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.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

You have to go through it

    It is funny! We all say riding horses is a lifestyle, that riding is so good for us because it parallels life. Many things that are true when we train horses are also important for us to pay attention in life. If you don't use it, you loose it! The strong side will become stronger and the weak side will be come weaker, if we do not pay attention. Another interesting thing to remember in life and in training horses is know what you want before you ask for it, then it is easier to bring praise and be grateful.
   We are given rules when we ride: don't lean back, don't pull, don't lean forward, so many don'ts. As an instructor I believe it is much more important to talk about what to do, how to communicate with your horse, and teach how to ask your horse to be an active partner.  The problem is you need to grow through it or else it becomes a monster. This means if we avoid something it will turn into something unavoidable. This means that if we don't let our horses make mistakes, if we fix everything and take too much responsibility they become dependent on us and they do not know their job or trust their own actions. Our students must be taught this way and must learn to ride their horses this way.
    When we ride we need to create relaxation. The horses need to understand what we want in order to be relaxed. There will be times when they do not understand, this is the time to teach. Relaxation does not come from confusion, confusion builds stress. Get the point across as quick as you can so that you can bring praise. No, this does not mean that you should be mean, just know what you want before you ask and ask clearly.
     Everyone has a right hand and left hand. Horses the same. One direction feels easy and one way feels difficult. Do we only ride the easy way? Do we only ride the difficult way? Many people stay in the difficult direction trying to make it better, showing the horse how hard it can be. Try to change directions often, try to bring the positives of each side to the common ground. Most people ride in both directions, however they will ride when going to the left as if they were going right. What does this mean? They will not change their posture for the new direction. Position left means left leg forward, right leg back, you have an inside rein and an outside rein. When you change to position right that means your right leg needs to come forward, and left leg back. Many times your horse leans on your right leg, so, in defense of your horse falling in you will by accident leave your right leg (inside leg) back to hold the horse up. The more this goes on the more the strong becomes stronger and the weak become weaker.
        It will take your horse a little bit of stress to use the right side and left side the same. If you start early the lesson is learned easily and if you wait too long, the long  side is a monster and the monster builds stress. No horse can function out of balance and with a long and short side that have not been kept in check. So go through it, help your horse, teach and praise.
       The same is with round, above the bit or behind the vertical. So many people are afraid now to put the horses behind the vertical to get them round, sometimes one needs to find connection through putting the horse extra round. This does not mean short and up in the neck, it means low and deep in connection, once you find connection you can ride forward to it and the neck will get longer. You are doing yourself a disservice as well as your horse if you never get connected because then you cannot to get to the other side. The fear of having your horse behind the vertical will prevent you from accessing the back and hind legs. Ride from back to front, feel the back and hind legs, don't be afraid to bring the horse behind the vertical for a moment now and then. The same as go to forward to help the horse understand the forward aids or be clear with turning or stopping aids.
           Sometimes you have to go through the mistake to correct it. Avoiding the mistake can create a lack of effective riding. Sometimes we have to make the mistake to truly know it and fix it, isn't this true with life? Stay relaxed through the mistakes, believe that they will get you to a better place of understanding.
            Ride forward, have fun!

Saturday, May 27, 2017

It's not if you lean forward or back, it's why.

 I was riding around the other day while this idea mulled around in my head. It actually does not need to negatively impact your horse if you are just a little bit forward or a little bit behind the vertical if it is for the right reasons, however, I do not think that instructors always explain this.
  When we ride dressage it is important to let the horse move through our hips, actually learn to follow the horses movement as the first step to developing ones seat. It is after we accomplish this we can ride with an independent seat. This means that we can apply a leg, seat or rein aid with independent balance. I can close my leg and my seat can still swing, I can steer my horse and my seat is still neutral. This is a very important factor.
   If you lean forward because your hips are tight and your upper leg is gripping this will negatively impact your horse. However if you want to go more forward, add energy to the step or give your horse a little room to move you can bring the energy into the front of your body and give your horse the idea to move more freely forward without a big aid. Your hip joint needs to be allowing the movement through and your spine straight, core engaged and ankle and knee soft. This way you are able to keep your seat soft in the saddle without leaving the saddle, but create motion with your energy.
    If you lean back because you need to balance on your hands this will negatively impact your horse, if you lean back because your lower back is tight and not receptive this will not act as the driving aid you believe it to be. If you sit a bit behind the vertical with an engaged core and loose arms and your tail bone slightly tucked you are not causing ill effects to your horse, you are putting yourself in the drivers seat.
      We need to consistently work on our seat, balance and application of the aids to be the best rider we can be.
       I hope this helps you think about how you affect and effect your horse with your posture :)
 Please always feel free to email me nancylaterdressagehorses.com if you have any questions.

        Ride Forward and Have Fun!

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 :)