Dressage...Where to start?
I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'd really like to start getting into dressage! I have a trainer, but she does pretty much everything but dressage lol She knows the basics but she's generally more of a western rider.
Anyway, I'm leasing one of her horses, Maverick. A 6 year old Arabian gelding :) I've had to train him quite a lot because he came to us very inexperienced. He's an amazing jumper and is VERY fast so I've done barrels with him too. I'm thinking of one day getting us into eventing, as I think he has the potential for all three of those disciplines and I'm interested in all of them :) We've got the jumping pretty much covered but IF that's what I'd like to try I'm going to need to know dressage too.
I'm not planning on learning a LOT of dressage. If I was VERY serious into it I'd get myself a dressage coach but I just wanna learn some tips and tricks into it.
Anything you can tell me is valuable to me, as I don't know ANYTHING about it! I'm just looking for information about the sport, ways I can train for it, things I can teach my horse and how to teach him, etc.
Thanks a lot!! :)
First of all, I recommend not thinking of dressage as a sport. Especially if you have no plans to go deep enough into it to become competitive. What it sounds like you are interested in doing is learning some of the fundamentals so that you can better help your horse be balanced and work correctly to improve their performance in the sport you ARE competing in, if that be jumping .
I think the first thing to work on is your seat. working on lengthening the leg and having a well aligned body, no matter what gait the horse is moving in.
Then, you start working up the training pyramid. The first level is Rythm and relaxation. Getting the horse to move forward smoothly, with a rythmic gait , relaxed and using a good amount of push from behind, but staying loose in the back.
That's enough to start with.
Also, keep in mind that if your horse has never done anything like dressage, they may not really enjoy being your school horse for learning dressage. some hroses really hate doing dressage. others do well at it. depends on the horse. It's no fun if you are trying to learn on a hrose that just hates this kind of slow work, but would rather dash around barrels, or jump a course at high speed.
I agree with Tinyliny's post, and I would encourage you to take at least a few lessons from a "real" dressage instructor; someone who can give you a good overview of what it takes from both horse and rider to work dressage fundamentals.
And YouTube is your friend - search for Jane Savoie's videos, and try plugging in "dressage basics" and "what is on the bit?'' etc.
Thanks guys! Working on my seat's definitely going to be a thing to work on because although I have pretty good equitation and I'm usually pretty straight from shoulder to hip to heel, I've seen dressage riders ride and from what I can tell they move with their hip a LOT and not as much with their upper body...correct? And it looks like they lean back a bit whereas my tendency is to lean forward if anything (but I'm not bad anymore as I used to be) so anyway, I'll try working on that too :)
I'm also getting Mav to cross over his legs in the sidepass since he had never been taught that before surprizingly. So now we can get it at the walk straight sideways, he can do it at a trot too but he hasn't quite gotten the crossing yet...but he does move sideways anyway :)
We just recently conquered the whole 'head to the inside' thing. He had a nasty habit of having his head to the right for some reason due to his old owner. He didn't know how to flex to the left. But he's definitely good with that now too :)
Anyway those are just some dressage related things that we've recently conquered lol
I suggest you start by looking at the USDF site.
USDF | About | About Dressage | Dressage Training
The training scale (at link I provided) shows what to focus on in training - starting at the bottom of the pyramid (Rythm) and moving upwards as you progress (relaxation, connection).
#1 issue to resolve is that the horse needs to be forward. What many "new bees" don't understand is that the horse could be running and still not be forward (or "in front of the leg").
If a horse is truely "in front of the leg" they are stepping underneath their body with their hind legs (say to around the middle of their belly) such that when you ask for a walk to canter transition they don't fall on their face, rather they step underneath themselves and immediately canter - i.e. ZERO trot steps.
So best to do some reading. USDF has some decent articles but as in everything - because it is on the web does NOT mean it is correct, hence why I am sending you to USDF (United States Dressage Federation) to start.
Dressage is NOT using the hands to "pull" the nose in to get a "head set" - it is using the riders BODY to get the horses body to oerform correctly.
Best of luck. Finding a GOOD dressage instructor (not a western instructor) will help.
thanks I'll check it out :)
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