Not all eventers share my love for dressage. It is truly a shame to see how many riders completely disregard the basis of all training in the effort of spending more of their time jumping. I was entirely disheartened to see that at the Dreamcrest Horse Trials this past weekend one rider had a penalty score of 90.0 at Training Level and another scored a 94.5. Honestly, if I went to a show and scored that poorly, it would be time to pack up and head home because I would have clearly missed a couple steps in preparing my horse for the event. I understand that accidents happen, horses will have bad or spooky days, but the amount of things that must go wrong to result in a score that poor is astronomical. Bettina Hoy took Lanfranco to Burghley this past weekend and retired during her dressage test due to his inability to cope with the atmosphere. That is an appropriate response; when something is so wrong that your mount becomes unsafe and unable to relax, it is time to call it a day. Continuing to compete with a mount and rider combination unable to execute the basic training requirements in the dressage test makes the pair a danger to themselves, their fellow competitors, and everyone else at the event. (Thank you, I will now step down from my soapbox.)
Tristan and I had the amazing opportunity to train again with the lovely Ilse Schwarz at Cross Creek Farm in Columbus, NC. Last time she gave me a large array of tips and tricks to combat Tristan's naughty pony side that loves to rear its ugly head during stressful situations (i.e. shows). I was very eager to show her how much Tristan and I have improved in the past 2 months using her techniques and excited to see what new things we could work on.
To take full advantage of the three day clinic, of which I only rode one day, auditing was my best friend. I watched most of the rides on Saturday, and greatly enjoyed taking in the training and conversations with each horse and rider pairing. Many different skill levels attended the clinic, ranging from seasoned Grand Prix mounts, young up and coming babies, green older horses, and green riders. This allowed for incredible listening pleasure as Ilse used her wide skill set to best address each pair.
|Dressage is hard!|
Here were a few of my favorite points:
1) The importance of tempo
Tempo can be maintained with the rhythm of posting. This is especially important with a horse that rushes forwards and will translate the flat rushing gait into a more powerful lilt at a slower tempo.
With the different types of trot (extensions to collections to passage) don't ever give up the tempo.
2) Ride the young horse like an underdeveloped FEI horse
When working with a young or green horse, just because you aren't putting them into an upper level frame doesn't mean that you need to sacrifice the necessary building blocks to get there eventually.
3) Remember how to ride
Just because you have an instructor telling you what to fix in your riding, don't sacrifice your own instincts and keep your brain engaged while listening. (Lord knows how easy it is to turn into a lesson robot and stop thinking for yourself.)
Here are some of my favorite photos from the first day of the clinic.