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Taking some Dressage Lessons - Anything I need to know before I go?

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  • Taking some Dressage Lessons - Anything I need to know before I go?

    I am crossing over from the Hunter/Jumper forum! I currently have a 6 y/o TB that I plan to be a Hunter. He is walking, trotting, and cantering with lead changes, but our flatwork needs some dressage help.

    I need an honest evaluation and some pointers to improve our flatwork before we start jumping. Specifically, I need help getting him to seek that contact and have that stretchy aspect to his gaits consistently. I want to banish the giraffe neck forever!!

    Anyway, I have taken the plunge and contacted a dressage instructor so that I can ship in for an evaluation and for whatever lessons may be needed. Is there anything I need to know before I go besides taking a clean horse, clean tack, my tall boots, breeches, polo, and a helmet (of course)?

    Thanks in advance!
    ALP
    "The Prince" aka Front Row
    Cavalier Manor

  • #2
    You might love dressage so much that you never want to jump again. It happened to me! Beware.

    Comment


    • #3
      Make sure you bring a simple (no twists, corkscrews or ports) single or double jointed snaffle as well as the bit you normally ride the horse in.

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        Thanks. I ride in a simple copper snaffle, so I am in good shape there. Keep the good tips coming!
        ALP
        "The Prince" aka Front Row
        Cavalier Manor

        Comment


        • #5
          It might be nice just to have her evaluate you and your horse for 30-45 minutes before you chat about what YOU want. Might tell you a lot about yourself and her abilities to see a place to start. The lingo is different.

          Have an open mind.

          Welcome to Wonderland.

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            Good idea! Thanks.

            That is kind of what I was hoping for. Hopefully, I will be able to chat with her by phone or email before I go so that I can get a handle on the process. I am open to learning new things and progressing I am definitely excited to try something new.
            ALP
            "The Prince" aka Front Row
            Cavalier Manor

            Comment


            • #7
              Try to stay level headed if you find out that everything that you thought you knew about riding may not work in dressage! I came from a western/saddle seat background and dressage was a big paradigm change (fancy way of saying I spent many lessons feeling like I didn't know what I was doing!). It's good that you are open minded and willing to change. Just don't get flustered and frustrated!

              Enjoy! I'm a very happy camper now and feel like I'm riding the best trained horse I ever owned, so it has been worth it...as frustrating as it can be at times!

              Comment


              • #8
                As someone who did the reverse (went from a dressagey barn to a total H/J one) I can second the note about the lingo being differnet. As well as the expectations for certain movements. Some H/J trainers teach haunches in, shoulder in, etc. If you have experience with these already don't be surprised if the dressage trainer isn't impressed with them. H/J people do "dressagey" things, but not always to the level that dressage coaches would want to see.

                Comment


                • #9
                  As a former hunter rider who now does dressage, my advice is to make sure that the trainer knows up front what your goals are.

                  If you are simply hoping to improve your horse's flatwork to make him more rideable for the hunter ring, you want the trainer to be aware of that, because there are differences between what is considered desirable and appropriate in the hunter ring compared to the dressage ring. For example, in the hunter ring, we want a horse's lead changes to be quiet and unobtrusive - just another stride. In dressage, it is more desirable to have an "expressive" change, with more "jump" to it.

                  Likewise you may find that a dressage trainer wants a different shape and more contact with the horse's mouth than a hunter trainer would prefer - more like an equitation posture/contact. It's been my experience so far that dressage requires much more seat than you'd typically use on a hunter, and a lot less leg or hand. It's very interesting and quite a lot of fun ... but very different!
                  **********
                  We move pretty fast for some rabid garden snails.
                  -PaulaEdwina

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Yep, be ready for different. Coming from hunter/jumpers to dressage was a whirlwind for me. Different lingo, your extended trot is our lengthening for example. You will ride much more from your seat and leg which will be great for you and your horse. You she may ask you to sit up more also depending on how you ride now but I had to relearn that, I think that was the hardest part. I'd just be clear you want this to help you in hunters and your not looking for a dressage career but you never know you may change your mind . I did lol.
                    Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      In your lessons, if you don't know what you are being asked or don't know how, ask, but leave all the "why" parts later - during the walk breaks, which will probably happen quite often, or after the lesson, and don't be surprised how sore you are lol.

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Thanks for all the input! I will keep an open mind, but I am primarily using this to improve my flatwork for purposes of jumping in Hunterland. Although, if my boy really enjoys it, then I am game to pursue it.

                        I am sure I am going to be sore... a 45 minute lesson with all flatwork... I may die
                        ALP
                        "The Prince" aka Front Row
                        Cavalier Manor

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I definitely agree with being upfront about your reasons for reaching out to this trainer - what your goals are - and being as objective as you can possibly be about your own skill level and your horse's.

                          If you are pretty experienced, I'd be inclined to want to know the WHYs - but, as Gloria suggested, perhaps save them for a walk break. Or if you NEED a walk break!

                          Have fun!
                          www.ayliprod.com
                          Equine Photography in the Northeast

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Hey guys! I went to my first lesson this past weekend and it was great! My green bean was a little up, but he was good. The instructor was awesome - she picked up on my problem areas immediately and began to work on them. We are not as flexible and focused as we should be, so we spent a lot of time working on bending and flexing.

                            She said that she would help me in my pursuit of "dressaging" my hunter!! I am excited to go back, and, hopefully, my TB greenie won't be as distracted because we have already been there once.

                            I'll let you know how my next lesson goes! Thanks for all the encouragement and words of advice
                            ALP
                            "The Prince" aka Front Row
                            Cavalier Manor

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              My biggest piece of advice to you would be to enlist a helpful friend or family member to come video a dressage lesson or two for you - that way you can review the session yourself at a later date and see what adjustments to your position, timing of aids, etc. help your horse out with his "dressaging"

                              And don't worry about riding him too much like a "dressage horse". I come from a primarily eventing/dressage background and while a working student at a hunter/jumper barn, my primary riding duties were to work on flatwork/dressage with the hunters to encourage development of their toplines. Even though I rode them with a bit more contact and leg than their usual riders/owners, they had no problems switching back to working on a softer contact and longer frame.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                OP I can only offer words of encouragement. I once was acquainted with a woman who rode her horse 3rd level dressage one weekend then would take him to the hunter shows the next weekend. She would 'clean up' at the hunter shows with her well trained/crossed trained horse...cleaned up at the dressage show too!
                                While this was quite awhile ago, at the time, i don't think there weren't many people doing both. Good luck to you!

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Ticker View Post
                                  OP I can only offer words of encouragement. I once was acquainted with a woman who rode her horse 3rd level dressage one weekend then would take him to the hunter shows the next weekend. She would 'clean up' at the hunter shows with her well trained/crossed trained horse...cleaned up at the dressage show too!
                                  While this was quite awhile ago, at the time, i don't think there weren't many people doing both. Good luck to you!

                                  I used to take my dressage horse to hunter shows and clean up too! The two can definitely compliment each other!

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by chancellor2 View Post
                                    I used to take my dressage horse to hunter shows and clean up too! The two can definitely compliment each other!
                                    I think the HUGE advantage we get from dressage training is the ability to put our horses absolutely anywhere we want them in a balanced, harmonious way. My half leaser has done some hunter under saddle classes with my PSG horse. He knocks it out of the park because he's so easy to adjust.

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Just an update guys...

                                      I have now taken two lessons (just finished the second one about 2.5 hours ago) and I could not be more pleased. The instructor is so nice and is completely understanding of my goals

                                      In addition, she has helped me "supple" my giraffe with flexion and bending and she has helped me already to create a better inside bend. The first lesson was just walk/trot because my green bean was very interested in all that was going on around him, but today, we cantered some.

                                      I was so glad that she got to see some of the problems I have with him getting strong at the canter. He is a really good boy and he tries very hard, but sometimes he cannot properly package his energy (I think that is a nice way of saying it?!?!).

                                      Anyway, I am sooo glad I took the plunge. We had a VERY good lesson today and I'm hoping for another one next week!!

                                      Thank you all for the tips, advice, and encouragement. It was much appreciated.
                                      ALP
                                      "The Prince" aka Front Row
                                      Cavalier Manor

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        I smell a defector. . Just kidding. I wish I could convince my sister to move herself and her two hunters here...because I miss my sister, and because I think both of her horses would make amazing dressage boys.

                                        Good luck with your journey! I'm so glad I made the change .
                                        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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