4 Patterns for Improving Bend

If you’ve gotten test comments like “needs more bend” or “unbalanced turn/circle” or worse, “counter-bent on circle”, read on for some ideas that might help you work on it. It seems like bend is one of those things that can be super tough to figure out how to get correct, especially at the lower levels, but it’s such an important foundation piece that getting it right will help many pieces of the more advanced work fall into place for you. It’s also something that can be improved almost endlessly, so it never hurts to spend some time concentrating on it. With…

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A Must-Read: Jane Savoie’s Dressage 101

Below the title, the cover of Jane Savoie’s Dressage 101 reads, “The Ultimate Source of Dressage Basics in a Language You Can Understand” and I think a more accurate description could not be made.  If you are going to pick one single book to best learn about dressage, from defining “on the bit” and learning to do the elusive “half halt” and continuing on right up the levels through advanced movements, this is the best book I’ve come across. It is an easy read with clear definitions, step by step instructions, and beautiful illustrations. Jane has such a knack for…

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Improve Your Riding Today with a Ridiculously Easy Change

It’s hard to create a new habit, we usually give up new things long before they become habits. I think most of us go through “I’m going to start working out (again)!” phases that never seem to stick, and often the same with eating healthier or dieting. It’s always things we know we should do, and genuinely would like to do, but somehow despite the best intentions, those New Years resolutions never last long. How do we overcome this so we can successfully improve ourselves? One way is to make the goal smaller, more achievable, so easy that even when you are tempted…

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Myler French Link Bits

Anyone who knows me (or even follows me online) knows I’m a total bit nerd. My big dream someday is to have a lab set up where I can x-ray and pressure test different bits under different conditions. I have spent countless hours trying different bits on my horses to see how they lay in the mouth, both at rest and under pressure (many rotate in the mouth when under rein pressure… an interesting variable when considering how they work on the different parts of the mouth!), and how horses respond to one compared to another. There are very few…

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How to Ride Like a Trainer: Taking Responsibility and Finding Empowerment

Every time you interact with your horse, you are training him. For better or worse, whether the interaction you had was good, bad, or maintained the status quo. You did something, your horse responded, and his response got either positive reinforcement or disciplinary action from you. And he just learned something. You just taught him something. Let that sink in a moment. This is an awesome power we all have, but so often goes unnoticed by many riders because the state of awareness and focus it requires is not the same one we are usually in as we run around…

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The Trick to Stretchy Trot and Topline Building

To begin to develop a horse’s musculature, it’s important to start slowly and take the time to create a solid foundation to build on later. This can be a young or green horse that’s never worked, or it can be a horse that’s had some time off or that is changing disciplines or repairing after incorrect riding.  A big part of this means developing the horse’s topline and carrying power, so that he can carry you comfortably, and to make him a lighter, more comfortable horse to ride. When he carries himself correctly, he will move in a way that is easier…

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Before Horse Shopping, Do This

The Horse-Shopping List, your guide to getting the horse of your dreams and not the impulse buy. With so many options out there, and so many beautiful ads, it can be very easy to get off course and waste time (and money, if you’re travelling or bringing your trainer along) on horses that won’t be a good fit. With a good list and the powers of the internet and the ease of sharing video clips now, you can minimize travel, only going to see horses that, assuming they are as-advertised, will be what you’re looking for.  To make this “shopping…

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Leg Yields – The How, When, and Why

horse leg yielding

I love leg yields. They are the most basic lateral movement, and for that reason, an incredible tool for green horses and riders new to dressage.  To do a leg yield is not real hard, but does require an understanding of a few somewhat complicated concepts.  Most people can relatively easily understand the concepts and how to do a leg yield, but then find carrying it out to be slightly counter-intuitive, which is what makes leg yielding such a great exercise. Once it “clicks” for a horse or rider, it’s like a big light bulb turns on, and from there…

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