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How to make dressage fun

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  • How to make dressage fun

    I read about this all the time but don't really know what it means. How do you make dressage training "fun" for the horse? I understand the essence of it is to do other things besides ringwork: trail rides, cavaletti, jumping. But how would you make learning something like shoulder in fun for the horse? Is "fun" a euphemism for something else?

  • #2
    Most discussions I've seen are about making dressage fun for kids- not horses.

    Personally, I think making it fun for the horses means keeping his confidence up. No drilling, no asking questions the horse isn't prepared to answer, setting the horse up for success, and rewarding him when he finds the right answer.

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    • #3
      Making it fun for the horse means showing them how good it makes them feel to be straight and forward. You can turn them into dressage junkies jonesing for more every day.
      "Kindness is free" ~ Eurofoal
      ---
      The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by EqTrainer View Post
        Making it fun for the horse means showing them how good it makes them feel to be straight and forward. You can turn them into dressage junkies jonesing for more every day.
        ^^Yes!

        I would add that Hilda Gurney advocated doing an "opposite" exercise once the horse completed what you have asked successfully. So after collected work, you can reward your horse with lengthenings. After demanding trotwork like lateral movements, the stretchy trot is a nice reward. Likewise for free walk; they learn to love that really fast!
        The journey is the destination.

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        • #5
          I asked my horses and they said the best way to make dressage fun is to ADD JUMPS!!

          The one that is not that fond of jumping says to do dressage while hacking out preferably when going in the direction of the creek or the neighbors.

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          • #6
            If your horse is "bored" by dressage - you are doing it wrong.

            While horses need to be exposed to different environments, terrain, obstacles, locations - this is not necessarily any more "fun" for them than good dressage. Do we look at the poor old trail horse and believe that startling whim with new things will make his life more fulfilled, enriched and "fun"?

            Fun for a horse = good turnout, plenty of food, shelter and companionship + a regular routine.

            And just because the PPPPs have appropriated the word "games" (along with "natural") and because so many DQs look like they are in purgatory - it does not mean that dressage training cannot be immensely fun for the horse and for the rider.

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            • #7
              Rewarding the horse when the movement is performed is fun. Kathy Connelly described this the best to me, the horse that loves to piaffe is because it was not forced- it was rewarded, and therefore wants to do it more and better. She used Toto as an example of a horse that was told he could piaffe well, so now he enjoys it. A horse that is forced will never do as well as they could. To make dressage fun you focus on the positive. Building confidence is key for both horse and rider.
              Welcome to my dressage world http://www.juliefranzen.blogspot.com/

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              • #8
                Make sure to include bright colored saddle pads to mix it up and make them feel pretty. =)
                --Luck is what happens when preparedness meets opportunity--

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                • #9
                  Lots of praise and a few sugar cubes can go a long way!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Dogsandponies View Post
                    I read about this all the time but don't really know what it means. How do you make dressage training "fun" for the horse? I understand the essence of it is to do other things besides ringwork: trail rides, cavaletti, jumping. But how would you make learning something like shoulder in fun for the horse? Is "fun" a euphemism for something else?
                    1. have a trainer that is showing you how to do the exercises correctly and not stressing you or the horse out needlessly.

                    2. Don't over school the exercise, if he gets it a couple of times- praise him and move on.

                    3. Finish early, give them a treat take them on a trail ride or toss them out in the pasture.

                    4. Like everyone here said, end by doing something they are good at- like lengthenings or piaffe or whatevs

                    5. Change it up- work outside, in a field, etc.

                    6. Make a big deal when they 'get it'. Pats, scratches, neck hugs, good boy/girl! I think they know when we are happy with them. Nothing is better to me than when we finish our work and my horse lets out a big relaxed sigh and nuzzles me for a cookie. (((LOVE)))
                    "I'm holding out for the $100,000 Crossrail Classic in 2012." --mem
                    "With all due respect.. may I suggest you take up Croquet?" --belambi
                    Proud Member of the Opinionated Redhead Club!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Show them the Toto video from Mike's thread:

                      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GYjB2L6G9fE
                      Ring the bells that still can ring
                      Forget your perfect offering
                      There is a crack in everything
                      That's how the light gets in.

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                      • #12
                        How to make dressage more fun:

                        Add flame throwers, chainsaws and piranhas and juggle them all at once.

                        or

                        Have two riders have a sword fight with their dressage sticks as they ride.
                        Let us eat, drink, and be merry. For tomorrow we die.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I, too, was going to say "Add jumps!"

                          I think what I've found with my horses is that the figuring out of how to use their bodies gives them confidence. Work on straight and forward and all of a sudden, go figure , they are "in" their bodies and enjoying the movement and that makes them feel good.

                          I think when it is more fun for me, too, it is more fun for the horse. So less drilling or going around and around and around on a 20-m circle and more variety in the work: cavaletti, hacking out, jumping, etc. Their bodies are meant to go in all sorts of directions!

                          Oh, but I think their favorite part is at the end of the lesson when we've finished on something good and I get off and loosen the girth and unbuckle the noseband and then stand around talking with my coach for 30 minutes. THAT's the fun part of dressage!
                          "A horse's face always conveys clearly whether it is loved by its owner or simply used." - Anja Beran

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                          • #14
                            my horse was a jumper before we started dressage.

                            too much jumping and it is hard to bring my horse back to dressage.
                            "I'm holding out for the $100,000 Crossrail Classic in 2012." --mem
                            "With all due respect.. may I suggest you take up Croquet?" --belambi
                            Proud Member of the Opinionated Redhead Club!

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                            • #15
                              Dressage isn't fun?

                              I think you'll have to 'splain that.
                              See those flying monkeys? They work for me.

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                              • #16
                                We're having fun already? I have a super fun instructor, and reasonable goals. My horse really digs all the good boys and pats and rubs that come from paying really close attention to detail, and looking for what's good. Since he's been hurt, and I'm riding other horses, he stares holes in us, wondering WTH happened to all that great attention and fun.

                                If it's not just fun anyway all around, I don't know what to tell you. You work hard, then you play hard and love on them and share your joy

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  We've been working on adjustability in the trot, and today coming out of a shoulder in he REALLY gave me a lengthening (lengthening his frame, too, which is a challenge for him), and at my "oh, goooood boy!" he got all excited and happy and just about turned it into an extension as he lengthened more. That was one HAPPY horse who spent the next 20 minutes trying to throw in random happy bucks.
                                  If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.
                                  -meupatdoes

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                                  • #18
                                    at my "oh, goooood boy!" he got all excited and happy and just about turned it into an extension as he lengthened more. That was one HAPPY horse who spent the next 20 minutes trying to throw in random happy bucks.
                                    We're having fun already? I have a super fun instructor, and reasonable goals. My horse really digs all the good boys and pats and rubs that come from paying really close attention to detail, and looking for what's good. Since he's been hurt, and I'm riding other horses, he stares holes in us, wondering WTH happened to all that great attention and fun.

                                    If it's not just fun anyway all around, I don't know what to tell you. You work hard, then you play hard and love on them and share your joy
                                    This makes me happy!

                                    Katarine- I hope your boy is feeling better soon, give him a scratch behind the ears from me.
                                    "I'm holding out for the $100,000 Crossrail Classic in 2012." --mem
                                    "With all due respect.. may I suggest you take up Croquet?" --belambi
                                    Proud Member of the Opinionated Redhead Club!

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      thanks, we're about 4 weeks from an all clear to ride again. He broke his RH medial splint bone out playing in the field. I haven't been on him since Labor Day

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                                      • #20
                                        Simple. Add music.
                                        "No matter how well you perform there's always somebody of intelligent opinion who thinks it's lousy." - Laurence Olivier

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