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, November 17, 2011


November in Florida is one of my favorite times. The weather is great and my farm is peaceful. The rush for the season is not yet upon us. The days are managable , even if hard work. We have the nicest group of horses. Everyone making progress at a respectable rate. My babies are getting stronger and gaining alot of understanding. Glorious is so much fun. He is concentrated in the arena and learning his new excercises like a college kid, and he is fun in the field to trot and canter around without loosing himself, or me! PW is a constant joy. Her spirit in the barn is always noticable. She clearly knows she is special and wants to make sure we all recognize it. She is still on slow mode, the vets are asking me to take it carefully because this left hock is still not as strong, but she works everyday and learns quickly, so she does not get behind.
Noah is truely becoming a dressage horse. He is doing his pirouettes and half passes with understanding and perhaps even some enjoyment! It is really fun to see how horses evolve over time, and things that used to be difficult and not make sense to them start to click. Then one day it becomes that they are participating in the work and not just being asked to work. These days are what keep me refreshed. It makes it all clear why we train in the methods that we do, and even if sometimes it takes a couple of minutes longer, it is the right way, from beginning to end.
And Zee is not to be left behind! The girlie is learning to move her make under the rider and is becoming supple in herself, Barbara will be so happy when she returns to see her new mare!!
My Alexis is doing great, but so sad for me that the years have added up so quickly. She is going better then ever. Always teaching me more and more about the piaffe and passage. I can only dream to have another horse as athletic as she is in my future.
Enjoy your horses!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Horses in Peru

Last week I was in Peru visiting with my friend Maggie helping her prepare for the FEI Challenge. It is amazing how far the care for the warmbloods has come since my last visit, 15 :( years ago. The biggest change I see is in the shoeing. They have gone to great lengths to bring in farriers to teach the local guys about the difference to the warmbloods and the thoroughbreds and it is an amazing improvement. The feed is also better, as the warmblood diet cannot be as rich. The horses are so happy and relaxed. It is amazing to see. The young girls coming up in the sport have such a nice feeling when they are riding. The level is improving, yes, but the partnership that these girls want to create with their horses this comes from nature and from their character. So nice to see. Of course as trainers we can help to educate the riders to ride more correct from back to front and the system of training dressage, but when you start with such sensitive, naturally talented students it is a very easy job. Congratulations for a succesful Challenge with a record number of competitors, and I look forward to my next visit.