Our second inductee into the USDF Hall of Fame this year is Dr. Max Gahwyler, in recognition of his innovative contributions to the education of dressage riders in the U.S. his three books have sold tens of thousands of copies all over the world. They are entitled "The Competitive Edge, Volume 1 - Improving Your Dressage Scores in the Lower Levels, Volume 2 - Moving Up the Levels, and Volume 3 - Gravity, Balance, and Kinetics of the Horse and Rider." Dr. Gahwyler's creative, popular lectures on the local, regional, and national level have inspired thousands of dressage riders. His clinics have provided a firm foundation in the basics to many riders in the U.S. Read more
A medical doctor by profession, Max and his wife Doris came to the U.S. from Switzerland in 1952. His equestrian career began in America. In the 1960's, he was one of a small group of visionaries who worked with Margarita Serrell to found the American Dressage Institute (ADI), the forerunner to USDF. As a past president of ADI, he was instrumental in bringing outstanding European trainers to the U.S., including Colonel Hans Handler, Karl Mikolka, Nuno Oliviera, Herbert Rehbein, and Rich Watjen. They taught at the ADI dressage camps in the 1960s at Skidmore College in New York.
Max has been a very popular speaker all over the country, including many presentations at USDF University sessions at the annual convention. Some of his most recent lectures at the convention have been on "The Differences Between Classical and Competitive Dressage," "The Effects of Coefficients on Test Results," The Development and Use of the Snaffle Bit Through the Ages," and "Human and Horse Kinetics and Balance." Standing outside any of the meeting rooms when he is speaking, one is struck by the audience's delight, through both applause and laughter.
One of Max's passions is his personal study of the history of riding and the work of the old masters, which he reads in the original German and French. An avid scholar, he has an outstanding collection of antique riding literature, especially deep in literature from the Middle Ages. It is this on-going study of the literature that he brings to his teaching and lecturing today.
Max has given clinics for dressage riders all over the U.S., he has taught people across the entire spectrum, from the greenest training level children to experienced FEI-level riders. Unlike many trainers, he has never shied away from teaching beginners or amateur riders since his philosophy has been to give all riders a correct foundation. Max has an uncanny ability to break every movement into small increments that can be built upon to explain how to accomplish the task at hand.
He cautions his students to treat horses kindly and fairly, always looks for the good in people and horses, and reminds his students that dressage should be fun. Always a gentleman, he never loses his patience with students. People who have taken a clinic with him invariable say that they left the arena feeling that they have accomplished something while having a good time doing it. They leave with the tools to continue to improve.
Max has been popular "S" judge for many years and has officiated at everything from International and U.S. championships, to small schooling shows. Throughout his equestrian career, his primary focus has been on the education of dressage riders. We are honored to induct Dr. Max Gahwyler into the USDF Hall of Fame.
Samuel J. Barish