Jane Savoie's Blog (96)

Counter Flexing In Canter

Several of you have asked me if there's any value in counter flexing your horse while in true canter so I'd like to discuss that here.

1. Generally, you want to flex your horse in the direction of the canter lead he's on. That goes for true canter as well as counter canter. So if you're cantering on left lead, position his head so you just barely see his left eye and/or nostril.



Added by Jane Savoie on March 26, 2010 at 9:00am — 1 Comment

What Is a Good Working Gait?

At Training and First levels, you're asked to ride your horse in a working gait.

So you might ask, how do I know what is a good working gait for my horse?

A working gait is the gait that the horse most easily presents himself in the best balance. So a working gait is as individual as the horse…


Added by Jane Savoie on March 19, 2010 at 10:30am — No Comments

The What, Why, and "How to" of Shoulder-In

Shoulder-in is the father of the advanced lateral dressage movements. It does many wonderful things for your horse. Here are just some of them:

  • Shoulder-in is a suppling exercise because it stretches and loosens the muscles and ligaments of the inside shoulder and forearm. During shoulder-in, your horse passes his inside foreleg in…

Added by Jane Savoie on March 12, 2010 at 10:00am — No Comments

Improving Haunches-In and Shoulder-In When Your Horse's Stiff Side is on the Inside

Lately, I seem to be getting a lot of questions about improving haunches-in and shoulder-in when the stiff side is on the inside.

So here are some ideas to help. I’ll start with haunches-in.

Let’s say your horse is stiff to the right. Start by tracking to the right and do the following:

1. Ride a 10m circle in the trot, and focus on…


Added by Jane Savoie on March 5, 2010 at 9:30am — 3 Comments

Warm Up for the Training, First and Second Level Horse

The point of the warm-up is to take the restrictions away from your horse's body. So depending on the day, your warm-up could be as short as 10 minutes, or it could end up making up your entire ride.

  1. Since your horse has probably been standing in the stall, spend the first 5-10 minutes walking around on a loose rein.
  2. After walking around "on the buckle" for several minutes, pick up a contact so you can begin your…

Added by Jane Savoie on February 26, 2010 at 9:00am — 1 Comment

How To Teach Your Dressage Horse to Do Free Walk at Training Level

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…


Added by Jane Savoie on February 19, 2010 at 10:30am — No Comments

Help Your Horse By Sitting Evenly On Your Seatbones

You can help your horse stay in good balance by sitting evenly on your seatbones.

Here’s a cool image to help you make sure you’re part of the solution instead of part of the problem.

Imagine you're sitting on top of a basketball.

If you lean forward, the basketball shoots out the back.

If you lean back, the basketball shoots out in front of you.

If you lean to…


Added by Jane Savoie on February 12, 2010 at 8:30am — No Comments

3 Simple Tips to Help You Straighten and Center Your Riding Position on Your Horse

Can you tell if your riding position is straight and centered on your horse? Or are you collapsing at your waist and sitting crookedly?

Ask a ground person to stand behind your horse.

1. Is your seat in the center of the dressage saddle so that each…


Added by Jane Savoie on February 5, 2010 at 10:30am — No Comments

3 Tips to Keep You From Leaning to the Outside in Half Passes

I think the main reason riders lean to the outside in half pass is that they use too much outside leg to push their horses sideways. So here are 3 quick tips to help you sit in the direction of movement.

1. Pretend there’s a seam running down the middle of your saddle from pommel to cantle. Then visualize yourself moving your outside seatbone onto that center seam so you don’t get left behind.

2. Think about actually taking a "step down into the inside iron" as…


Added by Jane Savoie on January 28, 2010 at 10:00pm — 3 Comments

Dressage Training By The Mile

Remember that dressage simply means "Training". You don’t need to work in a regulation dressage arena to "do" dressage. Every second you’re on your horse, you’re either training or "untraining"! So you’re always doing dressage no matter what kind of horse you have or what style of riding you’re doing.

Think about how you can continue to train your horse yet add some fun and variety to his life.

Carla Varasso writes: My friends and I, who like to hilltop with…


Added by Jane Savoie on January 22, 2010 at 8:00am — No Comments

Sit the Trot Better and Don’t Lose Your Stirrups

I have been giving a bunch of seat and leg position riding lessons lately, and we've discovered some interesting things about the correlation of the pelvis, lower leg, and losing your stirrups.

Does this ever happen to you?

Do you lose your stirrups in the sitting trot?

Does your horse slow down in the sitting trot or when you work without stirrups?

Does your knee come out over the front of the saddle when you’re in the sitting trot or canter?



Added by Jane Savoie on January 15, 2010 at 11:30am — No Comments

Inspiration from Indy too!

I am very good at catching things. I mean VERY good at it! It makes me feel good to snag flying tennis balls out of the air.

I've been swimming a lot too. I wasn't sure I could swim at first, but I took a chance and leaped into the water. I found out quickly that I’m a good swimmer! Some things you’re naturally good at. Some things you have to work at.

Either way, doing something really well is very good for your inner being.

What would you like to do…


Added by Jane Savoie on January 13, 2010 at 4:00pm — No Comments

Motivation from Moshi

Today is your day! Take it! It is YOURS! Let's do something with this day!

It's easy to say, let’s wait until tomorrow. But that's not going to get you anywhere. So let's change that.

Today is it. Let's set a few goals. One for today, one for this week, one for this month, and one for this year. Get a pen and piece of paper and write down four things.

What would you like to achieve today?

What would you like to achieve this week?

What would…


Added by Jane Savoie on January 13, 2010 at 4:00pm — No Comments

Tips To Help Your Put Your Heels Down When Horseback Riding

Can't get your heels down when horseback riding? The problem may not be your heels!

I've been asked a lot recently about why riders have such a hard time keeping their heels down. A heel that is not "down" may not have anything to do with the heel itself, but rather the knee and the calf muscle.

Many times the heel is not down because the calf needs to be stretched. A soft calf allows for the heel to drop below the toe when the foot is resting on the stirrup…


Added by Jane Savoie on January 8, 2010 at 10:30am — 1 Comment

4 Questions to Ask If Your Dressage Horse Is Struggling in a Movement

If your dressage horse is struggling in a movement or exercise, ask yourself 4 questions:

1. Is he going too fast or too slowly?
2. Is his neck too high or too low?
3. Is his frame too open or too closed?
4. Am I asking too much?

If you're not sure what the problem is, adjust one of the 4 things above to see if that helps your dressage horse.

A Happy Horse

Added by Jane Savoie on January 1, 2010 at 4:30pm — No Comments

Keep Your Hands Forward in the "Work Area" When Riding Your Horse

When riding your horse, it's important to keep your hands forward in what I call the "work area".

The work area is just in front of the saddle above the horse’s withers. Put your hands in that position and draw an imaginary box around them. That box is your work area.

No matter what rein aids you're giving, keep your hands in the work area. If you bring your hands closer to your body, you steal power from the hind legs. If you put your outside hand forward, for…


Added by Jane Savoie on December 25, 2009 at 5:00pm — 1 Comment

Sit Centered and Balanced for Effective Horseback Riding

Horseback riding is all about balance and staying centered. You always want to keep your horse in good balance for his stage of training no matter what your discipline.

It doesn't matter whether you're a dressage rider, a western pleasure rider, a trail rider, or an event rider. Correct balance is essential to effective riding because the center of your balance directly affects your horse’s balance.

Your goal should be to have an independent seat so you can…


Added by Jane Savoie on December 18, 2009 at 9:00am — No Comments

9 Tips to Help You Sit the Trot

One of the most frequently asked questions I get is, "Can you help me sit the trot better?"

So here are some quick tips to help you with this all too common challenge.

1. First and foremost, your horse needs to be on the bit. If his back is hollow, stiff, or tight, you’ll find it impossible to sit comfortably. (And, in turn, you'll make your horse uncomfortable too!)

To put him on the bit, review my blog post…


Added by Jane Savoie on December 11, 2009 at 10:30am — No Comments

Sit Up Straight When You Canter Your Dressage Horse

If you tend to grip with your legs, and lean forward when you canter your dressage horse, here's a simple exercise to help you sit up straight.

Sit in a chair and do the following exercise for muscle memory:

1. Sit up straight with shoulders over hips.

2. Lean back about 4-5 inches

3. Come back up to the vertical.

4. Do this in the rhythm/tempo of the canter.

5. Notice how as your upper body comes back, your hip angle…


Added by Jane Savoie on December 4, 2009 at 9:30am — No Comments

What Does the Dressage Term "Long and Low" Mean?

Lots of riders seem to be confused by the dressage term "long and low". Some riders even think long and low is different from the stretchy circle in the dressage tests.

Long and low is the SAME as what's being asked for stretchy circles. The stretchy circles were added to the dressage tests to check that the horse's connection was correct and that the rider wasn't fudging things by fiddling with the reins.

To get correct long and low, your horse must be connected…


Added by Jane Savoie on November 27, 2009 at 8:30am — 1 Comment

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