Oded Shimoni Competing, Coaching & More Coaching
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By KENNETH J. BRADDICK
LEXINGTON, Kentucky, Apr. 21–Oded Shimoni dismounted from Granada after competing in the Kentucky Cup CDI3* World Equestrian Games Test Event in the Kentucky Horse Park’s new main stadium, hurried over to nearby warm up arenas to help top American event riders hone their dressage skills and was back an hour later to prepare Arlene “Tuny” Page for her Kentucky Cup ride.
Busy hardly describes the schedule maintained by the Israeli rider, based in the U.S. for the past 20 years, who has qualified on Granada to compete at the Alltech FEI WEG in September that will be his third world championship appearance.
“I love what I do, using my experience and knowledge to help others going through the same things I have gone through,” he said between coaching sessions where the dressage test event was held simultaneously with the Rolex Kentucky Three-Day Event, one of a handful of four-star competitions and one of the world’s most prestigious.
Over just four days at the Kentucky Horse Park, the 48-year-old competed in the Grand Prix and Special at the CDI3*, coached U.S. WEG dressage hopefuls Todd Flettrich on Otto and Tuny Page in Alina, and coached American eventing luminaries Phillip Dutton, Buck Davidson, Boyd Martin, Will Faudree and others.
Kentucky is the first elite event that Oded has been available to coach the U.S. riders since he was enlisted by Mark Phillips, the Olympic gold medalist for Great Britain who has been the U.S. eventing honcho for several years. His American-born wife, Sandy, is a successful international dressage competitor for Great Britain.
As if his schedule in the U.S. isn’t tough enough, Oded commutes to England regularly to coach dressage riders including Sandy Phillips, Jane Gregory, who rode for Great Britain in the 1996 Atlanta and 2008 Beijing Olympics, her husband Aram Gregory who rode in the 2008 Olympics for Hong Kong, and World Champion British team member Anna Ross-Davies.
The jet setting lifestyle is a long way from Oded’s beginning in dressage–a teenager riding school horses in jeans and sneakers at a community park in Tel Aviv where his Hungarian Jewish parents–his mother an Auschwitz survivor–settled when the state of Israel was created after World War II. His drive to excel took him to training with George Wahl and David Pincus then moved to the U.S. as a penniless hopeful.
He succeeded, and began working with Conrad Schumacher
His first major international championship followed. Hr became the first Israeli to qualify for the World Equestrian Games, at Rome in 1998. The WEG in Jerez, Spain, was next, and then he qualified for the 2004 Athens Olympics.
He began working with Hubertus Schmidt in Germany where Sandy Phillips was also getting help before the 2004 Athens Games and so met Mark Phillips.
“He brings another level of expertise to our program,” Mark noted after hours standing alongside Oded coaching U.S. event riders. “We are trying to raise our standards.”
Under the program, event riders do not have to work with Oded and the schedule prior to the WEG in September depends on several factors, including availability and how helpful the coaching is to the riders.
“I think Oded has a terrific eye for dressage but also understands that as eventers our horses have other jobs in addition to dressage,” said Buck Davidson, winner of the 2009 Pinnacle Trophy for Highest Placed U.S. Rider at Rolex with My Boy Bobby. “Oded offers a really good balance for us knowing that our horses aren’t just dressage horses, but also must perform in cross-country and jumping.”
“It is important for three day eventers to improve basic riding and horsemanship and to increase their horses athletic ability, suppleness and elasticity,” Oded said. “This gives the rider greater ambition for their way of thinking and the whole discipline. I designed a special routine for three day horses for their daily training that follows into the horse shows from the very first day.”
When he is not teaching clinics, Shimoni is training and teaching at Tuny Page’s Stillpoint Farm, in Wellington, Florida, where he shares riding arenas with six-time U.S. Olympian Robert Dover and Lisa Wilcox, Olympic team bronze and WEG silver medalist.