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  1. #21

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    I'm new to dressage (6 months in and lovin' every minute of it) and can tell you what works for me...and what I've done...

    When we got to the barn last September, trainer rode horse first - lunged/longed him first for a day or two if I remember correctly - then had me get on once he knew horse wasn't crazy (I had been riding him for three months but he was off most of the prior month, and we rode in a diff discipline). No theory - just some good discussions.

    I love my horse and love to ride him, so most of the time I'm on horse and trainer is on two feet. I try to "feel" everything. But I'm also really in to the academics of many things I enjoy. It really helps me to understand the "whys" of something. I will remember it better that way. Probably reinforced by my career choice. Every decision or action I take or do not take needs to be thought out very well, and I think I try to carry it into riding as well. May not always work, but it's how I learn most of the time. But I'm flexible. Trainer explains the "whys" of what we are doing either while we are doing it (if appropriate) or after the fact.

    But, I don't stop there. Here's what I do on my own. Among my favorite books (and I'm very open to other suggestions!) are the USDF Guide to Dressage, That Winning Feeling! (Savoie - yeah, I read this one over and over again ), The Debbie McDonald Riding Through book (fun read), this one: The Successful Dressage Competitor: http://www.amazon.com/The-Successful...age+competitor which I really love because it's no nonsense and you can use it as a bit of translation (for example, this phrase means this problem). I even printed out the rule book and go through that sometimes for fun. REALLY.

    I also treat myself to a clinic every Saturday and Sunday by watching others' lessons. Either I watch my trainer or another trainer at our barn, who is a judge, and I soak up everything I can. If she is sitting, I sit right beside her and just listen and watch. Yes, sometimes at the upper levels I'm definitely not grasping every concept, and I might even just think to myself, "how pretty!" but I do watch and learn. No one else is at my level (training level), but it doesn't matter...I still learn from everyone else. I see that no one is perfect, no horse is perfect, and that I'm very comfortable with my level and my horse's level. As long as we are having a blast, (which we ARE!), and progressing (which we also are), it's a wonderful thing.

    Oh! Almost forgot. One of my favorite ways to learn: I love to watch trainer ride horse, and I always video those rides and watch them over and over. I can see how horse moves and how trainer elicits those responses. I can also look back and see horse's progress. I also watch tons of other videos on youtube (everything from fancy dressage (my fav is Blue Hors Matine, may she RIP) to how to do fancy braids.

    ETA: And duh, I read this board and ask for tons of help .

    Everyone is different. I train "students," of sorts, in my profession. Everyone learns differently - but the ones who take the time to look their questions up really impress me. The ones who are careful and think through their decisions are the ones who will go far.

    I guess your students may lead you - I mean that depending on each individual's interest level, and learning style, they should have a different theory delivery method from you. Maybe that's incorrect in dressage, and maybe people search for a trainer based on his or her style, but that's what would work for me. You know the different learning styles? Auditory, visual, kinesthetic, and something else...don't remember. Each student is different.

    Good luck!
    LarkspurCO: no horse's training is complete until it can calmly yet expressively perform GP in stadium filled w/chainsaw juggling zombies riding unicycles while flying monkeys w/bottle rockets...


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  2. #22
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    Jun. 7, 2006
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    Quote Originally Posted by River Maiden View Post

    For your "viewing pleasure" I will copy and paste the definition of "theory" from my mac book dictionary so that you might be able to better understand ...
    Yeah.

    That sounds like a super fun lesson.


    2 members found this post helpful.

  3. #23
    Join Date
    Nov. 10, 2010
    Location
    NE PA
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    209

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    When I have a new student come work with me, the first thing we do is I observe them, let them tell their story, both physically ( whether they know it or not ) and verbally. I figure out from watching and asking questions where they are and where they came from . Then I ask them where they want to go. Are they here to become a dressage only rider? Are they tuning up their dressage phase for eventing? Do they want a better connection in the hunter ring?

    And if they need a lot of seat fixing, the next few lessons, they bring their horse but spend 1/2 their lesson on my school horse on the lunge. Repeat as needed until they have progressed to a place where independant seat has started to appear. After that, all bets are off. Different "regime" for each individual. No cookie cutter program seems to help all riders. Just as riders need many tools inthe proverbial toolbox, so do instructors and trainers.
    bad decisions make good stories



  4. #24
    Join Date
    Jul. 31, 2007
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    15,181

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    Oh, my!

    Look, I know that theory is. I get paid to produce it in my professional life.

    And, knowing a great deal of horse training theory plus equine biomechanics doesn't help me execute a better ride. It only goes so far in teaching someone else that physical skill, too.

    FWIW, I *do* explain what trainers are trying to get horses to do and how they are doing it. But that happens on/around the horse. I watch them ride, we watch the horse together on the lunge, they watch me ride (sometimes while I "narrate" the conversation I'm having with the horse), I teach them, asking them to try different things with their body and to tell me what they feel change in the horse. I wouldn't need a classroom and a powerpoint presentation to do this.

    It does someone a real disservice to pretend that if they just understood dressage or horses' biomechanics, they could ride better. That is a separate skill that deserves patient attention on its own.
    The armchair saddler
    Politically Pro-Cat



  5. #25
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    Jun. 7, 2006
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    Quote Originally Posted by mvp View Post
    It does someone a real disservice to pretend that if they just understood dressage or horses' biomechanics, they could ride better. That is a separate skill that deserves patient attention on its own.
    There are some dressage trainers I can think of who know alllllll about theory. They have produced instructional material from video to website treatises on how to correctly and biomechanically produce shoulder in. They and their clients are absolutely convinced that they are preserving the One True Way and everyone else has strayed from the path and is doing it wrong.
    Somebody fill in the name for me ...that dude in the PNW? Come on, COTH knows who I'm talking about.

    And then you look at the videos and everyone is a lower level intermediate rider doodling about at the walk and the odds of successful execution of training level stretchy circle appear exceedingly slim.



  6. #26
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    Jul. 31, 2007
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    ^^^

    Exactly. The problem is that you can have your head drawing up blue prints for the perfect shoulder-in..... and still be unable to dial up your butt and get it to deliver the message to the horse.

    Sometimes I think that riders who are good enough natural athletes to eventually turn pro don't know what it's like to lack body awareness/control. And frankly, they don't want to have to teach it.

    All that means that bad athletes like me who had to earn every ounce of body awareness she has should be given more credit as trainers/teachers. I will stand in an arena and help someone figure out how to get themselves to ride better so that they can make a horse's life better. People did that for me, so I pay it forward.
    The armchair saddler
    Politically Pro-Cat


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  7. #27
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    Mar. 24, 2010
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    Quote Originally Posted by mvp View Post
    Exactly. The problem is that you can have your head drawing up blue prints for the perfect shoulder-in..... and still be unable to dial up your butt and get it to deliver the message to the horse.
    When have you been watching my lessons?!

    (Actually, shoulder in is super duper easy on my horse, it's just everything else which is a problem.)

    I refer to myself as a crap rider because in the off-horse study time I know so many things I want to improve. It takes having an instructor who has 3,567 ways to explain each thing I want to do and a great eye to see which of those things are likely to most help, and just time spent in the saddle working my butt off, to actually improve, though. Interestingly I'm a visual learner, so I combine the theory with the real-time instruction when I re-watch videos. Each ride for which I get video and watch it right away, listening to the instruction, creates a jump in my progress because I associate what I see with the muscle memory of how it felt much more than words can help me.
    My horse is a dressage diva so I don't have to be.

    Quote Originally Posted by katarine
    If you have a fat gay horse that likes Parelli, you're really screwed



  8. #28

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    no substitute for time in the saddle, no matter how much theory you know, you have to feel and find the timing which is done by butt in the saddle time. I also do not like teaching a "wrong" thing, prefer to try and teach correctly from the get go ( for example i do not teach a rider to sit way back to "find their abs" when correct posture is more upright)



  9. #29
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    Mar. 19, 2013
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    Northern Canada
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    From an adult student who's new to dressage, I'll provide my perspective; I would much prefer to have "homework" than a lesson paying for something I can learn on my own. Perhaps provide the material that you prefer (Links, books, articles etc.) to your student beforehand, have him/her read over them in their own time and come to the lesson prepared. This way they can be informed to an extent beforehand on your basic expectations and background, and still be able to get adequate time in the saddle. Perhaps even cutting the first lesson short by 10-15 min to discuss how the theory can come into practice and relate it to the ride?

    Just a suggestion on how you can both get the most out of/across in the first few lessons..


    Another option would be asking the newbie to come watch a lesson with a more advanced student or watch yourself ride. And afterwards discuss theory based on the ride observed. This gives better perspective without wasting a whole bunch of anyone's time or money.



  10. #30
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    Jul. 23, 2008
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    Da UP, eh
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    I am the only dressage instructor in my area, so nearly all of my students were new to dressage, even with years of riding behind them.

    I will start with a basic lesson; student on horse do their usual warm up without my help so that I can observe and pick a point to start.
    After the ride, we'll chat as the student cools down their horse about goals and a reasonable time line for achievements. All theory takes place while riding so that the student can make the physical connection to whats being said.
    I find that dressage attracts people who want to know the 'whys' of everything... Which is pointless unless they can perform the 'how'.

    After that, each student has been different. There has been no cookie cutter method of progression for the first year or so. Eventually when you are training dressage horses/riders they reach a point of proficiency that you can systematically build upon, but no one starts at that point.



  11. #31
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    Jan. 25, 2013
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    First let me thank everyone that participated in this thread with a pleasant, unsnarky, adult demeanor. It's always interesting to listen to how others conduct lessons in a professional manner.

    I'm not sure where the rest of you got the idea that I hold classroom sessions, blackboard and ruler to slap the wrists of new students, guess it's a comprehension issue for you. I never said that I start "every" lesson with theory. Initially, before the "first" lesson, I introduce the "theory" of "classical dressage" before they get into the saddle for the "first" time. It's more of a discussion than "lecture". I believe newer riders or those coming from a different discipline appreciate that information and eventually understand how that information enhances their ability to ride a horse "classically", hence "correctly".

    The snarks can calm down now, you just misunderstood :-)



  12. #32
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    Nov. 13, 2005
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    Kentucky
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    Quote Originally Posted by River Maiden View Post
    I always begin with theory before any mounted lessons.

    Thanx!
    For me, it was this line that gave the impression that you are giving some sort of non-mounted theory "lesson" prior to any mounted lessons. It is not a comprehension problem, rather, you were unclear. Personally, I would not book a second lesson if the trainer felt some need to give me an unmounted lesson/discussion/lecture on the theory of dressage. That sounds incredibly boring, but I see dressage as a means to an end, not the end in itself. Perhaps people who focus primarily on dressage would not find it such a snooze-fest.



  13. #33
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    Aug. 25, 2005
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    Northeast
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    I see dressage as a means to an end, not the end in itself. Perhaps people who focus primarily on dressage would not find it such a snooze-fest.-ddashq

    Ddasg- Don't ever denigrate dressage as merely a means to an end. The more you understand and are capable of doing in dressage, the better will be your over fences work, whether hunter,stadium or CC. This like so many things about horses you don't know or understand until you can do them. This is why, practical seats and legs on is worth a thousand words.
    Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.



  14. #34
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    Nov. 13, 2005
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    Quote Originally Posted by merrygoround View Post
    I see dressage as a means to an end, not the end in itself. Perhaps people who focus primarily on dressage would not find it such a snooze-fest.-ddashq

    Ddasg- Don't ever denigrate dressage as merely a means to an end. The more you understand and are capable of doing in dressage, the better will be your over fences work, whether hunter,stadium or CC. This like so many things about horses you don't know or understand until you can do them. This is why, practical seats and legs on is worth a thousand words.
    I get what you are saying, however, I have no interest in a lecture on the theory of classical dressage. I am a learn by doing person not a learn by listening, so banging on about theory is going to do less than nothing for me. By all means, recommend a book if it that important to your teaching style for me to know this, but do not waste my riding time with a lecture. I am well aware of the benefits of dressage to improving everything else, however it is not now nor will it ever be my primary focus.



  15. #35
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    Feb. 5, 2002
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    I'm loving this conversation because it's such a great,spontaneous illustration of adult learning theory. I'm hearing people say the exact things we tell our staff in training: adult learners want to learn by doing (saddle time vs lecture), and want to be in charge of their own learning (they'll read the book at home, thank you). They know what they want to learn about if you ask them! They want the application of the information right away and won't hesitate to say "get to the point." They appreciate that there's theory behind the practice, and at times they may overthink things, but they've lost their patience for a school-like environment and traditional teacher-student relationship. "Tell me what I'm supposed to DO, not what I'm supposed to KNOW."

    Thanks, everyone, for making COTH work-related today!


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