Help! I’m having a problem with my Dressage Horse!

Good dressage horses are made, not born! But there’s no secret how they’re all made! The scaffolding we use to build up our horses and our own dressage ability is The Dressage Training Scale, the same framework used by every rider in the world, from your local riding instructor, to Jessica Von Bredow-Werndl or Sabine Schut-Kery. 

Whatever the problem with your horse, whether they are not forward enough, too forward, not straight, can’t get a canter, can’t get a contact, or literally any problem you encounter in your dressage journey, its solution can be found by using the Dressage Training Scale. 

This week’s video gives you the first steps to using the training scale to troubleshoot some of the most common issues you’ve asked me about, and once you see how you apply it to one problem, you can apply it to any problem and find a resolution, giving you a clear pathway to progress and harmony with your horse (The dream, right!?).

Here’s a checklist of pointers get started with before you begin your troubleshooting. 

  1. Check in with your position! Rider position is the base of your training scale, before even starting on addressing the horse, have someone on the ground make sure your position is correct. If you’re not in the right position you can’t give the aids correctly. Here’s some videos that will help with that!
  2. Think about Relaxation. Physical and mental relaxation are so crucial for both horse and rider. This comes into the training scale (at step two) but before you even set off, check in with yourself and ask “Am i relaxed?”. If you’re not, for whatever reason, then try and get yourself to a place of relaxation with a breathing exercise. If you’re not relaxed, your horse won’t be either. Riding is our joy, so bring yourself to a place mental calm so that you have a basis of serenity from which to start your ride.
  3. Think about Rhythm. The bottom of the training scale is rhythm. People who see dressage for the first time always compare it to dancing so doesn’t it make sense that rhythm is so crucial? Before you even set off, think about the rhythm you would like from your paces. In dressage we are trying to enhance the natural beauty of your horse’s gait, but visualise the rhythm you’d like to achieve with your horse and use this counting exercise to help you achieve it once you have set off.

Now you’re ready to start fixing issues! 

Watch this video where I apply the training scale to the common issues of 

  1. not being able to get the horse forward 
  2. throwing their head up on the walk to trot transition 
  3. riding a horse that rushes

Let me know in the comments if these exercises help you troubleshoot these issues and what other issues you are having with your horse. I promise you, there’s a solution for every one of them by applying the training scale. Have a great week and happy riding! 

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