Equine Canada Level 2 Coach specializing in
- Classical Dressage
- Dressage for Competition
- Jumpers (flat & o/f)
- Recreational riders interested in building a better partnership with their horses.
Why "Classical Dressage" ?
The pursuit and practice of Classical Dressage is more than the preservation of an art form, it is the preservation of the horse. It is through our study and practice of Classical Dressage that the nobility of the horse is assured.
After a long career that has brought me down many paths, shown me many methods of riding and training and introduced me to the good, the bad and yes, the very ugly, I am more committed than ever to doing what is right for our horses.
So much of the foundation of what we do today in our competitive dressage comes out of the work of the old masters. At times though, what is witnessed within the competition ring is a corruption of these methods. This corruption is not, I believe, intended by most riders but rather is the result of a misinterpretation of the essence of dressage. When understood and correctly practiced, the work we do with our horses should be beautiful in both the schooling arena and the competition ring.
Ideally, there should be no difference between Classical Dressage and dressage in competition. When trainers regularly resort to the use of tools such as draw reins, chambons, martingales or the premature introduction of the double bridle they have moved away from the classical correctness of dressage. When horses are being ridden in prolonged tension, with obvious signs of stress, fear or resistance this is again, very incorrect. These methods do not respect the natural balance of the horse. The purpose of a dressage test is to present a horse in his or her appropriate stage of training - the training at all levels must show a horse in balance through lightness, ease of responsiveness to the aids and brilliance of movement. This is always within the capacity of the individual animal with which we are working. As the training advances, so too does the balance, suppleness and engagement of the horse.
The results of poor training are injury. Injury may be from repetitive stress during work gradually leading to degenerative damage to the bones, joints or soft tissue of the horse. Acute injury may occur when an unbalanced, crooked or stiff horse takes a bad step, stumbles or even falls under saddle or while turned out loose in the pasture or paddock. Poor training that causes severe stress, tension, dehydration and daily anxiety to a horse can lead to internal illness such as ulcers, colic, poor digestion, etc. What can often be witnessed in the competition ring from horses who have been harshly trained is the loss of basic gaits leading to errors such as a lateral walk, a two or four beat canter and a trot with no hind end engagement.
Correct training will enhance the horse's health, strength, balance and attitude. A supple horse will have more expressive gaits, healthy joints and avoid high concussion injuries such as navicular, ring bone and bone spavin. Exercises that build strength in a horse will allow that rider to work with their horse well into his or her later years. Classical Dressage is FOR the horse.
I have always enjoyed working with horses that presented me with a schooling challenge. My best teacher remains the horse and I believe that each horse I meet has something new to teach me. We all love working with that wonderfully athletic horse with brilliant natural paces and a willing, focussed attitude but let's be honest, most horses we meet have some sort of challenge! Through the work of Classical Dressage these more challenging horses will improve.
Likewise, I have had many occasions to work with very poorly trained, unbalanced and even lame or "irregular" horses who have benefitted from correct schooling. Teaching a horse to use themselves correctly, to strengthen areas of weakness or to establish correct balance within their work can lead to amazing results in their health, soundness and attitude. This work however takes a lot of time, a lot of progressive consistency and a lot of dedication... it is easier to have done it correctly right from the start! But I believe every horse deserves a chance!
Once you take the time to investigate the essence of true Classical Dressage you will discover the benefits to the horse. At the foundation of Classical Dressage is the objective of improving the health, strength, balance and ability of the horse to carry and understand the rider. These horses are truly happy in their work!
I remain dedicated to learning and teaching all aspects of riding from the perspective of improving our horses' performances, health and quality of life. All horses from the competitive jumpers and dressage horses to the pleasure and recreational trail horses benefit from this work. This I strive to do in my riding and my teaching everyday.
Payment required immediately following each lesson
One hr private: $80 + travel
REGULARLY scheduled students: $60 / weekly lesson