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, September 23, 2012

Congratulations Taylor!

Tracy Kok Jr/YR Region 8 Coordinator and NEDA volunteer

Taylor and Cookie Award Ceremony

Taylor and Katelyn Victory Gallop
As the summer show season comes to a close it is fun when things finally come together at the right time in the right place! Congratulations to Taylor Lindsten and Raoul "Cookie" For a job well done at the Region 8 Championships at the NEDA Fall Festival.
Taylor's journey has been fun to be part of. She and Cookie came to The Ashby Stock Farm just a year ago with dreams of creating a trained Prix St. George and qualifying for the Young Rider Championships in the following summer. Sometimes it is good to be naive, taking an event horse that is green 3 rd level and an event rider and turning this pair into a polished dressage pair. I was not as lucky as Taylor, I knew the job was not going to be an easy one! But, hard work and perseverance paid off and a reluctant dressage horse became a willing partner and qualify they did for Young Riders and for the Regional Championships.  
Each show step by step has been a learning process. The Young Rider Championships were a highlight in Taylor and Cookie's show season with two very accurate and well ridden tests. Although they ended up in the middle of the pack Taylor beat some extravagant horse and rider combinations with good scores, and gained alot of confidence in Cookie as he stood up to the atmosphere and pressure.
The Regional Championships brought more nerves. Not only for Taylor but from what I saw all of the Jr's and YR's were a bit on edge. Maybe riding on a team is a confidence builder and then being an individual against your team members nerve racking? I am not sure, but the first day of the Regionals definitely did not bring out the best in everyone! Taylor learned a valuable lesson about timing and partnership. It does not matter how bad you want it, you have to go in the ring with your partner and convince him to want it too. Cookie has matured and instead of telling Taylor to bugger off he just said "not sure what you mean!" This polite behavior kept them in the 60 % and Reserve Champion in the Young Rider Team test. But the lesson needed to be learned. The next day they did not only win the warm up, but they won the Championship as well. And what is one of the best parts of the championship? The judges actually noticed Taylor's good timing and feel and mentioned it on the test! YEA!!! That is a wonderful reward for a long, hard job well done! Congratulations to Taylor Champion 4 th level YR and to Katelyn Kok Reserve Champion.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

September in MA means blankets!

 Fall is here in Ashby! PW has no time to say hi as the grass is still abundant in our beautiful paddocks.
 September began with saying see you soon and good bye to some dear friends. first Ariel has had to go back to school and arrives in Florida ahead of us to start her studies. We are happy that it is see you soon! She will travel back to get some riding in over the weekends and we will be happy to see her for the Conrad Schumacher clinic in October.
 Good bye to Ann Friedlander and Sammy and Royal. We will miss you! Two horses that are very dear to my heart and all of us here at Carousel Dressage wish you all the best in your new adventures.
  September means cool mornings, brisk fresh air and bright sunny days. The weather could not be more perfect for riding and my horses feel fit and happy. My two 5 year olds PW and Glorious have come along so well this summer it is such a pleasure to work with them. They could not be more different in type! But, they both bring athletisism and fun to every session I am so lucky to have such great horses! Glorious did his first flying changes last week :) yahoo! and PW well of course she is perfect in everyway, if a bit behind in the excersices she never dissappoints me with her good balance and concentration.
   Noah my buddy is back from Martha's Vineyard and I missed him! He is in great shape and I look forward to getting him into the ring as soon as we are back in Florida. His pirouettes are getting so thru and strong and the relaxation in the changes is coming, slowly slowly but coming!
   Of course I have fun with Sax while Ariel is away and we are gaining relaxation and control of those one tempis! I think she will enjoy his tune up :)
     And I also have time to work on plans for the future! We have committed to a weekend clinic in April "Improve Your Competitive Skills Weekend" April 6-7, 2013 at the Ashby Stock Farm for the jr and yr's of Region 8. I am excited to say that Lois Yukins will be our judge and Dr. Jenny Susser will be in attendance to coach the psychological aspects of competition. This is my new project and in addition to Mr Schumachers clinics I am very excited about it! Please contact me any time if you have questions about the jr/yr project or want to help!
   Dressage! Where Sport meets Art    Enjoy! happy riding :)