Dressage (a French term meaning "training") is a path and destination of competitive horse training, with competitions held at all levels from amateur to the Olympics. Its fundamental purpose is to develop, through standardized progressive training methods, a horse's natural athletic ability and willingness to perform, thereby maximizing its potential as a riding horse. At the peak of a dressage horse's gymnastic development, it can smoothly respond to a skilled rider's minimal aids by performing the requested movement while remaining relaxed and appearing effortless. Dressage is occasionally referred to as "Horse Ballet." Although the discipline has its roots in classical Greek horsemanship, mainly through the influence of Xenophon, dressage was first recognized as an important equestrian pursuit during the Renaissance in Western Europe. The great European riding masters of that period developed a sequential training system that has changed little since then and classical dressage is still considered the basis of trained modern dressage.

Early European aristocrats displayed their horses' training in equestrian pageants, but in modern dressage competition, successful training at the various levels is demonstrated through the performance of "tests," or prescribed series of movements within a standard arena. Judges evaluate each movement on the basis of an objective standard appropriate to the level of the test and assign each movement a score from zero to ten - zero being "not executed" and ten being "excellent." A score of nine (or "very good") is considered a particularly high mark, while a competitor achieving all sixes (or 60% overall) should be considering moving on to the next level.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Winter in Ashby

 Here I am spending my first winter in New England in a long time. So far it is going great! The facility we have to work in makes all the difference. Once we are inside we do not even know what is going on outside. I am also really (surprisingly) enjoying the seasons. I am having fun feeding the winter birds and have organized a heated bird bath for them! I have started growing Glorious's barley inside and that is fun. I think he appreciates it even more with the lack of grass.
 The horses are going well. Glorious continues to be a pleasure to train, always eager to work and play. We have a challenge to keep things entertaining when we are in the indoor every day, but it is a good challenge to have and keeps my imagination alive. I have learned to be more relaxed about the week schedule and make sure to get outside when ever the weather permits, even if it was not the original plan.
    We have added Tai Chi classes to our work week. Although I do not practice enough daily I have been having two classes a week and it has added a new dimension to my day. I have experience with Tai Chi and yoga from some years ago, but I had put it away for a while. Starting up again has made a huge difference in my balance and mindset.
     It is wonderful to hear about how everyone is doing in Florida. I miss our farm, friends and the sport. However, I am so content to be here and working quietly everyday with this nice group of horses and people. I am lucky to have a super horse for sale "Bastian" who is a pleasure to ride every day. I am jealous of the person that buys that guy as he is a super friend and partner as well as being athletic and beautiful to watch.
    Brittany and I are busy making plans for our clinic schedule. We have a new children's camp that will   take place March 10-12, 2017. We excited to host the kids again. I believe that helping the kids to create a great partnership with their horses early on, teaching them about proper fundamentals and mindset will help them to be successful in their riding lives, but also happier and more productive in life altogether. We will also host our second Summer Dressage Camp at the end of June this year.
    For the adults we plan a weekend in April, July and August this year. As well we look to host Tristan Tucker at the end of July. We are confirming these dates in the next week or so and then they will be up on the website.
       I thought I would be home twiddling my thumbs all winter, not so! The horses are keeping me super busy as well as putting together work books and plans for the upcoming clinics. Please check back to see our clinic schedule and please contact me at nancylaterdressagehorses@gmail.com to schedule a clinic, lessons or training.
               Ride well !


Sunday, July 31, 2016

The Journey

I have finally been able to get "time" under control and start to feel like life is not running past me without permission! Letting go of a couple of things this year has given me time to sit back and focus on how to get some important things done. I will pick these things up again, when I am more organized and prepared to do them justice.
           The training is going great. Glorious continues to improve. My little clown fish is getting to be quite confident and through in his changes and pirouettes. His in hand piaffe work is getting better and he understands it better which brings him a bit of confidence and bounce in his steps. He is so much fun to ride outside on the hills as well and this has enhanced my mindset this summer. When I think back to the horses that I have really had the most success with I always played with them at least one time a week outside of the arena. Many of the barns I have had the pleasure of being in had awesome outside riding. The last couple of years I became too focused on doing everything right and only working the horses in the right shape. I always try to stretch in the beginning and the end of the work and do poles, but hacking out really changes everything. I think it builds a great relationship with my horses and a trust I can take into the show ring that is not like anything else you can create in the ring. But the biggest thing that has made this possible is having control of my time and having an awesome staff that makes it possible for me to do what I need to do and that I am not bogged down in the other stuff. THANK YOU Brittany, Ferdy and Morgan!
                  Our Junior Dressage Camp in June was a huge success. Our girls were absolutely delightful. This was truly one of the more inspirational weeks I have had in a long time. We covered riding, journaling, goal setting, and physical fitness. These girls Paige Hedrick, Olivia Suker, Remy Sprague, Ava Dzilensky, Tessa Holloran, Ainsley Cronin, Hannah Van Zandt Rollins and Sarah Chiodi created such a positive, open, learning atmosphere there was no limit to the lessons! Well maybe the ball toss was not the most successful! But these girls pushed themselves, encouraged each other and stayed positive every step of the way for a whole week without one misstep. I think we all learned about teamwork this week and in our lonely sport this is one great time to experience the support and fun that others can bring to our riding life. I am extremely impressed by the talent each of these girls has for riding, but equally excited about their eagerness to work, learn and absorb, which are all prerequisites for success in riding and in life.
                  The Conquering the Levels Clinic was also a great weekend. Super group of ladies and Susanne Handler was a super addition to the program. The participants; Brittany Early, Morgan Amiot, Wendy Waegell, Barbara Pauli, Laura Giordino, Nancy Solomon and Deborah Hyland  had 4 lessons in one! We talked about training, test riding, show preparation and then actually did the test riding! A great group of spirited participants and auditors kept the weekend upbeat and progressive. This format will definitely be used again next summer!
                  I have been nominated again as a PM Delegate for USDF. This means I will be Convention bound in December. I welcome all of your comments, concerns and suggestions. My goal is to open up the communication between our Region 8 USDF members and USDF and try to create change that benefits our region and the sport. We need to hear from the members about what they want, what would encourage you to be more active in the sport and what programs do you like that we should expand. Please email or face book message me your ideas. Or stop me at a show or clinic and let me know your thoughts. I cannot do this without you!
              We have a great line up of clinics yet to come.
            Our Annual Adult Dressage Camp is Aug 26-28 taught by your truly. I am looking forward to a great group of motivated ladies to explore fitness, nutrition and the Training Pyramid!
             Charlotte Bredahl will be here first weekend in September to do a USDF Junior Young Rider Clinic that is also open to auditors.  
             Tristan Tucker will be doing a symposium October 15-16 and this is going to be a spectacular event with lectures, lessons and demonstrations. Tristan is articulate and funny and has a progressive training style that is very helpful with our modern horses and the increasing pressure horse shows are creating with atmosphere and competition. Sign up is on the homepage of my website.
                Hope to see you out there or even better here at The Ashby Stock Farm!
                        Ride forward and have fun!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Florida Season

 The season is in full swing and I am happy to have great weather, good friends and super horses to ride.
  This year, like so many before it, has been busy, time going by too quickly for this old lady. It is hard not to fill the days with too much. There is so much for us here and I want to soak it all up. Our clinics have been super successful. Mr. Schumacher was here in the beginning of February and then again this past week. It is always fantastic to have his expertise in the arena, watching his lessons is as much of a boost for me as riding with him. I always feel empowered to tackle all of my training jobs after his visits and these last clinics were no exception. The job is keeping it all going in such an honest way when there are so many other forces out there! I am so lucky to have had such amazing influences in my riding career and I feel excitement in the learning process everyday.
    We also had Tristan Tucker visiting in February. I am getting more and more the hang of his amazing system and have so much fun incorporating it in my everyday training. Glorious is definitely having the most fun and I feel so lucky to have met Tristan while I have this special partnership. The trust we are developing with each other is something from another realm and it is so much fun!
   Global is in high gear this year. So nice for us to have this incredible group of riders to watch week in and week out. Some of the training is not for me, but so much of it is good. These riders so focused and hard working. Amazing horses at all levels. The visitors from across the pond definitely making our riders work hard to keep up. My personal favorite, Shelley Francis, is for sure showing that experience and hard work payoff with great tests and super success.
   The farm is busy with a group of wonderful riders and horses. It is a pleasure to go to the barn everyday and ride and teach. As in the past we have a great group of ladies dead set on building each other up and each one trying to be the best for their horses. A couple of new additions, Vicky Caruso, Michael Korotkin and Kerri Arruda, have added energy to our dedicated group of snow birds, Andrea McCauley, Nancy Sharpless, Donna Armata and yours truly. We had a fun visit from Casey Satriano in January and hope to see more of her and her husband Scott in March. One really positive addition to our line up this winter is our Tuesday rider stretch classes directed by Stacey Brown. Her ideas have really helped us become more aware to keep our good balanced posture and stretching!! We must keep these riding bodies young. Glorious is appreciative of her hard work :)
             Dressage is a wonderful sport and I feel so lucky to have found it and be part of this world. Keep your mind on the job and stay true to the horses!
               Ride well and have fun,

Monday, December 7, 2015

The USDF Convention

          I have arrived home after a great trip to Las Vegas! My head full of ideas and missing my horses. Florida is having crazy rain and I truly hope the weather clears up for our Festival of Champions this week.
          It was super fun to see everyone in Las Vegas and I truly feel we have an amazing group of people steering our Dressage Sport into the future in a positive way. I was not able to go to the awards banquet but so happy to see so many people arriving to claim their well earned prizes from this year. The young people especially, that were experiencing the Convention for the first time and then of course the breeders, volunteers, and riders all being rewarded for participating in our fantastic sport. Really so nice to see.
           It was heart wrenching for me that Lloyd Landkamer was not their to receive his Life Time Achievement Award, and brought tears to my eyes every time he was mentioned, such an incredible loss to our community, an amazing man taken way before his time. In addition was the sad loss of Veronica Holt who gave so much of her time to the sport and especially to the young people.
           The biggest topic at the Convention of course was the U.S. Finals. I was very sad to see headlines such as The West not Best for Dressage. This was not at all the feeling I got and I hope that the dressage riders from Regions 5,7 and 9 also did not have this feeling. I felt a lot of pressure to do the right thing for the entire dressage community when voting on this subject. Although I sympathize with the show managements that have the daunting task of moving this great show, and I completely understand the financial burden put on USDF to make this event work in more then one location, I do not believe we can have a show that is named The U.S. Finals, that does not have all of the U.S. represented. I am very pleased with the outcome of the Board of Governors and I hope that the rest of the dressage community will be as well.
            Basically the decision was made to keep the Finals in Kentucky for now, with Regions 5, 7 and 9 given the tough task of finding a venue that will fit all of the needs of this amazing show. Personally as a member of Region 8 I feel that our job is now to start to create some fundraising and look for sponsors, so that when the Finals move West we can be there to represent our great Region.
           As a Regional Coordinator and Chef d'Equipe of Region 8 I attended all of the Youth and NAJYRC meetings. The biggest news of course is that NAJYRC moves to Colorado in 2016. I gathered a lot of information during the week and will update my website with this in the next two weeks. I also am excited to see that there have been major improvements in the USDF website regarding the NAJYRC as well as other youth opportunities. So please check that out. In other news: Anyone under the age of 22 must wear protective headgear in the FEI jog, and snaffles will be accepted in the qualifying classes for NAJYRC. These rules have been in the making for a long time, but they are now in use.
           The snaffle rule means that Jr's and YR's wishing to use their test at Regional Finals as a qualifying score for the coming year for NAJYRC will be able to do so.
           I also presented a new agreement that will need to be signed by our Region 8 declared riders in order for them to be eligible for Region 8 funds when vying for the NAJYRC team. This came with positive feedback and Debra Reinhardt and I will make some necessary changes and then that will be in use for 2016.
           I am also excited that Region 8 will be able to host a USDF sponsored Jr YR clinic in 2016. previously the USDF had not enough funding to provide clinics yearly, so Region 8 was eligible every other year. With a clinic in 2015 and one in 2013 taught by George Williams. These were incredibly successful. However, they have acquired sponsorship for every year, and we will host Charlotte Bredahl this coming year, with the tentative date being September 3-4, 2016 at The Ashby Stock Farm. This will all be confirmed shortly and the information will go up on both my website as well as Region 8 and USDF's websites.
           The Adult Clinic Series is still on an every other year rotation. Therefore Region 8 has decided to host an Adult Clinic or two or three in 2016. This is still in the works, but we are very excited to bring forward an awesome format that will benefit many of our Adult USDF members.
           George Williams, president, Steve Schubert, treasurer and Debra Reinhardt, Region 8 Director all ran unopposed in the election therefore they are all on for another term. This is very good news and we really appreciate their enthusiasm, hard work and the amazing expertise and dedication that they bring to the USDF.
           I encourage anyone who has questions or comments to email me. I am looking for questions, riding, training or about USDF to answer and post on my website, I am sure your not the only one that is wondering that exact thing, so help others and help yourself! And if I do not know the answer I am happy to research the subject further for you.  Also, comments that might help us work better to serve Region 8.
           That's all for now :) Ride well!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


         We are getting settled in Florida, so far so good, but it is still super hot! The horses are amazing to acclimate so well. We left a cool Massachusetts and came to a very summer like Florida! So far so good. I am very happy that everyone made the trip great and they are settled in and working well.
          I was looking on Face Book last night and noticing a lot of posts about training available, lessons available and new barns with new trainers opening their doors. Some of these are kids I have met over the past years at Young Riders or on the way to Young Riders. It is great to see them choosing a life with horses and wonderful to see the support they are getting from their own circle of friends as well as the dressage community.
          This made me think a lot about some very passionate and talented riders that I have known through the years making that step into the real world and what has helped them to become successful and why some people never were able to get as far as their hard work and determination should have gotten them. Yes you can blame it on money, or bad luck, or lack of support when people don't get as far as they want. You can say this person was lucky or rich or had great sponsors and that is why they succeeded. But I do not think it is all about that.
           EDUCATION , that is it, continuing education!
           What I would invite the clients of these very talented and well started young trainers to do in addition to supporting them by hiring them is support them in their continuing education. Many people are frightened to bring in clinicians or to go out and take lessons with someone close by for fear of loosing business. One of the biggest excuses that I hear from young trainers for not going to clinics with top trainers is that they cannot afford to take a day away from teaching........"and Saturday is my biggest day". So what I would ask of you wonderful dressage enthusiasts who put your trust and support into these young spirited trainers is help them to feel comfortable to get keep their education growing.
            How? First of all you need to show your support to your trainer by being trusting of their decisions and keep a dialog about the progress your horse is making. Always make it clear that you are happy with the work and not looking elsewhere. If there is a possibility of a clinician coming to the barn and it is appropriate offer to pay for your trainer to ride your horse with this clinician. Sometimes your horse may not be appropriate, but you know funds are tight, perhaps other students can join with you to pay for a lesson for your trainer on his or her own horse. Or can you create an extra lesson to help make the money affordable to them. And another really good idea would be to let your trainer take that special symposium weekend off and go learn something with pay! Would that ever be a treat for your up and coming trainer to have all of her clients actually pitch in for her to have a paid education day! Another interesting concept could be that all the good clinicians out there could add one lesson to their 6 or 8 lesson day and teach one up and coming trainer for free :) I have heard of trainers that do not want to teach some lower level students and that the home trainers should be doing a better job...........well how can they do a better job if they are not educated enough to do so? This could be a good idea to spread around :) Like buying the person behind you coffee at Starbucks, but better!
            In every profession one needs to do continuing education. If you are a nurse, a vet, an electrician it does not matter, you need to go back to school now and then. I had a client tell me when I was younger and I told her I was leaving for a bit to study in Germany, she said "but you already know all you need to keep teaching me!" . For a while I actually agreed with her, I thought probably I could keep teaching this nice lady with everything I knew at that time and never exhaust my knowledge. I was sorry, but I had other riding goals that pushed me to want more education, so I had to go, but perhaps she was right about that.
            After being in Germany I realized for sure she was not right!! First of all just getting inspiration from these wonderful trainers brings more energy to the lessons. Then there is the ability to get a lot more done in 45 minutes then I used to be able to. Yes, some people do not want to show, maybe they aspire to 3 rd level not Grand Prix, but we should still work to be the best we can be to help them get there. But, I sympathize with these young trainers and how expensive it is to get Good Help! And it is hard to give up a day of pay to pay money to learn. However, I also think if you are taking money from people to teach them or their horses you should keep up your education. It is easy to get lethargic, it is easy not to push yourself, it is easy to become boring and non productive. This is not good for our sport!! We need to be energized, enlightening and challenging. We need to encourage more people to join us in our passion. In order to do this we must keep ourselves fresh and innovative and we can only do this by getting ourselves out there and watching the best or riding with the best that the sport has to offer.
            I do not know anyone at the top of our sport that has decided they do not need continuing education. So lets make it possible for the people coming up in the sport to embrace this attitude as well. Let's help them all continue their education.

                                 Ride Happy! Ride Well :)

Monday, October 26, 2015


  It has been a long time since I posted anything about PW. When we started her under saddle I thought what fun it would be to blog about her progress and what fun she and I were having together on our journey of education.
  After we backed her as a 3 year old I brought her to Florida with the rest of the horses and as a good owner in the fall of her 3 year old year I had x rays done of her knees and hocks to see how she was maturing. Good news and bad news the vet said, yes her growth plates are mature, however there are chips we need to take out. Okay, so we take the chips out, what else?

   After months of lay up we start back slowly, my friend and colleague Rikke Poulson helped me and she got back to work promptly and seemed pretty happy to be back at it. But, as we did more work the happiness seemed to be replaced with grumpiness and I did not feel like she was totally happy in her body. I took my time, tried to fix every ailment and a year went by and then another one. We had some soft tissue damage, some sore feet, a sore back. Slowly it was becoming apparent to me that my beautiful little girl was not going to be my next grand prix horse. She was not happy to be ridden, that was the biggest point, and I could not figure out why. Most people said I was too nice to her, she needed to  learn work ethic and I had to get a bit stern. But every time she said no we always found the reason, and so it went on and on.
     I was very fortunate to be able to go to Holland and attend the Global Dressage Forum, I had been before, when I was living in Europe, but this time I took a couple of days off and flew to Holland special. Ingrid Klimke and Monica Teodorescu  the most important people in a great line up for me to learn from. I had barley noticed the name Tristan Tucker, and was not super interested in Natural Horsemanship anyway.
     How wrong can someone be, and what a wonderful life changer it was for me.
    The whole forum was amazing. Fitness, mental fitness, training, top horses and top riders, wonderful camaraderie between everyone, I loved every minute. But the best part was meeting a horseman named Tristan Tucker. His amazing technique, philosophy and sense of humor left me wanting to learn more. It took me a year and a half to get him to come to the States to help me, but it was PW that made me keep trying.
      By the time Tristan met PW I had all but given up on her. She did not want to be a dressage horse. Yes, she still had some physical issues, but in the past I have always been able to get on the horses side and help them get strong enough to get over it. Why was this sooooo not working out? Even her little brother who is 3 years younger was surpassing her in education and happiness level! In our world most of the time you end up sending a horse like this to a cowboy to get "broken-in". I could not bring myself to do this. I begged and begged Tristan and finally he actually showed up. I just gave him PW in a halter. Told him we were not getting along and left him alone with her for 4 days. The first session I was ready to cry. He looked at her with a completely different point of view. He engaged her smarts and got her to work for him and although he did things I know I could never do he never went after her or reprimanded her unfairly. He created a situation where she started to be comfortable in her skin and was interested to play with him. Since then he has been back several times. In the beginning we would digress by the time he came back and he would have to get me back on track. Now with the help of the vet and Tristan we are progressing.
       I tell the story now because I was riding her around the other day like a normal horse. I did not have to be careful, I had to be thoughtful, but, she is interested to work, she does not feel perfect in her body, but she is getting stronger and healthier. My little princess engages in the activities, gives to my legs, accepts me in the saddle , does some real dressage exercises and best of all she is happy. Still she may not be my next grand prix horse. But she has taught me so much about training. Some horses take longer, some take time mentally, some physically, they have their own timeline and it does not always work out to be the young horse program we think of from the books. I thought I was understanding this, she took it to a new level, as Arthur Kottas says "Take time but don't waste time", I was not being productive with her, I was wasting time. Tristan gave me exercises and ideas to keep her motivated even on days she could not do a big girl training session. He showed me how to make her feel better in her own body. His insight and feel is amazing, his patience is so deep and his creativity is beyond his years.  I am so grateful that I have been able to learn from this amazing trainer. In addition to my problem horses he has also helped me with my halfway normal horses and given me a big boost. I can go to the shows well prepared with confident horses and a clear idea of what is happening underneath me. The idea that we can get the horses on our side working for us and have a true partnership is for me the most important part of my training. This concept is what led me to Mr Schumacher and now to Tristan Tucker. I am so grateful to have their support and training and I look forward to continuing my education with them.

        As the summer season is ending it causes me to reflect back on the months here and look forward to a busy winter in Florida. This has been our biggest summer yet in Ashby. We hosted awesome clinics with Conrad Schumacher, Lilo Fore, Tristan Tucker and George Williams. Our Ashby family is growing and our Adult Camp is really becoming an amazing event. I welcome everyone coming to Florida over the winter to come and visit our winter location in Loxahatchee Groves and keep checking our website for some special events that we are adding to our schedule in Ashby next summer.
                  All the best! and Ride Well :)


Adult Camp August 2015

Every August we open the Ashby Stock Farm to an awesome group of ladies for our Adult Camp. Every year we have a theme, this year's theme was " Your Position and How it Affects Your Horse".  Several years ago we had a "Goal Strategizing"  theme and although we did not focus on goal making this weekend, we did " get focused and set some attainable goals pertaining to posture and the strength of a good position." :) 
 The weekend starts on Friday where the ladies are welcome to acclimate their horses to the arena and the farm. This is fun to watch as they are on their own, but choose to support each other as they unpack and work to make their horses feel comfortable in their new surroundings. After getting settled we have our first lecture where we discuss theory and what I have in mind for the weekend. This year Lynn Simonson was very generous to paint beautiful horses on votives and Linda Powers put together awesome bags for all of the campers. The dinner theme for Saturday night was Mexican Fiesta, so each bag contained fun margarita glasses and chips in addition to the votives, note pads and custom calendars made for the occasion.

 The discussion Friday afternoon also included USDF, our GMO's and how to create a better avenue for Adult Amateurs to participate in dressage. Many of the suggestions were great and I plan to take them and some ideas of my own to the Dressage Convention in December.
    Friday night we had a barbeque all together, but finished up early to get ready for an early morning.
     The lessons were great. All of the ladies were inspiring to each other. The horses feeling the excitement were all on their best behavior and worked hard to make the desired progress. It is exciting to me to have such a group of ladies that are interested in each others progress. Some remember horses and riders from years past and are eager to applaud each other on their amazing progress. There was progress made from day to day, but also goals set for future work and everyone went home with a plan for down the road.
     I am inspired by these wonderful ladies that make dressage their passion and their hobby. I have some position flaws in my riding that I had just about given up on, they were so ingrained from an early age. These wonderful ladies that have families, jobs and not always a lot of money to dedicate to their horses or riding education,  work so hard to make improvements. I see some of them weekly, monthly and others less, but time after time improvements are made, positions and feel improve and they make huge progress. So I learn from these great ladies that I too can tackle my position and make improvements. This august weekend inspires me as much as I hope to inspire them in their riding goals.

       We all decided that August 2016 is too far away and we will have a Florida Camp Getaway in February. Campers will be welcomed for the weekend to Wellington where we will schedule demonstration training sessions at my farm as well as shopping and watch the horse show together.
       I am looking forward to continued education and improvement for myself as well as helping others as they make their way in this amazing sport.
           All the best and ride well :)