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Trying out Dressage?

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  • Trying out Dressage?

    I was recently asked by a family at my barn if I’d like to take Care of their horse a few days a week in exchange for some riding time. Of course I said yes, they’re great people and that horse is so sweet and beautiful and talented. However, she is a dressage horse. I’ve never ridden dressage. I’d prefer to not look like an idiot the first time I ride their horse, so are there any tips so that I can look like a decent dressage rider when I try it for the first time? (For reference, I usually ride how a hunter would ride, forwards in my seat and using a half seat in the canter)

  • #2
    They know how you ride and I’m sure they’re not expecting you to suddenly become a dressage rider.
    You will look like a hunter rider and it won’t be the end of the world really.

    I would ask to ride the horse once with them watching and giving you advice before they leave.
    ~ 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


    • #3
      Yea I don't think they would be expecting you to go school dressage exercises. There's nothing wrong with riding in a half seat. Sometimes that's a good way to warm them up anyway. Just do some hacking, maybe caveletti work.


      • #4
        Nothing wrong riding in your hunt seat It doesn't matter for a dressage horse. If for some reason you get hooked into dressage, and want to know how to show her talents off, then well, you can start taking lessons. Have fun.


        • #5
          I was a hunter/jumper ride for how many years (18 or so) and have recently moved over to dressage over the past year or so...well maybe eventing. It hated the dressage saddle at first but have gotten used to it. I was never used to a longer stirrup. The position of the rider in a dressage saddle is so much more different from a hunter rider position. I ride more now in my dressage than jumping saddle. I never appreciated Dressage as much as I do now. My past horses never did flat work like I do now...and it sure has paid off for when I do jump.

          You may get converted! LOL


          • #6
            OP, it's just not something you are going to be able to do with a few tips from a BB. I'll give you the tips anyway, but I think the previous advice of just riding how you normally ride is the best. You aren't going to "wreck" their horse's training, so just enjoy riding him.

            Tip - your idea of rein contact is not what the horse will be used to.
            Tip - the longer stirrups will feel really weird to you.
            Tip - try not to incline so far forward, even in the posting trot


            • #7
              A well trained dressage horse is going to be happier with a nice quiet hunter/jumper seat rider, than with a bad or harsh dressage rider that wants to continually school "moves" and collection and head set the horse might not be ready for.

              The jumper rider will have a softer seat and a longer rein, usually, and the horse can go perfectly well like that. Dressage horses do get ridden on a longer rein in warmup, hacking out, stretchy walks and trot, etc., it's not all "in a frame" (or shouldn't be). I am sure the folks who've asked you to ride think you are a good match for the horse, but doing a trial ride with them present is always a good idea.


              • #8
                Hope you enjoy this and maybe try some canter a la dressage seat.


                • #9
                  When I had someone riding my dressage/event horse, the best fit for him was a hunter rider. He did just fine with her Hunter style.

                  The only thing I wished she had done differently was more figures (circles, serpentines etc) and given him more walk breaks. But those things aren't specific to Hunter riders.


                  • #10
                    How do owners ride the horse? My one thought is perhaps she is ridden more forward than you are used to with hunters. If that is the case, your primary focus should be on relaxed, elastic, forward (both you and horse). If you stay focused on those 3 things, you will do just fine. Don't try to micromanage or nitpick yourself or horse and have fun.

                    I'm a catch rider for a few barns and a quirky blend of dressage/hunter rider myself. I work with horses of many different training styles and levels of experience. I never quite know what I am getting into before I get on a new ride, but my focus is always relaxed, elastic, forward. I strive to get all my rides in front of my leg and supple in their bodies. Not all are ready for collected work, but they all get a good stretch and calorie burn to the best extent of their fitness level.


                    • #11
                      I always ask the hunter riders to ride my dressage mare when I'm away for work. They do a fantastic job. They hate my saddle though. Haha

                      Concepts for the basics should all be the same regardless of tack or discipline (if well trained). Forward thinking, keep the rhythm, ride the body of the horse, not the head. Thigh off, legs on but not gripped. Steer with your shoulders. Keep the rhythm with your seat. Quiet hands. Etc.

                      The main difference I've encountered is that cueing the canter for dressage is inside seat bone, whereas most hunters use outside seatbone. I have the hardest time getting a hunter to canter that's trained to use outside seatbone.

                      I catch ride occasionally and am always nervous of what the owner will think the first ride. But, I always learn a ton from the experience. Kudos to you for putting yourself out there. They wouldn't have asked you if they didn't already know it was a good match.


                      • #12
                        One does not simply "try out dressage" one works ones buttocks off..........

                        Hang on, who the hell am I channeling.....HELP I need a Diva Exorcism!
                        "He's not even a good pathological liar." Mara

                        "You're just a very desperate troll, and not even a good one. You're like middle-school troll at best. Like a goblin, not even a troll." et_fig


                        • #13
                          Stretch out your hip flexor tendons at the front of your hips. They get tight from riding with shorter stirrups and sitting all the time like most of us do. You need those loose to allow your leg to "drape". The muscle on the outside of your butt is also probably stretched out and under developed, again from sitting. That muscle helps stabilize your leg and isn't used the same way in the forward seat. I've done a lot of back and forth and those are really the biggest physical differences. As has already been said, you'll do fine. Can ride is can ride for the most part. But I'm a geek and you asked. Now lets talk about engaging the core and allowing the leg to drape...