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, June 26, 2023

More fun less work!

     We have to remember that every day we take our horses out to work, we are taking them to the gym, and they are not understanding why they need to go to the gym!

     So how do we make it fun for them? Here are three ways to keep the training mentally light while still getting your work done:

                         Have a beginning, middle and end to your training session and be flexible about the middle!

                              1. Beginning is for warming up! Loosen the body and retune the aids. Do not be too strict, be playful and vary tempo, size steps and energy.

                              2. Beginning should relate to the middle! In other words what is your intention for the work and in knowing that, how can you prepare your horse the best for this subject?

                              3. If the beginning does not go as planned and your horse got up on the wrong side of the bed, notice and redefine the work for the day. Ride the horse you have, help him to develop into the horse you want, be careful not to ride what you wish you had and then be impatient.

                               4. Give the middle a purpose. Fitness, strength, accuracy, teaching something new, test riding, suppleness, forwardness, you pick the intention before you ride.

                               5. Be flexible, stay in the moment, if the intention is not working out on this giving day do what is necessary to have a productive day, do not be stubborn!

                               6. The end is for relaxing, stretching, hacking out, praise and gratefulness. Be sure to know what your horse likes as a reward. If he/she does not like to hack, that is something to work on but not to use as a reward :)

                    Vary the work!

                               1. Fitness work can be done on a track, in the field or by utilizing groundwork, cavaletti and even free schooling.

                               2. Don't repeat the same exercise over and over! Be creative! What is another way to teach that feeling or movement?

                               3. Keep a sense of humor when trying something new.

                               4. Within each movement have a beginning, middle and end. This will help you to keep the conversation open, get ready, go and finish. When something is not going well ask yourself what aid is not working? Then create an exercise that isolates this aid. After you feel it is better understood go back to get ready, go and finish .

                     Keep your sense of humor!

                                1. Meditate in the car or tack room (or Bathroom) a couple of minutes to free yourself from work, problems or your last ride.

                                2. Visualize your best selves and be free to chuckle at mistakes.

                                3. Remember that you Love to Ride and do not let outside influence or worry of other people's opinions interfere with your peace.

I hope this benefits you!

             Please share with anyone you think might benefit!

                          All the best,





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