This is a dressage blog now

Mostly kinda just joking about that title. We do still leave the ground on a weekly basis!
Ok, maybe this horse hasn't jumped since Christmas...

We got new dressage tests here this year and in order to succeed at elementary I have decided I need to read and really understand what is required. Obvious I know but not something I have ever really done before.

The purpose of novice tests are to 'confirm that the horse demonstrates correct basics, and in addition to the requirements of Preliminary Level, has developed the thrust to achieve improved balance and thoroughness and maintains a more consistent contact with the bit'.

The purpose of elementary is to 'confirm that the horse demonstrates correct basics, and having achieved thrust required in novice, now accepts more weight on the hindquarters (collection); moves with an uphill tendency, especially in the medium paces; and is reliably on the bit. A greater degree of straightness, bending, suppleness, throughness, balance and self carriage is required than at novice level'.

Elem also introduces 10m canter circles, shoulder in, travers, turn on hind quarters, simple changes and canter serpentine. It definitely steps up the pressure and things have to happen much faster. It's a pretty big step although the new tests are a nicer introduction.

Now we can do all those movements individually but the test some when when we have to put them all together, and add in the straightness, bending, suppleness, throughness, balance and self carriage bit. Coolie is by nature not a supple horse. He finds going uphill, in front of the leg and in self carriage hard work. A lot of that is on me for letting him slack off and get away with not going like that (poor Hen doesn't get to slack off at all!). We have as always been working towards self carriage, and I have been lifting the bar of how Coolie responds to aides.

I have become more self aware, because an awful lot of what Coolie can't do is because I block him with my body so he physically can't.

So right off the bat self carriage is (as always!) required and once Coolie is straight, bending, supple and through in balance then self carriage will be far more consistent. These things are what we work on day in day out and the focus of my training.

Then we need to build in the movements and ensure that each one encompasses self carriage. Still a work in progress but it is getting there.

Our simple changes need work. Scrap that, all our transitions need work. This is something I really need to focus on and the coefficients in the test highlight the importance of transitions. Clear transitions within the pace are also highlighted so I need to add that into our work.

Really, the focus is on the ever elusive self carriage and I need to continue to work with Coolie on that. I have to make sure that I don't enter into arguments with Coolie but ensure I am allowing him to do what I am asking. I need to reflect back onto myself during our rides, ensure that I am allowing enough but also make sure I am setting a firm standard.

I feel so much of what needs to happen will develop quickly if I stay on task, and ensure I am holding us to a higher standing. We are really starting to work towards more collection and getting Coolie more uphill, and my position really influences this. A really important thing is for me to keep turning. Apparently I am rubbish at this so another thing to work on.

Rein back needs to be improved, Coolie can be a bit resistant so I need to work on softening him to the aide and again, getting him light to the aide.

Overall Coolie and I need to improve our harmony together, and I need to be diligent in allowing my horse in doing his job by make sure I am doing mine. I think I have just given myself a load of homework. The main points are transitions, self carriage and lightness to the aides. Definitely a familiar theme!


  1. it's always kinda exciting getting to learn new tests!! for some reason i really haven't dabbled at all in the past year with pure dressage tests with charlie, bc we worked so much on the jumping... maybe that'll change this next year tho?

    1. We did so much of everything last year but this year I want to really drill down into dressage as out weakest phase. Dressage is totally fun when you get into it, do it!

  2. I blinked when I saw the title of this blog post. WHEW :) Glad it was just for the moment. Man some of those moves on the new tests sounds hard. Better you than me HA HAHA! You will do fine!

    1. Haha I like leaving the ground too much. Dressage is fun but hard work for sure!


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