Adelinde Cornelissen Demonstrates Her Fitness Program at Global Dressage Forum

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Adelinde Cornelissen demonstrating her fitness program at the Global Dressage Forum. © 2012 Ken Braddick/


HOOGE MIERDE, Netherlands, Oct. 29–Adelinde Cornelissen, Olympic individual silver medal winner and the world’s top ranked rider for more than a year, on Monday demonstrated the physical and mental fitness program she adopted a year ago to improve herself as a top athlete.

The demonstration with the coaches who have helped her develop a program specially for equestrians was among the highlights of the first of two days of the Global Dressage Forum in its 12th year as the world’s premier symposium for the sport and the first under the ownership of a foundation created by Princess Benedikte of Denmark. The GDF has no affiliation with a symposium organized for Florida next January that rejected requests by GDF to choose a name that would not create confusion.

Before a packed symposium at the Bartels Academy, the 33-year-old Adelinde, who rode Jerich Parzival to victory at the last two World Cup Finals as well as winning team and individual medals at the 2009 and 2011 European Championships, noted the similarity between training horses and humans.

Training for horse and rider, she said, is to create a “happy athlete.”

That means to her two parts–happy and athlete–and finding the right balance of the two.

“You don’t want to give your horse sugar all day to keep him happy,” Adelinde said. “You have to challenge the horse. You also have t challenge yourself and try to improve.”

Training of her horses focuses initially on relaxation and “speed control” which needs “an easy gas pedal and an easy brake.”

“I want total control all the time, every single stride, at my speed. I don’t care about collection or impulsion at this stage. I am saying, ‘please pay attention to me.’ That is the mental training–he needs to learn to focus on me, to cope with a little bit of stress up there. I train horses to listen, to learn to become an athlete, not only to do the movements because they are in the test. The horse has to constantly respond, listen, but also work.”

To create the happy side, she said, she stretches the horse and “use different things to create more happiness, to feel comfy. I walk them in the woods, I work out on a racetrack because it’s new and different and keeps them alive. A horse needs to be outside. All my horses go outside in a paddock every day. They are not kept in the stable all day, not seeing anything new.”

Adelinde Cornelissen showing her training methods on hew small your horse. © 2012 Ken Braddick/

Before an audience with many Olympic trainers and riders, the demonstration of her personal fitness program was engrossing.

Some of the most important elements of that in the past year, she said, has been to improve her balance and “maybe even more important is the mental part.”

“What you can achieve mentally is incredible. What you think and how you think influences a lot.”

After a video specially prepared for the GDF presentation of her workouts including gymnastics, handball, boxing and handball as well as dietary changes she has experienced “significant improvement, I’m more aware mentally.”

Adelinde Cornlissen demonstrating control of her body. © 2012 Ken Braddick/
Adelinde working on control. © 2012 Ken Braddick/
British Olympic rider Richard Davison (in suit) looking on as Adelinde demonstrates the mental side of her fitness program. © 2012 Ken Braddick/