Dressage Clinic was a Success

So many photos, so little time to edit and blog… so for now, I’m posting a video of Luke and I riding the Intro C Dressage Test at the clinic with Val Vetos on Saturday. After I edit the photos and have a chance to weed through my notes, I’ll post more details about the clinic itself.

It rained pretty hard through most of the clinic so we had to use the indoor ring. With the rain beating on the roof, it was difficult to hear Val’s comments and the reader during the test, but I got a ton out of the experience, both while I was riding and when I was watching and listening to other people’s rides and instructions.

Luke was more nervous than usual and I was too. When I watched the video, I was bothered by how much my hands bobbed and the look of my posting, but the only criticism I got as a rider was that I need to pull my shoulders back more. I think if I did that, got more centered in my core, and got Luke pushing from behind, I’d look more fluid (hopefully).

Part of the hunching is my protectiveness of my lower back but actually, that just means I’m tensed up so it doesn’t truly help. Another one of those instances where my instincts for self protection causes me problems. I was actually complimented on my hands being light so maybe the hand bobbing is because Luke’s gait is extremely bouncy and I’m trying not to hit his mouth every stride.

Enough excuses… I did get a few 8’s and lots of 7’s so that made me happy. The things we have to work on is maintaining rhythm. I’ve been worried about how quick Luke gets in the canter but Val said with the Tennessee Walker part of him, right now he needs to go quick to keep his back end going — quick and rhythmic is better than changing speeds, hollowing, and losing his balance.

Luke does look better in the canter than I thought he did. Some work is needed in our transitions but they aren’t as awful as I thought.

The other big thing to work on is his stretching, lengthening and getting more swing through the free walk. Because he’s so upright and I’m having trouble with that, Val suggested someone walk in front of us with treats to coax Luke to reach out and down. There were more walk improvement tips about using alternate legs — don’t push with your seat, but I’ve already rambled on more than I had planned.

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  1. How fun Maery! You and Luke look wonderful together! He is just a cutie pie! Glad you had a good experience all around-thanks for sharing!
    Sue and the crew

  2. You and Luke did it. I can’t tell you how many tests I have read for people. It makes it so much easier for the rider. Both of you look terrific…Glad you thought it was a good learning experience. Rolling your shoulders back will put you in the right spot. Isn’t it nice to have a video of your ride?

  3. Yeah Maery!!! I have no idea what dressage even meant but I think Luke is beautiful…love that little tail swish too…Luke’s that is! : )

  4. I love it! You and Luke are a great team, and it sounds like you have just little stuff to “work on”. But, mostly, you look like you’re having fun!

    I have the same problem with “hunching”. My PT is constantly after me not to “hunch” through life, using a protective posture to try to keep my back safe. Keep those shoulders back!

  5. Thanks everyone for your comments. I’m glad I didn’t cancel out as I was tempted to do.

    Sharon – Welcome!

    Lynn – The simplistic explanation for dressage is that it’s a form of training that you can then show at. Each level of test asks you to have mastered certain things that get progressively more difficult. Some horses can never make it to the higher levels as it takes a great degree of strength to do the movements. But the rides get progressively more beautiful.

  6. Dressage is like watching someone paint..it is a work of art between rider and the horse. I thought you both looked great..some more practice and you will be perfect. I noticed that Luke was a little bored during the last walk:)

  7. Very nicely done! You both looked at ease. I see what you mean about your hands bouncing a bit, and I can relate to the hunching. That’s what I do when I get a tad nervous about something, which makes things worse. Sit back and look where you’re going is my motto. Sometimes, if I remember to breathe, it helps immensely. If that’s too complicated, then sing to yourself. It helps relax the rider and if the rider relaxes, your horse will relax too. Beautiful job!!! Looks like you’re having so much fun!

  8. haha! I love your cheering squad! Having support and encouragement…. That makes all the difference, doesn’t it?

    Very proud of you. You’re just getting out there and challenging yourself and your handsome Luke. He looks great, by the way. 🙂


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