|Tressa Boulden Dressage
Beginning at the age of 5, horses became a passion and an integral part of my life. Over the last 40 plus years, I have been exposed to many disciplines, and approaches to training horses. My philosophy and my desire for knowledge in the art of Classical Horsemanship/Dressage, has been born of these experiences.
As a professional student of Classical Horsemanship, I enjoy sharing my knowledge with my students. My emphasis in teaching is on a rider's awareness of their approach and how to be deliberate and clear in their communication with horses. I teach fundamental training principles that consider the horses nature always, and where correct equitation, technique with tact and timing of the rider's aids are of upmost importance. In this traditional approach to training, the horse is best regarded when they are understood, they then can more easily go with our requests. Our own self awareness and understanding of how we approach the horse helps us develop a body language and appropriate energetic approach that they understand, because it is how they exist. It is in the consistent use of conscientious riding that renders trust that can help us promote the natural athletic ability of our horse. With a correct approach to training, the focus of Classical Horsemanship is the horse's well being, the horse should become happier and more beautiful.
Through my studies I have met many well-known instructors in the US and Europe, exploring the subtle differences in breeds, dressage philosophy and training approach. I have learned from some of the best riding teachers, and this is what has guided me to be dedicated to a traditional approach in working with horses. As a student, I wanted explanations to the instruction I received, in order to truly understand what approach was correct and most cohesive with each individual horse and his nature. My desire to learn about the methodology of training is what has kept me in the search for teachers that could expand my experience.
It wasn't until after meeting Melissa Simms in 1996, the head rider at the Reitinstitut Egon von Neindorff in Germany, that I found a practice of dressage with a true lineage standing on the upholding of classical principles. This tradition of German classical riding, as taught in the cavalry and the halls of famed riding masters is what captured my interest. In recognizing the concise and clear nuances of communications that were to be learned through traditional training principles, I made a decision to fully immerse myself in it's practice.
Melissa, a long time trusted pupil of Herr Egon von Neindorff, was able to reshape my awareness and approach to horse training. Melissa's guidance ultimately brought an emphasis to the importance of all riders having correct equitation. This is to be learned in lunge line lessons for many hours of one's life and countless hours of riding without stirrups. In this time I was lucky enough to acquire a position assisting Melissa in her training business. As a young rider in my twenties with enough experience and ability, I proved to be useful. I also kept full time training with 2 of my horses for the next 4 years while she resided in California.
With constant strengthening and reinforcement of my equitation, I was able to be immersed in the daily training process of a multitude of horses besides my own. This furthered my understanding in how to precisely administer correct riding technique with tact and timing. We trained up to 10 or more horses per day with a variety of challenges, circumstances and levels.
In addition to the few year internship I had with Melissa in the USA, our relationship of 22 years brought many more enriched learning experiences. I had the opportunity to visit the Reitinstitut Egon von Neindorff in 2001. I rode in as many as three riding lessons per day on horses that Melissa had trained in partnership with her mentor Herr von Neindorff. This experience merged my understanding of what it felt like to ride well trained horses and where I was heading with the training at home. I am also so grateful to have had the opportunity to meet her most important influence Herr Egon von Neindorff.
Through my many years with Melissa I held annual clinics here at my farm a few times a year, keeping Melissa coming back to Sonoma County for over 20 years. I maintained a close relationship with Melissa speaking to her weekly sometimes daily, until her death on February 14, 2018.
To say I am grateful is an understatement, Melissa Simms changed the course of my life with horses. I continue down this path with pride, upholding classical horsemanship principles. Not only do I feel it honors the memory of my late mentor, but it is in this tradition that I continue to honor the horse.
Since Melissa's passing, I have taken it upon my self to continue to bring awareness to these principles of classical horsemanship, bringing like minds together and creating a platform to educate those who wish to learn. Caring about the horse's well being is the focal point of my mission, and holding onto traditional training methods that have held true to the test of time, is my inspiration.
Since Classical Horsemanship is an art that is constantly seeking perfection, I will always be a student first and foremost. I enjoy the study of classical riding and desire to carry on and share this tradition with my students.