Dressage is hard!

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Dressage is hard!

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  • Hard dressage
  • How dressage is hard

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    06-05-2014, 09:48 PM
Dressage is hard!

So, I used to be a hunter/jumper and English pleasure rider with no experience in dressage. I did not have a grasp on how tough it really was. I just figured some dressage lessons would help me bring out the best in my forehand-heavy mare. Since my mare is sick and unrideable at the moment, I have been taking weekly dressage lessons on my mom's gypsy gelding.

O. M. G. Our first few rides were TERRIBLE! He's pretty green to begin with but getting him to walk on the rail without an outside bend is near impossible! It's been a huge battle to sit back, widen and lift my hands, and iron the arch out of my back. It's also been a battle to steer with subtle shifting of my weight instead of the reins. I've felt like a beginner all over again and I've been taking lessons for 14 years!

Today, we had a breakthrough though. I finally found my seat and was able to steer on a lunge line at the walk and trot with only my seat and then all the way around the rail at the walk without the horse bent like a banana to the outside!

I never thought I would enjoy dressage this much or find this much of a challenge in it, but it really is hard, and it's a really neat feeling when something finally "clicks". :)

Anyways, I'm just really excited about how today's lesson went and wanted to share. Now it's your turn! What was your most recent dressage break through and what are you working on now?
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    06-05-2014, 10:52 PM
Glad you are both challenged and finding enjoyment!

There is no feeling like the harmony that can be had between a horse and a rider through dressage. I've ridden quite a few disciplines, done "NH," but nothing is like the harmony of dressage. I can't wait for you to go further and really get to explore that!
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    06-06-2014, 05:19 AM
Glad you're enjoying yourself :) I don't take dressage lesson, but I ride at a barn that specialises in dressage so a lot of my lessons are based around it. Currently I'm working on leg yielding, something I have always wanted to do! I just loved watching riders guide their horses diagonally across the arena while they are looking straight ahead. I got to try it a few times and I actually am managing, im so excited that I'm getting it
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    06-11-2014, 05:14 PM
My trainer is an eventer so we work on mostly everything in my lessons. I've never really been all that interested in dressage, but I'm open to anything as long as I get to ride haha. I am riding in an adult camp this weekend & we have the opportunity to participate in a dressage show at the end of the weekend if we wanted to. I signed up. I am totally stepping out of my comfort zone with this! To be honest I have never even looked at a dressage test...let alone ride one, so this should be interesting :)
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    06-12-2014, 08:09 AM
My instructor is an event instructor too. I chose her for my dressage lessons because I knew she has a background in jumping as well. Jumping has always been my goal. In the 14 years I've been riding, all I've wanted to do is jump, and I have done some jumping but never had a horse that was any good at it, other than my appaloosa gelding, but I left for college shortly after I got him, and didn't get to spend as much time with him as I would have liked. I decided to start with dressage lessons because I thought it would help me and my project horse find a better connection and get us a stronger foundation on the flat before we moved on to fences again. I had only taken a handful of jumping lessons on her last fall. Jumping was my ultimate goal, but now I'm just having so much fun with this dressage stuff, I think I might stick with it for a while.

I was supposed to go to a dressage show at the end of May. Those plans were halted when my horses started bolting, excessively spooking, and injuring herself in her turnout for no apparent reason. I stopped riding her because she won't even stand for mounting she's so tense. :( She stumped one veterinarian and I have an appointment for her today with another vet. I'm hoping we can get to the bottom of this behavior and I can get back on my own horse!

In the mean time, I've been using my mom's horse, and he's much greener than my own. He loves to dodge off the rail and has a hard time balancing himself, so both of us are trying to work through some things. When I mess up even just a little, he tattles on me very loudly! He's not a forgiving horse. It's tough, but it is helping me learn!

The good news is, we had another super awesome lesson on Tuesday! We had another successful warm up on a lunge line. My instructor said that even though we had a few bobbles I was able to correct and recover from them well. She moved us up to a trot and this gait is easier for both of us. We were trotting around on the rail, with a correct bend, and changing direction across the diagonal. We were using my dad's pole pending poles and practicing changing bends and moving between position left and position right through the poles. We're not polished yet for sure, but it's finally starting to come together. At this point, my instructor would like to see more bend, particularly in my corners, and some more consistency. If I can get my husband to come to a lesson I will have him take photos and video.

I went to Dressage at Devon once, just to watch, but have never really been to a dressage show so I still have no idea what to expect. I'm not sure if I'll be showing at all this year since Ransom (my mom's horse) and I are still getting to know each other at this point. It will be quite interesting when I try it for the first time as well.

Good luck with your show jcraig10!

Luckily, my previous instructor was fairly well rounded, despite not being a dressage instructor, and my horse and I can already do some decent leg yields. It's a tough concept to learn, but once you and your horse figure it out, it's a great skill to have, even outside the dressage arena! When I left off with my own horse we were working on shoulder fore, and it was going reasonably well. We would get it for a few stride and then lose it! I'm certainly not to that point with Ransom yet though. It's a battle just to get him to go where I want him. I've been doing a lot of leg yields out of necessity though just to get him back on the right track. It will be nice to be working on leg yields when I want to be working on them! Hah! Good luck with your learning horseNpony!
    06-15-2014, 06:47 PM
Meh, our dressage show was cancelled! Lack of participation. But, we did have a 'mock show' at our barn and there were 6 of us that rode tests. I just rode the Intro A test. It went pretty well except for the fact that the horse that I ride was just.......tired. We rode twice a day Friday & Saturday, so by Sunday he was like...really woman you want to ride me again? My score was a 68% which I was happy with considering we had absolutely NO IMPULSION and I did go into a walk during my trot circle. My.legs.were.burning. Haha! Good experience without all of the hectic-ness of a show. Next time!
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    06-15-2014, 07:07 PM
Super Moderator
Well done for sticking with it
I'm working on not telling Looby she's a good girl for doing something right when I'm riding her - which might sound odd but she so loves being told she's good that she then insists on doing the same thing over and over again without being asked to do it or even wanted to do it
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    06-20-2014, 12:34 PM
I've found myself in a similar situation in the last month. I had grown tired of my old barn and the drama that was always going on, the fun was being sucked out of riding for me, so I decided to look around for a new one. I found a farm that breeds and trains Arabians and focuses on teaching dressage. I've been riding for about three years. I did a few English lessons 'just because', but I mainly rode western and trailed, but I really wanted to get back to lessons and refine my riding, so I took a chance.

I fell in love with the whole thing...the farm, dressage, my amazing trainer. In just three weeks, I have learned so much. I never thought I would enjoy dressage this much, but I have now given myself a goal of trying to do a show, which for me will be a challenge since I'm not good with crowds or 'performing'.

As much as I love the horses and the discipline, for me the key to success here is having a great trainer. He has this way of explaining everything to me and letting me question and try. I've had too many in the past who yell, berate, and have a 'my way or the highway' mentality, never realizing that everyone learns in a different way.

I've definitely gotten my love of riding back and then some.
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    06-20-2014, 04:13 PM
I know what you mean, dznyntnh! A great instructor makes a world of difference! My new riding instructor is so understanding, and patient. She tries to explain things to me in multiple ways, so I have a better chance of grasping what she's explaining. She's also not afraid to get on the horse and demonstrate. In addition to a learning tool, I feel like this proves her skill. She's very attentive and really focuses on her student for the entire lesson. She will also go over the scheduled time if we need more time to work on something.

This is great because I've had some instructors in the past who would text or talk during the lesson, and then rush away afterwards, so you didn't feel like you were getting your whole hour's worth of instruction.

Yelling is not a big deal to me if the instructor is doing it with a purpose and not just to belittle their students, but I have had those that would scream or even swear at me when I made a mistake. That sort of behavior in an instructor really sucks the fun out of riding!
    06-23-2014, 03:11 PM
I honestly never gave much thought to the trainer when I started a few years ago. I just wanted some refresher lessons and then I started leasing and trail riding and the friends I rode with kind of 'filled in the blanks' for me. A few times I would pick up some lessons here and there if I wanted to work on something specific and at one point I decided to do some English lessons just to have the knowledge.

It wasn't until I started with my current trainer that I realized what I had been putting up with with my old trainers. My new trainer's number one goal is that I have fun. To him, if we're not having fun then there is absolutely no reason to be riding. He breaks everything down for me and explains it in ways I can understand. Since dressage is new for me we talk a lot about the terms...since often it's a different term, but a movement I'm familiar with. I know he knows his stuff, because he used to be a rider in one of the dinner shows down here. So if I want proof of his skills, I only need to go on YouTube.

Some people are great at what they do and not so great at teaching it and some are great at teaching and not so great at doing it. I think having someone with both gifts is ideal. Mine has made things so fun and made me feel so accomplished in such a short time that I went from 'absolutely not' when asked if I wanted to show to 'I'll do it'.
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