Gregory Wiegand
Gregory Wiegand © Gregory Wiegand

Interview Gregory Wiegand

Gregory Wiegand: "As course designers, we give the riders their homework for training during the week".

Gregory Wiegand discovered course building as his passion early on. In an interview for "Johanna's Blog", he talks about his career, his philosophy on course building and tips that he would recommend to every rider from the perspective of a course designer.

It became clear early on that Gregory Wiegand would one day become a course designer. Even as a child, the young Gregory built a course with his Playmobil figures, which he then completed with his Playmobil horse. His father, a full-time optician, then made obstacle material out of various materials, which Gregory then used.
Having competed himself up to advanced level, Wiegand knows the challenges of a good course. "With all my courses, I always think about whether I would like to complete this course," says the rider from Eppelheim.

The path to becoming a course designer is not an easy one. From the silver rider's badge to a letter of application to the state commission to building a course ten times in one class and being assessed by a team of experts, there are numerous requirements to fulfil. "I've been building courses for eight years now and haven't regretted it yet," Wiegand says with a smile.
Has there ever been a course that went differently than expected in practice? "Only once in my entire career did a course not go so well. Then the sources of error crystallised on one line and were not distributed over the course as desired."

But once the course is set, nothing can be changed. "Of course, I think very carefully in advance about the requirements for a certain jumping course. You have to know your clientele. I want to see fair and safe rounds from the riders. After all, as a course builder I am also responsible for the safety and health of rider and horse," Wiegand explains.
Especially in show jumping competitions for young horses, the course designer always makes sure that the courses are fair. He does without an attention-grabbing undercarriage and always designs the first jumps as well as the combinations in the direction of the exit and with a foot rail. "That gives security," says the North Baden Vice-Champion. Nevertheless, Gregory Wiegand always makes sure that especially young horses get to know different rhythms in combinations. "I would advise every rider to use different distance measurements in the combinations every now and then. Sometimes one, sometimes two canter jumps. Sometimes also an oxer-vertical combination. That way the young horses learn to adapt to different rhythms in different situations."

The higher the class, the higher the requirements. There are many ways to create sources of error. "I create visual sources of error. I like to use single-coloured, so-called "plain" poles, as the top pole of an obstacle. Hanging a plank upwards can also result in different sources of error," says the course builder.
He added that mistakes can also be provoked by the time allowed or a technical line layout. "Of course, I don't want to produce "hard" or "severe" mistakes. I prefer it when riders come out of the course and say: "Too bad, good round but two light faults".

Wiegand has a relevant tip for riders who are inexperienced in the course: "It is not important that you see every distance. It is much more important that you learn to deal with what you see. In the time after you've noticed, for example, that a distance is getting a bit tighter, and you're thinking to yourself all the time 'Crap, it's getting tight... what am I doing', you might as well have reacted and cut back your horse's canter stride a bit more."

Gregory Wiegand names the "pole course" as one of his "insider tips". "Every week there is a different course at our facility. It goes without saying that you don't have to jump a whole high course with your horse every day. That's why I like to put a simple ground pole next to each jump on the right side. I then imagine that it is a jump that I am going to jump in the course. I then practise this to improve. Because of the ground pole, the strain on the horse is not quite as high as with a real jump. If it works with the ground pole on the right side, I put it on the left side another day. Then I ride the pole course over the poles on the left side. If that works, I start riding the course from the back. There are countless ways to train different courses with little effort."

Wiegand also knows, however, that part of riding and training takes place in the rider's mind. In Wiegand's opinion, the rider should always question himself and be critical of his rides. This is the only way to improve. "If I noticed at the weekend that I always had problems finding the right distance to the triple bar in all three tests, I should ask myself why. And then I should practise this why at home. You have to be realistic and critical of yourself. That's the only way to improve in the long term and with a solid foundation."

With his open, detailed and far-sighted manner, Gregory Wiegand shows how much heart, thought and attention to detail can go into a course. He is certainly a course designer whose courses will find much approval and compliments on a regional as well as national and international level!

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