Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Response Training and Other Winter Projects

Now that the cold is here in earnest, with some truly frigid weather for November, time to plan out some Winter training goals.  For some background, I have a very modest covered riding area that is approximately 50'x50', which limits some types of training and my full size dressage court is on grass, so riding on that is great, but completely dependent on weather.  Definitely some limitations, but with creativity I have usually managed to ride 2-3 times per week and improve Jet a bit every Winter.

First up, I am interested in doing some response training with Jet.  I saw an article in The Chronicle of the Horse by Catherine Haddad Staller about using response training for her very hot dressage horse Hotmail to improve his reactions to stressful situations and environments.  After some research into the trainer she used and response training in general, I think I have a plan to work our way through some very basic training on the ground and then move on to some under saddle work inside.  Jet is by nature very sensitive/spooky with much improvement through training, but I think this specific training might really be useful and make him a bit more "solid" in different environments.

Second, I found a wonderful book through my library in their online book collection called 101 Dressage Exercises by Jec Ballou.  I have been playing all Fall with several different exercises and combinations of movements that are new to me and have gotten some very good work from Jet.  I have found it really helpful in the context of my improved biomechanics to add in the component of what/when for the horse and think some more about how certain exercises lend themselves to certain harder movements.  Also, the book includes lots of new to me exercises we can do in our small ring, so that is super helpful.

Third, I will keep working on my rider biomechanics.  I have a pretty comprehensive list of things to improve and luckily I have mirrors inside to be able to check our progress.  Also, I am going to add in more no stirrup work and also the occasional day in the jumping saddle for a change of muscle groups.  Plenty to work on and hopefully some building blocks that will help us complete the Rider Test at 2nd Level next year with a decent score and comments.


  1. Just discovered your blog and really appreciate you listing as one of your favorites! I too watched the Catherine Haddad Staller response training video in awe, oh and I'm a fan of Jec Ballou's exercise books as well. Looks like we'll be working on the same stuff with our horses this winter! Happy riding ...and blogging! SHADBELLY

  2. Thrilled to have been visited by SHADBELLY, love your style and your blog!