When Hannah Allescher read about the contest for riders 25 and under in St. Georg magazine, published in Germany, she set her sights on making her 90-second video entry as good as possible. The prize? What many would call the ride of a lifetime on Lingh, the stallion who won the 2005 World Cup Grand Prix in Las Vegas.
After Lingh’s first successful season standing at Birkhof Stud in the Baden-Wurttemberg region, Karin Reid Offield and St. Georg editor Jan Toenjes collaborated to design the contest. It ran last summer and they announced the results in August in St. Georg and EuroDressage.
Grand Prix Means Great Prize
Imagine what it was like for a young rider to experience the Lamborghini engine of a horse such as Lingh. Hannah was ready. So was Karin, who taught the young rider. Nicole Casper, dressage trainer and the wife of Thomas Casper, Birkhoff’s stallion keeper, translated the instruction into German for Karin.
Hannah and Lingh walked at first, getting to know each other; but as they began to trot, Lingh’s engine proved to be a powerful surprise. Hannah learned to post in what felt like slow motion, to use her weight – not her reins – to get Lingh to slow his rhythm, to move with grace and impulsion. She learned to communicate with the horse through consistently even but light contact.
Hannah’s next challenge was taking weight off the forehand and stretching Lingh forward and down in this revelatory lesson on an incredibly fancy schoolmaster. Walking intervals were important and Karin used them to explain the importance of training components like leg-yields and more advanced lateral movements such as travers. The dialog relaxed Lingh: he was 18 at the time, living the equine life of Reilly as a valuable breeding stallion. A gentleman, too: in the course of the ride, he paid more and more attention to Hannah.
Stamping His Get with His Own Goodness
I felt proud watching my calm and smart stallion taking care of Hannah while she rode him, recalled Karin. “His easy temperament and athleticism make him a great sire for all the top sports for men, women and young riders. He passes his character, beauty and charm to his foals. I could not be happier with him.”
Hannah and Lingh progressed to the canter. When Lingh’s engine again startled Hannah, she resorted to pulling on the reins; but Nicole suggested that Hannah give and take the reins as she did during transitions.
The horse, referred to as Professor Lingh by Karin with understandable pride, gave his protégée the benefit of the doubt. They worked together, Hannah giving and taking, communicating, until they were in harmony, cantering in rhythm and balance.
Flying changes followed, at each end of a diagonal at first, and Hannah proved up to the standards desired by Lingh. Nicole and Karin asked Hannah to soften her inside rein to see if the balance existed, if the stallion was genuinely in self-carriage. Lingh and Hannah progressed to three changes in a row on a diagonal. Bliss for Hannah, excitement for everyone who watched a young equestrian experience a transformational journey one glorious sunny morning.
“I like my riding now, I am better because of Lingh,” stated Hannah. “One of the important things I learned is to ride a horse like him in a sensible way and that my hand should be very, very friendly.” As for Lingh, he had proven yet again that he is still a world-class performer and a gentleman. It really doesn’t get any better than that.
-by Lauren Giannini