Category Archives: Dressage

The Discipline of Riding Dressage

Dressage4Kids Tips, by Lendon Gray

I recommend spending a little time staring at the picture and thinking about where all the joints are and how they move. Check out the website: www.horsesinsideout.com. There is some wonderful educational content there.

One excellent exercise that I think many people do not use enough is the turn on the forehand. For beginners this is a wonderful exercise for learning coordination of the aids – how much leg, where to put the leg, and just enough hand to discourage the horse from moving forward, but not hanging on the mouth. For the green horse, it’s a wonderful way to introduce moving away from the leg as opposed to going faster to the leg. For the advanced horse it can be an excellent tune-up.

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Dressage4Kids Tips, by Lendon Gray

I always tell my students that they can’t tell me they can truly do something with their horses unless they do it the best they can do it the FIRST time they do it each day. If you have to practice several times you are still learning it/working on it. So, when you ride today, what can you do the best you are capable of the FIRST time? Sometimes riders just allow themselves to sort of do it and then make it better. Challenge yourself to do “it” the best you can the first time. This could be a walk to trot transition or a schooling canter pirouette.

And if you can’t ride at the moment, sit in a chair and visualize the things you have been working on. Close your eyes and feel yourself on your horse and go through every thought process for every tiny part of doing the movement correctly. Then open your eyes and double check what your instructor has been reminding you – are you doing it the best way you can or the way you tend to do it that is not necessarily your best. Then look at it as the judge sees it – get online and look up tests or tutorials on that movement. Does yours look the same? And if you are riding is there someone who can video just one or two movements that you are doing the best you can the first time?

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Dressage4Kids Tips, by Lendon Gray

I am amazed at how often I have to have riders get off at the beginning of a lesson to adjust their helmets. In brief, your helmet should be steady on your head, not able to wobble (especially if you put your hair under it). The brim should be just above your eyebrows. The chin straps should be just tight enough that if you open your mouth wide it pulls the helmet a bit tighter on your head. There are many online tutorials about helmet fit and the safety of various brands of helmets. Remember they do not last forever and also if you have had a fall where your helmet hits the ground you must replace it. This might also be a good time to look into cleaning the inside of your helmet.

I would love for those of you exercising at home to share your exercise routine with us. Hopefully you are working to strengthen your core, and working on your flexibility and balance. Write us a note or share a video on Facebook.

For those riding

What a great time to do all your riding (except your warm-up) without stirrups (your horse is safe, right?).  Surely I don’t need to talk about the value of riding without stirrups, do I? You should ride without stirrups enough that it is your preferred way of riding. Make sure you aren’t gripping with your thighs and that your legs are hanging long and of course that you aren’t using your horse’s mouth for security. If you’re nervous about cantering, practice at walk and trot. If you are nervous about trotting, practice at walk until your confidence grows.

What happens if while you’re cantering you take your leg off your horse’s side. Does he break? If so that tells you that you are holding hm in the canter. You are using up your leg aid just to keep him going. If this is the case, get your canter, give him a little push forward, and then take your leg away (let your heel down). Two strides later give him another little (big?) push and take your leg away. Gradually you will be able to keep your leg off longer, but even if you have to push him every third side, so be it, but make sure your leg comes off in between. It’s fine to have your leg close at all times, just make sure you’re not clutching. And of course, this is the same at walk, and trot.

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Dressage Calendar Task Force Agrees Proposals via Videoconference

The Dressage Calendar Task Force, one of the eight discipline-specific task forces created by the FEI to evaluate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the FEI Calendar and propose ways of mitigating its effects, held its first meeting via videoconference 16 April 2020.

The meeting was chaired by FEI Secretary General Sabrina Ibáñez, who has overall responsibility for the FEI Calendar and who is chairing each of the discipline Task Forces. Jumping was the first of the Calendar Task Forces to meet online on 2 April.

The members who joined the Dressage teleconference call were FEI Vice Presidents Mark Samuel (CAN) and Jack Huang (TPE), Chair of the FEI Dressage Committee Frank Kemperman (NED), European Equestrian Federation Vice President Ulf Helgstrand (DEN), Dressage Athletes’ Representative Beatriz Ferrer-Salat (ESP), and Thomas Baur (GER), representative of the International Equestrian Organisers Association. The FEI Dressage Director, FEI Calendar Administrator, and representatives of the FEI IT, Legal, and Governance departments were also on the call.

The main topics discussed by the group included:

  • Deadlines for National Federations to come back to the FEI with proposed alternative dates for Events looking to reschedule in 2020
  • Rules relating to date clashes and late-date/date change applications
  • Prioritising all CDIOs
  • Dressage Championships in 2020 and 2021
  • FEI Dressage Nations Cup™ series 2020 and the FEI Dressage World Cup™ Final 2021
  • Initiatives to help Organisers

The proposals from the Dressage Calendar Task Force will now go to the FEI Board for consideration. The Board has already tasked each of the Calendar Task Forces to look into the impact of the requested date changes on the existing Events in the Calendar and to provide proposed solutions to the FEI Secretary General and the Board.

The FEI President is being kept fully updated on the work of each of the Task Forces and, where required, will assist in finalising proposals to be put forward to the FEI Board for approval.

The principles agreed by the Board after the first Jumping Calendar Task Force meeting at the beginning of the month have been shared with the other seven Task Forces that will evaluate the impact of the virus on the FEI Calendar for their discipline. Each of these Task Forces consists of the core group plus the Chair of the relevant Technical Committee, a representative of the Athletes, and the FEI Sports Director of the specific discipline.

Meeting dates for each of the Calendar Task Forces are now confirmed:

20 April – Joint Task Force meeting for Driving, Vaulting, and Reining, specifically to discuss FEI European Championships for Youth and Seniors in 2020 and 2021, which is the most pressing calendar issue. Following this, separate meetings will be held with each discipline Task Force to review potential date clash issues.

22 April – Jumping (2nd Task Force meeting)

24 April – Eventing

28 April – Dressage (2nd meeting)

29 April – Endurance

30 April – Para Dressage

Media contacts:

Grania Willis
Director, Communications
grania.willis@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 42

Vanessa Martin Randin
Senior Manager, Media Relations & Communications
vanessa.randin@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 73

FEI.TV Available Free of Charge while Live Sport Is on Hold

Swedish Dressage athlete Patrik Kittel tries out the Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ trophy for size, whilst compatriot, former European Champion Peder Fredricson, takes hold of the FEI Dressage World Cup™ trophy. (FEI/Liz Gregg)

FEI.TV, the FEI’s online television platform, will be providing all its coverage of past events and special equestrian features free of charge to everyone while live sport is on hold until end of June.

Under normal circumstances, FEI.TV live-streams all major FEI Series and Championships, with an extensive range of replays, special features, and historic events coverage available on-demand combining to provide unparalleled coverage of equestrian sport year-round.

But with no live sport, access to FEI.TV will be free and existing subscribers will be compensated for the months of April, May, and June. They will get automatically refunded on their accounts. All content on the platform, including VOD, will be freely available to all users who will need to register, meaning that fans can re-live all the action from past events so there’s no need to miss out on your fix of equestrian sport.

“Premium content like this usually sits behind a paywall and is normally available only to subscribers, but while there is no ‘live’ sport, we want to give equestrian fans the chance to binge-watch for free during this terrible pandemic,” FEI Commercial Director Ralph Straus says.

This week’s Longines FEI Jumping World Cup™ and FEI Dressage World Cup™ Finals in Las Vegas were one of the early high-profile victims of the Covid-19 outbreak when they were cancelled in mid-March. But Jumping and Dressage fans now have the opportunity to relive some of the very best moments of the FEI World Cup™ Finals from the past five years – 2015 to 2019 – live and free on FEI.TV, FEI Jumping and Dressage Facebook pages, and FEI YouTube channel daily. And if you can’t watch it live, catch it on replay on FEI.TV.

For fans of the other equestrian disciplines, FEI.TV has lots more unique content, ranging from FEI Vaulting and Driving World Cup™ highlights to wrap-ups of the FEI Eventing and Dressage Nations Cup™ series.

An additional broadcast offering has been made available by the FEI, equestrian sport’s global governing body, providing free access to video archive footage to TV broadcasters in EBU member territories across Europe through its partnership with EBU, and to key territories in the rest of the world via its partnership with IMG.

“Our broadcast partners are struggling to fill their air-time without live sport, so this initiative has been put in place to ensure that they have access to top equestrian footage and, together, we can keep our fans around the world happy with their daily dose of equestrian content,” Straus says.

Media contacts:

Grania Willis
Director Communications
grania.willis@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 42

Shannon Gibbons
Media Relations and Communications Manager
shannon.gibbons@fei.org
+41 78 750 61 4

Dressage4Kids Tips

Photo credit: Harry Furey.

This suggestion is for those riding and those who are not able to ride. I find it surprising how often I have to teach riders how to shorten their reins. Seems easy, right?

First of all, normally one should not shorten the reins by dropping and grabbing the rein with the hand on the same side as the rein – right hand jumps forward or even crawls forward on the right rein to make it shorter. This causes the contact to be dropped and then often grabbed back or at the very least to wobble. One should reach across with the thumb and top finger of one hand, pull the rein through the other hand – taking the rein on top of the thumb and first finger of the opposite hand. And when you shorten the rein your hand should slide forward on the rein. Usually we do not shorten the rein to make it tighter, but to have the hand further forward. The hands should normally be in front of the pommel. If you hold your hands too wide or too low, this will be impossible to do easily. Your hands should be held near each other.

So my challenge to you is to play with shortening your reins and think carefully about what he horse feels on his mouth; remember the bit at the end of your reins lies on his bare gums. He should not know you are shortening your reins. Those of you in the house, get some narrow belts or twine or reins if you have them, and have someone else hold one end, or tie them to the back of a chair. Now see if you can shorten the reins without the other person feeling it or having the reins get looser or tighter as you do it.

As I was looking for a video to share I was surprised to find people telling you to shorten the reins the way I tell you NOT to – and you can see in the videos how the contact gets tighter and looser as they do it.

This one explains it the way I think you should shorten your reins: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TUCvR0gIR5E.

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Dressage4Kids Tips

Meghan Benge Photography.

If you have your boots at home, check these things out. Look at the wear on the inside of your boots. Are both boots the same? Is the wear on the inside or does the wear go into the seam on the back, which tells you that you probably ride with your leg turned out too much? It means your toes are out, but that most often starts at your hips. If that’s the case, start some hip opening exercises.

A quick thought for those riding

OK – today’s subject is s big one – half halts! But in a nutshell. Half halts are a prompt call to attention and rebalancing or reorganizing. Before you can do a half halt you must have a prompt go from the leg – as in, you say go more with your leg and the next stride is bigger or faster. And you say whoa with your hand/back/weight and the next stride is shorter or slower. Without that quick response you will not have a half halt (I wish that was all there is to it, but first check that out). Then can you make exactly one step bigger/faster and one step slower/shorter. Check that out today and then we’ll add to this.

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Para-Dressage Newcomers Awarded Grants to Fund Ambitious New Dreams

Erika Wager and Clifton Zander (Photo courtesy of Erika Wager)

Exploring new breeds and disciplines is one of the most fun parts about being an equestrian. As we challenge ourselves to learn a new style of riding or master different training techniques, we inevitably become better athletes and horse people. Newcomers to U.S. para-dressage Meghan Benge (Windsor, S.C.) and Erika Wager (Delmar, N.Y.) are doing just that, and making a splash as they do.

Benge and Wager are both veteran competitors in a multitude of other disciplines, including endurance, hunters, combined driving, and even Thoroughbred racing and retraining, and were recently awarded grants from The Dressage Foundation’s Para-Equestrian Dressage Fund to support their growth in the para-dressage discipline. Both athletes are working to qualify for and compete at the Adequan®/USEF Para Dressage National Championships in the next couple of years.

READ MORE

Learn more about para-dressage and other para-equestrian programs by visiting the United States Para-Equestrian Association, a recognized affiliate of US Equestrian. Follow the USPEA on Facebook and Twitter.

by Ashley Swift
© 2020 United States Equestrian Federation

Dressage4Kids Tips

Here is one of my favorite teaching tools off the horse. Your ability to follow the motion of your horse’s head and neck and to separate your arms from whatever your body is doing is extremely important. You can do this with a bridle as I did here or just with lead ropes or even twine. The “horse” (me in the photo) holds the reins on one end and the rider hold the reins in the normal fashion – as if she were riding with elbows bent and very slightly in front of her waist. The “horse” moves the reins forward and back both together and then each independently. If the rider has that teeny, tiny pull that enables her to keep the rein from ever becoming loose, but never tight, just taut, she can keep the same feel throughout. Then the rider walks in place, trots, and canters while the “horse” keeps moving the reins back and forth a bit. We do this on the trampoline for even more difficulty, but it can certainly be done on solid ground. Keep a soft fist. You will find it nearly impossible to do with a tight, hard fist.

A quick thought for those riding

Those of you lucky enough to be riding – first try the exercise above on the ground. Now get on your horse and just walk with long, not loose reins – can you stay with the horse’s mouth with exactly the same pressure throughout the stride? Does your rein get looser and tighter? Can you maintain exactly the same amount of pressure on both reins, so the bit is exactly centered in the horse’s mouth? It doesn’t matter at this moment where your horse’s head is. Just see if you can become part of him without ANY communication with him. Your arm and hand are an extension of his mouth and neck (and back). Some of you may find it very difficult to “do nothing” not fussing with the bit in some way.

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2021 AGDF to Host 2020 Lövsta Future Challenge and Summit Farm Future Challenge Series Finals

Sarah Lockman and Balia were the high score of the qualifiers in the Summit Farm Prix St. Georges Future Challenge Series. ©️Susan Stickle.

Wellington, FL – March 26, 2020 – Adequan® Global Dressage Festival announces that the $15,000 Lövsta Future Challenge/Young Horse Grand Prix series and the $10,000 Summit Farm Future Challenge/Young Horse Prix St. Georges series, both slated to hold finals during the final week of the 2020 AGDF, have been postponed until the first week of the 2021 AGDF due to the cancellation of the final two weeks of the circuit because of coronavirus. After a highly successful inaugural season of 10 qualifying weeks, the horse and rider combinations have been determined for the Finals.

“While we are disappointed to have to cancel the last two weeks of AGDF and postpone these series finals, we look forward to hosting them as a kick-off to the 2021 AGDF,” said AGDF Director of Sport Thomas Baur. “We were thrilled to see how popular both of the series were and that so many riders, trainers, and owners appreciated the opportunity afforded for their up-and-coming horses.”

The $15,000 Lövsta Future Challenge/Young Horse Grand Prix series idea, originally set up by Tinne Vilhelmson Silfvén and Louise Nathorst in its home country of Sweden as a talent development program, is for horses age eight to ten years old at the Grand Prix level. They competed in the FEI Intermediate II test.

During the 2020 AGDF, Lövsta also announced the launch of a new charitable initiative to benefit the local charity, Friends of Palm Beach. Lövsta supported the charity and its mission by donating $250 for every ride in the series throughout the circuit, ending up with a total of $8,500 given to the charity.

“For us at Lövsta, sustainability has been a strong driving force,” said owner Antonia Ax:son Johnson. “Our slogan is ‘Save the earth. It’s the only planet with horses.’ To underline our commitment, we decided to support the charitable organization Friends of Palm Beach with $250 for every entry in the Lövsta Future Challenge this season. This fine group of people clean the Palm Beach beaches from trash to support the beautiful creatures of the sea and keep our beaches clean and environmentally safe. The beauty of our ocean and the beauty of our horses align.”

Friends of Palm Beach is a 501(c)3 organization that cleans the beaches of Palm Beach regularly to remove incoming plastics, trash, and unnatural debris and to educate the community on the effects of this on our environment and marine life. They partner with other non-profit job placement programs to help end the cycle of homelessness while also helping to end the cycle of trash in our ocean.

The popularity of the $10,000 Summit Farm Future Challenge/Young Horse Prix St. Georges series for horses seven to nine years old was evident at the 2020 AGDF, and many of the best young small tour horses competed for a chance to qualify for the Finals.

One of the qualifiers was Pan American Games team and individual gold medalist Sarah Lockman (USA), who is also the professional rider for Summit Farm. She and Balia were multiple winners during the series and scored the highest of all the qualifiers with a 73.603% at AGDF 6.

Lockman said that the series fits perfectly with the business model and goals for Summit Farm.

“We start horses young and develop them into top international horses,” she said. “It’s meant a lot for us to support this series that is specific to seven- to nine-year-old horses. We hope to see more of this and want to provide an incentive for trainers and riders to put these top young horses out there.

“It was a great thing to offer prize money to a class outside of the CDI,” she continued. “Trainers and riders can enter a horse in this series and get notoriety. In Europe, young horses get a lot of praise and press, with financial gain by showing young horses and developing them. To support that idea in the U.S. and give that incentive and reward meant a lot to us at Summit Farm. We are very proud to be a part of this series at AGDF.”

The 2021 Adequan® Global Dressage Festival will be held on January 6 – March 28. For more information on AGDF, please visit www.GlobalDressageFestival.com.