Thursday, March 23, 2017

Relax-Just Do It with DRT


I've been riding three or four times a week and on the off days using different free yoga, stretch, and exercise videos from DRESSAGE RIDER TRAINING.  It's kind of amazing to me how working a little three or four days a week on my flexibility and core strength has improved my riding quite a bit.  Really quickly.  Because I am more balanced and have more body control everything feels so effortless.  

Another interesting thing has been reading the posts on the DRT BLOG to understand the physiological underpinning of how dressage riders should function physically.  This is all stuff you've maybe heard before from Mary Wanless or Sylvia Loch but explained MUCH more concisely(think four or five paragraphs) with video and written explanations, so you can do it right then and there.  The beauty of this site too, is that you can then go look up exercises that will help you be stronger or more flexible wherever you need to improve.


There are a lot of blog posts I have found useful but three especially stand out to explain the why.  STRENGTH FOR DRESSAGE explains the type of strength necessary for dressage, so the rider can be aligned and with the horse, yet in lightness.  NEUTRAL SPINE goes into how to use the whole core to brace and protect the spine, yet easily follow the horse's movement.  RELAX delves into whether relaxation means being a blob or having the right muscles engaged, so the rider can stay aligned and in balance but have other muscles released, so there is an air of lightness.  


Nothing on this site tells you how to train a horse.  It is all about making sure the rider is more physically correct and using the right muscles to stay in alignment and straightness much more easily.  Check it out and tell me what you think.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Dressage Rider Training for Free Yoga


I've been looking, as per my resolutions, for an online yoga source that is free and geared towards equestrians.  I think I have found it in Dressage Rider Training.  There is a webpage at and also a large presence on YouTube and Pinterest.  Everything is free unless you want the tailored version, sold on the webpage, that will assess your fitness and take you step by step through a 12 week program.  I'm not looking for something that tailored but the free resources are fabulous and the quality of the videos is quite good.

I like how the videos are divided between stretches, exercises, and yoga specifically for the dressage rider.  Using YouTube it is really easy to make personalized playlists that include some yoga, a few stretches, and some exercises.  There are over 40 videos on YouTube, some short and some long, and I have yet to find one that wasn't interesting or helpful in some way.  I am definitely in the beginner yoga category but surprisingly a lot of the exercise and stretches are not that difficult until I get to higher reps.  That must mean I am using the correct muscles, right?

I especially like the Pinterest presence for the articles linked with each video explaining some of the "why" behind the different exercises and videos.  Nicola Smith, the brains behind DRT, is very professionally qualified and is also easy to follow and understand through the various exercises.  So far, I couldn't be more pleased with this free resource.  Check it out and tell me what you think.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Then and Now


Megan at did a great blog hop about equestrian opinions held for a long time that are just totally and completely wrong.  Let me count the ways baby...

Then...The head set is all and the body will follow.
Now...The body is all and the head will be in the right place if the connection is human body to horse body.

Then...Use whatever bit/training aid to get the effect you desire.
Now...Use whatever bit/training aid to get the effect you desire but realize it is a band aid over training that is not correct and/or complete.  Use these things temporarily, maybe for safety, but always be working to fix the holes in the horse's training, so they are not necessary.

Then...My trainer is good at some things, so that must mean he/she is right about every single thing.
Now...My trainer is good at some things but everyone has their weaknesses, so have an enquiring mind while respecting what they know and do well.

Then...Some riders are just talented and the rest of us will never catch up.
Now...Some riders are much more talented but with good biomechanics, good instruction, and an enquiring mind good things can really happen.

Then...Get the behavior or movement you need/want to get even if it is rough/nasty and smoothing it up will be no problem.
Now...Structure the work so every step builds to the next step and even first tries at new things will go pretty well because you have the prerequisites.

Then...Money=success(and horse happiness).
Now...Money smooths over a lot BUT you still see some very wealthy amateurs that still ride poorly on their fancy warmbloods, do well in competition, but seem kind of cranky and some "lower middle class" riders on their off breed dressage horses that ride very correctly, don't win everything, but seem really happy with their lot in life.

Then...If I ride at X level I will be a success and considered a good rider.
Now...If I am in harmony with my horse, he likes his job, and we have a great partnership it doesn't matter if we are not at the summit of the dressage mountain.  Without harmony and partnership the summit means nothing.

Then...If you are a good enough rider and trainer you can work with just about any horse.
Now..If you are a good enough rider/trainer you CAN work with just about any horse but the question becomes do you want to?  Is it worth the effort?  Might your time be spent more wisely with a horse that wants to work with you and try?

I could go on pretty endlessly.  What's on your wrong opinions list?

Monday, February 27, 2017



Yesterday, my Facebook feed was filled with a special promo run by Dressage Today.  The various posts were following a day with a very famous US Olympic dressage rider and quite frankly, it was disturbing.  Don't get me wrong, this rider has won at the highest levels, has gorgeous horses, is a beautiful rider, is very knowledgeable, and well respected.  But.  The tension in the horses.  The working behind the vertical.  And the kicker, a stallion that had to have a human "walker" to start out every ride.  The other stuff I don't like, but this one is a deal breaker for me.  Dressage=training and if you can't get on an eight year old horse and ride off, something is not complete in your system.  Period.

It was interesting to look at the FB comments, which were mostly favorable, and in the line of 'you do what you have to do'.  A few people disagreed, thinking like me that this shows some pretty disturbing things about the rider's methods.  I don't mean this as a witch hunt of this particular person though.  Instead I think it shows a totally different underlying philosophy and objective of the dressage training.  For me, first the horse must be rideable in relaxation and then all the exercises can gymnastically improve the horse leading into competition.  But without the base of relaxation and trust, nothing else matters, even show ring success but with obvious tension.  

Don't take this as some kind of diatribe against competitive dressage.  Off the top of my head I can think of several very successful dressage riders at the highest level of competition that train with a starting and ending  point of relaxation.  Carl Hester, Utta Graf, Charlotte Dujarden, Ingrid Klimke, and even the US rider Laura Graves.  When I look around though, a lot of what I see as "elite" dressage training methods don't have a lot to do with relaxation or quite frankly, correct biomechanics.

What do you think?