How did YOU get started in dressage? - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 29 Old 07-20-2012, 01:44 PM
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Oh what a question... How did I get started in Dressage? Be ready for a kinda babbling reply!

It started when I was super young. It was my birthday present from my mom to go to this nice farm. At the time I didn't know much about Dressage, I had been mostly a Hunter Jumper, and did western when I was very young. When I went to the farm that day I was just amazed. I saw riders that were just starting, all the way up to riders riding GP. I knew that it was something I would want to do. I wanted to become a trainer. So with all the support and help from my parents I had lessons once a week to make sure I wouldn't fall out of love. Nope never happened. Eventually I moved closer to the farm and went everyday after school. Now I'm homeschooled, ride everyday and am becoming exactly what I wanted! I'm riding my amazing horse PSG perfecting the movements and I start young horses. Currently I'm starting 3 young horses and getting 3 horses ready to be sold. I ride under my instructor when doing everything, she makes sure I don't mess up. I really couldn't be happier with the decision I made. Not everyone has this opportunity, I feel so fortunate. Especially being so young. I feel like riding Dressage has not only taught me how to ride a horse, but it's taught me so much about myself.

That's pretty much the story! I have to agree with anebel, getting a good coach is everything. It's also nice to be able to ride a schoolmaster once an awhile. They really teach you so much.

"The hand should be a filter, not a plug or an open faucet."
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post #12 of 29 Old 07-20-2012, 02:07 PM
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I started leasing a horse 12 years ago. I hadn't ridden since I was a kiddo. So, not too long later I get dumped and realize that I need lessons . So I asked around, "What kind of riding teaches you how to have a good seat and just generally ride well and have good communication with the horse?"

The answer was "dressage".
What's that? I asked.

So, That's how I heard about this thing called dressage and found an instructor and started out. I am a very low level rider, still, though.
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post #13 of 29 Old 07-20-2012, 02:47 PM
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Originally Posted by ~*~anebel~*~ View Post
My advice to anyone starting in dressage is to find the right coach!! A good coach won't care what horse you're on as long as it's sound and will teach you in whatever tack you show up in as long as it fits.
Couldn't agree more.

I was not looking into dressage specifically. I was looking into trainer to help me to bring my horse from forehead (one was extremely heavy on front, other one was lacking balance, and both stiff). After going through 5 or 6 trainers and not getting anywhere I decided to give a try to dressage trainer (even though I always thought dressage is something boring looking at those competitions). Found an awesome trainer (by recommendations from local people) and is very happy that I started lessons with her. The changes in horses are incredible: I'd never thought they can move and respond the way they do now and that I'll be able to achieve it all being a rider with no formal training.

"Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass: it's about learning to dance in the rain..."

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post #14 of 29 Old 07-20-2012, 07:09 PM
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I always wanted to ride english for some reason, even though the area I lived in was primarily western/rodeo/ranch horses and riding. When I finally found an english barn and started riding at age 10, they just so happened to focus on dressage riding. I stuck with that barn until I moved away to do an internship at a dressage farm 2 years ago.

I ride 6-7 days a week, 4-6 horses a day (sometimes more or less depending on the season). I work with unstarted horses all the way up to FEI level horses. I absolutely love dressage.

My advice to those wanting to start/move along in dressage is to ride as many different horses as you can as often as possible under the eye of a good trainer. Credentials isn't everything. Look for someone who is a good teach/communicator, if you want to show find someone who has shown, and who is continually furthering their education by going to clinics etc.. Don't think that you need a 20k+ horse to do dressage. Most horses, even with their conformation flaws, can do up to 2nd Level work without strain or stress. Go to horse shows, clinic, demos, and watch YouTube dressage videos. Then have someone tell you what you are seeing so you can learn to recognize it on our own. Lastly, don't neglect to get out of the 20x60 ring. Go on a trail ride, hop on bareback, or set up some jumps.

"He doth nothing but talk of his horses."
~William Shakespeare
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post #15 of 29 Old 07-21-2012, 08:35 AM
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I started riding western when I was about 11. I wante to learn how to jump so my patents took me for lessons at a jumper stable nearby. I jumped for about 2 years, then switched to a saddle seat barn. I left there (there are some horrendous trainers out there) and decided to just ride on my own since trainers appeared to want to kill me. I bought a green broke half Arab and moved to a boarding stable and got a job there. They had a dressage trainer that came in to give lessons every few days, and I'd watch and listen while cleaning stalls. Eventually I decided to try a lesson with her, with the understanding that I didn't want to learn dressage, I just wanted I learn how to ride better. She humoured me and gave me lessons. Within a couple of months I was hooked. I trained my half Arab through Third Level and was quite successful on him at the USDF shows. Then I started college, had to sell my horses and dropped out of riding until I was in my late thirties.

I still ride dressage, still take lessons, and I still love it!
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post #16 of 29 Old 07-26-2012, 11:08 PM
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I had ridden western for 8 years starting with trail riding then to starting colts under the supervision of the breeder I was working for at the time. The last 2 years of that, I rode with some friends doing a little bit of western pleasure, a little bit of reining and some general western horsemanship. All the while, knowing there had to be a way to train so that I had total body control of my horse and being told there wasn't. Bless my little gelding, he tolerated my whims with a pleasant and willing demeanor.

Well, through the tumbles of life, I ended up moving across the state and had to board my horses for the first time since I had owned them. I had lived on the farm where they were raised and they had stayed there, too. When I started riding there, I began running into this crazy blonde chic who rode with quiet hands and was able to just as her horse for anything she wanted him to do. I was actually first interested in the relaxed canter her horse had because my little gelding would rush.

We started talking and I told her that I wanted to learn how to get my horse to relax at the canter like hers did. After her soul crushing revelation that her boy was just that lazy, she did agree to start teaching me.

Thus began the torture sessions... er um riding lessons! and my introduction to dressage.
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post #17 of 29 Old 08-01-2012, 12:42 PM
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I really enjoy reading everyone's stories! Thanks everyone who posted!

We could never afford a horse or lessons when I was a kid, so I had to beg rides where I could. I hardly ever got to ride. (cue violins for sad, sad childhood).

When my daughter was in 2nd grade, she asked for riding lessons. We started at an eventing barn. After watching her ride maybe 3 times I could no longer stand just being a spectator, and signed myself up. This was 7 years ago maybe?

After a few years I ended up buying an older TB mare that a boarder had kinda abandoned at our barn. She has arthritis, which I was aware of, but she was a good fit anyway and it's not like I was looking to show. After a few years it was evident she wouldn't be able to do much more than light work, and after being exposed to the thrilling world of eventing I decided that's what I had to do. I couldn't afford a finished horse, and I had grown very attached to a colt that was born at our barn and who I had been doing groundwork with. So I bought him as a 2 year old and continued lessons and old mare became the Senior Forage Management Consultant. She takes her job very seriously. When I fell and broke a bone I decided maybe I wasn't an eventer after all....

Anyway, my baby eventually was started and it was that process that really got me interested in dressage. The satisfaction in getting it right and the horse responding to your correctness is very cool. Unfortunately I'm one of the poors that snuck in to this sport, and I only get one lesson a week. And being a parent and working full time I only ride about 3 times a week. I have zero natural ability and progress is slow. We did manage to eek out a 60 at our first show last winter, so I'm proud of that. Baby just turned 5, and I'm hoping we'll have enough proficiency to participate in the big local dressage show in the spring and fall. All I want right now are decent scores at Intro A and B.

My only advice would be accept that learning dressage is a lifelong process. Get your basics solid. Because as George Morris says, good basics are more important than talent. Although I would not turn my nose up at some talent if anyone has some to spare......
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post #18 of 29 Old 08-01-2012, 12:52 PM
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I am a hunter/jumper rider at heart and always will be. I started having problems with my mare's striding and step, so my instructor at the time took us off jumping completely to focus on dressage for 6 months - I fell in love. I loved the harmony it created and saw a huge change in our jumping courses when we resumed jumping. I thoroughly believe that dressage training sets the horse up with a fantastic base to go anywhere with.
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post #19 of 29 Old 08-09-2012, 02:30 PM
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My first experience on a horse was at the age of 44. I went to a western barn with my neighbor, and rode twice. I liked it, so I went into the local tack store to buy boots. As the owner and I were chatting, I told her how excited I was, but that the horses footfall was odd. After a little question and answer, she handed me the name and phone number for Debbie Lockmeyer, an accomplished rider and dressage instructor. (I should mention I had never heard of dressage and in addition to being over 40, I have a neuro-muscular disease.) Deb agreed to take me on as a student. With the patience of a saint, and hours on the lunge line she taught me a correct seat, quiet hands, and encouraged me always. Once I moved to Florida, I again was blessed to find another exceptional trainer in Pat Schmoll. Pat has managed to find me an amazing horse, I am now trotting on my own, and have also shown, scoring well. I am looking forward to my first canter and the upcoming show season. I have run into many riders who after injuries, surgeries, etc, have turned to dressage as their primary style as their mind may want to jump, but their bodies say "oh no you don't!" Dressage is an amazing teaching method for both horse and rider, physically and mentally.
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post #20 of 29 Old 08-11-2012, 11:31 AM
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I got started in Dressage because I fell in love with Eventing.

Horses will never hurt you or lie to you.
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