Calgary Dressage – Why choose an Equestrian Canada Coach?

As an Equestrian Canada Competition Coach Specialist in Dressage, I am aligned with program development through Sport Canada, the National Coaching Certification Program and the Coaching Association of Canada.

The certifications achieved by accredited coaches exist to provide a level of confidence in the quality of lesson delivery, safety and ability to provide an optimal learning environment.

Certified coaches are coaching professionals evaluated at the highest national standard. We must provide evidence of our own riding ability, clear police record, adherence to the Equestrian Canada code of ethics and hold a current CPR/First Aid certificate.

As a Competition Coach Specialist, I am able to design and implement a year training plan (YTP) for human and equine athletes to prepare students for regional and national level competitions.

Equestrian Canada certified coaches are professionals committed to best practices based on sport science.  We continuously upgrade our skills through professional development to maintain our current certification status.

When considering an equestrian coach for yourself or your child, ask them if they are certified by Equestrian Canada.

Coaching Success

Barn Best Practices

Here are some best practices for building a dressage barn. The list is based on years of boarding and training at different equestrian facilities.

The indoor arena, in our northern climate, is central to the equestrian community. Years past, show barns boarded a mix of riders of various disciplines. There were few dedicated dressagers and more hunter jumper riders back in the day.

Footing originally was basic. It usually started with a clay base, with local sand, wood chips and perhaps some dust control product added. Watering arenas was part of the maintenance cycle.

The arenas were often insulated and heated as an afterthought, or when it became financially viable to do so. Heat and water created a problem with footing, either exacerbating the dust or causing the clay base to rise. The worst cases of watering and indoor in our climate can cause mold issues and water damage to steel arena supports. Footing continues to evolve into a state of the art all its own.

Now purpose built arenas and barn designs take into account specific disciplines in equestrian sport. Considerable research has gone into the design phase and best practice when implementing an arena build.

Let’s take a look as some other equestrian facility best practice ideas:

  • Room for trailer and big rig turn around & parking
  • Plan for having a safety gate at the facility entrance to contain any “run away”
  • Purchase the correct vehicle and tools for stable management
  • Consider hvac needs and heat conservation methods in arena planning
  • LED lighting throughout and special lighting for farriers and veterinary considerations
  • Safety mirrors and appropriate angle of mirror set for maximum view above kick boards
  • MP3, blutooth, technology in planning music systems
  • Sound systems should be accessible both from the viewing area and from the arena floor
  • Make sure the arena can support a dressage court (20 x 60 metres) with a 5 metre perimeter
  • Have a “drive through” arena and barn isle
  • Plan a dedicated storage area for the dressage ring, cavaletti, and jumps
  • Design a viewing area for spectators that is functional (WiFi), warm (heated), and comfortable
  • Keep sufficiently large  paddocks close to the barn for ease of turnout.
  • Automatic waterers designed for negative temperatures
  • Warmblood size stalls, rubber mats, windows in barn
  • Consider using a method of non slip flooring throughout barn
  • Blanket bars and halter racks in front of every stall
  • Wash racks with hot and cold running water
  • Washer and Dryer for horse laundry
  • Washrooms in barn and viewing area
  • Generous sized tack lockers for clients
  • Organized feed room and feed cart catering to standard and customized feeding protocols
  • Dedicated area for weekly hay storage onsite, with bulk storage planned for a separate hay shed or building
  • Dedicated area for show trunks and extra blanket storage
  • Accessible and copious numbers of brooms, forks and muck buckets to encourage clients to clean up after their horses (make cleanliness user friendly)
  • Empower a dedicated staff capable of the highest level of care

Feel free to add your own ideas for best practice attributes of an equestrian facility. Together we can raise the bar.….Preface to Riding

ANYBODY CAN LEARN TO RIDE, for riding is nothing but skill. Skill can only be acquired by continual “trying out” and practice, but not by imitation of a model. Once skill has been acquired, however, it should be exercised in good form.

Riding is pleasant and can be made an art. And who would not be an artist? Only those, however, who try with their whole soul. to understand the horses’ psychic disposition and who endeavour to establish perfect harmony by sensitive feel instead of crude force, are entitled to be called artists. “Feel” is no “black magic”, and anybody can acquire it to a considerable degree.

The end of all schooling and dressage is perfect harmony between human (man) and mount  – Beauty. The horse must show that it feels comfortable and the rider must not betray how hard it is to achieve this!

W. Museler…Why Dressage?

Unfortunately, there seems to be some misapprehension amongst English riders as to the nature of “School Riding”. More often than not it is confounded with “Haute Ecole”; some even go so far as to call it “trick riding”. It is nothing of the sort. Ordinary “School Riding” is the fundamental education of both rider and horse; it is, if I may be allowed to coin a phrase, the Grammar School for man and mount alike, and it is regarded as such by practically every Continental horseman, no matter what his particular “horsey” creed.  There are even trainers of racehorses, especially hurdlers and steeplechasers, who take pupils regularly to school (it need not always be a covered one) during the off-season, to make them “handy” and obedient, or to break them of bad habits, such as rushing their fences, storming away, being difficult to turn, ets. Ordinary School Riding comprises all forward movements in all three gaits, all turns, and side-steps, and the rein back, as well as all those “exercises” and “lessons” which help to develop suppleness and complete obedience in the horse. (F.W. Schiller, 1937)…2014 resolutions for the New Year

Usually there are many things that come to mind when making New Years resolutions. I am choosing to keep it simple this year.

Stay neutral, open and observant in each ride. That’s my mantra for 2014.

I have gone through stages focusing  on technique, and micro-management.

I must now let my horse do his job.

I can be there for him when he needs me, but I cannot carry him.

I cannot focus on perfection only strive for it.

By staying neutral and observant I can improve my feel.

I’ve noticed a certain impatience to my warm up.

My expectations of how long it should take to get ready to work  have no impact on the horse’s readiness.

Patientce is a virtue…so I will choose to stay open and neutral.

I’ll ride correctly and let the patterns and exercises work for me and my horse. I realize that some things you  can’t hurry.

The virtue is in the comming together of the horse in a good frame on his own. I’v been guilty of “framing” the horse….before he was ready to yield.  I think it now better to ride an extra 15 minutes or so and have the horse come into you.

I also realize that having a talented horse that may give you 20% effort on any day must be asked to perform, demanding his attention leads to resistance. Some horses must be brought into work with more finesse, I will try to be more open to that.

The neutrality means not to judge the horse as lazy or unwilling to give over the back. I think some horses need convincing that the work will be fun and challenging. I believe giving the horse something to look at or something to ride over (cavalletti) may stimulate him and improve his work ethic. I enjoy fun new things and challenges, why not our horses.

Observant means not to overface or  overstimulate…there is a balance of what is fun and what is scary…don’t judge…be observant and creative in problem solving. A good observer can monitor feedback from the horse more effectively. Good riding is working through that infinite feedback loop.

I hope you find my musings interesting.

Happy New Year…from Kimberly Cox and Roderick

Here’s to a great 2014 full of hope, success and growth through…The Positive Equestrian’s Pledge

The focus of attending the recent Petro-Canada Sport Leadership Conference held in Calgary November 7th through 9th was the power of maintaining a positive team focus.

Dressage is an individdual sport, but the barn you train at fosters a team.

The  group of experts you work wlith to better yourself and your horse is a team, if you are a sponsored rider, you are part of a team, you and your horse are a team.

The relevance of a positive team environment in sport is measurable success. The cost of even one negative team member is so great, it can and will sink even the grandest ship of confidence. This is fact.

If there is one negative person at  your side, subversion occurs.

It doesn’t mean everyone has to walk around with false smilles and be happy happy. Most of us who ride and compete in dressage are in a mature demagraphic and know when we hear negative barn talk, explicitly or inferred about another trainer, coach, rider, horse, farrier…etc.

Be a “fly on the wall” at the barn and take notice of the comments made and heard.  Notice who on your team is positive and who may need a tuning in. The head coach at a facility would be the likely candidate to discuss the negativity with the team member privately.  In most instances the negative person may not even realize the potential impact of the discourse.  If there is a question or conflict at a barn there needs to be a clear path of communication directed at the authority with the power to act on the situation.  That’s not negativity, that’s good business.  It’s the sly comments, or inferred remarks of general negativity that cause teams to fail.  Be mindfull in your speech…by all means “say what you mean and mean what you say” and direct any questions or concerns to the right people.

Be proactive, positive and bring your best to the barn. Your horses and your training deserve it.

Jon Gordon presented a “Positive Team Pledge” during his keynote address to the crowd of elite coaches and administrators.  I have modified its contents to fit equestrian sport:

The Positive Equestrian’s Pledge

I pledge to be a positive leader who sets the example for other equestrians through my positive energy and actions.

I promise to share positive energy and encouragement within equestrian sport

I will not be an energy vampire nor will I sabotage myself and my horse with negativity, complaining and excuses.

When I make a mistake I will own it and seek to improve.

When I’m not riding well I will stay positive and strive to get better.

When I experience self-doubt I will remember a time when I succeeded.

When I feel fear I will choose faith.

When I face adversity I will find strength.

When we experience a defeat I will choose to stay positive andd prepare to achieve another victory.

With hard work, determination and faith, I will never give up and will always help my horse forward towards our vision and goals.

Today and every day I will be positive and strive to make a positive impact in our sport.

Jon Gordon is a motivational speaker and has made his success by building winning teams in professional sports.…..Tools for success in the Dressage Court

CalgaryDressage pictures
Showing in Del Mar

The Digital Horse visual aid for learning dresage tests.

I ‘ve found it is better to learn all my dressage tests by memory.  It goes beyond memory, I learn them “by heart”.  In this way I use my anticipation and sequencing skills to help prepare for the next movement.

If there is soft music in the background of our ride I use it to “dance” to with my horse.  If there is no music I ride with a tune in my head.  When I studied dance at Uot C years ago, no one would talk us through the moves from the curtain, in gymnastics you need to remember your floor routine or you couldn’t sequence your tumbling lines, one portion of the routine flowed and built on the next.

I have been in the trenches of training level and I know nerves can play interference with memory. Have a reader if you must to keep yourself secure. I urge all of my riders to know their tests upside douwn and backwards.  Practice a sequence of 2 or 3 moves at a time untill they flow.  Dance with your horse.

Another way to learn your tests is to draw them out on a dressage court template.  This method suits visusal learners best.  Riders can visualize where the next transition takes place.  You make a dressage map for your test.  Advanced riders can add in half halts or what “feel” they should experience at each transition. Preparation points are critical, for example you can’t wait to get to a letter before asking to start a circle, shoulder in or half pass.

Good luck with this, see you at the shows.

…Dressage Code of Conduct

Dressage Code
Patience, Practice, Trust

Dressage Code:

Understand the results you achieve in training are only a step in the process.

Let your horse be the primary source of instant feedback for your purpose and progress.

Focus on joy, celebration and an inner sense of calm purposeful determination.

Know that each result achieved correctly will occur perfectly on purpose.

Prepare to acknowledge what is. Emphasize your appreciation of your horse and what it can do.

Complaints are shared only with someone who can initiate change.

Yours in good riding,

Kim Cox