Ride more forward into a steady hand. Why does it take so long to get there? I have a compulsive need to fix things as they happen. My coach, Deanna Cullen, has steadfastly resolved to not allow my disfunctionality to “fiddle” with the reins.
Roderick, my long suffering partner, has much to teach me yet. Bless our horses and our children, for they are the consumate teacher.
This is one of the best articles I’ve read on developing a classic dressage seat.
Arthur Kottas-Heldenberg needs no introduction. He is succinct in his descriptions and there are excellent illustraions accompanying the article. Thanks to the editors at “Dressage Today” for posting the original article.
Here are personal affirmations I use as I go to train at the barn: I accept myself and my horse for who we are today. I have a warm regard for others at the barn. I am ready, present physically, emotionaly, mentally and spiritually. I will assist others whenever I can, without taking away from their self detrmination.I believe in win/win and give for the love of giving. Abundance is the natural state of the universe. Believe it. Ask and allow. Grooming is a silent time to focus on and communicate with your horse.This is part of the ritual of preparation for a successful ride.
April 6 & 7 – Half Steps is hosting a clinic with Verina Mahin of California at Chupik Farms. There are a few rider spots available and auditing is free. Verina’s bio can be found on the Half Steps website www.halfsteps.ca
April 13 – 14 – Horizon is hosting a clinic with Tom Dvorak. Tom is also the clinician at this year’s Mane Event in Red Deer. There is one riding spot available and auditing is free. Please contact Sheri Dumonceaux at firstname.lastname@example.org
for more information.
SCRIBE CLINIC – The scribe clinic scheduled for April 13th has been cancelled due to lack of interest.
SCHOOLING DAY – Don’t forget about the schooling date May 26th at Anderson Ranch. If you are planning to take advantage of this opportunity please send in your registration as soon as possible. For convenience, I have attached the registration form. It is also available on the website. For questions or more information, please contact Erin James at email@example.com
In a perfect world, I would like to show every 2 to 3 weeks during the season. In this part of the world you can do that. Showing this often adds to a rider’s mental toughness and psychological edge. There is a long off season at home and shows are far apart in the regular schedule at home.I learned a lot about myself showing in California. When I began my dressage career after leaving the jumper ring, my coach asked me about my goals. I thought third level was “safe”, and not wanting to be brash, chimed out third level as my goal. She was German. She looked at me and replied “Das ist M”. I had no idea what M was and wondered about how long it would take. She waved her hand and said, “All riders take 5 years to learn”.
It has been 5 years and I have met my goal to ride third level. I won 2 first and a fourth placenat Del-Mar. Now I realize how much I don’t know. Riding here in the same warm-up as Jewels, Stephen and Shannon Peters and Guenter Seidel has been an amazing and very humbling experience. There is such a gap between good horses and great horses. Good riders and great riders, and I know I can ride better. I personalized the experience…it’s not the score or the ribbon, it’s the ride that counts. I can’t believe it has taken me this long or coming this far to figure out.
Every coach/athlete team needs to set goals for training. Jewels asked me that question when I came to train with her. I want to ride Prix St. George. This ups my game. I need several things to achieve this. The most fundamental thing for me, is to understand my flaws as a rider/competitor. I must work hard to overcome them. I also need a dance partner that will take me to the upper levels. I have a great coach that has gone to the WEG and has her sites set on re-entering the ring on the international stage. I’m fortunate that my family supports my efforts and my clients at home are in my corner too.
The whole package, the mental toughness, the training, the horse, the show, the score, the ride etc. is a journey. Dressage is a pursuit of perfect harmony with the horse. I saw it in Del-Mar, and it was motivating.
You have established a training base in southern California, your horse has arrived at the destination all is well. Your horse will need a few days to adjust to the climate and change in hay.
Bathe and clip your horse and find the appropriate sheet/blanket/fly mask combination for the weather in the desert. We feed “Safe Choice”, a Purina product. It is an American based brand, but was difficult to find locally. Once the jumpers were competing at Thermal, the brand was brought in. Don’t assume that you can find the same brands of horse feed here as at home. Make sure you contact the local feed store to find if they will bring in a supply of any specialty feed you may require.
Ask about all the barn and arena rules. These may be different than at your home barn. Be polite and respectful and always clean up after yourself and your horse. You are a guest boarder and remember you would like to be welcomed back. Other riders are a great source of information on where to find tack shops, boot repair, veterinary advice, farriers, showing etc.
Personal accomodation becomes a matter of choice. I have an RV, and as long as there is a place to park near the barn, I am home. There are condos, hotel resorts (suites) or rental units available locally.
Now that you and your horse have arrived safely and settled in, it’s time to start riding.
The process of showing Dressage is a multi stage process. Riding in the equivalent of our recognized shows, riders must have all memberships to the USDF, USEF and the local state NGO. Riders also need a horse license number for your horse, USDF and USEF membership numbers for your coach or trainer and the owner of the horse. If you ride your own horse as an adult amateur, then your own membership numbers will be used on the entry forms.
I chose the shows I wanted to compete in, based on the time frame I had planned to travel to California, and the time my coach was available. The internet has made it so easy to access show schedules, download entries, and even now there are fee for service on-line entry sites for recognized shows in all disciplines in the US.
Planning and teamwork are a big part of showing success this far from home. Plan well ahead to find a “base camp” for you and your horse. I recommend you or your coach, visit the area you plan to show in, before you decide to proceed. Meet people involved with the sport through trainer contacts, friends or the internet. Make arrangements with the facility you decide to board at. Most horse facilities in the US require copies of your equine insurance records and require signed boarding agreements. You will probably need to leave a damage deposit equivalent to ine month’s boarding fee and pay for a month in advance. Pay attention to what the boarding facility offers for their fee. Many facilities provide hay only and you buy your own feed. Feeding supplements, blanketing and turnout may be an extra charge. Barn help may be willing to do this for you, but expect to be paid directly for this service.
Once you have a place to ride and train settled upon, then decide on how to transport your horse. Choices include professional transport or trailering yourself. You need to decide which option you are most comfortable with and which suits your show plans better. If you show in Southern California during the season, there are several excellent transport companies making the run to and from Calgary on a regular basis. Going to recognized shows does not seem to be a problem either, as horse transport here is a big business. The issue comes when you ship your horse and can’t be there to unload it and make sure things are alright. This is when you have to rely on team members or a staffer to help out. If you trailer your own horse this problem goes away.
This gets you to your training destination and the beginning of your journey is yet to come.
We have parked our RV at the county run RV park adjacent to the historic Del-Mar Fair grounds and race track. When racing season is on. this park is for the exclusive use of the Thoroughbred Club here in Del-Mar. The location is excellent for ammenities, or if you have non-riders in the family. It’s next to the Noonan Family Swim Center, Tennis and Volleyball, batting cages and a driving range.
I found out that the Del-Mar Horse Park is the venue for the show, and that it is located next to the San Diego Polo Grounds. It’s conveniently located with a Mary’s Tack and Feed on the same property. The Horse Park is a mile east of the RV park on Via del la Valle.
You would think that the oportunity to ride and train in paradise with other motivated riders and a great coach would be stress free. Yet, if something adverse happens before my ride, I spend more time wondering if I handled it properly, did the right thing, or what the repercussions might be.
Yesterday, while walking Roderick and preparing for my lesson, a man in a fancy car appeared at the gate. We are training in a private facility, and no one is allowed in without a gate code. He took me by surprise, because I was focused, believe it or not , on my horse, he yelled at me to give him the code. I was not about to do that. I told him that I would let the barn manager know that he was at the gate and trotted off to the barn.
It was the right thing to do in terms of barn procedure, but it totally blew my focus and concentration.I was preparing for my lesson as if it was a test. This interuption in my warm-up amd thought process showed me how fragile we can become and how important focus and emotional fitness is to riding consistently. This is not the first time a similar situation has interfered with my riding focus, and most certainly not likely to be the last.
I’m glad it happened in training. It showed me an aspect of my training that is lacking. Total focus and concentration. Support your horse. Focus on your goals and for a few minutes, let the universe take care of itself.