I am on my own, working with my horse, and I'd like to do some dressage work with him. I am not a beginner rider, though I'm a bit rusty physically. He's not a difficult horse, though he's a bit obese and fat.
I know how to execute most things up to a certain level, and I know which things build onto which things, but I'd love to have something which says "here are the things you need to be working on in month 1, give or take"
Without something prescripted I'll admit I get a little aimless and bored and end up just taking a trail ride. I'll probably be trailering to a trainer at some point, but I don't have a trailer yet, and I have to find a good one. The last one I rode with was a lovely person, but her teaching seemed to be a bastardization of the French school.
So....does anyone have anything good that they know of? Books? That sort of thing? I have them for the hunter world, and for young horse training but I don't have any for dressage.
If I were you, I would work on what I know first to get you both back in shape. Good flat work. H/J work does include sitting trot, leg yield, haunches-in, 20-15-10 meter circles, shoulder-in and transitions within a gait. That would be a start.
Then I would seek out for a trainer you enjoy, a dressage one if that is what you want to do.
Yes, alibi, I think what I mean is more of a schedule and an order than anything else.
For instance, when training a young hunter, I always focused on lots of exposure through hacking and going forward. I didn't worry too much about the bit or suppleness surrounding it - loopy reins were the first order of the day - other than just gentle corrections. But our goal in hunters (at least mine) was to have a horse that could go around an entire course on a soft -> loopy rein. So we didn't introduce any sort of contact until you could actually do a significant amount of work without it, and then we started introducing the hand.
Keep in mind, my best hunter flatwork was done probably before many people here were even born :-D I know that it's much different now.
Again though - a schedule is useful. Without jumping I'd be worried about him getting sour on arena work. I always mixed a considerable amount of hacking etc and jumping cross country, and only a few jump schools and a few flat schools...but without the jumping, I'm not sure how to keep it exciting.
I'll give you an example since I'm clearly being clear as mud. With my previous trainer and a green horse, she had me focusing on transitions, leg yielding and serpentines at the walk, before we had WTC down. This was new to me, as in a previous life, I'd be using the transitions as a way of rebalancing rather than focusing on the transition, which is refinement.
I like JS b/c she breaks everything down step by step & has good mnemonics for dolts like me. I feel like most things I read/watch spend a lot of time telling me what NOT to do, but not what I am supposed to do.
Do not lose your forward thinking you have from the hunters!! The base of the training pyramid is to have a forward, rhythmic gait. You shouldn't have to beg a horse to take the next step.
I love the books and exercises already recommended. You know how to ride, dressage is just refining all of that. As you said, transitions are great balancers. Keep the contact light (but keep contact) and soon you will find while keeping your horse forward into that contact he will start to come up with his back and become round in his frame. Then you'll have the most correct horse you've ever seen!
I just signed up for that Dressage Mentor, to see if I liked her training style before I committed to $999 worth of courses I think my husband might have had my head if I did that right now (not seriously, but I do think I'll put it on my christmas list!)
I <3 the way she teaches, and I'm only 1/8th of the way through one video!
I have one of Janes (autographed! ) books, and I love it. I really need to look into the dressage mentor thing.
This is a very timely thread for me, OGP. I am transitioning a saddleseat horse to dressage, and I had planned to haul him to a dressage instructor for lessons over the winter, but he has decided he no longer wants to load on a trailer. I think he's just very burnt out on showing and his former riding/training regime. So, until I can get a good trailer loading trainer out to help us, I'm working on the saddleseat->dressage transition on my own. It's actually going better than I thought, but it wouldn't hurt me to have more of a plan and some things to work on.
I have both the books you already ordered and really like both of them.
A wonderful order of go though, is free on the web. Print out the tests. See the qualities and movements required and work on those. When you've got them down, move on to the next test. Should keep you busy for years. Those books will help you improve exercises and movements, but the tests can tell you what order you should be applying them.
In a more classical approach, at least a year or two is spent at Training and First levels - no collection or true lateral work. The time is spent strengthening, straightening, suppling, and developing power. 15-20m circles, transitions between and within gaits, leg-yield, long and low - what you'd find in those tests. Shoulder-fore or first position, but not shoulder-in.