10 October, 2008

Willi Schultheis and an Arabian Horse

"Yes, that is Willi Schultheis on Khofo++. Still remember Willie saying 'tomorrow he will be so tired' after a hard work out. Well Khofo++ would lie down and rest and the next day, came out even stronger. This is when he earned Schultheis' respect and love."-Hansi Heck-Melnyk

Who is Willi Schultheis, you might ask?

I recently read a book, written by Britta Schoffmann, about Klaus Balkenhol. It is a wonderful book, as the reader becomes better acquainted with Klaus Balkenhol and his training philosophy. While I already understood that Klaus Balkenhol is the coach for the United States Dressage team and long time trainer of Nadine Cappelman, there is so much more to Klaus Balkenhol that I did not know. For less than $20 US, you can find the book on Amazon.com and I eagerly recommend it for you to read. You will love it, as I did.

So, who is Willi Schutheis and what has Klaus Balkenhol got to do with it?

In the mid-1970's, Klaus Balkenhol received special permission to take his horse, Rabauke, to Warendorf, so that he could participate in a riding clinic with Willi Schultheis. At the time, Willi Schultheis was the German team coach. Klaus Ballkenhol, although familiar with the reputation of Willi Schultheis and his position over the riding sports in Germany, had never met the man before. Klaus Balkenhol rode Rabauke through a series of movements, including one tempi changes, passage and piaffe, to a silent Schultheis, who watched his every move carefully. After Klaus Balkenhol dismounted, Schultheis asked to ride his horse. As he handed the reins back to Balkenhol, Schultheis uttered one word: "Compliments".


Klaus Balkenhol was primarily a self-taught rider, with no formal training. He was virtually unknown, up until this point. He was a mounted police officer in Dusseldorf. Schultheis, who had been skeptical of the police officer's ability, was impressed with his riding and training and considered him one of Germany's best riders. Schultheis was very instrumental in Balkenhol's career, using every opportunity he had available, to promote Balkenhol. He pushed him into competition at the German Championships and other shows. By 1979, Bakenhol's horse, Rabauke was the most successful dressage horse in the world.

Willi Schultheis never personally competed in the Olympics, however, from 1974 - 1979, he coached the German Dressage Team to Olympic Gold, to world championships two times and to three time European champions. Under his leadership, Warendorf, became a world center for the sport of Dressage. Prior to his tenure with the German team, Willi Schultheis coached the Canadian team through two Olympic games, from the late 60's to the early 70's. So, in understanding the background of Willi Schultheis and the enormous influence he had over the sport of dressage; I found it amazing to see him sitting on the stallion, Khofo+++ (*Morafic x *Nabilahh). I actually get goose-bumps just thinking about it. Maybe in the time period of Willi Schultheis, people were more open-minded regarding horse breeds and with proper and careful training, any horse, regardless of breed could accomplish anything. There are so many other things to notice in the picture, i.e. notice that Willi Schultheis is smiling, notice that he has the reins in one hand, notice how relaxed, yet alert *Khofo+++ is? I wonder what Willi Schultheis really thought of *Khofo+++? I wonder what he thought of all Arabian Horses, with regard to their ability to be competitive in the sport of dressage? I bet he thought that these horses, like all horses, could do anything their riders asked them to do, with proper training and careful development of the horse's body and spirit.

Enjoy your horses,

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