Bennet Conn – Artist Of Dressage
An artist he is for sure – an artist of the sport we call dressage. And sometimes the things he can do with horses is so magical that it is difficult to believe that it is not a con.
I am an unbelievably lucky woman to have this guy as my coach and trainer. I have been training with Ben now for 1 year and I thought it fitting to celebrate him and his talent not only as an out-of-this-world coach, but also as an out-of-this-world rider. That is not even taking into account that he is a big shot lawyer who is admitted to the Bar in the Supreme Court of Queensland. The immense amount of knowledge this man has taught me in these 12 months is invaluable. He makes use of what he calls a ‘Micro Approach’ of teaching, meaning that he has given me the tools of how to control every part of the horse’s body in unbelievable detail, to ultimately reach complete thoroughness and squareness where the horse moves fluently through his whole body without tension and with natural expressive movement.
Ben is one of the most selfless people I know and if he believes in you and your talent he would go to the end of the world for you. Integrity and loyalty is two key characteristics he holds dear. Like me, Ben feels very strongly about the welfare of the horse and that they must always come first no matter what. I think the fact in itself that Ben doesn’t need to compete and does it for the rewarding part of it when a horse is truly ready, says it all. To the layman all across the world Ben may not be that famous, but in Europe, under the who’s who, he is very well known and truly respected. With a resumè and history like his, how can he not! He trained with many top trainers since the age of 15 in Europe including Leonie Bramall, Hubertus Schmidt, Isabel Werth, Heiner Schiergen and Morton Thompsen.
Here is a little bit about Ben’s journey.
He competed a lot as a young rider winning the Australian Championships and the International Student Rider championships in Dusseldorf at the age of 15. He has produced and sold horses that went on to win the Australian Championships and then went on to World Championships. In recent years he has focused predominantly on training with little emphasis on competing personally.
However, of the shows he did in the past year he won the GP at a national show in Denmark with a very special horse called Finally, shortly before he was sold. He recently decided to get back into competing and has told me that he is looking forward to getting back into the competition mode.
He has produced numerous young horse champions and also sourced horses that have gone on to win championships in European young horse shows. Ben has a keen interest and an amazing talent and gut feel in sourcing top quality horses for the big sport.
I asked him to explain his approach to me and I think his own words explain it best: “My approach has its foundations in physiotherapy and Kinesiology. I’m a strong believer that horses don’t separate mind from body and hence a supple body necessitates a supple mind. Gymnastic sports require an understanding of the body and its workings. In dressage ‘posture’ is fundamental to a functional athlete. To that end my focus is on the mental and physical idiosyncrasies of each horse and the consequent exercises to enhance its gymnastic potential. My goal as a coach is to give my students a logical approach to enhancing the three major functions of their horse: Longitudinal, Lateral and Suspended.”
A true coach and trainer finds joy in the success of his/her students and Ben does exactly that.
I am not one of those people who will act like I have achieved what I have achieved so far in this short period of time on my own, because I most certainly have not! If it was not for Ben I would not be riding the way I am, nor understand how to train a horse in a kind and correct way and still make massive progress. Ben challenges me and is moulding me into the best rider I can be. I trust him fully and agree with his mindset that of all the horses I learn to ride Grand Prix on in the world, Bobo is the last hehe. And yes, Bobo is the most difficult horse to ride, but I trusted Ben and 8months later he has helped me transform him into a much softer, little less difficult ride. But most of all he made me a true rider. I say “true” rider because riding is not about sitting on top and looking pretty. True riding is training a horse to be the best it can be and then going out in the ring and showing the most you possibly can of the improvements you have made. Like I’ve always said, it’s about nothing else than improving your personal best and Ben has just reinforced that for me again and again
In celebrating him and his exceptional skills and talent, here are a few photos of him on all 3 my horses and a short video compilation of him on some horses in his life. Take a few minutes and enjoy the incredible Conn-artist at work! Thank you Benno, I appreciate you more than you know!