March 27, 2015

Adjusting to Dressage stirrup length

Hi Karen
I am new to Dressage (just started training in Nov. 2014). I just got my first dressage saddle and I barely clear the flap (saddle is 17.5″ w/ 17″ flap). This picture is from this weekend my first time in my dressage saddle. The stirrups are from my CC hunter saddle (working on getting a 2nd set for my dressage saddle). My trainer said i’ll clear the flap when i get my stirrups to the dressage length. Right now only my heel and spur clear the flap. I already feel like i am reaching at times for my stirrups as we dropped them 2 holes back in November. What is the best way to adjust to the long dressage stirrup length while still feeling comfortable and not worrying I’m going to lose my stirrup? I will still be shwoing in the hunter / equitation so I need to learn how to feel comfortable riding him at both lengths. thanks for your time and any help and tips you have.

question karen

Young horse progress

I just wanted to share a few photo’s of my 4 year old and myself last week. How do you think we are going? Please excuse my attire lol it was a very hot day down here in Australia! He is really starting to use his backend and get underneath himself. Please excuse my position in the canter photo! haha



Half pass/flying change advice?

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I haven’t posted in ages because Jake had tendinitis, and as a result had to have 4 months off and has only come back into work this month! But I have been riding my sister’s Quarter Horse, Flynne, for that period of time who has in the space of 4 months, moved from Novice to Elementary to Medium. However now that we’ve hit Medium level, he needs to flying changes, but we are struggling with them a bit and he even has my coach a bit confused about what he is doing; he does beautiful simple changes, can go walk/canter and canter/walk without any issues at all, his canter is balanced and bouncy (although he doesn’t have the natural bit moment of suspension of a horse built for dressage), his lateral movements in canter including the start of pirouettes are established, but he just can’t seem to wrap his head around the flying change? He seems to know what I am asking, because when I apply the aid he almost launches himself in the air and changes, but only if he has 2-3 strides of a very very fast canter first which is far from ideal. I have tried over a pole, tried asking on both a straight line or a serpentine, and I’ve tried asking from a half pass, but nothing seems to be helping; do you have any ideas?


Also I was wondering (photo attached), if the angle of his half-pass is okay? (the photo was taken just as we got to the wall)


Thanks in advance!

Green Horse Development

imageHello, I was hoping to get some tips/exercises to work on developing my horse’s frame. He’s a 4 yr old Arabian gelding and still very green. He’s super responsive to the bit making it difficult to keep contact without causing him to go behind the bit. Adding leg is not seeming to work to “push” him into the contact. He’s not really seeking contact with the bit rather just avoiding it which ends up hollowing out his back. I know the energy for being on the bit needs to come from behind and cycle up through the body, but I struggle to find exercises to encourage this energy. Any suggestions?

thanks, Michelle

please judge

please judge dressage schooling on my tb X clydie. I put the beach one in just for fun :)11034217_10206044671977071_8378604466081586973_n11028331_10206037336753695_1076563580_o11029683_10206026964814403_1247649392_o

Finn’s first level debut


Our first attempt at first level.
This was the beginning of the last lengthening in the test. He was super behaved, but was getting tired. Sorry about the quality of the photo it’s a still off a video

Please judge us both thanks

Finn is a 14.2hh pony and I’m 5’8″ (cue trying to channel my inner Fox-Pitt)

Tonia and Clay update

Hi there! Just wanted to post an update (last post here) on our dressage progress. :)

I had to take a couple months off to have surgery, but have been back in the saddle for about a month now. Clay didn’t forget anything during our little vacation. :) He’s such a smartypants. I felt weak at first but it all came back after a week.

Our goal is to show First Level for the first time this summer, maybe using the TL tests as our warm-up. The first show is the first weekend in June and is a USEF schooling show. The recognized shows come later in the summer. Our connection and contact has improved dramatically. Clay is learning to trust me, forgive my mistakes and relax.

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Honestly, all of the lateral, trot and walk movements in the new 2015 First Level tests feel really solid, but we have a lot of work to do on the canter. Clay is very exuberant in the canter departs, so I have to really set him up for a good depart and be strategic about getting him through his back and relaxed before asking. He also is very strong and can blow through my half-halts at the canter, causing our tempo to be too rushy at times, especially to the right (his weaker side, and my weaker outside rein). Our third problem is that he wants to break into the trot when I give him a good strong half-halt in an attempt to slow him down. When I use my leg at the same time as the half-halt, to keep him from breaking, he gets tense and goes behind the vertical. Sometimes we have these problems and then sometimes we have freakishly good canter. Very inconsistent right now. Any tips on how to help him strengthen, find rhythm, relax and accept my leg and half-halts without getting so worked up? Maybe I need to lunge him in side reins at the canter more often?

Thanks so much, you’re always so helpful!


Dressage Hafl – An update

It has been some time since my last post – it was trot poles I guess. This time I am sharing an impression of this weekend’s clinic with a trainer who is also working as dressage judge in Austria. We were mainly working on lateral movements and canter improvement. Hafl is supposed to show an interim level between second and third (called LM in Austria, shoulder in, haunches it, half pass in trot,  half walk pirouettes, simple changes).

Some trot work

Half pass

Please Judge Horse and Rider!

This is me and a horse I’m riding for someone. We’re hoping that she can start eventing a little this season. She hasn’t been ridden a lot recently, so her canter is kind of unbalanced right now. Do you have any suggestions on how to get her canter more balanced? Please judge both horse and rider. Thanks in advance! Screenshot_2015-02-13-17-36-57Screenshot_2015-02-14-11-17-54 (1)


imageHello this me and my horse filly hill giada competing in training level!image