Ottb vs Warmblood: Training Two Fillies

Sofiya and Boogie Rose

Two fillies, both about to turn 4, are beginning dressage training. One came from the track, the other from the breeder’s field. Each horse requires a slightly different approach, and each one offers a few advantages over the other, as well as a few drawbacks. Here’s a side-by-side comparison. Filly #1: Boogie Rose, 15.2 hand bay OTTB This pretty girl is dainty and elegant. Light on her feet, with athleticism to spare. She’s a worker-bee and thrives on exercise and discipline. She likes routine, attention, and is at her best when her energy is channeled into work. She also has…

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A One-Eyed Thoroughbred Takes His Ammy to Grand Prix

Bugsy the one-eyed thoroughbred competing at Grand Prix

Here’s a story to make you wonder “What’s my excuse?”, and inspire you to go ride the horse you have.  A reminder of the simple things that are so important, and encouragement to keep trying through the challenges. It is a bumpy road and there will be set backs, but above all else, enjoy each moment and don’t let anyone tell you that you or your horse aren’t good enough for dressage. Make it a New Year’s Resolution, or better yet, start today, but know deep down that every horse has hidden potential waiting to be discovered, and gifts to offer the open-minded…

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Getting Control of Your Horse’s Shoulders with the Leg Yield Hexagon

leg yield

Leg yielding can be such a useful exercise, but one of the most common things that goes wrong is the horse falling over his outside shoulder instead of stepping across his body with his inside hind leg. Here’s a simple exercise to help improve the quality of the leg yield you are getting and give you control over your horse’s shoulders by encouraging him to hold himself up instead of falling on the forehand. To begin, if you need to review what a leg yield is or how to do it, you can read about it here. The other easy…

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Video Analysis of My Ride and How to Make This Tool Work for You

Remy gets pats

This video I took to establish a baseline on where my horse and I are at riding different movements. There are plenty of mistakes, but I wanted to share it to discuss those mistakes for learning purposes, and to show how to use video as a powerful tool to improve your riding. Hopefully this doesn’t get taken out of context! The horse in this video is my 10 year old off track thoroughbred, Remy (Jockey Club registered as Mr. Painter). I’ve had him since he was 4. He raced a few times but was too slow, and retired young and sound,…

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How I Focused My Look-y Horse To Get Good Work Instead of Spooks

It was one of *those* nights – early spring, nearing dusk, with a slightly gusty breeze… and of course, the indoor arena now had all the windows opened up after the long, cold winter. Alone in the ring, my normally quiet, sensible horse was on edge as he examined the new openings all around the ring, surprised each time he felt the wind blow INSIDE the arena, listening to previously muffled sounds that now added a constant murmur of background noise to our usually silent work space. Birds were chirping, cars were cruising passed on the road, and a train horn…

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Becoming a Better Rider By Becoming a Serious Student

horse books

The best thing a rider of any level can do if she wants to make progress with her riding is to become a serious student.  It doesn’t have to cost much or any money, and it can fit into your schedule where ever you can find a little time. There are opportunities for learning all around us, and especially with all the information on the internet now, it is very easy to pick up tips and integrate new ideas and information into your ride, if you’re open to learning.  The trick is to balance the open-mindedness with some critical thinking…

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Dressage with Off-Breeds: The Failure Trap to Avoid

You know your horse isn’t the “typical” dressage horse. Maybe his breeding is unusual, or just not what we usually see in the ring. Maybe his gaits are not beautiful by nature, or maybe he has less than perfect conformation. Maybe you are proud of this, or maybe you are self-conscious about it. Regardless, he is your chosen dressage partner and together you and he are embarking on a journey. As you go along, you will come across significant challenges, and when you do, there is a danger you need to guard against. Expected Failure We all love the fairy…

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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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