Monday, January 22, 2024
After coming home from work, I decided that if I wanted to ‘show’ dressage, I needed to find some shows. While my ultimate goal will be to show in a live, in-person show, I think that an online show (or two) would be a great starting point for me and for Jesse. Thankfully, there are quite a few online shows in which to compete! How exciting!
Online Dressage Shows Still Exsist
I started my search by just doing a basic search for online dressage shows. I came across 2 organizations that have a lot of shows to choose from. After looking through the available shows, I found something really interesting.
A website called Dressage Show Online has a class that is right up my alley for a ‘first’ show with Jesse. It’s called dressage seat equitation – and it’s a walk-only class. Boo Ya! How is that for an introduction to dressage horse shows? Heck Ya!
This class has my (and Jesse’s) name all over it. I think this will be a very good intro to online horse showing and dressage. There is a show with the dates of February 2, 2024, through February 12, 2024. Which is awesome because I am on vacation at that time.
The only potential setback could be if I’m not cleared to ride yet by my surgeon – I should find out on Thursday at my doctor’s appointment (Fingers crossed). But even if he tells me no for now, maybe I can just plan on entering this class at the next show. I think they have them every month or every other month, at least.
Working with a Goal
I am extremely motivated when I have a goal to work toward. And something like this is perfect for my motivation. So now to learn the test.
The most important things I need to be able to demonstrate are:
- A free walk
- A working walk
- A 20-meter circle
And from what I have been learning, a free walk and a working walk are 2 different walks.
In the free walk, you want the horse to really stretch over their topline. The over-track and length of stride should be as big as possible to get top marks in a dressage test. The point of the free walk in Dressage tests is to show that the horse is able to demonstrate relaxation after a period of more collected work. This basically means An ideal free walk is four clear beats, has good energy, overtracks, and the horse’s neck reaches forward and downward with a round, long topline.
In the working (or medium, I am assuming) walk, A working walk is a four-beat gait. It’s an active, energetic walk with ground-covering strides and a confident stretch to the bit. The horse should march forward with purpose, and its head and neck should swing naturally as a result of a relaxed back and free shoulders.
I had no idea there were so many versions of ‘walk.’
But there are. In dressage, there are four types of walking: medium walk, collected walk, extended walk, and free walk. The walk is a marching pace with equal intervals between each beat.
The horse should take one step after another in a 1-2-3-4 pattern, starting with one front leg, then the corresponding hind leg, the other front leg, and the other hind leg.
The horse should be straight and often pushes its quarters to one side, which is especially noticeable on the centerline.
This is where the first few exercises of halt and backup will come into practice, I think. Perhaps, I need to also focus on the 4 different variables of walking from the ground first. To me, this makes sense. Because if I can do it on the ground, I can do it in the tack.
And then, once I have the walk figured out, I need to ride a 20-meter circle in the walk. Easy Peasy, right? Well, maybe after a lot of practice. But from my reading of my books and watching lots of videos, I gather that I can ride a perfect circle by focusing on the following:
I need to create a subtle bend in the horse’s spine that follows the circumference of the circle. The rider should hold the bend for about 200 feet.
Inside leg to outside rein
The rider should use their inside leg to encourage the horse’s inside hind leg to come underneath the horse’s body. The outside rein helps keep the horse from going too far out.
Four touch points
The rider should have four touch points on each curve of the circle like the face of a clock at 12, 3, 6, and 9.
The rider should keep the circle the same size and shape.
The size of the 20-meter circle is very useful because it falls in a range of movement demands that almost any horse can accomplish and refine. (This is according to dressage experts) The basic small dressage arena is two 20-meter circles in two 20-meter squares with the dressage letters set as reference points around the perimeter to designate where to execute elements of a dressage test.
Ok, there is a lot to work on, but I believe this is totally achievable. Maybe the weather will be nice again this upcoming weekend, so I can get started with Jesse in my arena. But because I don’t have my dressage cones ready yet, this gives me the next few days to get those going.
I need 8 cones- and I think I have that. If not, I will need to run to the Dollar Tree at lunchtime and pick up a few more to have a complete set. I knew this would happen fast! Just when I thought I was not going to have enough to do, I always come up with something!