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Any dressage defectors here?

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  • Any dressage defectors here?

    I have been riding for years and really started in dressage b/c he barn I started in was into that. Now, 17 years later I could just puke to see one more dressage show. I really can't stand the talk around all the details with no real fun. I still love the feeling of riding dressage (if that's what you can call what i do ) but I am really bored. I really really really want to fullfill a dream of eventing. But I have always thought I didn't have the nerve. Here is my plan to get there. Tell me if you think it is sound and where I might do better.
    I have very very quiet horse. She is not however sound enough for really strenuous work. So, I have thought about what I can do with her that will build my riding confidnece and not blow her legs out. I am thinking of hacking everywhere. Trailering to places that would have been really scarey for me in the past. I have never enjoyed trailriding b/c it makes me nervous so I think this is a good place to start.
    Second, I think I will work on cantering in open places. After I have conquered all my fields then I will "borrow" the pastures of neighbors to canter around. Cross fingers mare stays sound.
    Third, work out 3-4 days a week to increase physical confidence. I'm stiff and and out of shape. This can only make things harder.
    Fourth, when I have executed the first 3 for several...(or however long it takes) months I will add in jumping lessons as a beginner on a school horse and work toward a goal of going to a H/J show with a schoolie.
    After that I will locate an eventing coach and shop for another horse (maybe lease one)...if I am still game. Whada think?
    PS I just turnned 40 last month and I think it is weighing on me that I have an unfullfilled dream.

  • #2
    Hurray for you! I think your plan sounds great; is there someone you can go out riding with? I think it's always a good idea to have a buddy if I'm hacking out or trail riding off the farm (and I always tell someone if I'm going out alone on the farm). Good luck and welcome to the dark side :-D!!
    Balanced Care Equine

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    • #3
      Go for your dreams!

      Eventing is quite easy and fun!

      Seriously, the very lower levels of unrecognized events have Tadpole/Greenie/Elementary courses which consist literally of little x-rails and tiny logs you can step over.

      If riding out on the trail makes you nervous...you do have to start with baby steps. Your plan is conservative and makes sense.

      The only thing is you generally have to be brave to run a XC course or even a round of SJ fences. Hopefully by riding a made horse who's been there/done that (your quiet but not sound for jumping horse), you'll gain the confidence you need.

      Have fun! My whole point is that if you dream to try eventing, it's quite easy to start at the unrecognized, schooling-type levels
      ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
      Equine & Pet Portrait Artist
      www.elainehickman.com
      **Morgans Do It All**

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      • #4
        Yay for going for dreams!

        Starting with trail riding is a great idea--walking outside an arena, walking up and down hills (little, gentle ones to start, getting slightly steeper as you get more confident and as you and pony are strong enough to handle it--no need to go Snowy River, though), getting comfortable trotting and cantering outside, etc. You'll find it won't take you as long as you think, especially if you take a buddy. You'll get so wrapped up in talking about the best stallion for so-and-so's mare and the latest show results that you won't realize you just trotted on a loose rein around a big field on a slight slope!

        I like the idea of getting fit yourself. Some strength and cardio is good, but flexibility and "horse fitness" are as important or more--that means doing some two point. I'd try for either 30 seconds or 50 strides (or something like that) to get you going and build from there. If you need to, do half and work up to that. Ideally before any real competition you'll be able to do a few minutes. Concentrate on getting your horse to go well while you're in two point. This will make you stronger in your jumping fitness once you get there.

        I'd also add why wait to take jumping lessons? If your plan is to ride a nicely broke schoolie, you can do that now! Take your time choosing an instructor who will build your confidence and who won't push you too hard but still allow you to push yourself.

        Eventually you'll learn to throw your heart over the fence, but it's much easier to do when you can let instinct help you along. You're on the right track for building up your instincts correctly and with solid fundamentals (and let's face it--dressage is a great foundation, even if it's the thing we do to get to the XC). And when the discouragements and disappointments come (and they will) just pop your head in here, and we'll pick you up, dust you off, and kick your butt back onto your pony.

        Best wishes, and don't hesitate to pop in with questions, too!

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        • #5
          Oooh! ME!!! I AM!!!

          Seriously, I still primarily ride dressage. BUT.... there is a local little schooling event coming up in my area with a division called "trot-a-course" with x-rails and jumps no higher than 18" and the Intro A dressage test, and I am DYING to bring my pony.

          There is actually 3 of these little shows over the course of the summer. I am trying to think of 50,000 reasons why we shouldn't go, but I can't really... Only a couple. I was daydreaming about it today during a work-related training class (BORING), and I realized I didn't hear a thing the instructor said!

          So I need someone to kick my butt to get my pony out there. SHE can do it, I'm sure (although we haven't done a ton of jumping- only dabbled in it for fun, but she is good at it). It's just me!! And the sad thing is, I USED to event, I am just on a 5-year hiatus.

          So keep posting on here so I can continue to be inspired!!

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          • #6
            Oooh, are you talking about Lake Oswego? You should go, and if I thought I could afford to get my baby up there it's a great place to gain some confidence. Talk to OutYouGo.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Thames Pirate View Post
              Oooh, are you talking about Lake Oswego? You should go, and if I thought I could afford to get my baby up there it's a great place to gain some confidence. Talk to OutYouGo.
              I am! I am sorely tempted! But... but... but... my pony is GREEN! And little! And I feel silly riding her.

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              • #8
                Great plan! Go for it! I was kinda the same as you in some ways. Bored to death by hunters and straight dressage after years. Loved eventing but thought I wasn't brave enough for XC. My horse turns out to be born to do XC and is honest and wonderful and safe and obedient and low and behold -- we can do it!

                If you are nervous trailriding, I'd recommend starting out with a friend who has a good experienced trail horse. It really can help so much easing you into the groove. Then just rack up the miles!
                Life doesn't have perfect footing.

                Bloggily entertain yourself with our adventures (and disasters):
                We Are Flying Solo

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                • #9
                  Why would you feel silly riding a little pony ? I bet she's not as little as mine ! TinyPony is 13.2, barely, and not exactly stout either - and I'm 40 ... errr.... 40 something, less than 45, I think, but you know - old, anyway And we don't feel silly - in fact we have quite a little fan club !

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by oharabear View Post
                    I am! I am sorely tempted! But... but... but... my pony is GREEN! And little! And I feel silly riding her.
                    Dooooo ittttttttttttt

                    I went to my first little bitty schooling HT at Lake Oswego. It was very fun! Everyone was kind and welcoming (as I'm sure you'll find almost all eventers are).

                    Oh, and one more suggestion for the defectors. At some point, you should see if you can groom for a friend at a horse trials. It's fun (for me at least!) and educational, and you get to enjoy being on the "inside" at a HT without the stress of actually competing. Plus you can do it before you're ready to actually ride in one!

                    PS....welcome to the dark side.

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                    • #11
                      I do think you should be more than confident with trail riding before even contemplating any sort of a competition, though. The biggest problems I've seen at comps have been where a rider who I know will never even walk her horse outside of the arena, has decided that because it's a show, they will both be fine ! It's ridiculous, but it's just her way of managing her fears by putting them in this little box called 'horseshow' which means she doesn't have to deal with them before hand. Then on the day, she has a complete meltdown every time

                      Anyway, start slow and small. Find yourself some (one) trusted trail buddy with a deadbroke horse. Don't make the mistake of going with the super-confident ace rider, who is so great a rider that she's always out on some young, prancing lune-horse. And don't go trail riding with someone with a huge ego .... your first 6 months or so have to be All ABout You - so choose someone who will work with you on that. Me, for instance ! (Or anyone who's been there with a green horse and knows what you need). I would say don't even be contemplating a comp until you're ok with w-t-c jump and gallop out in a wide open field in company. I would also include gallop, in company, with periods of slow, then fast, then slow then fast, so your horse is getting ahead of the other, then slowing so he's behind the other - over and over. Only at that point do I think they're ready to start 'XC schooling'.

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                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Thanks y'all. I am even more excited after the advice and well wishes. I agree with the competition thing. I have never been one to really show much anyway so it won't be too much of a temptation to wait until I am really ready. I will start looking around for some jumping lessons. I am just so stretched for time all the time I guess I was spacing it out. But no reason to wait. Thanks again. I will update when I have made some progress.

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                        • #13
                          Good! I can't wait to read about your progress!

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