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Posted on August 27, 2009 by Paula

Dressage In The Rockies Is An Easy Climb For Eeltsje F August 21, 2009 Issue – CHRONICLE OF THE HORSE

Nicole Glusenkamp knows how to get the most out of her mount between the letters.

Almost everything about Eeltsje F is unusual in the dressage world. His mane is long, his legs are unclipped, and his heavy frame makes him look more suited to carry a knight in shining armor than a rider clad in top hat and tails.
But Eeltsje F has proven that despite all these things, he belongs between the letters, and a clean sweep of the Intermediaire I classes at Dressage In The Rockies, held July 31-Aug. 2 in Parker, Colo., was a big step for the Friesian stallion.

“If every Friesian felt like this one, it’d be the only breed I would ride,” said trainer Nicole Glusenkamp, who rode “Bob” to scores of 68.94, 70.26 and 71.05 percent. “I don’t have a horse in training that is so willing to work like he does. I really think he’s very talented, but I also think he’s an exception of his breed.”

Glusenkamp, Parker, Colo., has been riding the 8-year-old since he was imported in 2005 by owner Paula Marsh of Wyning Edge Friesians in Boerne, Texas, and she’s developed a unique strategy to keep the stallion working at his best.

“The biggest issue with a lot of Friesians is that they don’t have a lot of stamina,” said Glusenkamp. “You have to do everything in a short amount of time because they get too hot and overheat. When they lose their stamina they can also get quite heavy and can become very stubborn. When Bob gets to a point where he can’t or doesn’t want to do it anymore because he’s too tired, he’ll just stop. He’ll stand there and go, ‘Just do it yourself.’ ”

In order to keep Bob from overheating during training sessions, Glusenkamp, 37, will often hose him before she rides to keep his body temperature down. She also rides him early in the morning and keeps a bucket of water mixed with alcohol near the ring so she can sponge him off during her rides.

“When I have a training session where he needs to learn something new and it may take [awhile], I keep him as cool as I can,” she said. “I try to keep my warm-ups short at shows and keep him in the shade. We also try to keep ice handy.”

Even when he’s kept at optimal temperature, Bob has plenty of other physical challenges. Glusenkamp said lateral work is particularly difficult for him because he’s short-backed and needs a lot of work bending through his body.

“The trot work is very impressive, but they like to be a little more out behind, so it’s hard for him to really come together,” Glusenkamp said. “I do a lot of hill work—going up and down hills on the bit and on a long rein and keeping him marching to increase his strength behind. His best movement is his canter. He likes it, and it’s very easy for him.”

Bob has started schooling the Grand Prix movements, and Glusenkamp hopes the piaffe and passage will also increase his strength and way of going. She’s looking to debut him at Intermediaire II next year and eventually move up to Grand Prix.

In addition to his dressage career, Bob is also an active breeding stallion who’s first foals should hit the ground in 2010.

“He’s quite a busy guy,” said Glusenkamp with a laugh. “I’m very happy that he takes everything [in stride]. He really is one of the easiest stallions I’ve ever dealt with. He knows when it’s his job to breed, and he knows when he’s not allowed to. It’s really fun to be with him.”

Originally from Germany, Glusenkamp moved to the United States in 2000 and has been working for Sharon and Grant Schneidman ever since.

“I grew up in the city, in Northern Germany, about 30 miles away from Oldenburg,” said Glusenkamp. “In my early teens my parents decided that they wanted to live out in the country. The neighbor had horses, and as a teenager I needed extra money, so I began working for him.”

Glusenkamp spent most of her career in Germany working in the breeding industry. She broke and trained many young horses for keurings and 100-day tests before she met Sharon and relocated to the United States.

“There’s just a point where you decide you’re too old and tired of getting bucked off all the time,” Glusenkamp said, laughing. “Sharon pretty much imported me.”