Advice on Collection and Dressage Basics
So I recently got back into riding, and bought a horse. Now the initial excitement has calmed down, I need to work on improving my horse's collection, and I'm thinking about learning some dressage basics. I have bought a couple of books to read, but until they get here I wondered if anyone else has general information on teaching a horse, particularly an Arabian, on relaxing the neck?
I know Arabians do have a natural high head carriage, but I think she needs to drop it slightly. I have had a few mixed responses right now. Some say that her head carriage is fine being high, other's say she doesn't look collected and I need to work on lowering it. Figured I'd read up on the subject so I can be a bit more informed.
Any tips, tricks to use? Are there any other books, DVDs that you would recommend?
I'm probably never going to compete, but it would give me good practice to work her as if I will.
Just looking for a bit of advice.
Best advice on the planet, bar none: Don't think about her head. The head and what it's doing are meaningless. It's all in the hindquarters. :wink:
Work first on getting her relaxed and responsive - accept whatever posture she gives you in that state. Get her forward and in front of your leg - a gentle squeeze means go, and until you tell her otherwise she needs to maintain that pace without you nagging her. This is the very basic layer of "d" dressage. Without forward, you have nothing to work with.
Look up the training scale if you haven't already - The foundation is relaxation and rhythm, and the top is collection. You can't have collection without all of the foundation components in place.
Over time, if your mare is moving correctly from her hindquarters forward, she will stretch forward over her topline. Long and Low exercises will be helpful.
This forum is an excellent resource, and there are some very experienced riders and trainers who can answer with more specifics than I can (I'm still a beginner myself putting the theory to practice).
I just recieved my copy of Lessons with Lendon in the mail - tons of useful info in there. Also read Centered Riding: Almost every "problem" a horse has with his posture is directly traceable to either painful tack or the rider. Fixing and improving position and effective aids is always beneficial. Jane Savoie has several video clips up on YouTube that have also been a great help to me. Chris Irwin's videos are up on State Line Tack's website, too, and are worth a watch.
Good luck! :D
Thanks Scoutrider! That was exactly the sort of advice I'm looking for :)
My best advice would be to start lessons with a good dressage trainer. Then the trainer can see what you do/how you do it, and teach both - you and horse - how to do it correctly. I found it to be much more helpful than books and videos (although those are very beneficial too). Just speaking from own experience... :wink:
The only problem with that is that I live in deepest, darkest West Texas. It took me five years to find a place that does classical English riding close enough for me to get too .... I have yet to find a higher level dressage trainer here. I'm keeping my eyes open, but for now I have a teacher who teaches the basics of classical seat, and then any books/DVDs I can find.
Well another thing I could think of is taking video of your ride from time to time (if you have camcorder) and post it for advices and suggestions.
Yes I think having some critique of my riding would be good. A camcorder is on my list of things to get (I need it for my dancing as well). My riding instructor is actually very impressed with my seat, and abilities so far (apparently my 5 years of riding lessons as a kid in Britain are paying off!), but it would be good for me to see how I look, and see where I can improve ... then with the dressage basics it will be vital to see myself before improvement can be made. I think it will be on my Christmas wishlist.
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