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What does your horse most enjoy about dressage?

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  • What does your horse most enjoy about dressage?

    Are there elements of dressage tests or movements that your horse seems to like the most?
  • Original Poster

    I'm just a beginner, but I think my mare likes the free walk.


    • #3
      Lateral work, something he's really good at, probably because he likes it.
      Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

      Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.


      • #4
        Mine really seems to like changing rein across the long diagonal. She just gets out of the corner, the ears prick forward, her back lifts, and she just struts!
        There's coffee in that nebula.


        • #5
          Not so much the ridden test, but I do think that my gelding genuinely feels better after doing lots of walking leg yield & lateral work. We do this one circle exercise that is very challenging for me and him - challenging for me because I have always struggled with timing/coordination of aids, and challenging for him because it requires him to use his body differently than naturally...

          The exercise is as follows:
          Commit to a 15-20m circle. On the first half the the circle, work on shoulder fore (or shoulder in, if your horse knows it). On the second half of the circle, switch to leg yielding out in a baby renvers (haunches out).

          It is challenging for me because I am prone to collapse my inside shoulder, as is my gelding. which then causes a snowball of ineffectiveness in my aids..

          I repeat this for 2-4 circles and then do a stretchy trot to give him a mental break. The exercise is hard but I always feel a tremendous difference in his trot after doing this exercise. I don't think he necessarily enjoys it but he does feel much more willing to work over his back after leg yielding and lateral exercises.
          "i'm a slow learner, it's true."


          • #6
            I have a rather opinionated, big, slightly behind the leg chestnut mare (jingles welcome). She can be slow to warm up and get on the aids, but if I “let” her do a couple of really big medium trots and canters, she completely lights up. Afterwards, everything is usually easier, straighter and more in front of the leg. I will often use it as a reward if she does something a little more difficult, or gets confused or anxious about something new.

            Not dressage, but I try to keep at least a little crossrail or cavaletti up in the arena as another reward and to get more forward- gotta keep the redhead happy and motivated!


            • #7
              Movements aren't really a "thing" for a horse to like, but what the effects on them are. Both of my horses enjoy medium canters, and my TB LOVES extended trot.

              For my TB, overall he just liked the education he's getting on having an outlet for his energy, because he used to bottle it up and make himself miserable until he exploded and made his rider miserable. Learning he can USE that energy instead of attempting to contain it has made him a happy horse.

              My mare likes how safe she feels in dressage. She enjoys physical challenges, but wants to feel mentally safe - and we've been careful to let her. That means things like shoulder in past "scary" spots - letting her see she has an escape path instead of feeling trapped. It involves getting out of her mouth and making her feel like she can move if needed (then she doesn't care to). She also loves piaffe - before she was under saddle, it was her self-calming tool, and we definitely got some funny looks when showing training level and she would decide she needed to calm herself.

              My mom's mare loves swinging through her back. I suspect she was ridden in draw reins before we got her, and didn't show any knowledge of how to swing. Working her forward from behind, balanced, and doing a lot of bending helped teach her to swing. The end result is now she's a great seat work lesson horse because she's going to respond to your seat however she needs to keep swinging her back.
              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.


              • #8
                Stretching Trot was my guy's favourite thing. He would really lift his back and swing. The softness and sensitivity that stretching (in any exercise, really) just made his day. Our light rides would just be all stretching - walk, trot, canter, the whole shebang. He loved it.

                He also really enjoyed canter serpentines/counter canter. I have been spoiled for the counter canter because he made it so easy, with how much he liked it!

                Both would really visibly elevate his mood. Dissipated tension, improved rhythm and balance, he would be lighter and more receptive to contact.


                • #9
                  My standardbred is a BOSS at walk to canter transitions. He has a lot of difficulty maintaining a quality canter but dang he does a great transition, and he knows it!
                  My blog: Change of Pace - Retraining a standardbred via dressage


                  • #10
                    Now that she's building strength up after a heck of a year, anything lateral. shoulder in, in particular. and she's starting to come into a good medium which she thinks is a fair bit of fun. Doesn't have the strength to hold it long but you can just feel the wheeeeee coming through her as we do a bit.

                    She has impeccable form over jumps (would probably make a fantastic hunter because she has the step as well) but she's NEVER felt as relaxed or seemed to enjoy herself jumping as she does dressage.


                    • #11
                      Medium and extended canters. Extended walks, too.


                      • #12
                        That moment my feet come out of the stirrups and she realizes she has finished working.


                        • #13
                          The end


                          • #14
                            If you asked him? The "free-to-look-around" walk.


                            • #15
                              Stretchy trot.
                              "Do what you can't do"


                              • #16
                                Have never thought a horse could care about movements but my horse is ADD and a major showoff. He's turning 20 so we've backed off his workload the past few years but a medium canter and a few changes each ride keep him happy. He absolutely LOVES to piaffe and passage and would do it all the time if we let him.


                                • Original Poster

                                  Well it's really a shame that it isn't part of a dressage but my mare would really enjoy the full out gallop portion of the test. I think the arena would need to be quite a bit bigger or consecutive arenas with jumps between them. She loves to run and jump!!!! But we do dressage because, like eating our vegetables, it's good for us.


                                  • #18
                                    Working to music. Loves it.


                                    • #19
                                      I don't know that there's anything, in particular, my horse likes about the dressage movements, but he just likes to work in general. As soon as that bridle goes on, he's ready to head out the door and get to work. He usually tries pretty hard and I can tell he seems to feel rather pleased with himself whenever he gets a scratch on the withers and a "good boy."
                                      In a society that profits from your self-doubt, liking yourself is a rebellious act.


                                      • #20
                                        "Anything sideways. Anything faster. HOW ABOUT SIDEWAYS AND FAST!!!! THAT SHOULD TOTALLY BE INCLUDED IN ALL TESTS! LET'S DO IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

                                        All the lateral work is fun and easy for my horse. Lateral work in a huge open field is a huge favourite. Sadly, there is not enough cracked out full gallop llama impersonation called for in dressage tests because that would top lateral work. I believe that eventually the changes will become a favourite and when she twigs to the Ps I will probably end up as a passenger for a while lol
                                        Ahhhh, spring is here. The birds are singing, the trees are budding and the paddocks are making their annual transformation from cake mix to cookie dough.