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

The riding school where I first took lessons had "good" saddles, made by a venerable European manufacturer, so when I noticed my riding was uncomfortable, I assumed a problem with my position. Eventually though, I realized that no position was comfortable, that riding varied from unpleasant to excruciating. Nobody else seemed to have a problem, and my instructor was not a person with whom anyone discussed non-public parts of the body, so I just accepted that riding was painful. Until I rode in a friend's saddle, made by another venerab1e European manufacturer. It was an old saddle, but the moment I sat in it I was like Goldilocks in Baby Bear's chair -it was just right. Painless! Amazing! So I measured, compared, tried other saddles; then my husband made me foam blocks that I placed next to my stirrup bars to widen the saddle waist until I could buy a used saddle-shaped -like-me. If I or my instructor had had Jochen Schleese's important book “Suffering In Silence”, I would have been spared years of pain and frustration. It seems an unfortunate human tendency to take no steps toward a solution unless the ultimate solution is achievable, like the onlooker who wondered why to throw a single starfish in the sea if they couldn’t all be saved.  I can’t afford to buy custom saddles for my school horses, but there are many things I can do, with the information in Mr. Schleese's book, to make my horses and my students more comfortable. Correct diagnosis is vital to solving problems, and its information that you need to make a diagnosis, like the significance of saddle length, gullet width, equine asymmetry, billet placement, cantle angle, and many other features of the interface between rider and horse. Little, inexpensive things like foam blocks can make the difference between painful and painless for both the equines and the humans you are responsible for, if you have the information that comes from Mr. Schleese's experience, we may not be able to do everything, but we should do what we can.

— Katie Aiken, Riding Instructor Magazine Copy Editor Fall 2014

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