10 Questions with Dressage Superstar Guenter Seidel

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Guenter Seidel and Aragon (Photo by Mary Phelps)

Thank you USEF Facebook fans for your questions for Guenter Seidel. For the next “10 Questions With…” please visit www.facebook.com/USEquestrian.

Guenter Seidel
Born: September 23, 1960
Hometown: Cardiff, CA

Guenter Seidel is a native of Germany who moved to the U.S. in 1985 and has contributed significantly to U.S. dressage. Seidel helped the U.S. win the Team Bronze medal at three consecutive Olympic Games – 1996, 2000 and 2004 – with three different horses. He also was on the Silver medal team in 2002 and the Bronze medal 2006 team.

Both 2009 and 2010 brought more milestones for Seidel, but tragedy struck in June, when he was thrown from his horse U II. Seidel fractured his pelvis and could not walk without crutches for two months. In just a year, though, Seidel made an incredible recovery. After a third-place finish in the grand prix in Hamburg in June this year, he topped the field in the freestyle with a score of 73.400% – on U II. Later that month at the CDI Fritzen in Austria Seidel finished second in the Grand Prix – Consolation class on Sundayboy with a 70.390%. He finished strongly in the Grand Prix for Freestyle coming in third with U II with a score of 70.745%. To top off the weekend, he and U II took top honors in the Grand Prix Freestyle after scoring a remarkable 78.27%.

Here is what the U.S. Equestrian Federation’s Facebook fans want to know about this dressage superstar:

Cynthia D. Alexander Garrett: What exercises helped you the most in your recovery? I had to do most of my therapy in the pool at the beginning, and that helped the most. After that, it wasn’t a specific exercise but just being disciplined to exercise every day.

Maura Forese of Kennett Square, PA: What advice or encouragement can you give to young riders who are trying to make it in the dressage world? Dressage is not just a sport, but art as well. You will never stop learning no matter how good you become. Always treat your horse fair and enjoy the daily training.

Kirsten Drew of Dalton, OH: What do you do to prepare yourself, both mentally and physically, before you ride? Mentally, I have quiet time for about an hour before I get on. Physically, I try to stay fit in general, nothing in specific before a ride.

Katy Wormwood of Wormwood Wells, ME: Tell us about your average ride. Helpful tips for warming up, what you focus on and your cool down. I always try to walk for at least 10 minutes at the beginning and the end of the workout. I think the most impotent thing is to be flexible and really listen to your horse because every day your warm-up and ride can change, depending how the horse feels that day.

Annie Carlson Emery of Minneapolis, MN: How do you deal with a horse that holds a lot of tension, especially in the back? This is not really something anyone can answer without seeing horse and rider. In general, supplying exercises like stretching, leg yields and transitions.

Erin Geier Cumbee of Portage, IN: What is the hardest part for the rider in performing upper-level moves? It’s not hard anymore to perform an upper-level movement if you prepared well and have the experience to do it. The hard part is to have the patience to wait to get there until you and your horse are ready.

Megan Holly Manning of Arizona: What was the hardest movement to teach your favorite horse? One tempi changes to Aragon.

Lauren Walters of Oviedo, FL: What are the top three things you look for in evaluating a prospective dressage horse? Gaits, temperament, and then my gut feeling when I watch and ride the horse.

Clare Walker of Kansas: Who was most influential in your dressage career? A woman named Hertha Beck who I learned with when I was young. For the last 15 years, Klaus Balkenhol.

Camille Broussard of Seattle, WA: When you were a child, did you ever think you would be an Olympic athlete, and how did you push yourself to do your best in the hardest times growing up? I always was fascinated with all the Olympic riders and wanted to be as good as them. I never felt like I had to push myself. If you love what you’re doing you have to be prepared to have ups and downs and keep going. Being patient.

And … 10 Fun Facts about Guenter Seidel:

Favorite food: Many favorite foods, I have a sweet tooth – love chocolate covered strawberries
Favorite beverage: Beer and sake
Favorite city: San Diego
Event-day habit: Have a good breakfast
Favorite music or artist to ride to: The Mexican group, Mana
Favorite event: Aachen CHIO
Favorite movie: “The Usual Suspects”
Favorite television show: “American Idol”
Addictions: Surfing and riding
Dislike: Rude, negative people

© Copyright 2011 United States Equestrian Federation

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