About Me

My photo
Nancy is a Grand Prix Dressage Trainer and RMT Certified Life Coach. USDF Bronze, Silver and Gold Medalist and 5 star rider. Nancy is passionate about the welfare of horses and the education of Youth Riders. Her message is helpful to any level rider that is trying to find success and fulfillment with horses.

Dressage


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!
                             Nancy