By Amy Kathleen Miller
I have been mulling over in my head the things that I have been learning from the horses out at the barn, and what exactly to say to help others with their horses the way that I am learning so much from mine, things that I’m learning from reading, not to mention the many riding lessons that I have taken and still continue to take.
As a person who loves to ride more English than western, it was more of the dressage riding style that has taught me the most. Everyone, whether it be western or more English, should learn some dressage technique. I will be writing a lot about horses and what I have been learning, hopefully to get people wanting to keep an on-going discussion with me about this. I will also shoot some video and photos to help as well. But I will not exclusively write about horses, I do other fun things with my family and I would also love to share that as well.
The reason I say that every horse enthusiast should learn dressage is because of the natural way dressage builds close communication between you and your horse that no other horse specialist does. Also, the training is done in a more natural setting. It takes longer to train the horse this way because dressage doesn’t use tie downs, running martingales, etc. It is all done more naturally. We help the horse to learn to bring their heads down by asking for their heads by gentle squeezes on the inside rein, since we have a constant contact with the horse’s mouth, and to keep the wall up by the use of the outside rein, just to have a constant line of communication with them. The horse needs to stretch out their topline, since we ride on top of the horse we have now disrupted their sense of balance so we need to teach them how to properly carry us. If the horse brings the head up and holds it high, like I notice in a lot of western movies, just remember that the horse has hollowed out their back. If this continues, the horse’s back will become weakened. What is dressage? I put this information up from Wikipedia about the linage of dressage. It is literally a riding style where you and the horse become one and enjoy the dance together.
I’m also including a video of an exceptional ride in dressage below. If you watch the horse, she is totally relaxed and enjoying it. She is foaming at the mouth, which means the rider has extremely soft hands and her mouth is soft and relaxed. The horse learns to hold their head in and round out their back into the rider’s seat because then they become balanced with the rider, which preserves their backs. It takes time to teach a dressage horse well, in fact it takes years. Most dressage people start the young horse older than most. But I have seen horses do these moves completely on their own and they also tuck their heads naturally. Dressage is nothing more than the natural movement of a horse trained to do those movements with a rider.
The horse might get started in riding at the age of four or older. This is so that the foal will be closer to adulthood rather than still a baby at the age of two years. Besides, at the age of four years the legs are more fully developed with lesser chances of broken bones or tendons. I like this kind of mentality in horse training. The trainer is thinking more about the horse’s well-being rather than training early and causing problems which comes from lack of maturity in a younger horse. I have heard of two prime examples of that, but I will probably discuss these two problems at another time.
Of course, with the Summer Olympics coming up in London, you can bet that my favorite events are the equestrian events. Too bad they hardly ever show them on the TV broadcasts!
Editor’s Note: “Amy’s Angle” is a weekly Wednesday feature in this blog.
Copyright 2012, Daddysangbassdude Media
- London Olympics preview: Rafalca Romney – Dressage! (blogforarizona.com)
- Olympic equestrian events worth a second look (bangordailynews.com)
- Romney family sued for fraud in 2010 after selling Dressage horse for $125,000 (investmentwatchblog.com)
- Dressage: It Rhymes with Massage. (annablakeblog.com)
- The Horse In The Horserace, Ctd (andrewsullivan.thedailybeast.com)