Do you ever feel like your dressage horse's shoulders are so stiff and stuck that not only is it hard to turn him, but his hindquarters are disconnected from his front end?
If your horse’s shoulders are stuck, it’s like having a kink in a water hose. The energy can’t flow from behind, over the back, into your…Continue
I've dealt with a lot of spooky dressage horses, and I find that often shying gets worse because riders do one or all of the following things.
1. Hit or kick him to make him obedient.
2. Make him walk straight up to scary object and face it straight on.
3. Forget to go around your ring in both directions.
4. Force him to go close to the scary object.
5. Patting and soothing him while he’s shying.
Let's understand the nature of…
People often tell me that their horses leg yield very well as far as going sideways is concerned, but they tend to toss their heads and show resistance to the reins. In desperation, some riders even use a tie down to put pressure on the nose to discourage their horses from yanking at the reins.
If your horse finds it fairly easy to cross his legs and move sideways with his body, yet he's tossing his head during leg yields, it sounds like he's objecting to your…
Added by Jane Savoie on November 26, 2010 at 10:00am — No Comments
Last week, I started this series to help you decide how and when to introduce new work. That blog focused on Training and First Levels. What follows is Part 2 of that series.
Let's say your horse is solid at first level. Look ahead to the Second Level movements. Check out the dressage tests. You'll see that you need to work on shoulder-in, haunches-in, renvers, simple changes of lead, reinback and turns on the haunches.
You'll also notice that the big…
Added by Jane Savoie on November 12, 2010 at 2:30pm — No Comments
Riders often ask me, "How do I know it's the right time to start training something a bit harder?"
This is a big topic so I'm going to cover it over two blogs. In this blog, I'll give you a way to come up with a logical plan for introducing new work at Training Level. Next week, I'll show you to plan to move up to Second and Third Level. I'll also show you how you can use feedback from competition to help you decide whether or not you're ready to move up.
Added by Jane Savoie on October 29, 2010 at 3:30pm — No Comments
It's just as important to do a good free walk with your dressage horse at Training Level as it is to develop your trot and canter work. Many riders lose sight of the fact that they should pay as much attention to the medium walk and free walk as they do to the other two gaits.
First, let me define the free walk. It’s a gait of relaxation. Your dressage horse should lengthen his frame and lower his head and neck so he looks like he’s going to graze. His poll is lower…Continue
Riding with soft hands is an awesome goal, and your horse will thank you for it. In this training tip, I'm going to give you both some simple physical exercises and also some fun mental exercises to help you achieve this goal.
Here are 2 physical exercises.
1. Tie two reins or ropes or even two pieces of baling twine to a sturdy fence. Hold the ropes as if they are reins. Take up a contact of at least 10 pounds in each hand. Then, adjust the weight…
Attitude is a choice. You don't have to have a bad day. Here are 3 simple ways to insure that every ride you have with your horse is a great one!
1. Learn to see things in shades of grey.
Want to know how to have a great ride everyday? Stop expecting perfection. Don't look at training and competing in black or white terms. Instead, learn to see things in "shades of gray". The key to seeing shades of gray is to recognize…
One of the biggest mistakes riders make when we're trying to overcome horseback riding fears is that we direct our efforts toward the conscious mind. You know--willpower, iron-jawed determination. The problem with that strategy is that you can only make short-term, temporary changes when you direct your efforts to your conscious mind. To make permanent changes, direct your efforts to the part of your brain that truly determines your actions--your subconscious mind.…
Added by Jane Savoie on September 3, 2010 at 10:30am — No Comments
First, let me define rhythm and tempo. I want to do this because lots of dressage riders use those terms interchangeably and they don't mean the same thing.
Rhythm - Regularity of the rhythm refers to the even spacing between each step in a stride of walk, trot or canter. Regular rhythm is a priority for all work--whether or not you're riding a pure dressage horse. Movements and exercises should never be done at the expense of rhythm. Rhythm should always stay…
It's completely reasonable that you might have some fear when horseback riding. After all, you’re dealing with a reactive (reactive means bolt, spin, buck, shy, or rear!) animal that outweighs you by a lot! But you can solve those horseback riding fears by adopting an attitude of gratitude.
The first thing you need to remember is that 99% of the things you fear never come to pass. So why waste all that energy worrying about things that will probably never happen. Mark…Continue
Your horse's weaker hind leg is the leg on his soft side. There's nothing wrong with your horse! Almost every horse has a weaker hind leg because few horses are ambidextrous. The weaker leg is the one on your horse's "soft" or hollow side. The stronger one is on his stiff side.
The weak hind leg doesn't step directly underneath your horse's body. Your horse displaces it slightly to the side to avoid carrying weight with it. On the other hand, the hind leg on…
Added by Jane Savoie on July 23, 2010 at 10:30am — No Comments
Do you want to know how to become a better rider without taking tons more lessons? Do what I did. By putting the same amount (or more!) of effort into mental training as into skill development, I was able to realize my dream of representing the United States in international competition.
Here's how it worked for me. Back in 1980 I picked up a book called, Psycho Cybernetics, by Maxwell Maltz. This book literally changed my life. I had always wanted to compete…
Here are some great tips for breaking that cycle of fear...
The simplest, quickest, way to relax is to BREATHE. Now, I know you're breathing or you wouldn't be reading this! ;-) But are you breathing in a way that promotes relaxation?
1. Let's find out. First, let's dissect what you do when you inhale. Stand up. Take in a really deep breath. Did your shoulders go up? If they did, you're just breathing in your upper chest. And there's always tension…
Regardless of which discipline you ride, it's very important to sit straight and square in the saddle. Can you tell if you're collapsing at your waist and sitting crookedly?
Ask a ground person to stand behind you.
1. Are your shoulders level (i.e. the same height)?
2. Is your seat in the center of the saddle so that each seatbone is the same distance from the middle of the saddle?
If your shoulders aren't level which means that one…
Lots of riders are confused about how to smoothly switch their long dressage whip from one hand to the other. Many of you tell me you feel awkward while doing this, and you're concerned about making your horse uncomfortable and disturbing the contact because you're twisting the bit in your his mouth.
Here's a step-by-step method to switch your dressage whip without disturbing the contact with your horse's mouth. I recommend practicing this technique at first…
The following blog was inspired by a rider who told me, "I have a
wonderful, talented thoroughbred. We can do Second and Third level work
at home, yet when we compete, we can barely get through a First Level
test. The missing link seems to be relaxation. My horse is off the
track, and we seem to feed off each other's tension. How does a
With show season right around the corner, I thought I should go over some tips to help you in the warm-up ring. So many riders are confused about how to warm-up their horses so they can have a productive schooling session. So here are 9 tips to help you with your warm-ups.
As a rider and trainer, your goal in the warm-up is to take the restrictions away from your dressage horse's body. So depending on the day, your warm-up could be as short as 10 minutes, or it…
Added by Jane Savoie on April 23, 2010 at 9:00am — No Comments
In order for your lateral work such as shoulder-in, haunches-in, and half passes to be effective as collecting exercises, your horse must BEND.
Think of the following equation. Bend+Sideways=Engagement. (Engagement means the bending of joints. As your horse bends his hind legs, his croup lowers, and his forehand goes up--kinda like a seesaw or an airplane taking off.)
So here are some quick tips to help you determine if you're bending your horse…
You've carefully laid out a systematic, progressive schooling program for your horse. Yet every time you add new work, you run into a certain amount of resistance.
Don't panic. Understand that when you raise the bar, it's inevitable that you're going to encounter resistance. It's a normal part of training. Don't be afraid of it. Just work through it in baby steps.
Have a checklist…Continue