Well I finally took the plunge and called to schedule dressage lessons. I was halfway hoping they wouldn't have time for me for a few weeks but nope, first lesson is on Wednesday! I am excited but nervous. Any advice? What should I expect? I am used to riding hunters on the arab circuit. I have never had an actual formal dressage lesson, I hope I don't make a fool!
Last edited by Eddy's Mom; Nov. 23, 2011 at 11:48 PM.
For me, first lessons are about getting to know the trainer as much as anything else. I would make it a goal to listen carefully and make sure you understand what the instructor is saying, especially if you're not familiar with all of the typical "dressagy" terminology. If you're not sure what your teacher means, ask for clarification.
Most of all just try to relax and have fun. You'll have plenty of time to prepare for the Olympics later.
relax- dressage lessons aren't as scary as you think!
Have fun, be open and honest with your trainer about any issues that you are working on or want to work on, be honest about your goals and expectations, ask for clarification on anything you're not sure about, and did I mention have fun?
Seriously, I started taking dressage lessons to improve my horse's jumping, and it very shortly became an obsession as soon as I learned how COOL it is to be able to influence my horse to that degree and how to use dressage as a tool to build muscles/flexibility/balance in my horse. I switched disciplines after about 3 lessons. It's addicting, what can I say?
If it is a good Dressage lesson, you will feel like a fish out of water, even @ halt.
Your balance is going to feel way off, you will feel like your going to fall off the back of your horse and you still won't be close to straight, you will probably struggle with your hands as well.
But, Just as when you first started to ride and could not get the post, it to will pass and seem just as natural and comfortable as your hunt seat position does now.
Know this upfront and try to softenen your muscles and follow the horse instead of being tight and still.
Your not alone, every body has to start at 0.
Good for you to go outside your comfort zone and try something new.
Thanks so much for the kind words. I am used to riding more forward with a shorter stirrup so I am completely prepared to feel awkward and "new." I am doing this mostly for my horse, to see what aptitude he has for half-arab sport horse divisions. It is something I have always wanted to do so it is exciting, but I won't lie I'm nervous, too!!!
I'll post an update tomorrow night. I think this horse will thrive on this type of work, really excited to see how he takes to it.
I remember my first dressage lesson. It felt like I had never been on a horse at all, and I knew absolutely nothing. Part of that was the change in discipline, and part of it was a bad fit with the instructor.
But I stuck with it and have learned SOOOOOO much.
Just relax and enjoy. It's very unlikely the instructor will be throwing a ton of new stuff at you in the first lesson. Most first dressage lessons just show you how to sit in the dressage position (longer leg, body more upright, even when trotting and cantering), and then you just try and walk, trot and canter a little in the new position. Some stretching exercises may help you loosen up. That's usually about it. No big deal, just relax, enjoy, it's addictive.
Too funny! I have been practicing at home really lengthening my leg and sitting deep. I am used to riding shorter with a lot of thigh contact so I know I won't feel as secure, but it's all good, right? My boy is usually pretty decent in the arena and hopefully won't embarrass me! If he does, well, I guess we'll have plenty to work on!
I like the thought of taking lessons without having a real end goal in sight. There is *always* something new to learn in dressage, which hopefully will prevent boredom.
I was thinking 'how silly' to ask then I remembered my first riding lesson when I moved to FL and desparately missed horses .
I got up my nerve, called around, and found a nice sounding guy. Scheduled a H/J lesson at his farm, with him. Arrived and couldn't find anyone around the barn at all, save for a dressage instructor (woman) in the arena, giving a lesson. I waited silently until they finished something, she told the girl to let him rest and walk out a lap, and she stopped talking to watch him walk. It seemed a decent time to apologize for the interruption but did she know where I might find _____? OMG you'd think I interupted a neurosurgeon mid brain-transplant GO TO THE HOUSE AND ASK AND NEVER INTERUPT ME AGAIN IN A LESSON! she kept ranting I just said thanks turned on my heel and left. What an uber cow. This is Tallahassee folks, you AIN'T all that, ladybug.
So yeah um maybe ask where to go when you get there
PS- I know take dressage lessons from an absolute treasure of an instructor, so they come in all forms
A conclusion is the place where you got tired of thinking. (Steven Wright)
I had ridden saddle seat all my life (with some hunter pleasure and western pleasure horses thrown in) and considered myself a very accomplished saddle seat rider (thought about going pro, and was technically pro during college). My grandma is a saddle seat trainer who's done it all throughout the years and believes in solid dressage basics for everyone, so I thought I'd be all right when I made the switch... I'd ridden and trained everything from crazy youngsters to finished national champions, quarter horses to TWHs. Still...
Haha. Well, the first lesson was definitely a lot about getting used to terminology and new exercises I wasn't familiar with. My balance was all right, but my leg position needed some tweaking... There were more than a few times I had to stop and get a more detailed explanation for things. All instructors are different, so you may feel instantly comfortable or you may feel a bit like a fish out of water. As long as you generally like the instructor, be sure to give it a few lessons before you give up hope, haha.
Now I find myself spouting dressage-speak to non-dressage people and getting blank stares and then having to reword accordingly = ) I love love love dressage because I've always loved the little nuances of horse training. You will learn more tiny details about your balance and your horse's balance than you probably could have imagined existed. I remember once making what felt like a millimeter adjustment to my seat bone position (thinking, yeah right, this won't help) and then feeling my horse transform into a different animal... Humbling experience, yet so rewarding and interesting. Dressage has opened up a new level of understanding for me and has really improved my riding/thinking ability across all disciplines.
Sorry guys, just settling in for the night! My lesson was AWESOME!!!! My gelding was so well-behaved, debunked the crazy arab rule and worked really hard!
The trainer definitely wanted to see what we could do today, and then said we would make it perfect in the future I somehow doubt that!
Anyway, we did lots of walk, trot and canter transitions, lots of halts and rein backs, and lots of turns on the haunches. Lots of leg yielding, too. It was really amazing because in the course of a half-hour, the difference in how he moved was completely amazing. I really liked the leg yielding and turning on the haunches, my gelding is very sensitive so getting *my* seat and aids correct all the sudden it was like, poof, easy! I was making it too hard. The transition work and spiraling from 20 to 10 meters really helped him. At the end he was light and looking for contact, I can't wait to see how we improve over the course of a few months.
It was really funny because I had scheduled a 45min lesson but exactly at 30mins my gelding was checking out, I could tell he was getting tired in the hind-end, which is funny considering he is an endurance horse and just did 50 miles two weeks ago!
Anyway, I have another scheduled next week, hope it continues to go well!
Oh and to the poster who said to ask where to go that is too funny because that was what I was most anxious about! I had a similar experience when I was younger and am petrified of experiencing that again!!!
Last edited by Eddy's Mom; Nov. 23, 2011 at 11:50 PM.
So I guess having a good lesson meant the next one would suck.... I am trying not to be frustrated, but I am really disappointed in myself.
My instructor had an appointment and I had to join in another lesson with a girl far further along in dressage with myself.
So before even starting, I was extremely nervous and uptight, more about being an inconvenience than the actual lesson. Well whomever said fish out of water was 100% correct.
The work we were doing was above both of our heads and on top of trying to "get it," I was worried about being in the way of this other girl and her horse. I felt like everything was too fast I couldn't even work to make things "right." Needless to say, I was/am frustrated and discouraged. I hope next week is better.
Sorry if this sounds whiney, I guess it kind of is
Last edited by Eddy's Mom; Nov. 23, 2011 at 11:51 PM.