Dressage club

Here I go again, attempting to get back to documenting my horse life! This weekend A few weekends ago Henry and I went to dressage club. I shared 2 lessons with my friend and had a new to us coach and a coach I’ve had before but not for a few years.

Obviously not dressage!

It was an eventful morning. We arrived and the usually quiet grounds were not so quiet. There is a community centre next door and we could hear music and banging. Then people were running around in the oval and Henry was very on edge. Hen got very upset once they started to play football. So upset he kicked out at the yards, then tried to jump out as I was trying to get him out. I have never in 6 years seen him react like that.

I took him away and did lots of groundwork, and as he relaxed we moved closer to the oval. I let him look but kept his attention on me. Finally I got him to drop his head and stand quietly right next to the action so took him to get tacked up. I honestly wasn’t sure I was going to get on him, but just took it one step at a time and we ended up having 2 good lessons.

Text breaks bought to you by a series of random, unrelated pictures 

First up was the new coach. She was lovely, very kind and horse centric. We warmed up doing leg yields, shoulder-in and travers at walk, then trot really focusing on the position of the horse on making sure our angles were correct. Then we had a look at canter to walk transitions. Ours were ok, then they broke when I fixed something else, maybe our mediums? Not sure but they are less good than they were.

So we cantered on a circle, then shortened the canter then when the horse felt like dropping to trot, we went forward again. Repeat, trying to canter at walk speed, but not on the forehand, sitting up and pushing from behind. When we felt we could we were to try and walk. My issue was I was waiting too long, trying to be perfect, Henry was then tiring and falling through the transition and trotting before walking. Really useful reminder to be quicker and that my feel needs adjusting for this exercise.

We had a break before the next lesson, so Henry got to relax in his yard without theatrics before we tacked up and warmed up. This coach is very good humoured but gives rapid fire instruction and has high standards. We looked at laterals again and I got pinged for not keeping Henry straight enough. I also got pinged for being too inconsistent and having my hands too low.

Again really good reminders to be stiller in my riding. I do need to get Henry soft then ask him to collect and I found that hard in the lesson. I was told to just raise my hands and then she’d repeat rounder softer, rounder softer but then I would get told I was doing it wrong when I softened him by flexing and counter flexing. Like I know he was too flexed and not straight in that moment, but I need to soften him to get the engagement. I got a bit lost with it all. I understand what the coach wants, but sometimes how to get there is a different path.

Hen thought the foal should come home with us!

That’s one of the biggest things I have found with stepping up to elementary, I know he needs to be more collected, but he is still developing his strength and can’t maintain it. He also locks me out with his neck and gets tense. So I need to soften him and have him supple to allow him to do the work. But at this level I find I get told to make him rounder without always understanding what the coach actually want. I know what my regular coach wants but these others I find it can be tricky to decipher how they want me to do it, rightly or wrongly. I guess I need to takeaway from it what I can, and use these lessons as reminders for stuff I know I need to work on and just play around at home.

I think the thing I find hardest is that Hen is so willing but he gets worried and locks me out. I have been focusing on softness and lightness and it’s maybe not as traditional dressage as they want to see. But it works for us, and I try to keep the bigger picture in my mind.


  1. sounds like a fun few lessons, tho i'm completely with you on 'keeping the big picture in mind' when we know our animals so well


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