Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Why Dressage

February lesson
I'll be the first one to tell you that I am sooooo not a dressage queen. I'm not picky or obsessive or overly controlling. I'm honestly more concerned that pookie-kins goes forward when I kick him than I am that everything is always only ever in a perfect balance. I like jumping. I like jumping my horse over fences now.

But here I am with a big dressage goal and nothing really written down or formulated even in my head about jumping.

March trainer ride
See, here's the great thing about dressage: it is imminently amateur friendly. I mean, yeah, it's freakishly hard and panders to the weirdly-over-controlling-detail-oriented-ocd folks out there (not that we don't love y'all), but there are clear levels of achievement. Logical progressions. Legal trainer rides. Tons of coaching.

Dressage not only allows for an ammy needing a pro ride now and then, it makes room for it. There are awards for achieving a score at a certain level. Medals for achieving scores across several levels. Dress code to (somewhat) permit sparkly things.

April practice ride
I mean, sure, if I wanted to be competitive on a national stage, I'd need a 90k horse and a very fancy trainer, but if I just want to work on training my horse?

All I need is a saddle and a snaffle bridle and maybe a flat surface to ride on. I can literally ride intro through fourth level* with the set up I have now (though I might need to cave and buy a show shirt).

May horseshow
I have no illusions of grandeur. Courage and I aren't going to grand prix dressage any more than we were making it to rolex, and I'm fine with that. What my structure-phillic brain is really embracing about dressage right now is the ability to track our progress and advance (at our speed).

June horse show
I know he's not fancy enough (and let's be real, I'm not rich enough) to be wildly successful. That isn't the point though. My goal with Courage is always to have fun with my horse, and right now, dressage is the structure that keeps me from losing my mind**.

July riding
*Help me out, dressage people--at what point do you have to wear tails? I think you don't as long as you're in a snaffle?

**Never fear, western Courage fans. New outfits and fun plans are in the works. We can't do competitive prancing all the time.


  1. USEF rules are that you don't wear tails until tests beyond Fourth Level, so you're good to go in a short coat!

  2. I might be the worst DQ ever, but I hate tails. I don't even think they look good. Ironically, I don't think they look bad in the hunter ring. Is that weird? Anyway, you make some very good points about the pros of dressage.

  3. Tails are Prix St. George, but I've even seen some people riding that level in a short coat. (Somewhat disappointed to hear I'll never wear a shad again unless I decide to do a hunter derby again at some point, but that's fine). You have basically illustrated all the things that appeal to me about dressage - it's a logical training scale, it's amateur friendly, and you don't need to do tons of shows to reach your goals. I'm slowly coming around to the sparkly stuff. I still can't bring myself to put a blingy browband on him. I miss my fancy stitched padded brown bridle and my hunter dee ring. And tan breeches. Oh how I miss my tan breeches. I'm off on a tangent now....

  4. You don't have to wear tails until PSG, and then only at CDIs. I'm about the worst DQ ever, as I've said before. I ride dressage because it's a training system that enables me to do anything with my horse: I trail ride, jump over logs, play polo, ride western and have even shot my bow off of my horse and he just plugs right along in his nice little dressage frame. It's also fun to make DQs heads explode when I tell them I trained my 20 year old TB to 3rd Level. :)

  5. I COMPLETELY agree! Dressage is so great for ammys like us as well as all the DQs out there. Logic, progress, clearly articulated competition requirements - a structure to help us feel like we are actually improving.

  6. Yep PSG is when you wear a shadbelly and you can ride in a snaffle all the way through Grand Prix now so you're all set! I don't actually think you HAVE to wear a shadbelly even at the FEI levels but I've also never seen anyone in a short coat showing FEI. I love my shadbelly and would wear it to work if I could. But I am not a butler.

    I totally agree with you on all points, dressage is super friendly, I love competing against myself. I hated that feeling of hoping someone would drop a rail or have a stop for me to move up. A 70% still feels great whether I won or was dead last.

  7. i agree about how ammy-friendly dressage is too. obvi my focus is eventing, but the scores are ultimately built on dressage, so all my goals tend to be really dressage-centric, and how i view our scores is very much a personal, individual thing, rather than comparing myself to other riders in the ring. also, it's undeniable to see how more focused work on dressage has improved our jumping

  8. I have joked with Jen J about wearing my hunter Schad if and when I ever take Simon in intro. The hilarity that would ensue.

  9. I think it's important for jumping horses to have at least a basic dressage foundation. George Morris says this on a regular basis, so if Uncle George says so, it must be true! (Other than his comments that riders need to lose weight, I don't agree with those. Bad Uncle George, BAD!). Chloe and I are struggling with this dressage foundation right now. Granted, we are working to rule out pain issues from saddle fit, hocks(?). Once those are ruled out and Chloe figures out that she is not a giraffe or a llama, I think the jumping will really come together!

    I can't wait to follow your journey to USDF Bronze!

  10. Courage always looks great no matter what hat he's wearing!

  11. Welcome to the dark side. *evil wiggling of fingers*

  12. I think this is what I enjoy about dressage too. SOmetimes with jumping I feel like I am in an abyss with training and the only thing to advance is a higher height.


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