Dave Thind, German Certified 'Trainer A', F.N.
FEI Level III Trainer
Born in Canada, trained in Germany, Dave Thind makes his home in Walpole, MA and is co-owner of Aspire Farm. As a certified German Trainer A, Grand Prix level competition rider in Dressage and Jumping, and biomechanics expert Dave's Dave Thind Method is his own blend of classical German riding and the somatic work of Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais. He is also saddle fitter and certified Sprenger bit fitter. Dave is often on the road teaching, competing or fitting saddles. However his year-round focus remains the daily training and correct development of horses and riders at Aspire Farm.
Dave believes that combining classical training principals and an advanced knowledge of biomechanics produces heightened harmony and communication between horse and rider. As such, he provides opportunities for guided exploration into the elusive concepts of “feel” and body awareness. Horses and riders are athletes; the sport requires their bodies to be coordinated and strong in order to perform challenging maneuvers with balance and suppleness.
Dave’s methods provide tools to aid in pain-free careers for horses and their riders, thus avoiding tension, inappropriate muscle memory or even physical damage. Happy, sound and competitive partnerships are his goal.
German Certified 'Trainer A'
“Dave Thind holds a ‘Trainer A’ license from the German Equestrian Federation. This high level degree is a Level III, the highest possible, and one step higher than the ‘Bereiter’ title. An International Level III means certification as a Master Instructor. This level of certification allows Dave to act as an ambassador for both the principles and correct application of the German classical system of training. The panel of judges from our Federation was thoroughly impressed by Dave's abilities as an Instructor and awarded him an almost perfect score,” stated Christoph Hess, Director of Training and Education at the German Equestrian Federation.
Once already at a certain level, the process to complete Trainer levels C then B and finally become a ‘Trainer A’ takes approximately 5 years to complete. Requirements contain high standards of riding and teaching in Dressage, Show-Jumping and Eventing. Different from the Bereiter program where candidates complete an apprenticeship-based three year program and finish with the ability to train horses very well and do some teaching, the Trainer program places great emphasis on one’s theoretical knowledge and ability to teach in a correct and pedagogical manner according to the German System. The extensive testing expects mastery not only of working horses in hand, teaching students, and training horses, but also of managing a large equestrian center, including feeding, veterinary care, assessing farrier work, correct footing, and correctly fitting saddles.
Dave’s gift to easily convey complex theoretical concepts as well as to help riders not only feel but reproduce improvement sets him apart from other clinicians. The German F.N.'s judging panel awarded Dave's teaching the distinction of "Sehr gut," which translates directly to "very good" and according to the international grade conversion guide, is the equivalent to the letter grade of A.
Trained with Olympians
While in Germany, Dave received some of the best training around. Dave completed his Trainer education under Meister Martin Plewa (former coach of the German National Team and co-author of Dressage Tips and Training Solutions) and Reiner Jäckel. Dave also benefited from regular training with Belgian Olympic trainer Johan Zagers and three-time German Professional Riders’ Champion (2009-2011) Hartwig Burfeind. In show jumping, Dave trained with Bernd Shulz-Tophoff and Line Beutin. Dave was lucky enough to also receive occasional lessons from other great trainers in Northern Germany such as Michael Klimke. In 2013, Dave returned to Germany to train with current German Olympic Team Trainer Monica Theodorescu. Dave is thankful to these German Masters for sharing their wealth of knowledge.
Inspired by the life work of Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais
Dave completed two years of training in this field. Several years before Dave moved to Germany, a back injury and the possibility of never riding again led to his deep interest in human and equine biomechanics. He closely studied a variety of body awareness and movement techniques. But it was the work of Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais that amazed and continues to amaze Dave. Not only did this work enable Dave to ride pain free, it has helped him and his students improve their riding with so much more than just better seats and flowing movement. For the full story read "Pain Converted to Gain" below. MAY 2018 USD Podcast with Dave:
Multi-Disciplinary and Competitive
True to the German system, which includes a multi-disciplinary approach to horse and rider training, Dave holds an impressive and diverse competition background. Competing internationally in 10 different countries, Dave has shown Grand Prix dressage, show-jumping to 1.40m and Preliminary eventing. He has also trained and finished horses to the Grand Prix level in both dressage and show jumping.
Dave's students include winners at Grand Prix level dressage and show jumping. Many have received accolades, including national awards such as Equine Canada's Gillian Wilson Award for Junior Equestrian of the Year. In addition, a number of his students are successful trainers in their own right in Canada, Germany, Norway and the U.S.
Dave's training programs include hill-work and cavaletti for all horses. He believes strongly in the benefits of a well-rounded training program for the physcial and mental prowess of horse and rider.
Dave helped prepare trainer candidates at the first-ever English language German Trainer course at the prestigious Westphalishe Reit und Fahr Schule in Munster, Germany. He has also given lectures and presentations about equine biomechanics at the Norwegian Agricultural University (UMB), Tweit College (Norway) and Equine Affaire (USA). Also noteworthy, the Norwegian Warmblood Association has hired Dave as test rider/judge in both jumping and dressage at their inspection where he additionally presented a demo on the correct training of young warmbloods.
In 2013 Dave purchased his very own Aspire Farm, where he continues to move full speed ahead towards his goals while sharing his knowledge with riders and trainers across North America and Europe.
Dave is married to Dr. Camilla Stava Thind, an equine Veterinarian who holds certification in Animal Chiropractic as well a German ‘Trainer C’ license. He owns the noted stallion, and Weltmeyer son, White Star.
How it all began
Dave Thind's unique skill set is a result of the combination of his individual experiences and circumstances. Although his grandfather was an instructor in the Indian Cavalry, Dave never had the chance to meet him. Dave was born and raised outside of Montreal, Canada and because of the generosity of his older sister Sanjeev, began showing hunter / equitation and jumper on their thoroughbred gelding, Kismet. From reading and studying videos, Dave noticed that horses and riders from Europe, mostly Germany, simply performed better, even to the uneducated eyes of a 15-year-old. Although Dave had already attained success at competition, he dreamt of traveling to train in Europe and one day having the means to own and breed warmbloods. Dave took it upon himself to study European bloodlines and horse breeding (conformation, gaits, breeding indexes, etc.). So began his personal quest for a systematic approach to better riding which ultimately led him to dressage and the classical training system.
Fresh out of high school, Dave took a student business loan from the BDC and launched Cavalier Magazine, a bilingual equestrian magazine. He ran the publication for 5-years while studying at Champlain College and Concordia University. With the revenue amassed from his business and with the help of another loan, he and his sister purchased two more horses. One of these was the then yearling stud-colt who would become their licensed stallion Rajah (Rabino/Calypso II/Ladykiller).
In 1998, Dave's dream to train in Europe became a reality when he traveled to the Netherlands to train and compete in a University level Nations' Cup, representing Canada in Jumping and Dressage. On that first trip to Holland, Dave had the opportunity to receive dressage training from Henk Van den Berg and developed an appreciation of Baroque horses through his training on very well bred Gelder horses as well as competing on Fresian stallions owned by the Fresian National Stud Farm in Friesland. Prior to going to Holland, Dave considered himself to be a very good rider due to his success at competition and experimentation with the German training system. In Holland, Dave realized that his riding education would be a life-long process and that he had much to learn. Over the next four years, Dave returned to train and show in Europe while he continued his university and equine studies as well as his business ventures.
In 1999, Dave went into business for himself once more, this time as a trainer of horses and riders as well as breeding warmblood horses. Dave quickly developed a reputation for having the ability to work with young stallions as well as problem horses and became a sought-after trainer. He and his students continued to have success in jumping competitions but the majority of their work was of course dressage. In 2000, Dave obtained a Hanoverian broodmare / Prix St. Georges competitor, San System (Sultana). Thanks to Sultana and her owner as well as Dressage World Championship competitor and FEI Judge Lise Martin, Dave was able to continue his learning.
Pain Converted to Gain
By 2002 Dave’s training and sales business was flourishing and Dave could be seen showing a variety of training horses at various levels of dressage. His stallion Rajah continued to be successful in the jumpers and many satisfied clients had purchased horses from Dave. Also in 2002, he met Japanese National dressage Coach, Margaret Dickmann of Germany. Dickmann quickly recognized Dave's talent and arranged for him to train in Germany with Johan Zagers, coach of the Brazilian Olympic team. Mr. Zagers had trained horses and riders to the highest levels, including Renoir Unicef/A.K. Lisenhoff (Team Gold, Jerez 2002), in addition to being an extremely accomplished competitor himself.
Dave was very excited about this but an unfortunate accident almost stopped him in his tracks. Dave nevertheless insisted on going. Armed with prescription pain-killers, anti-inflammatory pills and muscle relaxants, Dave set off for Germany. Eventually Dave decided that he did not want to continue with the toxic medications and Mr. Zagers, who at one point had been bed ridden for over a year, encouraged Dave to take the time off in order to heal. A wise decision, but a tough one.
The injury resulted in chronic pain due to a pelvic-upslip, a false short-leg and sacro-iliac dysfunction. Many health care professionals, family members and colleagues advised Dave to find a new career. At times he considered it, but knew that somehow he was going to fully heal and follow his true calling in life. The next three years were difficult, requiring several breaks from training while Dave still managed to obtain success at the FEI levels of dressage. In order to recover, Dave sought help in 5 different countries, trying everything he could: Chiropractic, Acupuncture, Standard Physical Therapy, Tai Chi, Meditation, Osteopathy, Qui 'Gong, Massage, Cranio-Sacral Therapy, Rolfing, Yoga, Pilates, and Alexander Technique. All of those modalities contributed to his comfort levels and body awareness, but it was Feldenkrais and Reiki (Dave is a certified Reiki Master Teacher) that made the difference. During any required lay-up, Dave immersed himself in the study of both human and equine movement and biomechanics.
"I don't regret being injured. The pain and the idea of giving up riding was very difficult at times but it drove me to educate myself. I am a better rider and trainer because of the pain I went through. What makes it all worthwhile is that I can help other riders to learn how to avoid pain provoked by riding as well as to reduce or eliminate pre-existing conditions," reflects Dave. Five years after his injury Dave moved to Germany and completed his Trainer certification, finishing best in class. Finally back in the US, Dave completed two years of education in order to become an authorized Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement Teacher.