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10 Tips for Dressage Training from Dressage Today Magazine

I find that the best way to tackle a seemingly unsurmountable challenge is to break down the process into easy steps. By doing so, I can more easily focus my energy on accomplishing “1, 2, 3.” I think it’s the prioritization that helps me visualize what steps I need to take to get from point A to point B.

Training is no different, particularly dressage training. Sometimes our horses are just on a different wavelength than us, and it’s difficult to know where to start or what to do. Luckily, Sandra Adair Daugirda helps us break down the process into 10 easy tips to help us get focused and move forward in our training. Check out what she has to say from this article featured in Dressage Today magazine:

dressage riding

File photo. | Photo courtesy of Practical Horseman

I was ready for my clinic with Lilo Fore. I had spent a month in intense preparation since receiving the exciting news that I had been selected as a demo rider for the U.S. Dressage Federation’s Region 9 Adult Clinic with master clinician Lilo Fore. With my 8-year-old Contango mare, Zandra ISF (“Zee”), I smiled, surrendered to Fore’s instruction and, two days later, had made an amazing and everlasting change to the way I ride.

Lilo Fore’s clinic riders quickly discovered that Fore is quiet only while watching the warm-up, assessing the main issue and deciding her plan of attack. After that, her instruction is constant and relentless. She corrects, clarifies and tweaks.

“Hands in front. Sit vertical. Straighten your horse. More elastic connection. Come on: one, two, one, two. No, no, you didn’t prepare. Supple him. That wasn’t a corner! Outside rein down. More bend. More forward. Shorten your reins. Keep the connection. No pulling. Flexion, not bending the neck. Be consistent. More activity. Follow with your seat. Look where you are going.”

And that, my friends, was only the first two minutes. “You must have a 10-track mind. If you only focus on one thing, you forget too many others,” Fore told us. If you are asking yourself how you can possibly pay attention to your position, aids and connection, along with your horse’s gaits, frame, suppleness, responsiveness and energy, don’t panic. Using the familiar building blocks of the Training Scale (see the U.S. Dressage Federation’s Pyramid of Training, p. 35) as the 10 tracks, the many multidimensional, interconnected principles become more manageable.

Categories: dressage.

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