How to get started training your horse for dressage: How are dressage horse's trained?

In this week’s blog, we’re going to dive into some of the foundation exercises you can use with your young horse's ready for a career in dressage or with those new to dressage.


So where to start?


Under British Dressage rules any horse and rider combination wishing to compete must be fit and competent.


So that’s exactly where we are going to start, making sure your horse is fit to train and compete as the British Dressage rules also state that your horse should only undergo training that they are physically capable of.


How do you know if your horse is capable of dressage training?


Before you start dressage training your horse needs a strong foundation and that’s where your fitness plan comes into play.


DO you have a fitness plan for your horse?


If you don’t, you need one!


A good fitness plan is one that you can stick to every day, addresses your horse's weaknesses and helps you reach your goal.


If you’ve never created a fitness plan before you need to check out my ‘5 Steps to Choosing your Dog and Horse's Fitness Exercses’ blog here to get you started: https://www.fitpetphysio.com/post/5-steps-to-choosing-your-dog-and-horse-s-fitness-exercises


Then you can choose the right exercises for your horse and your goals.


Once you’ve got your fitness plan in place its time to look at starting dressage training.


If you and your horse are complete beginners to dressage movements just like me here are a few exercises to get you started:


  1. Pole work- we often think pole work is exclusively for our jumpers but we couldn’t be more wrong! Pole work is the first step to that wonderful piaffe we all crave. Pole work is the easiest way to teach our horse's to flex their limbs and improve their flight arc.

  2. Loops, circles and serpentines- I know they might sound boring and a bit done to death but getting that lateral bend now is going to make your life so much easier plus it’s going to ensure your horse doesn’t get injured. Win-win! If you really want to push the boat out you can even combine these with 2 exercises together (pole work and loops, circles and serpentines).

  3. Transitions- lots and lots of transitions. This is a great time to practice your transitions between and within each gait. Make sure you’ve got a good collect, working and medium pace within each gait before you progress to so more dressage specific movements.


So what exercises should be in your horse's dressage training program?


Your dressage horse's training schedule should include the fitness plan you devised plus the new dressage movements you’re training.


No idea where to start?


Try starting simple:


  1. Turn on the fore and on the haunches

  2. Leg yield and half pass

  3. Before trying pirouettes


No matter what stage you are at with your horse's dressage training program ensure you have your horse fully warmed up before you start any exercises. Need a helping hand with your warm-up?


No problem, I’ve got a free webinar that will tell you all you need to know and you can watch it right now here: What are the 2 simple elements your horses warm-up is missing? https://mailchi.mp/44ec19669765/horse-warm-up





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