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.

Monday, April 2, 2012

April Begins

Not sure how we came to the end of March so quickly. Good thing I am getting older and taking things step by step. I can look back on the whirlwind of the winter and see that all of our horses and riders have made so much progress.
The horse shows have been very succesful for those who have participated. Taylor has taken Cookie from an event horse to a jr horse and now into young riders ranks all in one amazing year. Not an easy job :) Well done. Roxanne has become relaxed (for the most part!) and fluent in her 3 rd level tests. Such a fun horse to compete and thank you Casey and Scott for that opportunity.
Noah my man has been a bit up and down about his desire to show himself off. Never a dull moment but always a test filled with character :) Time to move on to Prix St George he tells me, 4 th level is for babies.
But, some hard working horses and ladies have made progress out of the show ring and that is also very rewarding to watch.
Ariel and Sax are moving fluently thru the grand prix work and preparing for the young rider Grand Prix and how awesome is that! Evita is learning patience and Ariel learning to be a trainer not just a passenger. Very fun to sit on the side lines and witness the subtle changes and growth.
Judith has stepped up to the plate in our new competitive atmosphere and Omar has been working his shiny hiney off, not sure if that always makes him happy, but it makes me happy to see them coming together as a team!
Ann has finally come to grips with 1 st level test one and will tackle it for real at the show grounds in two weeks! Looking forward to them getting into the ring after all of the hard work and preparation over the past months. Royal is also really coming along and starting to understand a bit about connection and hind legs. Could we find a more willing horse, I do not think there are many like him made and we are so lucky to have him!
Nancy and Windy joined us late in the season, but are in a hurry to catch up! Windy is changing shape before our eyes and Nancy, an excellent student does not let one lesson go by without holding onto some important information.
Our Peruvian connection is also a work in progress, but daily progress is fantastic to see. Fox and Maggie have made the adjustment to Florida life and Fox is prospering! They are working in a new balance that is so nice to see and Fox working harder then Maggie is an excellent change!
Today we say good bye to Gille and Donna, but see you soon when you come to visit us in Ashby!! Donna is doing a great job with Gille, also getting her to work in a peaceful way. Her balance improved since last year sooooo much and the lesson program starting to be Donna's choice, that is nice!
Zee had her one year anniversary with us last week and Barbara has done so well with her thru the year. What a perfect pair. They are elegant together. Zee is moving into collection and Barbara is learning to be patient training a young horse and not have one ready made! Such a fun process.
Rikke has been fantastic with PW and she even had her first outing in March at Jim Brandon schooling show. PW feeling a bit intimidated in the big indoor but with Rikke support did not put one foot wrong, so nice to see. And Rikke newest project Elena has come along so far from nervous nelly to 3 rd level star in such a short time!
There is no place like Florida in the winter, the shows are great, the clinic opportunities so fantastic and the people who all share our passion!

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