Dissecting The Details: Flora Lea Dressage

Video stills for everyone! 

I went into this horse trial with a few goals for dressage:
  • BEND THE PONY. Nearly every movement on our last test was accompanied by the comment "needs more bend". I was determined not to get this comment again.
  • Prepare for turns and look around the corners. We really got into trouble last time with my inability to look anywhere but straight ahead or down, and had some ugly corners and turns off centerline, not to mention Dino thinking that we were supposed to jump out of the arena because of my inability to prepare him for a corner. Thankfully he stayed in. 
  • Keep reins moderately short. 
  • Have prompt up transitions. 
  • Keep the pony relatively round for the entire test.
  • Ride the free walk to its awesome potential.

Anything else beyond that would have been icing on the cake, so that being said I think I definitely achieved a majority of these goals even though my score wasn't amazing.

The Good: The bend was there in every movement, and I really thought about my turns and corners. The rein length was BETTER than my usual hands-somewhere-near-my-hips, though still a touch long. Dino's upward transitions, especially the canter departs, were SO obedient and he bounced right off my leg. I was THRILLED with that! Our geometry was pretty on point aside from a wiggly 2nd half of our first centerline, and I was really happy with this test overall.

Open Mouth = Busy Hands
The Bad: APPARENTLY I still need to work on keeping my chin up because I look like a freakin' turtle in this video. As evidenced by the video and Dino's open mouth in much of it, I also need to chill out with my hands. And find a way to ride my pony consistently into the bridle in a relaxed manner with him stretching over his topline. We got many, many comments about the tension in Dino's neck and back, and this is going to be the next big puzzle piece in improving our dressage score. Our free walk was also, again, not optimal. There was nowhere near enough stretch as I had to shut Dino down early on in the movement since he was thinking "trot". We never quite recovered in time to get any significant stretch on the short diagonal.

The Plan: I am going to make some "chin-up" goggles as per my trainer's brilliant invention. Wait til you get a load of these things, they are hysterical. I hope to eventually commit the "chin-up" posture to muscle memory, and so improve my entire position. I also want to get in a lesson or two and get her input on how to help Dino be more relaxed and stretching over his topline on a consistent basis, which I'm sure has a lot to do with my busy hands. The last part of my plan is kind of unique - I'm going to try and do as much of my dressage work as possible in small increments on the trail. Dino is so, so much more relaxed on the trail. On Friday I went out on an hour-long bareback trail ride, and got some of the absolute best walk work EVER. If I can get him working correctly over his back in a happy, stress-free environment, I'm hoping that I can recreate that feel in the show ring while keeping him happy to do ring work in lessons and at shows. It's becoming more and more clear to me that Dino wants to spend as little time in the ring as possible, so I think changing up our schedule to include more trail riding and less ring work will do a lot of good for his mind. 

Dressage is such a journey! 


  1. Dressage videos of ourselves: both the worst and best thing ever.

  2. Awww you guys look great, and I see bend! Whoop whoop!

  3. There are so many little details in dressage!

  4. you guys look phenomenal - major congrats on checking off some big goals for dressage!! the chin up thing is so hard for me too, esp bc i tend to get the most 'turtle-ish' (great descriptor, btw) when i'm focusing/thinking really hard haha, so my brain is otherwise occupied. love the goggle idea - can't wait to see what you come up with!!

    1. Thank you!! Still a long way to go... The goggles are my trainer's brilliant invention, they are so clever!

  5. Dressage... feels like it should be so simple, but it's soooooooo hard.

  6. It is super awesome that you managed to achieve so many of your goals going in! I usually have one or two goals (don't jump out, keep my chin up) and just hope it all goes well from there, so kudos to you! I can't wait to see these goggles. :D

  7. I ride alone a lot. I pretend I'm good at dressage.

    I'm always horrified by media.

  8. Ugh I'm struggling with the chin up stuff too. My old trainer used to make me pull the brim of my helmet down so that I could only see where I was going if I looked up. I just ran into stuff. Looking forward to seeing your goggles!

    Dressage is definitely a journey, a fun one though!


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