Lesson I Learned From A World Class Horse Clinic Experience

These are the basic lessons I learned at our last dressage clinic taught by a World Equestrian Games judge. Pictured in this post is the worst thing to happen to you and horse while riding – The horse is “rearing up. It is very dangerous for the horse and rider. The reason for Dressage is for horse and rider to become one, the perfect pair.  Everyone starts where they start out. It will not happen right away.  Dressage perfection takes almost two decades in some cases.


1) Dress warmly for a horse clinic in January. BRRRR it was freezing! You will have a much better experience and be able to concentrate on your lessons.

The judge teaching the clinic even mentioned how cold her toes were.. Names and locations of the facility where the clinic was held are not named here to protect the privacy of the individuals that were with us and the location of the facility the clinic.

Some national caliber riders were in attendance and riding in the clinic and my love Stephanie a 13th in the USDF National Freestyle dressage rider for Level 1was also there with me.

The lesson emphasized the main points of a good rider:

2) Good rider body position – Basic, but essential to balance in the horse and rider. This protects the leverage you and the horse can use when you are both in control of your center of gravity.

a. The riders back must be slightly back of vertical, but almost vertical.

b. The rider’s seat(bottom) must be seated in the saddle.

c. The rider’s hands must be down near the withers, and no further apart than the width of a small volleyball.

d. The riders hands are connected to the reins which never cross over the centerline the withers makes as you look at the ears of the horse while seated in the saddle.

e. The reins form a straight channel on both sides of the horses head down toward the bit in the horses mouth.

f. A well ridden horse is a straight horse. Straightness and not moving the horses head from side to side or “doing The breast stroke” is controlled with leg aids on either side and minor hand movements (like knitting) inward and outward, but no more. Hands should never leave that channel formed that the horse if ridden correctly, will shoot out of, going forward, and up and out of that channel.in front of the horses path.

g. The horse must be aided with legs and slight hand movement when appropriate to step under itself, thereby allowing it to reach up with its front legs. This is done in all gates and all speeds of the gates of the horse being ridden.

h. Cadence of the gait is just as important as the speed and thoroughness or forward movement of the horse.

I the frame of the horse and rider as a pair, should be perfect to allow for maximum impulsion and control of the gate chosen.

These may seem like basic beginner points, and while they are they are the difference between you getting a WOW! score like Charlotte Du Jardin recently got in the World Cup.

At this clinic, this World Cup and coming World Equestrian Games, judge told the story of the recent World Cup ride by Charlotte Du Jardin(London Games Olympic Gold Medalist Freestyle Dressage)

The judge at this clinic said that Charlotte rode this horse in such a perfect frame at the World Cup, with such impulsion from the back legs shooting up and out through the channel described above, that the horse was able to reach it’s front legs way out(almost over its head (exaggeration) that this judge actually let out a WOW! from her judging booth!

Lesson: She gave her a 10 out of 10 on her extended trot! Hardly ever heard of. So, all you have to do, to get a 10, is to make the judge say WOW about your gait, tempo, thoroughness, connection and cadence! In other words perfection in your riding of that particular gate…LOL

The clinician( the person teaching the clinic is one of the judges for the World Equestrian Games, to be held in Las Vegas in 2015, so it was a real honor to get to know her teaching style ( which I loved, as she had a great sense of humor) and what she looked for in a rider as she was judging was fair and kind to horse and rider, but stern if horse and rider were closer to perfection level.

The Germans invented this sport as a military exercise for the Calvary, and take it very seriously, even down to the breeding of which horse breeds to ride in Dressage.

Yet this judge had a sense of humor and kindness toward the horse that was a pleasure to witness. She had been a rider herself for 50 years.  You knew she had seen it all, and knew what she was teaching. It was like breathing to her. You could just tell.  She was that certain about the way she helped riders at all levels

She was wonderful with the newer riders at lower levels, teaching the riders to be patient with younger horses as they needed to learn what the rider was asking for first, before it could learn to do the gate at a 10 level.  She was always paying close attention to the disposition and straightness of the horse, keeping it safe and sound for years to come.

We also saw some older horses at higher level riders and she demanded more from these horses and from the riders. They were past learning levels now and it was time to perform with perfection! Nothing else would be acceptable.

From what I learned(there was so much more I learned and it will not fit into one blog post, but I will share more with you in later posts) at this one clinic I gained a new perspective of what Dressage truly is. I have been in Dressage now for 4-5 years, and I realized I know nothing! It is a 15-20 year experience with a horse or horses as the rider progresses from being new to a seasoned professional or expert amateur rider.

It is a 15-20 year experience with a horse or horsesI( if the first horse or rider gets injured)  as the rider progresses from being new to a seasoned professional or expert amateur rider. It is probably if measured one next to the other the most expensive sport and the toughest to master.  That is why they called it “The Sport of Kings and Queens.” 

The only reason,  I am in this sport is because, I believe in the Law of Attraction. When I look at where I started never really having ridden a horse to now owning two horses with my love Stephanie and her competing in the USDF National Championship, her first year with her horse Brina; I have to pinch myself to make sure I am not dreaming.

Dressage is the perfect balance between horse and rider to achieve perfection of both the horse and rider in any gate at any cadence required. It makes the person learning Dressage a very good rider. But the Dressage rider is always learning. .

Why am I here writing about a Dressage clinic, because I am a business owner that fell in love with a Dressage rider. If you love horses as much as she and I do, you know how expensive they are. You also know how many hours you have to have in the saddle to obtain that perfection level I referred to earlier in this post. Jobs get in the way of riding, Right?

How would you like it if you could afford the best European breed like TOTILUS, and if you had all the money you needed to pursue your dream of being a Grand Prix rider, the highest honor our sport has to offer a rider of that caliber?

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