I think it’s safe to say that team Neuss Grimlinghausen, from Germany, is the most successful vaulting club in history. Jessica Lichtenberg, Neuss current trainer, who was also a vaulter for the club during the 90s, told clipmyhorse.de the secret behind this success. And we translated it so you can also learn this big secret. Check it out:
We are visiting the vaulting team from Neuss Grimlinghausen. ClipMyHorse was there to check out their preparationg for the upcoming European Championships in Aachen and talked with coach Jessica Lichtenberg. Now we’ll take a look at the behind the scenes.
On her co-coach Elisabeth Simon
[Jessica Lichtenberg] I say, the success we have now is surely the result of years & years of work, yes. You build up people like Jannika, Pauli, with time across the whole year. That, is where Eli (Elisabeth Simon, past vaulter for Neuss and their current second trainer) helps me today. We have separated that very clear. I am working full time besides the sport. So, that means I couldn’t be here all the time. And Eli is really responsible for the complete strength training. To write training plans. To look that they are fit. Meanwhile she does also some technique training on the barrel. So we work hand in hand, we work very well-orchestrated together, sometime she also lunges & I am calling from the outside, if that wouldn’t work like it is right now, we wouldn’t be where we are today.
She is also a prospective physiotherapist, and was a vaulter here at the club, won all sorts of titles by herself, she knows what it means to be an athlete, she knows what it means to push yourself to the limit & can do this also well with others. She has the complete overview of everything that goes with the sport. And this helps me enormously because I can say, let’s fine-tune there, let’s do something here, could you watch the horse with me, how could we do it differently? So, one can consult her & arrange everything that crosses one’s mind. That is clearly the secret recipe of the last years.
On the horse’s training and education
[Jessica Lichtenberg] My sister, the Kiki Schmitz, is riding our horse. I would preferably say that 50% of the education of the horse, I have to accept without envy, that she was the one to accomplished it. She is riding the horse 4 times a week. We talk about the work everyday. How was it today? What have you done? What will I do tomorrow? Certainly, the fact that we are close, both personally and now professionally, is a big advantage because we rely on each other 100%.
Alex Schneider is also riding Delia in the forest, she goes out, goes strolling, grazing a little bit between grooming, she also practices gymnastics with the horse, to loosen the horse, dissipate the horse, to take a break from the everyday life. That’s so important.
We invest so much in it because we know that the horse is our biggest asset in the sport. And it is very important to us that Delia always thrives. With that we earn that she enjoys going to competitions with us. And she is so strong-nerved. Yeah, Delia FRH (Delia won an award given to Hanoverian horses that achieve greatness in their sports, the honor is called FRH and is a really big deal) I am proud as if it was an Oscar. What should I say? That is a super award!
Delia used to do dressage at L level, but was a little bit lazy for the M level. But her owner wanted to go further, and didn’t see it working with her. So we tried her out. She liked it from the beginning. She had fun. The nicest thing is that vaulting horses develop and become easier to ride. People used to say Delia needed a little bit too much leg, too much strength. But through the strength and training needed for vaulting, she got much better under the saddle.
I am so proud of this horse! She is amazingly strong-nerved. Is amazingly smart. That is always boon & bane, but with her it is still boon. She recognizes disturbances above. If an athlete starts to blunder above, so, there are some movements we have to spare first, she doesn’t like it. Or if you are to close to the ears, no one knows why, so, she has her small quirks. You have to take them seriously and respect them & she educates the vaulter to vault softly. And thats some sort of awareness she has & she knows the whole freestyle inside out. So if someone does things differently suddenly, she is not happy. I always reach her in the circle. It’s easy to know if she is distracted for a moment, or has a tension. But with an urge or a soft take on of the lunge, I get her to concentrate instantly. With her it is really like: “let me do my thing & all you do is help me with it” & that is a really nice symbiosis.