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, July 31, 2016

The Journey

I have finally been able to get "time" under control and start to feel like life is not running past me without permission! Letting go of a couple of things this year has given me time to sit back and focus on how to get some important things done. I will pick these things up again, when I am more organized and prepared to do them justice.
           The training is going great. Glorious continues to improve. My little clown fish is getting to be quite confident and through in his changes and pirouettes. His in hand piaffe work is getting better and he understands it better which brings him a bit of confidence and bounce in his steps. He is so much fun to ride outside on the hills as well and this has enhanced my mindset this summer. When I think back to the horses that I have really had the most success with I always played with them at least one time a week outside of the arena. Many of the barns I have had the pleasure of being in had awesome outside riding. The last couple of years I became too focused on doing everything right and only working the horses in the right shape. I always try to stretch in the beginning and the end of the work and do poles, but hacking out really changes everything. I think it builds a great relationship with my horses and a trust I can take into the show ring that is not like anything else you can create in the ring. But the biggest thing that has made this possible is having control of my time and having an awesome staff that makes it possible for me to do what I need to do and that I am not bogged down in the other stuff. THANK YOU Brittany, Ferdy and Morgan!
                  Our Junior Dressage Camp in June was a huge success. Our girls were absolutely delightful. This was truly one of the more inspirational weeks I have had in a long time. We covered riding, journaling, goal setting, and physical fitness. These girls Paige Hedrick, Olivia Suker, Remy Sprague, Ava Dzilensky, Tessa Holloran, Ainsley Cronin, Hannah Van Zandt Rollins and Sarah Chiodi created such a positive, open, learning atmosphere there was no limit to the lessons! Well maybe the ball toss was not the most successful! But these girls pushed themselves, encouraged each other and stayed positive every step of the way for a whole week without one misstep. I think we all learned about teamwork this week and in our lonely sport this is one great time to experience the support and fun that others can bring to our riding life. I am extremely impressed by the talent each of these girls has for riding, but equally excited about their eagerness to work, learn and absorb, which are all prerequisites for success in riding and in life.
                  The Conquering the Levels Clinic was also a great weekend. Super group of ladies and Susanne Handler was a super addition to the program. The participants; Brittany Early, Morgan Amiot, Wendy Waegell, Barbara Pauli, Laura Giordino, Nancy Solomon and Deborah Hyland  had 4 lessons in one! We talked about training, test riding, show preparation and then actually did the test riding! A great group of spirited participants and auditors kept the weekend upbeat and progressive. This format will definitely be used again next summer!
                  I have been nominated again as a PM Delegate for USDF. This means I will be Convention bound in December. I welcome all of your comments, concerns and suggestions. My goal is to open up the communication between our Region 8 USDF members and USDF and try to create change that benefits our region and the sport. We need to hear from the members about what they want, what would encourage you to be more active in the sport and what programs do you like that we should expand. Please email or face book message me your ideas. Or stop me at a show or clinic and let me know your thoughts. I cannot do this without you!
              We have a great line up of clinics yet to come.
            Our Annual Adult Dressage Camp is Aug 26-28 taught by your truly. I am looking forward to a great group of motivated ladies to explore fitness, nutrition and the Training Pyramid!
             Charlotte Bredahl will be here first weekend in September to do a USDF Junior Young Rider Clinic that is also open to auditors.  
             Tristan Tucker will be doing a symposium October 15-16 and this is going to be a spectacular event with lectures, lessons and demonstrations. Tristan is articulate and funny and has a progressive training style that is very helpful with our modern horses and the increasing pressure horse shows are creating with atmosphere and competition. Sign up is on the homepage of my website.
                Hope to see you out there or even better here at The Ashby Stock Farm!
                        Ride forward and have fun!