Monday, November 9, 2009


I am blogging twice in a fairly short period of time, so if you haven't seen it, there are Izzy pictures in my previous post.

That said, I'm still dismayed by my fairly dismal equitation. I am working on a remedy. I can't do a lot of lessons now. Maybe after the first of the year I can work more and afford some, but then the weather will be crappy.

So I'm making do with what I have. The USDF Guide to Dressage came in the mail yesterday, and I'm already 60 pages in. It's supposed to be a pretty basic book, so I can use it for position reviews and the like. Plus, once Thanksgiving break hits, I'll have a little more time because I'll have turned in all my paper and I won't have class, so I can ride a little more. There are several horses in need of exercise. The field looks like this:

Izzy-obviously. She's getting to be pretty fun, so I should be able to focus more on position and technique than just going forward. I can already see huge improvements in her from what we learned in the clinic, so there's hope.

Cassie-she's pretty much just standing around. Cathy wants me to ride her more to get her in shape for someone else to lease her anyways, so this is an excellent option. The only reason I haven't ridden her is that I just don't have time right now.

Ellie-Izzy's pasture mate. She was quite happily on a lease, but the girl leasing her had to give it up for her sports season. College scholarships have to come from somewhere. Ellie is a difficult horse to ride, which will give me some variety.

Gabe-He's a TB gelding of uncertain age... I think in his early teens. His owner is away at college and can't ride him right now. He doesn't have much dressage type experience, but he's pretty easy-going. I rode him a lot two summers ago, before I had Izzy.

Flash-A paint mare trained through second level dressage. This is another case of the owner being away at college. She's a friend of mine, so I may even try to take a lesson on this mare. It's the closest I'm going to come to an advanced horse, I think.

My advantages are that my saddle (loving the treeless) will fit all of them, so I won't have to compete for tack. I have a bridle for Cassie, and Ellie and Gabe each have their own unique bridle.

I will also try to watch as many lessons as possible, but I think clinics are pretty much over for the year. :-/ I've never watched horsie type videos, but they're fairly expensive and I don't know anyone who has them, so that's out for now. Any other recommendations?


  1. Have people videotape you. You can learn a lot from seeing yourself.

    Focus on your breathing, if you're breathing well and deeply, your posture will be improved. Keep your eyes looking ahead and pick points to ride to - this will help you keep your body straight and your head and neck up over your spine. Imagine if the horse were to suddenly disappear from between your legs, with your feet on the ground - would you fall over backwards or forwards, or would you be in a balanced postion where you could stand easily with your legs and body, and arms and head, in exactly the same position they were in before the horse disappeared? These ideas, in my opinion, apply to every rider - bareback, Western, hunter/jumper or dressage.

    Pay attention to areas where you're bracing with your body - learn to feel all the muscles, from your jaw and neck all the way to your lower legs and feet, and to tell when they're braced and tight or relaxed and ready to be used as needed.

    Ride bareback - it makes for an excellent seat and eventually independence of hand and legs.

    Good luck - I learned to ride without any formal instruction - got some later but the foundation was already there.

  2. I second having someone videotape you -- sometimes it makes me cringe but it really helps! And watching lessons is a great idea. I find that I learn a lot from watching someone else's lightbulb moment (oh that's how it's supposed to look!) and from seeing things from the trainer's perspective on the ground.

  3. Kate and Marissa have some really good ideas, I second those. In lieu of videotaping, you could also find a riding buddy who will be dead honest and yell at you when your position is off. I also find it helpful to run through basic beginner position exercises every so often while riding, particularly if I'm having trouble with the horse. I've found that many of my horses issues are directly related to my position (or lack thereof).

    Off the horse, I have found yoga to be extremely helpful. Yoga helps with breathing, awareness of muscles and posture and strength. There are tons of great (and free!) instructional videos on the web.

    Most importantly, remember that it won't happen overnight and don't get discouraged. It takes time, effort and consistency to develop a correct position and, once you have it, it takes time, effort and consistency to maintain it!

  4. All suggestions above are excellent.

    Of the horses you have to ride, pick the easiest, "push button" one to practice your equitation. Don't worry about how the horse goes--on the bit or not--but just focus on your position. Think about one part of your body at time. No point in trying to fix everything all at once.

    A good solid horse under you will tell you more about your position than anything. Just put the picture in your mind of what a good seat looks like and go for it!

  5. There are a bunch of different online horsie video rental places, kinda like Netflix. I remember reading about it on the Equisearch forum, so you might want to search there. Of course, Google is always good, too. I know that horse training videos tend to be expensive, so I am planning on using one of these services myself, too. Good luck.


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