Thursday, February 21, 2013

Dressage Pyramid is for Riders Too.

Rode again yesterday and it went much better than Monday.   Monday I was feeling quite a bit of anxiety about getting back into the saddle after my surgery.  I ran every bad scenario through my head and the nerves worked their way right down to my horse.  He started out loose and relaxed and within fifteen minutes was a bundle of nerves.

Before I rode yesterday I thought about what would make the rider better than the last.  I thought about what we would work on during the session.   I came back to the dressage pyramid.

The dressage pyramid outlines the progression of training for the dressage horse    It is primarily thought of as an outline for the horses lifetime of training but it can also be used as an outline for each and every ride.

For example, if your horse is at the point where you are beginning connection in your training, you still need to have rhythm and relaxation before you begin to ask for connection in each and every training session.

So... back to my ride yesterday....  while the dressage pyramid concerns the training of the dressage horse, it could equally apply to the progression of training for the dressage rider.

The reason my last ride went so poorly was because I forgot I needed to have relaxation in both the rider and the horse before we tried anything else.    Sounds easy but relaxation sometimes takes practice too!

So for this ride I decided the entire "theme" of the ride was going to be relaxation of the rider with the thought that if I was relaxed then my horse would be too.

We spent the entire ride with our reins on the buckle.   We worked hard on quick responses to the leg (that I worked hard on keeping loose and relaxed) and getting bend in the body ... but kept the reins loose and relaxed.    Even if he shot out a bit faster than I anticipated from leg aids I still stayed on the buckle.  The point of the ride was to remember that I trusted my horse and I was relaxed and so he should be as well.

It worked!

At the very end of the ride we were coming down the centerline with the intention of halting at x.  As we turned the corner, the mare in the neighboring paddock began cantering down the fenceline.   My first reaction was to pull him up because I thought he may decide to join her antics.  Then I remembered my "theme" and stuck with my relaxed rein and leg and my horse followed my lead... he stayed relaxed and flowing too.

So its something to remember -- the dressage pyramid goes both ways.  You aren't going to get rhythm and relaxation unless you are as well.  And there are two sides to connection.  And well the rest of the pyramid... well I'm not that far yet in my training!


  1. Great post - the human mental relaxation part of riding is something I've been working on too!

  2. Thanks! Took a look at your blog as well. Sounds like you are going through some of the same issues I (and probably lots of amateur riders like us) are going through. So often we put blame on our horse and forget at least half the equation is us! Glad to meet a fellow equestrian student!


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