Theory, History, Aids, Exercises, Tack and Training… Find the Information you need!
My name is Christy, and I’m a dressage trainer with over 20 years of experience riding, training, and caring for horses. One of the most important things I’ve learned is that while lessons are an important part, alone they are not enough. Riders who are serious about learning have to take it another step and become well-educated horsemen by studying the work of others, both current and past.
This seems to be the most often neglected part of the journey, and I’m sure that’s in part due to the busy lives most people lead, and the challenge to make the time to sit down and study. It’s a part I thoroughly enjoy, so I’m going to do it for you, and share bite-size pieces of books I read, lessons I teach, clinics I ride in, videos I watch, articles I find interesting, and research I do. In time, I want this website to be full of information that you can search for topics of interest to you, and also a page you can visit frequently to supplement your in-the-saddle learning.
My joy in life is my horses, and researching all the various elements that make them enjoyable partners. My philosophy is “If the horse says no, ask why.” It’s simple, but most people assume the horse is misbehaving or misunderstanding (in which case they shout louder rather than rephrasing the question). This philosophy has guided my journey in dressage, and lead me to study in depth the many pieces necessary to help the horse be successful, happy, and healthy.
I believe that the less naturally inclined a horse is to do dressage, the more of these pieces must be completely correct for the horse to achieve success beyond a basic level. And, of course, the more gifted a horse is to begin with, the more brilliant they can be when all the pieces come together to maximize his ability to perform. I’m creating this site as a tool for riders everywhere to use to help them figure out what pieces they might be missing, or little ways they might make their horse more comfortable or ride more effectively. It’s also a place to find answers to questions you might have when getting into this sport, or for ideas to solve training problems.
There are so many pieces that go into creating a successful partnership with your horse, and most riding lessons tend to focus on training the horse through movements and patterns, which is such a small piece! If you want to give your horse every advantage possible (especially if you are on a budget like I am) then this website will help you fill in the gaps.
Let’s face it, most of us cannot afford full training with the biggest name trainers, and to have saddle fitters out every time the horse gains or loses a few pounds, or to have the chiropractor out anytime the horse has an off day and *might* need it. Most of us do the best we can with what we have, and care for our horses the best we are able to, while being realistic about what percentage of the budget gets allotted to the horse. The more knowledge you have, the more you can do yourself, and the further you can stretch your budget. The more comfortable your horse is and the better you ride, the further you can get with your horse, or any horse!
Speaking of any horse… I am awed by a beautiful warmblood as much as anyone is, but I am also saddened when I hear of riders giving up on their beloved non-warmblood partners because they’ve been lead to believe that a warmblood is a necessity for success in dressage. Or worse, giving up on the sport entirely because they can’t afford the horse they are told they need to participate. This is not a good thing for the sport as a whole, and certainly leads many potential riders and perfectly good horses to miss out on an incredible opportunity to learn and enjoy a sport that really can be for everyone!
It wasn’t SO long ago that warmbloods didn’t exist, and the orginal “warmbloods” were a totally different creature than we have today. And somehow back then all the riders that did dressage to the highest levels did it on what we’d consider “average” or “off-breed” horses. It seems to me that training “average” horses is becoming a lost art. Dressage used to be about developing a horse and improving his gaits, rather than requiring the rider to buy a horse that comes with amazing gaits. Now, if you can afford to buy the horse with amazing gaits, by all means do so… and then improve those natural gaits to something *really* incredible!! I think we all love watching a beautiful, harmonious pair dancing in the show ring, and we could use more of those out there setting an example of what is possible. This is not to knock those who choose to start with some of the amazing horses that are out there, but just to offer hope and a helping hand to those who choose (whether due to finances or love, or just because they enjoy the challenge) to work with a horse not bred for dressage. The fundamentals I’m going to write about here are the pieces that come together to help any horse and rider partnership find success, and for many average horses and riders I see, they seem to be not only essential but also overlooked.
I’m going to share my experiences trying various products, review books (and hopefully inspire you to try one), and report on clinics and lessons with exercises I find beneficial. My hope is that this information will help you make educated decisions, but of course, each horse is different and you will have to decide what of this information fits your horse and the place he’s at in his training. If you need help with that part, let me know! I’m willing to write posts on a topic you request, and I’m available to do video critiques, local lessons, and clinics at your barn.
I invite you to explore, search, subscribe, and learn!