View Full Version : New to Dressage - help me out

Jan. 17, 2011, 12:29 PM
Hello COTH,

Long-time lurker here... coming out and posting a video seems like a good way to get myself out there... haha.

So I am very new to dressage, but not new to riding. I have ridden western my entire life (except for saddleseat lessons around the age of 6-8). I know I have some very bad habits, and I think most of them stem from riding colts. I am usually more concerned about how my horse is going underneath me rather than how good I look. I am hoping to change that though, as I'd like for both me and my horse to look good!

Anyway, I originally wanted to get into reining, but my horse is just not cut out for it. I was asking for too much too fast from him, and I like him too much to find a new home for him, so I decided to find a discipline that suits him. I chose dressage because I know that any horse with 3 good gaits can do it. I also like the fact that you can start at an introductory level and work your way up. There really isn't that kind of option with reining... you have to have a talented horse if you really want to compete.

I have been working with a dressage trainer since October (lessons every other week), and we've come a long way. Most of our focus has been on my horse, getting him FORWARD. Ha... especially his trot. He was used to that nice little western jog that I'd let him do. I have also been trying very hard to work on my own position. I know I have slouchy shoulders, and I lean forward. The biggest problem I was feeling in this video was the fact that I had no forward in the canter and I felt like my lower leg was on him the entire time.

This was just me schooling him without a trainer, so I tend to forget important things like inside leg/outside rein... I am working really hard at being able to make him look good as well as myself, but I feel like I can only concentrate on one or the other! So I am hoping I can get some advice on some of the things I really need to concentrate on. I am planning on doing my first (schooling) show in May. I think I will do the intro test that includes canter and the first training level test.

Thanks for looking, any constructive criticism is welcome.
P.S. Sorry about the shaky camera... friend was sitting on an impatient horse.


tidy rabbit
Jan. 17, 2011, 12:48 PM
I think the that he looks like a nice horse. He is too quiet though, not much energy or animation. I have one like that, lazy lazy. It takes a lot to get him a little jazzed up. Your horse still needs a lot more forward and energy in the trot.

He looks a little tilted on the circle in the canter. I like his canter though, probably the best of his gaits.

Looks like you have a ways to go with him but that he'll be a nice horse.

Jan. 17, 2011, 01:17 PM
Nice horse - you're starting to get a nice trot out of him.

What I saw:
1. Focus on long legs - your heels are up and stay up throughout the ride.
2. Raise your rib cage - you're collapsing your core. This will also help get your shoulders back.
3. As you post - open elbows as you post up and close them as you post down. This will give you MORE of an elastic connection.
3. Post a tad more "up" than forward.
4. Thumbs up - they're almost there but not quite.

Jan. 17, 2011, 04:28 PM
Thank you both for taking the time to watch the video!

tidy rabbit - He definitely has days where he is very forward... but they are few and far between, and often happen after he's had a day or two off. Usually I'm just trying my best to keep him going...

Valentina - thank you for the list! I will keep it in mind next time I ride... especially riding with a longer leg.

Jan. 17, 2011, 04:42 PM
Here's a very helpful thread for anyone switching to dressage, and most of them will probably apply to you, too:

I do like your horse's canter best, which is good news if judges agree with me - as you can change the trot a lot more than the canter!

I think you've gotten good advice in this thread, and you'll get more from the thread I link to. It does look as if you're getting good instruction steering you the right way, as neither you nor your horse look like ex-reiners from that video. Sure, you have lots of work to do, but you look like you're headed the right way.

Good luck, and I hope you have fun with it!

tidy rabbit
Jan. 17, 2011, 08:59 PM
I wish we had a "like" button. I "like" netg's post. :)

Jan. 18, 2011, 12:21 AM
If you were my student, I'd be thrilled, I think you are doing very well. Here is what I'd concentrate on if I were you. You're legs: You are using your heel rather thank your calf and like someone else pointed out, your heel has come up. You need to relax your leg and allow it to stretch down. Forget you even have a heel. I'd also give you a dressage whip so that when your horse does not respond to the leg, you can go to the whip (nicely) and then, DO NOT NAG with the leg, let him go. He needs to be more in front of the leg. I also think you need to strengthen your core but that will come. Think of using your core and balance to stay on your horse, not your leg. Think of just your seat bones and core to keep your balance. This is a gradual thing, dressage does not come all at once and do not over whelm yourself with things because you will over-face yourself. I work on one or two things at a time, not five. Take your time training yourself and your horse, this is supposed to be done with relaxation and you can't have a relaxed horse if YOU are not relaxed. You look GREAT though, really! Keep it up!

BTW, I do the same for my horse, if I am teaching him something new at the canter, I do things at the trot that he can do well so he still has confidence then tomorrow I will work on the new trot work. I do this to keep him happy, relaxed and confident.

Jan. 19, 2011, 01:03 PM
netg, thanks for pointing out that thread! Lots of good stuff.

Bugs-n-Frodo, thank you for the encouragement!!