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.

Tuesday, December 26, 2023

Happy New Year!

 Happy Holidays and wishing you all the best for the coming year, 2024!! It seems only yesterday that we went into 2000! Take time for what is important, there is no time to waste.

                So many crazy and troubling things happening in the world today. I am incredibly grateful for all that I have and for the experiences I had in 2023. Many of you already know, but some do not that I lost the ride on my beautiful Diamond Flame. This year was so special for me as I was able gain her trust not only at home but finally in the competition arena as well. I had been looking forward to taking our freestyle to Florida and finally having the opportunity to ride Grand Prix in the big arena. This is not to be; however, I am immensely grateful for all that Blonde taught me and for the privilege to ride her. 

                I have competed in the small tour for years, and I feel completely at home in these levels, on any horse. I have competed some naughty pants, even at top shows and have been able to negotiate my way to the top of the class on many occasions. I say naughty pants, but those of you who know me know this is not what I believe. I believe that the horses are always trying to work with us and figure out what we want. It is with this principle in mind that I have been able to partner with some horses that had been otherwise discarded. It taught me so much.

                I had not been as comfortable at the Grand Prix level. I had a couple of horses that were reactive in the piaffe and passage and I did not learn easily how to control my emotions nor my body when things were not going well. Blonde has a lot of spirit and it took us a while to get on the same page. When we did, being on the same page was sooooo fun! I will always be grateful to her for teaching me to be patient and be able to ride in the show arena through the grand prix as I do at home, relaxed, with her in the moment and with understanding of each other.  This was an amazing gift.

                 With all the controversy going on in the dressage world, this much I know is true, and I know it now more than ever because of Blonde: 

                              Relaxation is possible

                              Horses need to understand, and when they are scared or nervous all learning ends

                              If they are resisting, there is a misunderstanding or physical pain

                              Work on your posture, timing and the ability to go with the natural movement of the horse.

                              Stay away from fads; tack, exercises, supplements, training schemes, treatments.

                              Connection is the key.

                              Take time to get to know your horse.

                               Do not go to the show if it doesn't work at home, unless you want to set your relationship back.

                               Say what you need to say, to your trainer, your sponsor and your horse.

                               You cannot inject everything away.


                   I started my coaching business because I believe that when people believe in themselves, they do the right thing. Success comes from knowing yourself, making decisions that move you toward your goals and believing in your self-worth.

                  So many super talented riders are looking to the outside for recognition and acknowledgement. They change their training because of one clinic or one judges comment. Stay true to yourself and to your relationship with your horse. If it does not feel right, it is not right. Watch the best partnerships and learn from them. They are not always perfect, but it is how they handle the mistakes and the future training that creates success or ultimate failure. 

                  This year will be very different for me, but, I hope to have a positive impact on the sport, even if it is from a different position. In the meantime, I am enjoying a real winter break, time with my husband and time for projects long thought about. 

                  As we go into 2024 I wish for everyone to honor their horses with the time and respect they need. Know that you will get where you want to go, one small step at a time. Do not worry about other people's opinions, nor compare your journey to theirs. 

                        Cheers to you and yours for a great 2024!

                  Be youthful in your approach.

                                        Connection is the key,

                                                        Anything is possible

                              Love to Ride!







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