Getting Level One Ready

I want to get this down while it's fresh in my mind. I just came in from riding Level One test 1, and I need to add polish. Of course that's the essence of dressage isn't it - getting each gait and figure as close to perfect as we can. I have a ways to go there...
This is navel gazing at it's worst - just a training note to me, so you might want to skip it :)
  • Entry - practice riding the centre line straight, without halting and with halting. Halt and depart from trot. Currently he's getting fairly consistent square halts but they don't always stay straight. Also, for some reason the contact wasn't as consistent today as it has been, throughout the ride. Even freshly sprayed, the flies were bad so it may have been that.
  • I think the two half 10 M circles are good; focus on a nice forward, steady rhythm throughout and moving to the lengthened trot.
  • We need to work more on lengthening the trot. It's something that needs to be built. He has a moderate lengthening and steady rhythm.
  • He's doing fairly well in the stretchy trot circle. I need to remember not to take it for granted and to ride every step. Keep him reaching for the bit, forward and accurately on the circle. Go back to contact smoothly and on time.
  • Make even the first walk step forward and keep him marching, without jigging, across the diagonal in the free walk. Transition to contact smoothly and without a jig.
  • Sit and prepare for the canter three strides ahead - flex to the inside, half halt, aid. Gauge his willingness / forwardness - give the aid early if needed.
  • Practice following with my hands in the canter at all times - more and less for lengthen and shorten as needed. Keep the impulsion up.
  • Don't be afraid that he'll trot when I ask him to shorten his stride in the canter. If I stay relaxed and aid correctly he'll be great.
  • Remember which test I'm riding and don't do the 15 M canter circles in the wrong place!
  • Follow, soft, hands low and lightly half halt as needed in the canter. This could probably be written for every gait, but he is more sensitive in the canter and will slightly lose balance if I don't ride with sensitivity.
The test riding went fairly well. The biggest mistakes were a number of contact and rhythm glitches, which seemed more than normal. I stopped to answer my cell phone when riding and he had to stand in the flies for awhile and we didn't seem to get a good 'flow' back after that. All in all he was good and we just need to keep building on our basics. I'm missing my lessons!


The best part of writing it all down before you forget is that you can review what happened. I think you've got a good handle on what to work on and what's good. Hate those flies!
James said…

Hi – will you please post your Blog at The Dressage Community ay
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smazourek said…
You will get bonus points in the two half circles if you make sure to straighten the horse for 2-3 strides between them and show the change of bend. Obvious left bend on the first circle, straighten for 2-3 strides, bend right and then track right.
I love your thorough training notes!

It sounds like you are doing very well on your own, though I know what you mean about missing lessons.

How is the facility coming along?
Margaret said…
I was wondering... are there any videos for beginners of dressage that you would recommend?
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