Olympic Dressage/Stadium Jumping
The majority of good riders have been riding since they were toddlers, and seem to think that people who start riding later in life will never be able to compete with them. I am 17 years old right now, and started riding when I was 15. The question in short: If I start getting lessons at 18, compared to those who started as a toddler, do I have a shot at the Olympics?
In my town, lessons are impossible. I am a self taught rider. I would have a video taken of me, see what I need to improve on, and fix it next time. I'd keep doing that until I feel like i was good at it. It works just as fine as traditional lessons, but takes 10x as long to get anywhere haha. My horse and I worked on general riding skills and very basic dressage moves (square halts, lead changes, and his awkward half-pass). I trained him to jump (trotting poles, free jumping, etc), but I'm not stupid, so I never got on him for anything more than jumping a log. I want a trainer for that part.
I had to sell him a few months ago, and now I don't have a horse to ride. It has been about 6 months since I've been in a saddle (believe me, I'm surprised I'm not counting the hours). At the end of this year, I will be moving to Auburn, WA (next to Emerald Downs, close to Seattle). I will get myself some actual lessons there. I want to do either Dressage or Stadium Jumping (but not eventing).
I want to join the Olympics one day. I know its an unrealistic dream, but since when does it hurt to dream? Would you say I have a chance and competing with people who have ridden their entire life, compared to my late start at 15 years?
Here is my latest video in riding. It's not the best, but from this video, my posting trot is now less awkward, my elbows are more tucked in, and I'm stiller in the canter. I still have troubles keeping a good shoulder-hip-heel alignment, but then again, I haven't been able to practice since. Being self taught and looking like this, so I show any promise?
Also, is there anything you can say about my position by these pictures?
The two big things that stand out are that your posting is very forced and that you need to work on keeping your heels down and your lower leg more stable.
ETA: welcome to Washington! It's where I live! :lol:
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Honestly, I won't say it's impossible because it's not. It will, however, but that much harder. You have lost out on many yrs of training, you are self taught, and you aren't starting lessons yet. You technically could catch up, but you need an amazing trainer, the funds for very very frequent lessons, etc. You also need access to horses that could get you up to that level.
In regards to your video, there are quote a few things that need fixed, but you look pretty good for a self taught rider. I like your seat at the canter. Your posting does not look 100% natural and while posting your leg is a little loose. Your heels need to be down and your arms/hands need to stay down and still. Also, your leg is too far forward. Fixing that will help with your posting.
Ditto what poster above said. My 'stand out' was your hands - you need to close your fingers around the reins, eliminate the break in your wrist, and angle your thumbs up. Straight line from your elbow to the horse's mouth is the idea. There's a fair bit to work on, but if you start lessons it should all be addressed fairly easily.
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Thanks for the tips you guys. Usually my hands are better, I just don't have any videos of the improvements. I hate to blame my horse, especially since its not really his fault, but he has no idea what leg cues are. 90% of my aids came from my hands and seat. We were working on that before I ended up having to sell him, here is what we were doing to work on it:
As someone who didn't get to start riding until I had almost graduated college, it does seem like I can catch on to certain things faster than some of the kids who are riding, but I just don't have the same amount of time to devote to it. Luckily, dressage is one of those sports that you don't peak at when you're 12 (like gymnastics!) so time-wise, starting at 18 isn't that big of a disadvantage. There was a 71 year old rider from Japan in the 2012 Olympics!
The money to get to that level is a challenge no matter what age you started riding. Horses capable of that level of performance, trainers, show fees, travel to those shows, etc. require a small fortune!
I'm not sure if it's the position your treeless/soft saddle is putting you in (it is one, right?), but I think your legs are a little forward in chair seat-ish way. Someone posted a great video about how posting from a chair seat is not only harder for the rider, but it's harder on the horse because you can't control your ease down back into the saddle and end up thumping him every time!
Again, might be the saddle! :) But try thinking about it this way. Pull your leg back underneath you (heels down) at the trot. Don't post up-- let the horse throw you up, and all you need to do is use your thigh muscles to bring yourself back down onto his back gently. The rhythm and up-force should come from your horse.
Best of luck! I agree that finances are always the toughest part. I had a friend in college who had a horse double the price of my truck who was brought in from Europe to be her jumper! :shock:
You're still very young, and you can take riding as far as you want to as long as you have the passion and dedication to do it.
You need lessons from a professional if you want to ride properly and be competitive. Right now you're doing okay for being self-taught, but you could be so much further ahead if you took lessons.
A few things:
- You're behind the motion of your horse, which makes your posting look awkward.
- I hate these bitless bridles... You don't know how to use contact properly (not your fault as you haven't been taught) - so your horse's chin is getting jerked on constantly from the sway of your reins.
- Your saddle is doing you NO favors.. it's causing your leg to be in quite the awkward position, and your knee is over the flap.
Really, if you want to be competitive, you need a coach. Unfortunately, that means that you're going to have to be very dedicated - and it will take up a TON of time and money.
If this is your passion, go for it!
It is a treeless soft saddle, and the worst saddle I have ever owned. One of the reasons I sold my horse was because I live in a bad town and the police refused to help with my problems. I had $1500 worth of tack stolen from me (among some harm done to my horse), and I was tired of buying expensive saddles just to get one use out of them. I got a cheep treeless. It fit my horse perfect, which is what I wanted, but it was horrible on my end. Not only did it put me in the chair position, but it felt like a chair haha. It did shove my legs forward, because in my old (stolen) Wintec dressage saddle, my legs were usually in a decent position. Thanks for the other tips though :) When I manage to get on another horse I'll be sure to try it out.
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