Tag Archives: dressage training


Training Focus

… Are you aware of everything that is going on around you? Are you easily distracted when riding?

Being focused and keeping training focus is not so easy … a simple, way to keep your focus is to imagine you are being watched (you probably are if you have dogs!)

Training FocusAfter all, in your training sessions or in a test it’s all about how you are perceived, how your training progression is going and to assess you, they need to watch you perform.

Imagine then, that there is a judge at A and a judge at E, every single time you ride.  It’s a sure fire way to ensure you are maintaining your training focus on what you are trying to achieve and not getting distracted.

How many of you, when competing, forget to ride?  What I mean is how many of you actually ride the test like you would when you are training in the arena at home?  Pop in a slight shoulder fore if needed, steady the pace, give  a sharper aid.  My partner once popped a 10m circle into a test where it wasn’t required!  He needed to get the horses attention and encourage more bend.  He got 2 penalty points for error of course but a 9 for his riding, because the judge knew exactly what he had done and why.

Ask your trainer to occasionally give you marks for your movements.  I often get a random “FIVE” shouted out in a training session which is Mark’s way of saying “not good enough!”  I have to figure out why it was a five to improve.  Likewise, he’ll sometimes say “that was an eight”  (although not very often!) which is his equivalent of “good”

Thinking about being judged in your training is a good way of ensuring that when you get in front of a judge you actually ride as if you were training and not ‘going through the motions’.

A word of caution though, this does not mean give a demo every time you ride! Simply ensure your riding would consistently get a minimum mark of 8, strive for 9, maybe even a 10!

As always, have fun.

Patricia – The Dressage Tipster


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If good hands are the result of a good frame of mind, your mind has to know when to resist and when to give in.  This is at the very moment the horse gives in!  Use your hands intermittently.  Be still as soon as the horse answers and only use them again if something changes and you need a correction.

Dont do anything

Ask – if the horse does not react, stop and immediately start again.  If he gives, you give and then immediately cease all action, thereby keeping the stability required
to allow your horse forward.
Practice mostly doing nothing! 
Make adjustments when you FEEL the need, then go back to doing nothing.


less is moreThe Less is More lesson was bought home to me recently.  I have had a succession of instructors that have screamed “MORE LEG”, “PUT YOUR LEG ON” to the point where I had convinced myself that I did not have strong enough legs for the job.  Imagine then what a relief it was to me discover that the better way is:

Leg On, then immediately off.  If you do not get the response, on again and immediately OFF.  When you get the response you want – keep the leg OFF”.

If you don’t, back it up with the whip, but be persistent in the on/off approach.  Not more leg, less leg but more often and just to re-iterate, when you get the response you want – KEEP THE LEG OFF.

Less is More – This was not only a relief to hear but how beautifully it works!

I do not have to clamp my legs onto the horse to keep it going, even when asking for the horse to move away from the leg laterally, its on and off, not constant pressure.  My horse is sharp to the aids and I am less tired.

Throughout this journey I have been continually surprised that my gargantuan efforts have been hindering my progress and less is, without doubt, more.

Patricia – The Dressage Tipster


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Rebuild your skills

This is not a very fashionable idea, but I’m a little tired of hearing how we should keep telling everyone how wonderful they are, how well they are doing and gush with positivity in order to encourage progression.

Pff … what anyone who wants real success needs is to take a long hard look at themselves and critically evaluate where they are in terms of their goals and, if appropriate accept that they are not good riders.

This is a good starting point!

What is wrong with being told that, actually you are not very good and have some hard work to do to get what you want?

What is wrong with being told that, if you want to be a dressage rider you need to … lose weight, get fit, change your attitude, recognise that your skill set is currently lacking?

I wanted to ride well for many, many years, became very frustrated and nearly gave up altogether, until I recognised that I was stuck in my ways, needed to clear my mind and BE A BEGINNER again – as if I had never ridden, accept how badly I had been taught, by people who either knew no better or did not care enough, lose weight, get fit and rebuild my skills.

I have many tips to help you rebuild your skills – essentially the foundations have to be right to support the future work!  This is the basis of my training system and I would very much appreciate any comments you may have.

Patricia – The Dressage Tipster



It is contrary to good hands to put too much effort into having your hands and forearms as the rulebook states!

Corner 1This is putting too much pressure on you to be “correct” and thus stiffling your ability to feel.

The sensation should be easy and effortless, round your wrists slightly toward inside, nails facing, close your fingers, but in the same measure, keep them soft so not clamped closed. Good hands are the result of a good frame of mind!

Patricia – The Dressage Tipster



Quick Tip to aid your accuracy in the arena.

To aid your accuracy before your schooling session, use a rake in the arena to draw a straight line from A to C and then again from B to E.

This will help you to work out if your circles and shapes are accurate. It will also show you if your straight lines are straight.

Don’t forget you will be penalised heavily by the judges if you are not accurate. It is the most basic of requirements and never the fault of the horse!1 accuracy

Patricia – The Dressage Tipster



1 building blocksCreating a happy horse is helped by making sure that you build the work gradually, both the quantity and the difficulty. Do not ‘over face’ your horse – you will not be rewarded.

You would not put up a huge jump for an inexperienced youngster, so why ask an inexperienced youngster to do advanced work that his body is not ready for?


This is particularly true for maintaining impulsion in the trot. It takes months for the horse to build the muscles and stamina to maintain a good level of impulsion. Be patient.

If you do not do sit-ups regularly, get down on the floor and see how many you can do today. Do the same tomorrow and the day after, they’ll be getting harder! Think of your horses development in the same light, it will get easier but it will take months for you to build up to 50 / 100 per day.

Think of each sit-up as the equivalent to your horses trot steps using impulsion. Start with 5-10 steps and build up very slowly until your horse is fit enough to easily execute this very, very demanding work.

Listen to your horse, if he cannot maintain the work, he could be tired, or have aching muscles. Let him rest and try again next time.