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 15, 2013

Jr's and YR's

 Good morning. It is monday. My day off from riding and my day in the office. The middle of April now, many of our winter friends have gone back north and we are starting to make preparations to move north to Massachusetts in a couple of weeks. I am also deep in preparations for our Conrad Schumacher clinic May 3-5, looking forward to see our region 8 junior and young riders as they make their preparations for the coming season. :)
  Our show over the weekend was a great success. I am so proud of Ariel and her first Brentina Cup qualifier. The test had a beautiful rhythm. All of her movements well planned and accurate. Some interference from the pigeons put a damper on the score, however Ariel clearly showed her confidence and focus is building by staying in the moment and riding the next movement in the best possible way. We are so lucky to have Sax in our lives and I am excited to see them build there partnership in the Grand Prix arena after having such a fantastic season at Inter 1.
  Chanett and Cipriana had their first show and were fantastic :) Chanett was super to give Cici the confidence she needed to work in a new place. The judges rewarded their efforts with 71% and 69% in training level. The whole experience was  a big success for Cici. Wonderful to watch!
   Dhoppler had his first real outing and he did not dissappoint us. His work ethic and concentration have improved so much in the past months. He is a joy to work with and this carries right into the show ring. I was very excited about both of his performances. The first day I could have been a bit more proactive so a 64% gave me a kick in the butt to get a bit more out of my willing partner. The second day 67% was more on track with where we are, and still alot of room to grow :)
   Now some comments about why todays blog was instigated. Is it really true that in our sport people do not like to see other people have success? I do not think so. Maybe I am naive ( okay yes, people do say that about me :)  ) but I am super psyched to see a good ride getting rewarded. I love watching someone work hard for something....and then having success. I feel that most of the people I surround myself with are also on the same track. Work hard, do your best, win or be instigated to be better because someone was better then you that day. But helloooooo, dislike the people that beat me? I don't think so. And for sure not if they have good honest training methods and respect their horses.
     I asked my jr's and yr's to tell me what dressage means to them....I got some fantastic answers. And I feel our region 8 girls are awesome with their goals, ambitions and the reality of dressage. "Dressage creates a strong bond between you and your thousand pound teammate, I love being part of that partnership" was one girls answer! Yea! I love that!. Dressage translated means training. The sport of dressage is about the partnership between a horse and its rider. The beauty of our sport is when a horse performs the movements harmoniously, willingly and with little aids showing from the rider.
      I feel that their maybe people in our sport that are forgetting this concept. It is a problem worldwide that the FEI and other organisations are trying to get hold of, the idea to respect our horses thru the training process. Of course competition can sometimes bring out the worst in us. We all want to do well. One thing to keep in mind is that we are not born knowing how to ride. Training is a process. You cannot win without loosing. You cannot win without putting your heart and guts into a test. So there are times when we feel let down and dissappointed. But, keep your focus on the big picture. If you have to go back to your stall and cry because you made a mistake in your test, personally I think something is wrong with the big picture. If you are not happy to watch a colleague do a great test, you are missing the point. I love watching good riding! It inspires me to be better. I am so proud to be with the group of riders that surround me. To go to a show and feel good about what we are presenting at that time and place, what we have achieved so far, and knowing what will develope in the coming weeks, months and years. Some of us do not have the funds to buy world champion mounts to be U.S. or International stars. But those that do can also stay on a human level. Respect your expensive horse. Learn how to ride it to the best of your ability and not coast on it's talent. Some of us do have the talent and the drive to get there even without the big funding. Some of us compete for the challenge and love of the sport. But in my neck of the woods fighting with your horse, riding with force and lack of understanding just to win a ribbon or trophy that is not it. That is not it at all. The good top riders their best performances....they know when they were. Sometimes the judges notice, and sometimes they don't. Sometimes someone was better that day then they were. But we ride for the dream of that test that goes from start to finish with balance, communication and energy. We know when we have it. We as equestrians know when we don't as well. But, with maturity we respect and honor those who have a better test on that day. And we really respect the judges that notice that. I hope that we can bring along a new generation of young dressage riders that choose training over force. That choose partnership over dictatorship and that choose horsemanship over a mentality of throw him out and get me a new one. A group of riders that are interested in the learning process. Yes! We have to learn how to ride, how to communicate and how to sit! Then we have to maintain that in the arena when we are under pressure. It takes alot to learn how to ride. It takes alot to learn to perform under competition pressure. Enjoy the journey. Take time to learn the lessons. Good Horsemanship is a way of life. Live it :)