Questions about skills and talents needed for Dressage - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 12 Old 11-16-2010, 12:13 AM
Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Australia
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Originally Posted by ~*~anebel~*~ View Post
Extreme dedication

For most people, in order to become a world class dressage rider, one must travel to Europe, Florida or California with at least one quality, upper level horse. From there they must ride each of these horses every day under supervision. Beyond that it is crucial for the horses to remain sound and healthy through some cross training, many veterinary visits and an extremely balanced diet. For the rider it is also important to stay fit off of the horse by doing pilates and yoga and eating right.

The training is extremely rigorous. Costs can easily exceed $10,000 a month and if you are out of your home country, income is nil. Your entire day is focused towards dressage and horse care. There is no such thing as a "day off".

For people like me who are not at the point where they can commit to such a level of training, the same principles apply. I only have one horse and live 3 hours away from my coach. I get training whenever possible but otherwise am on my own - meaning I need to find motivation myself.
I work 45 - 50 hours a week, have a job cleaning stalls at the barn on Sundays and am at the barn every day training my horse. Recently I have started riding another horse twice a week. I also go to the gym once a week. From there my horse is seen by a farrier every 6 weeks and by a vet and massage therapist every 12-16 weeks.

It's not easy, but it is rewarding! You really have to love horses and love the sport.
You're not wrong about dedication! People who slack off do not succeed, simple as that. If you're not willing to be out there working horses at the crack of dawn every day, not willing to get your hands dirty, and not prepared to tough out the trying periods, then you shouldn't be in it. Also be prepared to ride some 'rogue' type horses as well, dressage doesn't mean every horse you ride is going to be perfectly educated and a lovely ride, you have to be good enough and gutsy enough to sit out the bucks and other 'spit downs' a horse may throw at you. The more horses you can get your backside on the better a rider you will become.
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post #12 of 12 Old 11-16-2010, 12:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Raidress View Post
Good points there, I should have been a bit more specific, though all experiences and opinions are welcome.

I am curious what factors play into the ultimate horse and rider dressage team. what characteristic of both help to create the special situation that can yield champions? Is the breeding of the horse most important? The rider's ability to become one with the horse? What makes a winning team?

Or to make it simple, what things are necessary for a horse and rider to have in order to have a hope of achieving success in the dressage ring?
The first thing needed is a horse with good, natural ability. Overall the horse must have 3 good clean gaits, a clean throatlach, and be build a bit uphill. Then you need a rider that is dedicated to aiming for perfection (being a little OCD helps) to improve & enhance the natural ability of the horse.

The training of the horse should take 7 years. The rider must seek out the best instruction they can obtain. They must study the rules & memorize the objectives or focus of each level. They must be willing to commit time & money to showing at each level. These must be recognized shows, not schooling shows. This is the only way one can know that they are achiving the goals of each level before proceeding to the next.

The rider must be willing to accept instruction. The rider must understand the ultimate goals of the training. They must know the correct frame, gaits & pace for all required movements at each level. It helps to participate in the "L" judge program once one is successful thru second level. This teaches the rider how to see (judge) if the training scale has been correctly used.

At the end, the rider & horse are moving as one, they move seemingly without effort or obvious signals...the ride seems more like a dance...full of energy and is a beautiful sight to behold

But none of this means you need a $100,000 horse, or a fancy stable or unlimited funds. I was able to successfully compete with a grade QH because I am very detail oriented & he was very willing & would try his heart out. We did it on a very low budget by making sure the circles were round everytime & the departs were correct in the exact spot, etc. Very accurate riding means a lot. I discovered the upper level judges would score us higher that the lower level judges. They understood how much work & effort went into producing the results they could see.
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