My Foray into Dressage Knowledge

So I finally finished reading my latest training book. I had bought Jane Savoie’s Dressage 101 a couple of months ago. I wanted to get something that would go more in detail into what a rider should be doing in order to work properly with Scarlet. I want to improve just as much as I want Scarlet to improve.

I’m normally an extremely fast reader but it took me a few months to read since I really wanted to absorb everything. I stopped reading several times and focused on trying a few of the first “nuts and bolts” things that she explained. The book goes further into dressage and flat type riding than I have ever learned myself.

I have a few things that really stuck in  my mind while reading this book so I thought I’d share them with you.

One: Reading this book made me really envious that I did not start out with a classical training. I started out learning from a mostly western but somewhat cross-trained horse trainer. She was very close to where I grew up and not expensive. I thought I learned a lot from her. I did become a better rider from the variety of lesson horses that I got to ride and the horses in training that I rode when I worked for her over the summer once. However, I really felt profoundly that I didn’t understand how to properly give cues to Scarlet after reading this book. No one had EVER broken cues the way Savoie does. I had never been told shift you weight here, do this with inside hand, this with your outside hand and here is what you are supposed to do with each leg. And the way she explains it makes sense. Now I by no means don’t understand the weight shift but that was earned from many many rides and “feeling” how I needed to go in order to not fall off and get the correct result. I feel like if I had a training start like the one that Savoie outlines, progression could have been much quicker and less painful.

Two: I will admit, I’ve never loved dressage. I was always annoyed when my trainer would ask us to do things like sitting trot and equitation figures. I was a typical young girl who was in love with going fast on a horse. Which isn’t a bad thing. But it definitely didn’t benefit me. While I will probably never have a passion for dressage, after reading this book, I have a real appreciation for the benefits of starting a horse with dressage for other types of riding. Any horse that I get in the future (and now! Heck who says 18 is too old to learn things?) will start off with a more dressage focused base. I love how I can see that learning things this way would give a very solid understanding of what is going on to the horse. I still love jumping and will always want to do that. But I want to make sure my horse and I meet that ready as can be.

Three: This point is slightly crushing. I realized that many of the horse people that I knew and idolized growing up really weren’t that good. Their methods were a little antiquated, a little cowboy-ish. They knew how to get a horse to go where they needed to. They didn’t know how to communicate that though. They also didn’t progress in the most logical manner. It hurts a little to think that the people I wanted to be weren’t all that great. That’s a part of growing older as well as reading this book. I have a better perspective on life and have seen more ways of training than I had when I was younger.

These points and more things crossed my head while reading this book. I have to say that overall, this book is extremely well laid out and easy to understand. Its broken down into language that most any rider, no matter what level, can understand. It definitely isn’t the end all be all of training manuals but I feel like this is going to be a key element of my library for a long time. At the very least, it has shown me how much I need to relearn and how beneficial it would be to research many more “bibles” for every discipline of riding to see what I can learn from each style.


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