by Sibylle Luise Binder
In the Service of Classical Equestrianism
An impressive number of spectators, all listening intently, a lecture with real depth and substance and presentations of outstanding quality on account of the fact that they were not simply geared to glamour – this was the 2nd Symposium of the Anja Beran Foundation on 18.12.2011 in the Winter Quarters of Circus Krone in Munich.
If anyone were to ask Anja Beran what constituted the focal point of her foundation’s second symposium, she would - probably rather surprised at the idea of asking such a question at all – answer: “The horses.” What else? is what the dressage trainer might think to herself but she is certainly far too polite to verbalise the question. The audience’s Munich Sunday with Anja Beran, however, did not begin directly with horses but rather with a lecture on the subject of “Classical Dressage – only for baroque horses?” Anja Beran dealt with the topic in great depth and once again provided impressive evidence of the fact that she is not only familiar with equestrian literature across the centuries but also understands it in its complete context and has a clear overview of its development. And also: She has an ability to pass on this knowledge in a way which is of course challenging and demanding for her listeners but is nevertheless plausible and comprehensible. The most impressive aspect, however, is that Anja Beran, the convinced supporter of classical equitation, by no means degenerates into a nostalgic kind of “it was much better in the past" attitude. On the contrary: The problems of modern equestrian sport for Anja Beran are not simply a feature of modern times which ensue from the show elements connected with the dressage kur, no – they are part of a development which started to become established after the second world war. It is as a consequence of this that today dressage movements are ridden as an end in itself. Anja Beran demonstrates the problems which follow as a consequence, but she does not complain. She reports in a competent and calm way. And indeed this is exactly how she makes her point. Her core message is: To do it better in a return to classical equestrianism, out of devotion to the horse. Dressage for her is first and foremost the means by which to gymnasticise horses and to form them so that they can carry their riders joyfully and with lightness. Once this has been achieved, the art follows as a natural consequence. This also explains why, for Anja Beran, classical equestrianism is not relevant for specific breeds only.The practical part of the symposium subsequently shows the conviction with which she applies her knowledge. Here also Anja Beran starts of with the rudimentary principals and therefore the first horse to come into the arena is a young Frederiksborger which is just beginning to take his first steps under the rider. In this context, however, the young representative of what has become a very rare breed, also reveals a problem: The crookedness with which he carries his tail indicates that there is something wrong with his back.One of Anja Beran’s strengths is her diagnostic ability. She sees the problems of a horse and knows that dressage can also be a form of “physical therapy” which helps to rectify shortcomings and defects. Thus from the very beginning the young Frederiksborger has a form of training prescribed which will help him find his balance and straighten up. Anja Beran knows that this work will take a long time but she has the patience for it – and is optimistic enough to say: “We will try to rectify that.” Without any tricks and without auxiliary reins – simply on the basis of genuine hard work and patience.And the second horse to enter the arena, a black 4 year-old stallion is also represents an old and meanwhile rare breed. He proudly wears the white-blue colours of Bavaria on his browband, he comes from the former Royal-Bavarian Stud of Leutstetten and is descended from Hungarian Edelknabe horses, predominantly from the Furioso-Northstar breed. Nevertheless he has strong nerves and demonstrates this as he moves around the arena, confidently and relaxed in a building which is unfamiliar to him and, for the first time in his life, in front of a big audience. He is ridden by Anna Jantscher, the first pupil of the Anja Beran Foundation and, watching her making him supple and sensitive, it is clearly recognisable that at Anja Beran’s Rosenhof yard not only the horses become perfect trainees, the people do too.For horse number three, the six-year old Lipizzaner stallion Favory Toscana, is able to enjoy his experience in the arena today as a kind of foretaste of what awaits him in the future. The self-confident grey horse belongs to Jana Mandana Lacey-Krone, junior boss of the Krone Circus. She looks happy as she watches his first ever public performance. Using Favory Toscana as an example, Anja Beran then also explains why, in her opinion, "piaffe and passage" should already be practised in a very early stage of training and not only when the horse is at an advanced level.. For her horses these movements are not the show number developed from “build-up and braking” as we unfortunately see it all too often in dressage competitions, but a logical further development from forwards movement to collection. Afterwards P.R.E. stallion Ofendido – something of a specialist – presents transitions between piaffe, passage and trot. He has outstanding movement as well as collection. And so spectators may see the “fully trained” schoolmaster horse, Jana Mandana Lacey-Krone presents her Lipizzaner Siglavy Dagmar. His specialities are canter changes from stride to stride and pirouettes. Indeed this performance gives many spectators important food for thought because this alert and lively milky-white stallion is in fact 23 years old – very elegant as well as striking evidence of the fact that classical dressage not only makes horses more attractive, it also keeps them healthy.Flamingo originally came to Anja Beran as a problem case and here, under his rider Vera Munderloh, he clearly demonstrates how positively a horse can develop when given the necessary time and trust. Piaffe, passage, canter change and pirouettes are elegant and “légère” with this big Westphalian horse in an arena measuring only 12 metres.And another grey horse: The well-muscled Lusitano Pao under Anja Beran dances powerfully and yet well-relaxed in this small arena as if it were a world stage. After seeing his performance no-one can possibly doubt the significance of classical equestrianism: It puts the rider in the background and gives the horse the opportunity to unfold its beauty in holistic form. After the lunch break there is a first chance for a good laugh: Jana Mandana Lacey-Krone presents circus work, with competent commentary from Anja Beran. First into the arena is “Coco”, the skewbald Shetland stallion who Anja Beran would like to register for show jumping in Aachen. And indeed the little fellow proves that a cavaletti – which almost comes up to his chest – is no problem whatsoever. He races up to it, collects, smartly climbs onto the edge of the arena, walks along it, past the cavaletti, jumps down and runs on to the next one, looking at the spectators as if he wanted to say: “Well don’t you think I’m good?” But it’s not just a question of larking about in the Krone arena. Jana Mandana Lacey-Krone is in fact not only a highly talented rider but also a specialist for practising and presenting free dressage. And anyone who previously thought that this was just a question of a few horses running around in a circle soon learned that there was rather more to it than that. With graceful but very purposeful body language and two whips she has complete control of her Marbacher Arab stallions and, at her command, the horses turn, run in different directions and finally – always the climax of any free dressage – rear. Here Anja Beran as commentator clearly emphasises that no attempts are to be made at home to imitate this part of the programme. Nevertheless this demonstration helps spectators to become more aware of how the horse and human being can harmonise with one another, of the importance of respect for the horse in training and how much horses give back when they are treated respectfully.
A new horse for the Anja Beran Foundation
The Swiss breeder Tina Gmür has donated a PRE stallion to the Anja Beran Foundation as a future schoolmaster horse for the Foundation pupils.
At the moment he is still grazing and romping together with his equine chums on the generous paddocks of the small Hof Neuguet PRE Stud near Zürich. The 17 month-old PRE stallion Nadal has a great future ahead of him, however: This smart bay horse with an excellent pedigree – Nadal is a son of Islero XLVII out of the dam Galatea XIX, who is descended from Yeguada Maria Fernanda de la Escalera and the Yeguada Militar stallion Maluso, sire of a number of Grand Prix champions – was selected by his breeder Tina Gmür to represent the colours of her stud at the Anja Beran Foundation.
Tina Gmürs greatest objective is to breed horses which are not only elegant and have good gaits but also have good riding qualities with a noble and kind temperament. „This is why at our stud – unlike Spanish studs – the mares are also ridden. This is the only way in which we can assess the rideability“, she says. In addition to the good quality and rideability, we also focus particularly on conformation which should be as near perfect as possible, with a good lower part of body and legs, well-pronounced croup, good angling of the hindquarters and a strong back.“
Nadal, imported from Spain in the womb of his dam Galatea XIX, promises all these qualities. “And because we want to support classical dressage, we have decided to donate him to the Anja Beran Foundation as a future schoolmaster horse”, says Tina Gmür. She knows just as well as Anja Beran that the quality of future trainers who have the opportunity of learning at the Anja Beran Foundation, will also depend on the type of horses available to them.
We would like to present "Sirius", our new Frederiksborger stallion. He was donated to the Foundation by Inka Bennemann from Flensburg. We are delighted that our Foundation will be able to help shed new light on this old race, which is in danger of extinction. Sirius is now 5 years old and has not been broken in yet. He will offer Anna Jantscher, the Foundations’s first riding student, the opportunity to take part in the training of a horse from the very beginning.
Ingunn Rina Heimdal from Norway has donated the 2 year old Friesian "D'Artagnan" to the Anja Beran Foundation. On June 19th, the young stallion arrived from Oslo at Gut Rosenhof. Here, he will spend the next year together with other horses as well as goats and camels on a large pasture with an open stable. The horse and his former owner were utterly relived to have arrived at Gut Rosenhof safely after the long journey.
The first workshop in English from 20th-25th June 2011 was a great success for Gut Rosenhof and our team.
Anja Beran was very proud to be able to welcome guests from Italy, France, Austria, Norway, Holland, the Czech Republic, the United Arab Emirates, Russia, the Ukraine, England, Texas, Washington and South Africa.
For six hours a day Anja Beran and her team demonstrated classical training from breaking in to the highest level of horsemanship. Work with difficult, spoilt horses was also presented and explained in detail. After each ride participants had the opportunity to ask questions.
On one evening there was also a detailed lecture about the history of classical dressage.
For purposes of relaxation a day’s excursion was also organised to the famous Schloss Neuschwanstein, the Wieskirche and to Oberammergau, naturally accompanied by an English-speaking tour guide.
The atmosphere was tremendous and many new friendships developed amongst participants – classical equestrianism is a good common link!
All participants requested a repeat event next year and went home with a lot of new knowledge and inspiration.
He is still a three year-old colt and frolicks about on a large field in Norway. In two years’ time however, he will be moving into a box at Anja Beran’s Rosenhof to train as a schoolmaster horse: D’Artagan, the Friesian horse born in 2009, presented as a gift to the Foundation by the Norwegian vet Dr. Ingunn R R Heimdahl.
The mission of the Anja Beran Foundation is to preserve classical dressage and revive knowledge of its principles throughout the world. And apparently the message has already been well received in Norway because Norway is the home of the vet Ingunn R R Heimdahl. Two years ago she bought a weanling there – the Friesian stallion D’Artagan von Gjalt 426 out of Avalon av Valhall. Currently he is still enjoying the freedom of youth out on the fields however, as soon as he is fully grown, Ingunn Heimdahl has decided to travel to Germany with this beautiful black horse . He is her generous gift to the Anja Beran Foundation.
Anja Beran is delighted about D’Artagan. “With him”, she says, “our first scholarship pupil will have the possibility to be involved in training two young horses right from the beginning and to follow the training over five to six years.” Because a companion of the same age also awaits D’Artagan at Rosenhof: Nadal. The bay Andalusian was also a gift to the foundation.
Actually 2011 is to be dedicated to our work at Rosenhof – with one exception: from 23. to 27.03. Anja was in Dubai to give a clinic which had been requested a very long time ago. It was great fun and Anja will certainly return there one day, hopefully in the not too distant future.
Others talk about circensian movements, Anja Beran’s dun stallion Ramses presents classical equestrianism in the circus. The 13-year old Lusitano presented a very successful guest performance in MUNICH within the context of the Circus Krone march programme under the direction of Krone’s Junior Boss, Jana Mandana Lacey-Krone.
He can always be sure of applause: Anja Beran’s attractive golden dun Ramses is a star – and throughout the month of March he proved this twice a day in the Krone Circus Manège in Munich.
“Circus Krone and classical equestrianism are intrinsically linked”, says Anja Beran. Circus, as we know it today, has developed from presentations of horses in the hippodrome. Vice versa – some classical movements, which are part of today’s dressage repertoire developed in the circus ring. In Germany Circus Krone has always been a stronghold of classical equestrianism. Krone Director Christel Sembach-Krone used to be the responsible person here, today her designated successor Jana Mandana Lacey-Krone continues the tradition.
Promoting training of classical trainers is one of the principal aims of the Anja Beran Foundation, which was establihed at 9th Septemer 2009 and is now pleased to be able to present the second scholarship holder.
The 22 year-old Austrian Anna Jantscher is the second person to have managed, following a placement year (Beginning December 2009) to be accepted by the foundation as a pupil at Gut Rosenhof. She is now looking forward to her five-year training under the auspices of Anja Beran.