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What do people think of "playing" in their dressage schools?

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  • What do people think of "playing" in their dressage schools?

    My little prelim event horse is getting quite solid on the flat at home, and when the sun and moon and stars align right at shows, he is starting to get the scores we've known he's capable of from day one. It's quite fun. He's solid 2nd level at home.

    Most of the time I spent in my dressage saddle is spent working on the quality of everything. Getting the quality of his gaits better and stronger and more uphill, making crisp, good transitions, and all that basic stuff. But, every now and then, I just feel like "playing" a bit, and seeing what he thinks of new things. Some days we'll goof around a bit with trot half pass and other things, just to break things up for both of us.

    Today, he had the nicest canter going. We were totally rocking out to some "Bohemian Rhapsody", which was totally appropriate for his canter, and I just felt like we could do a half pass. So, I asked. And he did it. OBVIOUSLY, this was a baby half pass, but he immediately grasped the concept and did a lovely little one to the center line. And then we did another. And then we switched leads, and he was still right with me, the music was rocking, and we did two more little ones on that lead. It was fun, he seemed to enjoy the new challenge, and I got a kick out of realizing that my little horse who can jump the moon looks like he'll also have the dressage chops when the time comes.

    My long time coach always seems to think it's fine, as long as we don't just do the "tricks" and work on the quality and relaxation and things like that. What do other people think or do? Do you occasionally try something that's a little far out of your current place? Or do you stick with what you both know, and only move on to new stuff as you are absolutely confirmed?

    Just curious. This is my first horse of my own that has the brains in his skull to actually get to this point and enjoy it, and I'm kinda reveling in it. Everything before him were typical, "old school" event horse types that could run and jump but often gave the proverbial middle finger to dressage.

  • #2
    I always introduce new "material" in a playful mindset. I want the horse to feel free to explore the new movement or way of carrying their body, and most importantly I want them to share in the enjoyment of it.
    Half-pass when introducing it is just traversal, or haunches in on a diagonal line. Horses who are proficient in haunches in usually have a big lightbulb moment the first time you introduce half pass. It opens the door to a lot of fun!
    It should be the same playfulness when introducing changes, or pirouettes, or half steps, or what-have-you.
    Dressage, when done correctly, FEELS GOOD for the horse. They should want to give you more.
    chaque pas est fait ensemble


    • #3
      I do also. I also have play time of trotting barrels and some small jumping since we do not jump lol. Ground poles thrown in sometimes and just play with tuen on haunches and things just for fun. This breaks up the circle, circle, circle, rail lol
      Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole


      • #4
        I think it's the way to go. The horse will tell you if he's ready or not by how he responds.

        I think quite often riders get a "move up the levels!" mindset, and the movements are something planned and scheduled without the play - which also often means they don't get the right carriage, bend in the hind joints, etc. And they fight. A lot. Playing is a good way to test if your horse is ready to work on it or not, and it sounds like it's working well for you!
        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.


        • #5
          The movements themselves should never be taboo. Loss of supple/forward or when things get "tense" should be your notification of eviction from upper level ones LOL

          I have done a couple of steps of this or that because I think it deepens the understanding. If it is looked at that way then fine.

          What I DONT like to see is obvious discomfort and lack of control being overlooked. A stiff horse looking tense getting into trouble over something they have never done. Then followed up with drilling to fix. You should always return to basic circle/straight work if a horse is getting overly resistant.

          The only reason there is a "stay away" type idea in dressage is because connection comes first and there are a lot of horses not connected trying to do all the way up to PSG IMO. If you do not have that then you SHOULDNT be schooling much else IMO.

          Try whatever you want, but always return to good solid supple forward connection

          Sounds easy doesnt it! LOL
          ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~


          • #6
            Absolutely : ) Had a similar ride myself the other evening- everything was just *there* so we threw in some new more advanced movements just for fun : )


            • #7
              I had a great lesson yesterday.

              Practicing canter half passes and flying change at the end. Was pretty good.
              Trainer said, take the diagonal and do 3flyng changes whenever you feel able to do them. I did the first change, 4 strides , a change, 5 strides, a change. Good!
              Then trainer said 3 flying on the long side. I did a 3 - a 5 and a 4 strides quite relax.

              Then Trainer said; keep cantering one long side at medium and get yourself ready to do as much flyng changes on the other long side of the arena.

              I did 6!!! I wasn't counting much and I got the hind legs late on 2 of the changes but we were having lots of fun!!!

              I'm nowhere near ready to do real 3-4-5 tempis with my mare but it is fun to see she is listening and understand what is being asked of her. We need more quicknest and muscle but we'll get there.
              ~ Enjoying some guac and boxed wine at the Blue Saddle inn. ~

              Originally posted by LauraKY
              I'm sorry, but this has "eau de hoarder" smell all over it.
              HORSING mobile training app


              • Original Poster

                I am glad to see I'm not alone! It is so much fun when they are on and ready, willing, and able to play along and try new things.

                alibi, your changes make me JEALOUS! We are a long way from have dressage ring changes. Despite a great canter, Toby just DOES. NOT. GET clean changes (unless it is in a dressage test during his counter canter...then we're guaranteed a nice change in front of the judge ). God forbid the beast change while jumping.


                • #9
                  Good job!

                  This just goes right back to the old statement that "if the basics are solidly there the movements just come". Let me say again:

                  Good job!


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by kaluha2 View Post
                    Good job!

                    This just goes right back to the old statement that "if the basics are solidly there the movements just come". Let me say again:

                    Good job!
                    ^^^ that
                    ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~