How to begin dressage
I ride western but an intersted in learning dressage but i would first like to teach my horse from the ground. my dilema is i have no idea which move to teach first. so for all you dressage riders what did you learn in the very begining and how was it taught.
Oh I am ever so interested in this thread. I've been riding hunter/jumper on school horses forever. I finally have my own horse and we're both in an all new element (me coming from that hunter/jumper background and him coming from a short racing career). I'm taking Classical Dressage lessons from the BO and Reno is in training with her as well.
Dressage is not about "moves" or patterns. It is about developing good basics (first of all) and then incorporating gymnastic movements into the horse's repertoire to build strength, suppleness, connection and collection in his body. A Grand Prix or high level horse when showing is able to perform the movements only because he has built enough strength and endurance to do them. To teach a horse a piaffe or pirouette without the correct basics and years of strengthening is just trick training and can be damaging to the horse's muscoskeletal system.
To start dressage, we begin mounted and work on the first 3 steps of the training scale, rhythm relaxation and contact. We can incorporate movements seen in training and first levels - at first large circles, transitions, various frames (ie "normal" working frame into the contact, a stretching frame, etc.) and then moving onto long straight lines, then smaller circles, leg yields, variations in stride length, etc.. until we are ready to begin working on the next steps in the scale, schwung (or impulsion) straightness and collection. This is where lateral movements seen in second level and more difficult transitions like walk-canter and canter-walk are utilized for strengthening, etc.. until the horse is ready for more and more difficult work, eventually leading to the GP and the "dressage moves" you are talking about.
Anebel, that reminds me of something that was posted on my OB's farm's FB page:
It starts with finding a good dressage coach.
Dressage isn't trick riding.. as anebel said it's all about basics and getting them down right and then slowly building on more movements.
Look to the training scale as well (which someone already posted but here's another site)
Training Scales For Horses
So what do you guys know about gaited dressage? I really want to start with my mare but she is a fox trotter. I want her and me to both be fully aware of what her body is doing, but how would dressage training and lessons work for us since she is gaited...?
For the simple version on "How to Start"....
Pick up phone, call trainer.
A GOOD trainer is invaluable.
I have never done dressage before and English riding isn't huge around here so this may sound absolutely ridiculous but I don't know what to look for in a good dressage trainer. I know someone that has offered me lessons, but she knows next to nothing about gaited horses.
It's much easier to learn the principles with a trainer, but if you're willing to do lots of reading and experimenting on your own you can certainly pick it up. I highly recommend http://www.amazon.com/Elements-Dressage-Guide-Training-Young/dp/1585747351/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1342594146&sr=1-4&keywords=dressage, which goes through a slightly modified version of the training scale Reno posted.
I've seen gaited horses at dressage shows before, but they were different breeds that still had a standard walk, trot, and canter. IIRC, the fox trot replaces the standard trot with MFTs, right? If that's the case, you may be limited to breed shows, if they hold them at all. You can still practice it at home, of course.
I'm sure it'll benefit hugely both - you and the horse. As one of the posters said (and I completely agree) -> look for the good trainer (best by local people recommendations) and start taking lessons.
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