indoor that are open to riders of all levels. Event Clinics stopped by to ask her about her teaching philosophy and what she looks for in riders.
For Dawson, riders who stand out are those who truly want to build and enhance their skills. She says, “I like most teaching those students who are really enthusiastic about learning, whatever their level.”
Not all training techniques work for all horses. Having developed hundreds of horses and riders, Dawson knows every trick in the book. She notes, “I love the process of figuring out what approach is best for each individual horse in order to help the horse and rider form a great partnership.”
To accommodate busy schedules, horse and rider levels are often mixed at Windchase clinics. She explains, “It’s important to watch the other horses and riders as well, because you can learn a lot that way.”
As a Beginner Novice rider, you might pick up techniques watching an upper level rider on a green horse tackle the same questions.
“I adjust my teaching style somewhat depending on the student,” she says. “With the serious students who want to go to the upper levels I am more demanding, and for the less experienced or nervous rider I gear the lesson toward confidence building.
Dawson designs her winter clinic series to developing skills through an evolving set of jump exercises. Lessons evolve from grids and cavalettis to coursework through the winter. Heading into spring, clinics turn to cross-country questions in the indoor in preparation for competition season. If the weather cooperates, the final clinics are held on the Windchase cross-country course.
The goal at Dawson’s clinics is always fun and education. “I really do believe in the motto ‘It’s the journey, not the destination.’ My goal is to have the rider go away from the lesson realizing they could do more than they thought they could!”
For more information about Phyllis Dawson and her clinics, visit wwww.teamwindchase.com
You can find more upcoming clinics with your favorite top riders at www.eventclinics.com or on the USEA's Educational Activities Listings.
The USEA is very sad to hear the news of the passing of From, the 28-year-old Russian Thoroughbred gelding (Mif x Floema), owned by Charlotte Harris and ridden by Stephen Bradley.
In less than a year the USEA Foundation, USEA, and a group of passionate stakeholders have managed to raise $500,000 to build frangible fences thanks to donations from USEA members and eventing enthusiasts around the country. This money has gone directly to 116 different USEA recognized events with 151 frangible tables, 53 oxers, and 34 gate/wall fences already out on course – all built with grants distributed by the USEA Foundation.
John R. Pingree a lifelong resident of Hamilton, Mass. passed away Tuesday evening, January 19, 2021, at the age of 87. He was the husband of Dianne (Tuzik) Pingree. Born in Boston, he was the son of the late Sumner A. and Mary (Weld) Pingree. John grew up on Flying Horse Farm, his parents' farm. He graduated from Brooks School before joining the Air Force, where he served from 1952-1956.
The USEA has launched a new system for tabulating points for the year-end leaderboards which will begin with the 2021 competition season. Previously, leaderboard points were awarded based on placing and further determined by the number of starters in a division, often giving the focus to the quantity of rides a competitor could complete in a given competition season.