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Western Dressage Thread My dressage goals

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  • Western Dressage Thread My dressage goals

    So our moderator has given her blessing to have this conversation here or on the Western forum.

    I've set my sights on the Friesian show in Lexington VA in October. It's the closest WDAA Western Dressage competition to me. So in the mean time what?

    I got great advice from an Eventer trainer to take Fella out on hacks daily to improve his forward. This is important to me because I do not want sucked back gaits and BTL movements.

    My trainer has been riding him once a week for me. She is very kind because she charges only a little for this bit of weekly training she offers. If I come up with a few hundred free dollars I will put 30 mor days on him with her.

    I have my Equine Fitness book (Ballou) full of exercises to build him up.

    I am going to join the CCWC -the Carroll County Western Circuit to get us out regularly to show, and to do the barrel racing, pole bending, etc. I think this will help us become old hat at the excitement of going out and I think the patterns will help us with lateral flexibility -bending. I'll enter the speed tests eventually because it will help with this stuff, but I will not win the speed tests because I'll be cantering -not flat out galloping.

    WDAA offers video judging of your rides -has anyone tried that? I need to learn the patterns. If I post them here will you offer some critiques? This is important to me because muddy gaits and lack of impulsion seem to be the obvious traps.

    What else can I do to prepare this year? I still don't have a dressage saddle so I can't do any dressage schooling shows. Hopefully this will change. My saddle guy -the saddlemaker who made my endurance saddle -is playing with a ridgid treeless English saddle. If he is satisfied, and I can find another bucket of money who knows, I might have a dressage saddle in 2014.

    Oh, and would you post a jog? The WDAA rules allow it, but I am not sure it's constructive.

    Paula
    He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).

  • #2
    Paula, posting the jog is very constructive. It allows the back muscles to move when the rest of the support system isn't strong enough to protect the back while a rider sits on it. Sitting too soon encourages the horse to brace muscles to support the weight, which interferes with the freedom of the gaits and prevents the horse from properly lifting the back. I was one of those who pushed to be sure it was allowed in WDAA.

    Focus on rhythm and regularity of the gaits, and learning the meaning of straightness and how it applies to circles and corners. Get very comfortable with the test you'll ride, but don't do all those practice rides on the horse. Do them in your living room. Horses learn to anticipate and if the horse starts doing the test by rote it will show. Get your trainer to help you select the exercises YOUR horse needs rather than working your way through a book. Like machines in a gym, each exercise works some muscles more than others and must be done correctly to have the intended benefit.

    I assume your trainer is knowledgeable about dressage. If you come up with the extra money spend it on lessons learning how to do the training yourself. She can ride til the cows come home and if you don't know how she did it you'll send the horse backwards as soon as it comes home.

    What area of Virginia? North, East, West?

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Thanks, longride1.

      Lexington, VA is southwest of where Fella is in Union Bridge, MD., about halfway down the state. I mapquested it and it's a 3 hr drive. Jessica doesn't seem too fazed by the distance. That will be the longest away trip for me with a horse to show! It will be at the Virginia Horse Center 487 Maury River Rd Lexington, VA 24450 (540) 464-2950.

      She is an eventer who competes in Western most often now. But she teaches both English and Western and the barn is very diverse in the skills it pursues. We have a couple of dressage riders, some eventers with interesting histories (one woman use to breeze horses on the track), some people who drive, some western cow sorters, barrel racers, etc., and she has longhorns! So she is able to give me lessons and train Fella. She actually rehabs horses for a local draft rescue.

      I'll take what you say about posting and do so. Rhythm, straightness, and impulsion -of course. Straightness is challenged by suckedbackedness so we do have to work on forward. And circles and corners! What kind of corners should I aim for? I ask because I've been with trainers who want you to ride into the corners and trainers who want you to round off the corners. I am never sure which is desirable as a result.

      Thanks,
      Paula
      He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).

      Comment


      • #4
        The general rule of thumb for corners in a test is that you ride the circumference of the smallest circle required in the test. So what you do in the test may not be what you do at home, where you may have progressed to 10 meter circles and can ride deeper into the corners. OTOH judges do not take off if the horse does a corner deeper as long as it maintains balance,bend, rhythm and all the other qualities required in the test. You're being tested on the horse's ability to go through the corner without loading a shoulder, losing the hind end or breaking the connection by coming above or behind the bit. The deeper you make the corner, the stronger and more collected the horse has to be to achieve that. Go too deep, and you may have the neck bent beautifully, but the rest of the horse will be a disaster.

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          Thank you so much. You explained that exactly like an OCD, type-A person needed to hear!

          Paula
          He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).

          Comment


          • #6
            Paula - you might want to check with your local dressage clubs to see if you could ride in their schooling shows in your Western saddle.

            I know some of the local groups here have let folks ride in Western tack, and they've gotten comments from the judge, but are not placed in the class.

            Good luck!

            Comment


            • #7
              Plus, a lot of local level or schooling shows offer Western Dressage classes.

              We've probably got a half-dozen around here that do.

              Comment


              • #8
                Not sure if you are looking for advice on BTL so feel free to ignore, but here goes....

                WRT your trainer's advice that hacking will make Fella more forward: hacking is great for all kinds of reasons and most horses are naturally more forward on the trail than in a ring because they enjoy the trail. But IMO, forward on the trail won't amount to a hill of beans in the ring if you don't train Fella to be in front of your leg.

                At the start of your ride, apply the amount of leg you want the horse to respond to to move forward. If nothing happens, resist the urge to squeeze harder or kick -- if you do, the horse is training YOU to work really hard to get a response. Instead, again apply exactly the same amount of pressure you want to use as your "forward" aid, and follow immediately with a hard tap of the whip. You might want to grab mane in case he surges forward, because you don't want to punish him for a correct response by banging him in the mouth. When he moves forward, praise him. Every time he starts to suck back, do the same thing. Light aid; if no response, light aid + hard tap & praise for the response. If he is scared of a dressage whip, you can take your legs off his side and really "oof!!" him -- but there has to be a clear difference between the quiet aid and the "penalty kick". You have to be super vigilant not to escalate your leg aid -- keep it light or you will end up kick, kick, kicking him around the ring while he tunes you out. That's BTL.

                I'm sorry if you already know this and this is really elementary to you, but when you said you are "working on" not being BTL and sucking back, I just wanted to point out that horses learn this in one ride. Of course, it doesn't mean that a naturally less-forward horse won't backslide -- you may need to give him a quick refresher course in forward at the start of many rides -- but all horses can and do learn that forward is non-negotiable.

                Good luck
                I don't mind if you call me a snowflake, 'cause baby, I know a blizzard is coming.

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Fargaloo, that's excellent information and worth reinforcing. I need to be like Yoda -do or do not, there is no try.

                  GreyDes, thank you, I will look to see if they will allow me to ride in my endurance saddle for comments even if they won't let me place. I didn't think they would, but I will ask -shall I ask the judge or the coordinator?

                  Three Figs, that was what I was going to pm you about, then I realized you're out west. I'm having a hard time finding WD schooling shows out here in my area -MD, NorthVA, SouthCentral PA. Am I looking in the wrong place for this info?

                  Paula
                  He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Paula, the IEO has added Western Dressage classes to their line up. All of the shows are held at Harmony Hill, just south of Dillsburg, PA. I think that may be a bit of a hike for you, but it's a great GMO and great venue/friendly atmosphere.
                    http://www.ieodressage.org/uploads/1...15/omnibus.pdf

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Paula, I think you are looking for WD only schooling shows, and you won't find those. Instead look up the Maryland Dressage organization or the Potomac Valley Dressage Assc. then contact the organizer of any schooling shows near you. Ask A. If they are offering WD and if not B. Will they allow you to ride Intro or Training level in a western saddle. You may find that there are quite a few shows in your area that will welcome you.

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Reddfox, thank you thank you thank you! York Springs isn't far from me at all, and only moderately far from Fella. I really appreciate the hook up.

                        Longride1 I belong to the PVDA so I will definitely ask whether I can ride intro and training level school in my endurance saddle.

                        ETA: Can you belong to 2 GMOs?

                        Thank you so much!
                        Paula
                        He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Paula, most schooling shows wanna make $, so just ask anyone who is running one if you can ride your TOC (test of choice.) I would volunteer to bring 2 copies of the test, so that the judge and scorer can have them. Just to make it easier on the organizer so they don't have to dig it all up.
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                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by paulaedwina View Post

                            ETA: Can you belong to 2 GMOs?

                            Thank you so much!
                            Paula
                            you can belong to as many GMO's as you like; but it is often unnecessary to be a member of a GMO to ride in one of their shows, sometimes the class fees are a few dollars higher for non-members.
                            "The sea was angry that day, my friends - like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli"

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by paulaedwina View Post

                              ETA: Can you belong to 2 GMOs?

                              Thank you so much!
                              Paula
                              you can belong to as many GMO's as you like; but it is often unnecessary to be a member of a GMO to ride in one of their shows, sometimes the class fees are a few dollars higher for non-members.
                              "The sea was angry that day, my friends - like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli"

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                I'm so excited, and I just can't hide it. I'm about to lose control, and I think I like it!

                                Paula
                                He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Assuming that the general principles of the western tests are the same as dressage, don't forget to work on your entry a LOT. Work with your trainer to figure out the best approach to get a straight centreline, dead on the A-C line. For some people this involves a circle near A, for others just a sweeping turn. It takes practice though, and it's very key as it sets you up for the rest of the ride. Also, there's nothing worse for first impressions than a wiggly horse and rider "conversation", as opposed to a crisp, fluid and professional start.

                                  Someone mentioned the rule of thumb about corners, and while that's technically correct you'll be rewarded overall if you show a distinct difference between the outside track and your 20m circles. As it's only a quarter circle in each corner, you should be able to manage a few meters of increased bend for each one, demonstrating your rider skills and the horse's obedience.
                                  Proud COTH lurker since 2001.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    French Creek Dressage Association has western classes. I just checked their prizelist for their April show.

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Thank you alakazam! I went to their site http://www.frenchcreekdressage.org/ but can't find their physical address. Where are they in PA?

                                      Paula
                                      He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        The April 7 show is at Journey's end farm and DunMovin farm the next weekend. So that is the spot on the map you would be aiming for.
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