Catherine McWilliams considers communication between rider and horse the key to dressage competition. With 25 horses at Eastward Farm on the border of North Salem, McWilliams shares her expertise and knowledge with riders from around Westchester County, New York City and nearby Connecticut.
The goal is to maximize communication and have the horse develop the maximum degree of expression, McWilliams said. A good performance looks like the horse is doing it all on its own and the rider is just sitting there.
A trainer and rider herself, McWilliams said dressage competition is a long-standing Olympic discipline, but is also useful for all riders to learn since it is a basic system of training.
It hopefully develops maximum communication between horse and rider, said McWilliams. It allows a person to make himself all he can be.
About 15 years ago, she found that patients and therapists need to have a similar relationships. After several months of therapy and doctor visits for a ruptured disk in her neck which just sort of happened, McWilliams visited The Center for Applied Posture. McWilliams credits Thomas Lemens with helping her to recover and continue riding.
"The very first day, I noticed relief from the pain, she said. "In about three months I was completely pain-free. I have worked with him on and off since then, even trading lessons. When someone is in a lot of pain and need, Tom will go the extra mile.
McWilliams came to New York in 1970 after competing in California as an amateur. She found it too expensive to keep a horse in New York and began training in different stables all over Westchester, including Pleasantville, Somers, Port Chester and Bedford. McWilliams eventually turned it into the business she has now in Brewster at the farm where she lives.
We have a lot of different horse breeds, she said. We have a number imported from Europe. The majority are European warm bloods. Those are the principal horses that we use for serious dressage. We also have Iberian horses, and childrens ponies.
McWilliams said she works horses for riders that cannot get to the farm every day. When they do come, they train at the indoor and outdoor arenas.
It is endlessly interesting and demanding for both horse and rider, she concluded.
Eastward Farm is located at 28 Reynwood Drive, Brewster, NY.
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