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LikeaTB 01-21-2013 05:42 PM

Learning dressage?
I am a Western rider, and I recently got a dressage saddle for Christmas, because I like the freedom of an English saddle seat. Now that I'm thinking about it, I kind of want to do a little dressage with the horse I ride (I don't have my own horse). I don't ride with a curb bit, I use a snaffle, and I don't ride on contact like in English.

Could y'all give me some pointers on learning dressage? I'm not going to hire a dressage trainer; I'm not serious about doing it for showing and stuff, but just as something to work on in the arena. I was just going to do the basic walk/trot patterns and see if I could find some online.

What are some good beginner dressage patterns? What are some tips you have for starting dressage? Any tips would be appreciated, thanks!

MyBoyPuck 01-21-2013 06:41 PM
I like this book for getting a general idea of dressage or cross training. It give both very clear descriptions of both what to do and what not to do. It has some very good exercised geared toward developing a soft, relaxed, supple horse.

core 01-22-2013 07:09 AM

The problem with dressage is that for the rider it's a lot of theory before any of what you do makes sense. You have to understand why the first step is forward in clear rhythm and how that will eventually get you to a horse that is swinging through its back. Taking lessons helps to pull together the theory with the application of and timing of the aids. It also helps because the trainer see'Seri the big picture and can direct you there even though you won't understand it til you get there. It's so hard to try to do this on your own. I can't even explain to you how frustrating and difficult dressage can be. i felt like a contorionist my first 20 lessons. I would've given up loooonng ago without someone to help me figure it out. I read all the time, and the books don't point out when you're sitting wrong and preventing the horse from doing what you're asking. The books don't tell you how to stop every evasion your horse discovers. It won't help you feel how its supposed to feel. They help supplement the lessons.

I understand not wanting to take lessons since you're just messing around with dressage, but I'm afraid that you'll get bored if you can't feel how its supposed to feel. Please consider at least one lesson. You'll find there's a lot more to dressage than what you can find in the books.

Having said that, I like centered riding by Sally swift for help with rider positioning. Kyra Kirkland has a book called 101 dressage exercises book that is good. It has beginner through more advanced exercises and explanations of how to ride them.

Look up USDFORG on YouTube. They have good educational videos.

I love dressage. I've done everything from western to saddleseat, and I am utter in love with dressage. It's simple, yet extremely difficult. The more you learn, the more you realize how little you know... Yet at the same time, you can create these moments of pure harmony. Where you and the horse are so in sync that it feels like a different world. It's amazing. I want you to love dressage too! So, please, consider taking a couple of lessons down the road.
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Kayty 01-22-2013 07:33 AM

What a wonderful response, Core.

OP, Core is dead on in her response. Dressage isn't something that you just pick up and dabble with in the arena on your own. It is often incredibly difficult and requires a huge degree of self discipline, focus, determination and sheer grit.

If you want to ride walk, trot, canter and a bit of leg yield, then that is more along the lines of basic riding than it is Dressage. Dressage as an art, in it's true form is something that it's 'lovers' will work and build of for a lifetime, and still be a beginner in the sense of how much their is to know.
After riding for 20+ years, I am only now just beginning to understand and feel true collection. I've had a basic grasp of it, of the concept and how to train towards it, but every time you feel like you've fully grasped a concept, you have a lesson and realise that you have really only just tapped into the tip of the iceberg.

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