Walter Zettl

walter

Walter Zettl was born in Altrohlau, Czechoslovakia in 1929. When he was 16 he entered the riding school of Bad Kissingen in Kronberg, Ludwigsburg where he worked for eight years with Col. Aust and began a lifelong pursuit of equine teaching and education. In 1950 Zettl was awarded the German Federation Gold Riding Medal, an honor for success in upper level dressage and jumping for a single competitive season as the youngest person ever.

At age 25 he received his Reitlehrer certification giving him professional teacher status, and began a successful career in coaching many medal winning riders and teams.

In 1981 Zettl was recruited to move to Canada and serve as Managing Director of the Canadian I.E.S.S. owned by Hans Pracht and Eva-Maria (Neckermann) Pracht.  During this time he coached the Young Riders Dressage Team from Ontario and then dressage for the Canadian 3-day event Team at the Los Angeles Summer Olympics. During this time he was awarded by the Province of Ontario in Recognition for Distinguished Performance in the field of amateur sport.

It was through the Prachts that Walter Zettl and Jochen Schleese met and forged a long-time friendship that still exists today. He came to Jochen for help after an accident where a horse had reared up causing Walter to fall on his back. The horse stepped back onto his pelvis, and crushed his pubic symphysis and hips. After he recovered he was told he could never sit on a horse again due to the damage to his pelvis. He was not able anymore to sit astride on a horse. So he asked Jochen to make a side saddle fit to his needs to allow him to ride. He tried the side saddle for several years, but his lower back was always painful. Walter never forgot that Jochen was able to get him back onto horseback again.

Walter Zettl has continued his lifelong work of teaching riders the art of dressage combined with communication with the horse, and has since published three best-selling books “Dressage In Harmony” “The Circle of Trust” and “Ask Walter”. In 2002 the production of Walter’s five volume DVD library began – an instructional series called “A Matter of Trust.” This series has had record sales over the last ten years reaching $1 Million, making the series a huge success in not only the dressage world but in video sales in general. In 2011 Walter was inducted into the Toronto CADORA Dressage Association Hall of Fame, and as an active octogenarian is still actively coaching today.

http://www.walterzettl.net/

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Testimonials

andrea Jochen Schleese’s experiences and ‘aha’ moments while working as a saddler are truly unique. It is truly a great honour that he shares this knowledge with us in Suffering in Silence. The use of his plaster cast method to take ‘butt imprints’ of many men and women exemplifies the sometimes circuitous route he used to achieve this level of knowledge. This methodology clearly demonstrated the differences between male and female pelvises and was integrated into saddle designs for the benefit of both. Riding is a very demanding sport, and the only one in which the athlete is dependent on the interaction of another being in order to move. As a physiotherapist and a rider myself, I can only state how important it is that finally the differences between male and female anatomy have been taken into consideration to positively impact biomechanics. The topic of saddle fit is a key consideration when I teach my course in biomechanics of the rider at the German National Riding School in Warendorf.  The rider forms the horse and the saddle forms the rider – these two statements are not mutually exclusive. I often compare the saddle to a shoe, which should be comfortable to wear – except that this ‘shoe’ needs to fit two beings (horse and rider) equally well at the same time. This leaves the saddlemaker with a huge responsibility – one which requires a good basic knowledge in human and equine anatomy. Although many of my students are not consciously aware of the anatomical differences in male and female pelvises, they are nevertheless adamant that a saddle should work well for either gender (which infers that these differences need to be taken into consideration during design). I can only expect good things to result in the sport of riding when riders, trainers, veterinarians, saddlers and physiotherapists combine their expertise and experiences for the common good of horse and rider. Only then can the saddler fulfill his role as interface between horse and rider and open the door for discourse. This in a nutshell is the philosophy of Jochen Schleese. Knee rolls are of specific interest to me personally. Through personal observation, which is substantiated by research, the opportunities for human activity and movement continue to dwindle nowadays. Children spend much of their time in inactivity, watching TV, playing games on their computers and cell phones. The result is necessary prosthetic compensation to make up for this loss in muscle development; for riders it is the addition of huge knee rolls on the saddle, which help to keep the rider in a static position while hindering movement.  A pliable seat for the rider and taking up the rhythm in motion are no longer achievable. Although at first glance it may seem that the rider is sitting properly balanced and straight, it soon becomes apparent that the rider is actually sitting stiffly but thinking that this is the way it should feel. The complementary muscle interactions are not in harmonious states of contraction and relaxation, which means that the rider cannot give the aids properly. How can she properly relay the message to the horse to achieve rhythm, suppleness, and connection – which are only the requirements from the first training scale? The rider feels cramped, experiences pain and possibly long term damage (up to and including slipped discs and torn muscles).  This is the possible result regardless which discipline you ride in – which is why the saddle should not only be correct for the rider’s gender and anatomy, but also appropriate for the riding discipline.

— Andrea Koslik, Rider and Physiotherapist

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