First Dressage Lesson
   

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First Dressage Lesson

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  • "my ankle"
  • Classic dressage position

 
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    10-08-2012, 03:06 AM
  #1
Weanling
First Dressage Lesson

Hello all! I have always been a western rider, and today I took my first dressage lesson on a gorgeous 17hh Friesian gelding (DeOro). My trainer told me what I need to work on, mainly correcting my legs being forward and bringing my shoulders forward. I feel like my stirrups were too short, but she she said she was afraid that lengthening them would encourage my legs to come forward, so I said "Whatever you think is best!!" Here are some pictures, the first is the best, albiet not from a perfect angle, and I KNOW I need work on those dang legs and shoulders, and any advice or tips would be greatly appreciated!
So, please critique my seat as far as dressage is concerned, and please be sweet and constructive, this is my first dressage lesson :)
So this one, my legs look forward and my shoulders are too far back, right? I felt like every time I would bring my legs back more, I either had to bend my ankle more ('forcing' my heel down) or bend my knee more (resulting in a chair seat). Should my stirrups be longer?
So, on this one, I just feel like my stirrups are too short, but I do trust my instructor. I just felt like I didn't have room to make my legs as long as I wanted them! Maybe that's just because I am used to riding western? Again, constructive criticism would be greatly appreciated!!
     
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    10-08-2012, 04:19 AM
  #2
Started
For your first dressage lesson I think you look great! The bend in you arms is very nice! Just remember. Hands together and and down but keep and nice soft bend through your elbow! I think your stirrups could go a hole or two down, she might have had it a tad shorter to help you balance for the first lesson on that big beautiful Friesan! When you do lower them don't pinch with your knee, relaxe the weight down into you heels and go with the horse. I'm still getting that down to a T! Bad jumper habbits from my old trainer!
Good luck and keep us updated with pictures!!!
     
    10-08-2012, 09:38 AM
  #3
Foal
Love your upper body position, and your hands/elbows were perfect. Shoulders were great.

The lower leg issue: think about pushing your knee toward the ground. It's not your lower leg that's the issue, it's your thigh. I'm guessing you're using it for balance/grip. You have to relax the thigh to hang loose down around the horse, with your knee pointing more downward. That will bring your whole leg back, and under more. It won't work to just bring the lower leg back. That will upset your balance. It's all in the thigh.

Did your instructor talk about seatbones with you? Are you able to tell how much weight you have on each individual seat bone?

Otherwise, you look fantastic on that horse! Dressage is hard, but very rewarding. I hope you stick with it!
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    10-08-2012, 11:39 AM
  #4
Weanling
Thank you both so much! I was honestly not expecting much positive feedback!
@Klassic Superstar: Thanks for the tip on my hands! Every time we started moving I kept rotating my palms downward! She had me loop my pinkys in a strap on the saddle, she also had me hold a dressage whip horizontally in my hands with my thumbs to help me keep them in position.I will probably only be able to make that trek out to her every once in a while, unfortunately, but I can practice my position on the little western ponies at my barn.
@core- I will work on that thigh issue. This boy is huge and he felt like I was sitting on a couch. Like a little kid riding a big horse! My instructor was joking before I mounted "you ready to do the splits?". I was having a hard time figuring out my lower body position in general- don't know if it was the saddle or the size of the horse? Yes, we did talk about seat bone pressure. I felt like if I did bring my knee down, my ankle didn't have the room downward to compensate because of the stirrup, you know? Am I wrong? Like in the second pic, my knees are more downward than the third, but I feel like my ankles look forced down? I kept wanting to roll my thighs so the inside was along the horse, not the bottom, but I felt cramped in the stirrups.
     
    10-08-2012, 03:02 PM
  #5
Foal
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tessa7707    
@core- I will work on that thigh issue. This boy is huge and he felt like I was sitting on a couch. Like a little kid riding a big horse! My instructor was joking before I mounted "you ready to do the splits?". I was having a hard time figuring out my lower body position in general- don't know if it was the saddle or the size of the horse? Yes, we did talk about seat bone pressure. I felt like if I did bring my knee down, my ankle didn't have the room downward to compensate because of the stirrup, you know? Am I wrong? Like in the second pic, my knees are more downward than the third, but I feel like my ankles look forced down? I kept wanting to roll my thighs so the inside was along the horse, not the bottom, but I felt cramped in the stirrups.
I agree that your stirrups were a bit too short for your leg to sit in the classic dressage position. BUT... that's a big, wide bodied horse, and Friesians are known for having a trot that will throw you around a bit, so I can see starting with the shorter stirrup until you're comfortable with the saddle and horse.

I'd give it another lesson or two, and if you feel secure on the horse (not using the reins for balance), then ask to have the stirrups let down about two holes.

The only thing I can tell ya is to practice at home. Sit up tall, sit directly over your seat bones with weight evenly distributed, point your knee caps down toward the ground, and let your weight sink through your heels. Tighten your abdomen muscles until your lower back flattens, and lift your entire rib cage up. This allows your hips to follow the movement of the horse and absorb the movement without having it affect the rest of your body.

Study some of the video's on youtube for dressage rider positions. Then practice off horse to get the muscle memory down.

I would love to see some video of that horse. He looks like he'd be a blast to ride. :)

And again, you look great in the pictures. A few minor tweaks to your position, but far, far better than most beginner dressage riders I've seen.
     
    10-08-2012, 04:40 PM
  #6
Weanling
Thanks core. When I ride at home I don't feel like I have this issue, but I'm adjusting my own stirrups and I'm riding in a western saddle. I'll have access to an english saddle soon, so I can practice this on horses I'm used to and mess with the stirrups a bit. You're right, he was a big mover and I understand why my instructor would keep the stirrups short at first. Thanks for the advice! I'll try to post a video. My husband didn't get any video of me riding, unfortunately, but he got some video of DeOro when she turned him out to get his wiggles out before the lesson.
     

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