Dressage Is Not Bad….
I hear people in our sport complaining about “dressage” all the time, and that they can’t wait to get it done to get on to the fun stuff…aka cross country! But what people forget to take into account is you can’t become better at jumping until you really work hard at dressage.
Now some people may have such a grudge against dressage that it turns them off just hearing the word, so try calling it “training”. When we are in elementary school, do we one day just wake up and know how to spell words and put them together? NO! We first have to learn our ABC’s and it’s after that, that we learn how spell words and then put them in a sentence. It’s the same with dressage! Our half halts don’t just magically appear while we are jumping but it should come from our flat work training.
Now I know some of you are thinking “well jumpers don’t have to do dressage and their jumping rounds are big and beautiful” well your right that majority of their rounds are big and beautifully ridden but don’t let the fact that dressage isn’t a part of their competition fool you. The grand prix jumper horses get sent to grand prix dressage trainers a lot to learn straightness, balance, the power behind a collected canter, and flying changes. In reality a show jumping course is a dressage test with jumps in the way.
Have you ever noticed that people who put in good dressage tests usually have better cross country and show jumping rounds then people who have below average dressage tests? Now don’t get me wrong this isn’t all the time, sometimes a horse that is good at dressage isn’t always the bravest or the most careful jumper and sometimes horses have an off day in dressage, but are bold and good jumpers. But on average if your horse has a good dressage base on him, your jumping phases will improve.
I know sometimes dressage training seems boring and tedious, but let’s face it when it comes down to those score sheets it’s the dressage that can make you or break you. So every week take the time with your dressage work and really work on it. At least three times a week if not sometimes more if you can take it.
Also try mixing it up. Who said that the only time you can work on dressage is when you’re in an arena? Go out into your field or yard and work on it! If you don’t have a flat area in the grass then perfect! The inclines and declines will help your horses balance and help build muscle. And finally take advantage of your past shows dressage tests and work on what the scores that you need to improve! Pay attention if multiple dressage judges are saying the same things then it probably needs improving. Dressage was put in our sport as a safety factor; if you don’t seem to have control in the dressage arena then you probably should not be on a cross country course to galloping over solid fences. So take your time, breath, and do some “training”, it will help you in the long run….guaranteed!
Until next time, safe rides!