Marcus Orlob and Shannon Stevens Train Youngsters up to FEI Grand Prix
Written by Betsy LaBelle - In Dressage Directory - Saturday, July 25, 2015
Most important to husband and wife dressage training team Marcus Orlob and Shannon Stevens is that their clients achieve their goals. The couple’s full care training facility, Elite Expression Dressage, is a serene environment with a round pen, outdoor and indoor arenas and ample turnout that enhance each rider and horse’s personalized training program. Management is meticulous with both the horses and care of the facility. With a customary count of around twenty-five participants, goals are consistently met.
Marcus, originally from Germany and now an American citizen, rode to impressive high scores in the national arena at the 2015 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival. He worked for the coach of the Brazilian Olympic team John Zagers to achieve his German Dressage Bereiter and as a youth and Young Rider with Olympic champion Hubertus Schmidt during almost every vacation. A master at bringing horses up the levels in a clear and systematic manner, Marcus has ridden in over eighty Grand Prix classes on horses he trained.
Prominent USA and top international dressage champion and Olympic medalist Steffen Peters has trained Marcus during USDF Symposiums and been privy to his talents and clear interactions with horses.
American born Shannon trained at the prestigious German Riding Academy in Warendorf where stallions are used in training courses for professional riders. Excelling at starting, breaking and bringing up young horses, she has remarkable abilities in understanding horses and building their confidence to enable them to advance toward a solid future in the sport of Dressage.
Married since 2012, the couple met at Warendorf. Marcus was pursing his rider/trainer certification at the time. Shannon was the first American accepted into the school's program where she dedicated her time to riding and training to acquire valuable skills in the industry to complete her Bachelor’s degree in equine business management.
“One of the keys to our continuing success,” Shannon explains, “is that we focus strongly on a horse’s care. I learned from working in many different barns that horse care must be given special attention for them to build trust. That’s why we have a permanent staff that stays here. It makes a huge difference because they take enormous pride in making sure a horse feels at ease with everyone involved in its training.”
Each horse gets its hooves picked daily, groomed a couple of times a day, a daily turnout, scheduling with a vet and farrier and more, “This attentiveness really makes everyone’s life better, the client, the horse and all of us. We set everything up for full, total care and it’s truly great.”
Marcus or Shannon will first ride a horse to determine and tailor the program best set for rider and horse and how they can meet their short-term and long-term goals. “Our aim,” Shannon says, “is to help each client have the most success, whether it’s with a young horse for the breed testings, for competition FEI Tests or for themselves as riders. That’s what motivates us to achieve our objectives so that they can realize their goals. It’s imperative that we’re thorough and do what we set out to do.” They are proud of their honest approach, “And, if we see a problem, we’re truthful about it. That’s very important to us and to the success of our clients.”
With a classical approach to training that includes six days a week, all horses are hacked before or after training. “Cross-training is very important to us, whether it be cavalletti exercises, classical long-lining or hacking up and down hills. We do try to keep it fresh for the horse before and after workouts with a lot of hacking around our beautiful, beautiful property. It also helps a lot that horses absolutely love Marcus,” chuckles Shannon.
Marcus and Shannon follow a complimentary relationship in their training and both share the same philosophies. But, they can also use different teaching methods that are highly effective for riders with varied learning styles. Shannon said, “I tend to have a quiet, subtle approach to training and focus on the biomechanics of both horse and rider to create a harmonious relationship where the emphasis is placed on helping the rider achieve an effective, functional and elegant position with correct basics and self-awareness and suppleness. I also feel that I have the unique ability to put across the ‘feel’ and understanding of correct dressage in a positive and fun manner. Marcus has a tremendous understanding of what it takes to be successful in the competition ring and what’s required of the horse and rider to get there. He has a unique ability to polish and ‘fine tune’ and demonstrate dressage test strategy which optimizes the horse’s ability to perform.
We truly want riders to have the most success, whether in the competition ring or at home training and we completely support both equally. We want them to have longevity in the sport.”
Young Horse Trainings
While all training facility operators certainly understand why setting a young horse’s foundation is so important, Elite Expression Dressage’s training system stands apart from typical programs. Enjoying startup for breeders, launching all aspects of grooming, groundwork and lunging, the facility’s young horse training excels, “It’s our specialty,” Shannon states proudly.
“I’m usually the one who’ll first sit on the horse and Marcus will work with the ground training. It’s important for every horse to completely trust us. Then, we go on to preparing and building its foundation with the rider. This is why they succeed.”
Proficient with FEI Young Horse tests and Mare and Stallion Performance Tests, horses trained by the facility regularly become champions in their inspections and competitions, “So far, every mare we’ve presented has become the champion for the event!”
Shannon explains the process, “I enjoy backing the horse and giving each one the necessary confidence to succeed. We train in a systematic way so that the horse fully and completely understands each and every aspect of its training. We want young horses to feel empowered yet relaxed with what they learn each day. They’re never, ever rushed and if a horse doesn’t quite understand, then we take a step back and apply other techniques until it wants to learn the next step. Young horses must enjoy learning and what they’re doing because they grow in their minds just as much as they grow in their bodies. We want a horse to be a happy horse.”
Qualified Horses for the 2015 USEF Festival of Champions Young Horse Finals in Lamplight, Illinois
Excelling up the levels with proven results, Marcus and Shannon have qualified several horses to the FEI levels. They have included Equestricon’s Et Voila in the Developing Grand Prix, Shakespeare RSF owned and bred by Maurine Swanson of Rolling Stone Farm and Shyriana for the FEI 5-year-old division. They are working on qualifying a couple more.
Some Coaching Achievements
Having trained in Elite Express Dressage’s unique program, Young Rider Jennifer Foulon qualified for the North American Junior Young Rider Championships (NAJYRC) again in 2015.
She has completed the USDF Silver Medal and the Bronze Freestyle Bar, competed at NAJYRC and Festival of Champions at the Young Rider level in 2013, won three Region 8 championships at FEI Junior and 4th level and Prix St. George. She and her horse, Mr. M, which Shannon and Marcus found for her in Europe, finished as the 2015 4th level JR/YR National USDF Champion. They also competed in CDI's at Dressage at Devon and the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival.
Another client, Barbara Wolfe, won the Colonel Bengt Ljungquist Memorial (BLM) Championships at First level aboard her young horse, Smile, in 2014.They also placed third at the US Dressage Finals in Kentucky and, most recently, Barbara won the Prix St. George aboard her other horse, Zodiak, which Shannon and Marcus also found in Europe.
They are also helping John McGinty to get back into the show ring so he can ride in the adult amateur class that he helped create at the Adequan® Global Dressage Festival.
“We also have great horses to offer for sale, both here in the US and internationally through some really great connections in Europe. These sellers are extremely trustworthy. They’ve been working with us for a long time and always send us good horses. We make sure that rider and horse match-ups are the right fit so that ultimately the pair can reach their goals.”
In order that all goals of their facility are continually achieved, Shannon explained, “We want everything to be as uncomplicated as possible for clients and their horses so they can comfortably accomplish the reason why they’re here. We really have a relaxed manner in which we work. We take the time. We’re proud of that.”
Elite Expression Dressage Contact:
Shannon : 908-500-6266
Farm Address: 130 Lilac Drive, Annandale, NJ 08801
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