Skip to content

Tool Box Symposium on

Karin Offield’s Tool Box Symposium is now available on This is a tremendous teaching opportunity for all disciplines. Each month a new clinic from the Tool Box Symposium will be posted for members of to view, so join now!

Tool Box Videos

Currently in Premium Videos: Beth Baumert on Half Halts and Karin Offield on Connection.

Check out the articles in the October and November 2010 issues of Dressage Today.

Press release for the Tool Box Symposium listed below:

“Unbelievable quality of instruction and presentation. Very inspiring;” “Couldn’t have been organized better” were some of the comments given by instructors, riders, and auditors in response to the inaugural Dressage Tool Box Symposium held in 2010 and hosted by Bay Harbor Equestrian Club. Sponsored by Karin Offield of Harbor Springs,, and Barnby Notes, the symposium gave attendees a unique opportunity to advance their skills in horsemanship and share openly the “tools” that will advance their skills as dressage teachers and riders.

Dressage is the systematic training of the horse to increase it’s suppleness and athletic ability. As an Olympic level competitive discipline, dressage displays the beauty and grace of the horse and rider in partnership as they perform what appears to be an effortless mounted ballet. On a more fundamental level the foundation of dressage will benefit any rider who desires to communicate fluidly and bring out the best performance of their horse.

This inaugural clinic was open to all dressage instructors. Offield stated “the purpose was to share the diversity and range of ideas from dressage instructors; to show and tell the technical skills. The manner in which we teach and learn as students takes years by experience. As riders we learn in varying amounts every day. As instructors we are constantly examining those “lightbulb moments” to see why a certain “lesson” was suddenly learned. It’s like looking at life – but on a horse.”

Instructors with backgrounds as diverse as equine and human biomechanics,, therapeutic riding (NARHA), Centered Riding, and US Dressage Federation Gold Medalists from national competition participated. Also participating were several USDF certified judges and instructors. Each instructor taught 2 lessons focusing on a specific dressage fundamental or movement to mounted students who indicated they needed an additional perspective in refining their understanding of that particular skill. The riders were asked to list the lessons that they needed to learn.

Karin Offield, as moderator and inventor of the Symposium model was able to craft the lessons program to fit the needs of both the instructors and the riders. The auditors played an active part in the program too by changing their observation vantage point from lesson to lesson. When asked “What is the reason behind hosting a Tool Box Symposium?” Offield replied, ” I am talking about getting a region together to introduce, to discover, and to work together so that all of our instructors skills and tools, our clients horses, and our dressage tests are better. For all of us to meet the instructors in our region is super. What better way than this to make sure that we are all training our horses in a modern, respectful and intelligent manner!”

Special guests from Michgan State University attended. As experts in their fields of teaching and learning, Dr. Hilary Clayton, BVMS, PhD, MRCVS, professor and McPhail Chair in Equine Sports Medicine; Karen Waite – Equine Extention Specialist; and Narelle Stubbs – research associate and Physiotherapist from Australia and England helped us see the subjects more clearly. “It was fun and very enlightening.”

Local participants in the Harbor Springs area included Nancy Williams riding her rescued Thoroughbred Trakehner cross, Dreamer who won the group’s heart for his wonderful work ethic and athletic ability. Karin Offield also rode William’s little gelding in a session on developing the canter pirouette. Prix St. George competitor and USDF “L” judge, Kim Aikens from Petoskey instructed. Young riders Suzannah Simon from Charlevoix and Miles Hayes also wowed the crowd. Other participants came from around Michigan and as far afield as Connecticut, Illinois, Ohio, and Virginia. There were 55 attendees.

The symposium goals were twofold; one, that all participants go home with new “tools” added to their collection of both teaching and riding skills and two, that the program serve as a model for additional Tool Box Symposiums to be held across the country. Unlike many European countries, the United States does not have a regional national training center program for dressage riders and young horses. Offield hopes that by creating the Tool Boxes this need can be addressed and a 2 year pilot program of National Training Centers can be initiated across the United States. The choice of Bay Harbor Equestrian Club was an easy choice for Karin, “It has all the amenities a person could want to hold large events and be educationally proactive. The staff at Bay Harbor were terrific. We were in good hands. “

For more information on the selection of a facility as a site for a future Dressage Tool Box Symposium in 2012 and 2013 please contact Karin at The Tool Box was designated a USDF University accredited program and the organizers and participants were very pleased with their support. For more information on the USDF University please click on this link: