Dressage Horse Training-Relearning to Ride Donzer

Hello everyone,

It is now Aug 4th and I’ve had Donzer home from training for three and a half weeks now.  I have been trying to decide what to write and this has been a challenge.  Donzer came home with a new level of collection, more responsiveness to a rider’s seat and a much bigger expectation from me as a rider.  Although he’s my horse it felt like Donzer was a whole new animal that I had to get to know again and I wanted to reenter our relationship at this new level and not regress in his ability.

I spent the first week just walking, trotting and cantering on straight lines.  I only rode him when my husband, Kris, was able to watch us because of this.  I was warming Donzer up by myself (and feeling pretty good about it) when Kris walked out to the arena and said, “that’s a nice 3rd level canter.”  This really shook up my confidence because I realized that I couldn’t trust my feel.  I was able to get Donzer into the FEI frame and balance but I needed my ground guy’s help.

After giving some lessons, I realized that I needed to focus on riding Donzer with a new level of self-carriage in my body.  The arena was suddenly small again as it was taking me an entire long side to get my diagonal aides engaging Donzer effectively. It felt like I was just riding corner to corner.

Pieces of information come from all directions.  I was able to watch Sarah ride Donzer and see how she used her body.  Mary Wanless had an article in Dressage Today discussing how to use lines of muscles to create self-carriage as a rider.  I decided to spend a few days just  focusing on how my body stayed in balance from the halt to the walk etc.  I was surprised at how much I had to engage my core just to go from halt to walk.  Down the long side my core was constantly engaging and felt like a bowling ball rolling down a lane with bumpers on the sides.  I am learning to ride all over again at this more precise level.

I find that I am catching when Donzer subtly drops is back or pokes his nose out but it is about 4 strides too late.  He started to get really pushy as I was letting him get away with being a little more sloppy.  I went back to just doing walk, trot, canter on straight lines and decided to ride–not just handle him like a fine piece of china that I might break.  We had a few strong half-halts and I even used my whip to touch him once or twice.  Since that ride, I’ve had some amazing rides.

Now I am ready for another lessons because my brain and body have caught up again and are able to accept some more input.

Good Riding,

Tara 🙂

Author, Out of the Saddle: 9 Steps to Improve Your Horseback Riding

Out of the Saddle

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