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.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

      I have not been good at updating my blog this summer and promise to be better in the months to come! We have so many good things happening and I must get better about letting everyone know!
     So excited to hear about the great results in Lamplight at the Young Horse Championships and many congratulations for all that qualified and then competed! Great Job!!!       
    For us this past weekend we had a great Adult Dressage Clinic at The Ashby Stock Farm. The weekend started with everyone arriving and settling their horses Friday afternoon with time in the arena to ride and acclimate the horses to the atmosphere. At 3:30 I did a riding lecture with my little friend Omar. We built on last years riding lecture where we talked about riding in balance. This year we are talking about riding in harmony. I chose to ride Judith Behren's horse Chich Omar.  Omar and I showed how much the horse really wants to be in harmony with his rider. We were able to show how subtle aids can get good reactions when we ride in balance the horse that we can be harmonious with his/her movement. Omar was a great example and I think everyone was inspired to ride "in harmony!" After Omar's talk Taylor and Cookie did a wonderful demonstration about half halts and the fact that they can work thru the whole body of the horse not just "from the bit to the saddle". Taylor also proved that if you get your horse on you aids with half halts movements become very easy. After warming up with only straight lines, half halts and changing the size of the steps Taylor performed her PSG Freestyle for us with beautiful control.
         Saturday was filled with great horse and rider combinations. The lessons went wonderfully and everybody got a feel for how easy it is to get the horse to do what we want when we make sense and ride the movement :) . At lunch time we had a super lunging demo by  Taylor again and Maggie. We did Nancy style lunge lessons showing how our bodies affect our horses, for better or worse! and how having this knowledge will help us to get things done with less pressure and more relaxation.
          Saturday night Linda Powers hosted a nice dinner and everyone was able to digest the information of the day over a glass of wine and lasagna.
        Sundays lessons were equally as rewarding as Saturdays. Maybe even better as everyone had a plan. 
         The Ashby Stock Farm is a beautiful location for such an event and we thank Charlie and Jeanne Parlee for their kind hospitality. The weather could not have been more perfect, and a strong contrast both to last years camp (tropical storm) and what my house is going thru in Florida (tropical storm ).
         So all in all the weekend was a bit exhausting, but for some reason we feel refreshed and excited about the work we did and the positive effects it will have on our wonderful horses.
              Enjoy riding in harmony!  

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