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New to Dressage and Struggling

This is a discussion on New to Dressage and Struggling within the Dressage forums, part of the English Riding category

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        08-11-2013, 10:24 PM
      #11
    Yearling
    I know EXACTLY how you feel! I haven't had a dressage instructor for over a year since my last one relocated across the country! Just today I was getting back on track with my dressage, and my mind was hurting after trying to re-piece together all of my aids. I had to remember to keep pressure on the inside, hold with my lower leg not knee, keep my hips moving, keep my hands moving, stay center in the saddle, keep my legs in the right position, keep his mouth soft, and more and more. It is DIFFICULT!
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        08-12-2013, 02:49 PM
      #12
    Foal
    Open your fingers, close your fingers, open the door, turn the key, keep you elbows in and soft, soft elbow, soft mouth, ..YIKES!!! My western brain is hurting!!! But it is so much fun!!
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        08-13-2013, 12:15 PM
      #13
    Yearling
    I can relate as well. Sometimes it is overwhelming but it will get better. Here are a few things that might help:

    1. Ask your coach for specific exercises to help you get it right. For example, my lower leg wasn't very solid because my leg position was poor so my coach had me trot a few circles standing than has me ride where I post for 4 beats and rise for 5 beats until I find the perfect center of balance. Same with hands. I rode with my reins backwards for 2 lessons and they holding my crop in my thumbs for 2 more to learn the correct hand position.

    2. If you are not sure, ask your coach to stop and let you feel it on the ground. Knowing how much to give, or how much rein pressure or leg pressure or leg position you should feel is difficult when on the move. A few seconds to feel it while stilo does wonders.

    3. If you don't know what your coach means, ask again and again until you do. Some days I feel like a total idiot in lessons because I am always asking for clarification, but I know I want to learn and I am paying the coach to help me learn. I am not there to guess my way into doing it right. If I ask more than once, the coach knows I didn't understand and usually finds another way to help me.

    4. Ask for "homework" after every lesson. Your coach should be able to give you exercises to do either in the saddle or on the ground to help reenforce the muscle memory and build the muscles you need.

    5. Do your homework to the point that you can go back to your next lesson and feel like you have improved since the last one. Don't try to fix everything, but choose the most important thing at the time and focus on that one thing until you get it. Maybe that means working on keeping your one hand closed, or your elbows more relaxed, or suppling with the inside hand.

    I've had a few dressage coaches and many focus more on what the horse is doing than on what the rider is doing, The one I have now focuses on me, the rider. I have learned that given the correct cues, etc, my horse is much more capable than I ever thought. When I come together, we come together.

    Know that it will take work and practice of what seem like some minute details, but every one of those details improves your ride.
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        08-13-2013, 02:43 PM
      #14
    Started
    I think that first you need to develop relaxation & an independent seat. That's accomplished by your riding a horse being longed or by your riding with a knottted halter & one rein (lead rope unlooped) in an enclosed space, with the horse as your teacher (always the best!) With the longeing, the teacher's directives are greatly reduced, as she can't tell you what to do with your hands, since you're not using them on horse. ;) Bottom line: it takes time in the saddle to get one's independent seat, but you can do this part alone with your horse, & it's cheaper & more fun, too. You could also have a friend longe you. When you've got relaxation, rhythm (going with your horse, who is a rhythmic animal) & an independent seat, you won't be doing much damage with your hands & legs.

    You might want to check out the training scale, too, & the systematic way that classical schools train riders (takes years), to make sure that your teacher is being constructive with you (medals don't matter). Good luck!
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        08-13-2013, 04:06 PM
      #15
    Weanling
    How long have you been riding?

    I'm always kind of surprised when a Dressage Teacher begins trying to teach dressage with a newbie who is still just learning to ride. The "correct" way would be to put you on a lunge, and keep you there, until your seat is confirmed.

    I've seen excellent, advanced dressage instructor/judges give beginning riders lessons, and there was NONE of what you describe. Balance, focus, and basic control is what's wanted. Stress for both horses and riders is avoided!

    My point: first, to be able to go with your horse; then to control your horse. Dressage, which is so involved with influencing the way a horse moves is not for a beginner. (Not to say most of us couldn't improve our riding! But your lesson seemed a little overwhelming to me.)
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        08-13-2013, 05:26 PM
      #16
    Showing
    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Beling    
    How long have you been riding?

    I'm always kind of surprised when a Dressage Teacher begins trying to teach dressage with a newbie who is still just learning to ride. The "correct" way would be to put you on a lunge, and keep you there, until your seat is confirmed.

    I've seen excellent, advanced dressage instructor/judges give beginning riders lessons, and there was NONE of what you describe. Balance, focus, and basic control is what's wanted. Stress for both horses and riders is avoided!

    My point: first, to be able to go with your horse; then to control your horse. Dressage, which is so involved with influencing the way a horse moves is not for a beginner. (Not to say most of us couldn't improve our riding! But your lesson seemed a little overwhelming to me.)
    Every discipline, including Dressage, is for beginners.. but honestly the first step is learning to ride WITH the horse, and over time then you begin to influence the horse's movement with your aids.

    Otherwise I agree with everything else you said.
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        08-13-2013, 09:47 PM
      #17
    Started
    Wow thanks everyone for all the input. I should mention that I rode a TON as a kid and even landed a gig as a camp riding instructor in my teens. Then I took 20 years off to get married, go to college and all that other boring stuff that adults do. Then 2 years ago while on vacation we rented horses and rode along the beach. That was it. I was hooked once again! I immediately started taking lessons on a little Arabian, once a week. Just basic English stuff. Walk, trot, canter. Some schooling figures. I thought I was ready to "upgrade" to dressage, but I've been getting my behind handed to me every week ;). I don't have my own horse and I only ride once per week for 30 minutes. I've been working out a lot and losing weight which is helping some. I've also started doing pilates so I can work on my core.

    Last weekend I actually remembered to keep my left hand closed which is progress for me ;probably because my instructor warned me that she would tape it shut if I didn't improve :)

    So thanks EVERYONE for the great feedback. Baby steps, baby steps, and yes I'm really lucky, really lucky, really lucky to be there :)
    Beling and Skyseternalangel like this.
         

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