Less Is More: Beat Mändli on the Indoor Season, Dsarie, & His Approach with Young Horses

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eat Mandli & Dsarie at the Washington International Horse Show. ph: Tori Repole for NF.
Beat Mandli & Dsarie at the Washington International Horse Show. ph: Tori Repole for NF.

Whether dressed as Dracula (for a costume class) or in traditional show jumping attire, at this time last week, Switzerland’s Beat Mändli was closing a successful week of competition at the Washington International Horse Show CSI4*-W, scoring victories in both the $35,000 Accumulator Costume Class and the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Washington.

With that event now past, Mandli will look to pick up more qualifying points and perhaps another victory, in the $250,000 Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping Lexington CSI4*-W, set to take place on Saturday, November 4, 2017 in Lexington, Kentucky, USA.

Currently based in North Salem, NY, we caught up with Mandli to discuss his superstar mare Dsarie, how he’s developed and brought her along, and where we can expect to see the two in the future.

Noelle Floyd: How did you prepare your horses for the Washington International Horse Show?
Beat Mändli: We have a nice indoor in New York, so we jumped two times before we went to Harrisburg [Pennslvania], which we used as a warm up for Washington and Kentucky. It worked out well there; [my student] Katie [Dinan] won a class and we had two nice placings so it was a good start.

All of our horses get turned out in big fields in New York, which keeps them happy and moving. We do a lot of trail riding up and down the hills, and we’ll do classical flatwork and dressage work before we go to the show.

NF: What were your expectations leading up to the event?
BM: To be honest, I wasn’t sure about the [Washington] venue because the warm up is a bit small. The ring was okay and we had perfect footing this year which helped a lot. [Dsarie] is a big horse and I wasn’t sure if the venue suited her, but she really was fine in there.

She was good the first day and had two fences down. That for sure left me with doubts, but after that round she adjusted to the situation and everything went well for me.

NF: Can you talk about your partnership with Dsarie?
BM: I’ve been riding her for two years but I’ve had her for four. I had her with a friend of mine in Europe to give her a little bit of mileage when she was turning six. She jumped a few years in Europe and then I took over when she was eight.

“Just because there are many eight or nine-year-olds jumping big classes doesn’t mean that it’s right for all horses.”

I started her in Wellington in the 1.40m classes. She’s a very scopey horse and there’s nothing she can’t do, but you just have to be patient and not enter too many big classes when they’re young. That was more the problem because she really offered to go, but I don’t like going too quickly when they’re that age.

NF: How do you balance giving a young horse the exposure and experience needed without overstimulating them too early on?
BM: This is different from horse to horse, situation to situation. You find the answers through the experience you gain through the years of bringing up horses.

You feel the scope of the horse and at some point you just start to put them in the bigger classes, but if you force them too early on and you do too much too soon, then it normally doesn’t last very long. Of course you want to prove that the horse is good enough, but you have to hold them back. I say less is more.

You also have to have very good owners who understand this. Just because there are many eight or nine-year-olds jumping big classes doesn’t mean that it’s right for all horses. They have to have the patience, belief, and trust in what you say.

NF: After Kentucky, what’s your plan?
BM: We are heading down to Florida a little bit earlier this year. When we went to Europe, the horses that were left in New York were turned out in the fields and didn’t show. We have about five horses who need to do a little bit before the [WEF] circuit starts, so we’ll show a little bit at the end of November and then we’ll have a quiet December.