I grew up doing h/j with a little western pleasure here and there at open shows. Took ten-plus years off and just got back into riding about a year ago. Thought I'd do h/j again, but honestly, just not into it. But, I want to learn, train, show, have fun! I took a few dressage lessons on a schoolmaster and thought it was really hard . . . and really fun. I love a challenge. So, we're jumping in!
Any great words of wisdom I can use going forward???
Learn how to use your seat, leg and hands independently.
Lunge lessons are the best way.
Be sure to ask ask ask your instructor to explain each aid and how it should be timed. If you don't quite understand, or if a trained horse isn't responding as it should from your aid, then first be sure you understand the aid completely yourself, including all parts of it, seat leg and hand.
Assume you are doing it wrong and the horse doesn't understand what you want when things don't happen as you expect.
OE: lol, I re-read my last line and realized that's essence of dressage. If you are a person who loves to be anal about detail and hard on yourself, then you'll have fun doing dressage!
Audit the USDF "L" Program and Instructor Certification, if you can.
Get in touch with your local dressage GMO and see if you can learn to scribe for a schooling show.
Read the 2 German national federation books (principles of riding, dressage).
Confirm that your trainer has a solid teaching foundation (successful students and horses she trained at/above your riding level, not just competition success with trained horses).
Audit clinicians that your trainer would recommend.
Watch a whole class at a show of a lower level test (First/Second level), compare the overall impressions you had about the tests to the final scores.
The part about confirming the credentials of your instructor is very important.
Even better than scribing, where you're too busy writing to be looking, is sitting quietly behind the judge and listening.
Subscribe to Dressage Today. The articles are understandable , I think , for a newbie. A lot of times what's written in books and publications will seem like Greek, 'til you can do what they are explaining.
Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.
1) Find the best instructor you can and pay the money out to ride with them. One that can teach, verbalize and explain will teach you more in a week that you will learn with one who can not. Just because they can ride a GP test, does not mean they can teach simple training level well, trust me.
2) READ, READ and READ as well as videos. Dressageclinic.com, Dressagetrainingonline.com are really good tools.
3) Take the time, understand the theory before you start to apply it. Understand the basics of anatomy, strength, etc. So many newbies come into this not understanding why a horse cant go into a "wana be" grand prix looking frame or try to pull them together into it, when the horses muscles and such cant do it. Its just like a human athlete you have to BUILD the body for strength and collection, you can force it.
4) You will learn by mistake and this is one of the most tedious sports I know of. I come from an eventer and H/J background before I got into this dressage thang seriously back in 99....... and this is the most rewarding sport I have done, yet also the only one where I have got off the horse, thrown my helmet on the ground and said....... "Im DONE!" So remember, this is not easy and its a LONG TERM process, did I say LONG?
Just have fun overall.
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