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This is a discussion on Dressage within the Dressage forums, part of the English Riding category

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    09-16-2009, 04:53 PM

I am going to start doing dressage with my mare Phoebe.

At the minute she is out due to lameness, but I am a long term thinker and like to have plans done up.

So I was just wondering if any of you could help me with making a plan of starting off in the lower levels of dressage and working my way up.

As in which steps come first before learning a certain movement and eventually working up to collection and extension. If you guys could help me with a plan I will stick to it and will use this thread to post updates and ask for help on how I am getting on with Phoebe.

And I was also wondering how many schooling sessions a week should I do?
I do showjumping competitions at the weekend when she is back into proper work and would like to work around this on the basis that I would include the one or two shows at the weekend I would also like to include one trial ride or trek a week one jumping session a week and I don't know how many schooling sessions?? I would also like to include a hill work or conditioning session.

So if anyone would like to help I would be very grateful.

Shauna xXxXx
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    09-16-2009, 05:13 PM
If you read national level dressage tests (from USDF.org or dressagecanada.org) they have "directives" on them, start at training level and when you can fulfill those directives and do all the movements in training level, move up to first, etc... On the tests, beside each movement there are also directives for that movement.
Also if you pick up a rule book, there is a section which describes all the directives together and has guidelines for every movement.
This is a good place to start.

Good luck!
    09-16-2009, 05:17 PM
Okey dokey thank you Anebel
    09-16-2009, 05:34 PM
Anyone else?
    09-16-2009, 10:59 PM
It's tricky to answer your questions because it can vary from horse to horse. There's no right or wrong way to go about starting dressage.
The most important 'basic step' you'll need to kick start your dressage career is to have you horse moving softly off your leg. So you want to be able to put your leg on and get a reaction every time. Same with the rein, you want to touch your reins and have her come back to you. You need to learn to use your back to influence her also.
Once she will go and come back to rein and leg softly, you need to have her travelling off the forehand and ideally, swinging over her back. To achieve this, TRANSITIONS TRANSITIONS TRANSITIONS!! Between paces and within paces. Get walk-trot-canter-trot-walk all perfect and on your aids. Then start working on asking her to shorten her steps in trot a little by slowing your seat. Once she's shortened her steps for a few strides, ask her to lengthen them a little again by putting your leg on and holding your back.
Lots of changes of rein, serpentines and figure of 8's are both great excercises! Get her lovely and supple and listenign to your aids.
Once she's nice and responsive and soft, you can start some lateral work, but don't expect it to happen overnight, It'll take you a while to establish basic softness and response to the aids. The first lateral movement you should try is leg yield. The horse steps forward and sideways at the same time, with the legs crossing over each other. I'm not going to go into detail here about how to get leg yield as it will take far to long in this thread.
Eventually you'll be able to move onto more advanced lateral work such as shoulder in, travers etc. But it all takes time. Dressage is certainly not something that you can just one day decide to do and you'll be out there in a month pulling off all the advanced movements! Hence why alot of peopel get bored with it, the initial dressage work IS alot of circles and 'boring' area work but this is how you develop the skills to start the more advanced movements.
As for how many times a week you should school your horse, well, it's up to you. Idealling you'd ride maybe 3 or 4 days in a row, keeping the sessions fairly short and just making it very basic and positive to slowly build up your horses strength.
If you are showjumping, she will probably have quite well muscled hindquarters, but hill work is fantastic, I swear by it for conditioning toplien and building up strength in the hindquarters. Cantering up is useless, trotting is the most effective.
Best of luck and keep us up to date, more than happy to help :)
    09-17-2009, 02:26 PM
Thank you very much everyone great help
    09-17-2009, 10:18 PM
Hey, it's great you going to start Dressage!
    09-19-2009, 07:00 AM
Hey everyone as I said I would update that's what I am doing just thought I would let you all know I will be able to start on the advice I have been given because Phoebe got her back done yesterday and now she can be ridden again on tuesday

Shauna xXxXx
    09-19-2009, 03:33 PM
I can recommend some great books that help. The Principles of Riding and Advanced Techniques of Riding. In Principles the training scale is introduced. To me, this is the single-most essential concept to training horses from training level to upper levels.

The scale is this: Rhythm, Suppleness, Contact, Impulsion, Straightness, Collection. You can read about these concepts - if I explain it, my post will soon turn into a novel.

Here is a nice site that helps: The Art of Classical Riding--Dressage Training for Horse and Rider

Good luck on your dressage adventure! Dressage changed the way I ride, train, and live - all for the better.
    09-19-2009, 05:27 PM
Thank you and I already have that webpage bookmarked lol but thanks for it anyway

Shauna xXxXx

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