Wednesday 27 January 2016

Dressage Weekend Extravaganza

I am super stoked for this weekend, because I have dressage lessons! And yes, that is plural!

I was really disappointed when my regular instructor decided to stop teaching a few months ago (she decided to re-join the ammy ranks). Our weekly lessons were really helpful for me. Also, she was the only dressage instructor of any kind in the area so I didn't have anyone else to turn too. I've been feeling a bit stalled in my riding lately. I have lots to work on but we don't seem to be improving very quickly.

However, I have decided to stop feeling sorry for myself and embrace the opportunity to mix up my learning opportunities. Without the cost of weekly lessons, I can pool that money towards more expensive lessons every once in a while. For me, that means achieving my dream of riding with someone who has competed up to the Grand Prix level.

I'm only working with Kachina on training level right now, so why do we need an upper level instructor? Well in truth we don't *need* one, but here's why I want one: I'm finally in a place in my life where I can focus on riding, and I feel I have a horse with great potential for dressage, so I want to go for it and try to progress up at least a few levels. I absolutely don't intend to rush anything or skip fundamentals, but I don't want to spend the next 6 years getting back to second level either (That's roughly how long it took me the first time). I personally know how changing horses, changing cities, dealing with injuries, random life crap, etc. can derail plans, but that just makes me want to "make hay while the sun shines" and work hard now while I can. Also, my thirteen year old horse is in great shape, but she's not a young horse and that's a factor.

Ellie, my last horse as we started to move up the levels
(Also me minus at least 30 pounds compared to now!)
All this means that I want an instructor who has the medium levels in mind while teaching me the lower levels. For example, we're working on canter transitions now, so now would be a great time to learn what the best specific aid is to ask for canter so that it won't get confused with the aid for haunches-in or half-pass in the future. Also, I want to learn how to harness Kachina's great forward energy with collection and extension in mind, rather than just trying to damp it down for training level, etc, etc.

There's some suspension and reach here!
So, I found two high level dressage instructors in Calgary, Problem #1, that's 300km from me. Problem #2, it's January in Alberta. (Some people are happy to haul far in the winter, but personally I find it stressful and there's too many things that could happen - just because roads are good when I leave on Friday doesn't mean they'll stay that way for coming back Sunday). Luckily, I have some super cool solutions:

A) Dressage Simulator!

Many thanks to Karen at Bakersfield Dressage, because I totally didn't know this was a thing until I read her posts on it here and here (these posts are from 2012 but I just read them last month). After seeing that I started googling, and much to my surprise, there's a place in Alberta who has one! Dream Ride Equestrian It apparently just opened recently. So I called the place, and guess what, they have a Grand Prix dressage rider who will give you lessons on the simulator! I booked three, 60 minute sessions on it over three days this weekend. If it goes well, there's the opportunity to bring Kachina with me next time (when it's warmer) and do a combo weekend of simulator lessons and real horse lessons. I'm really excited for the simulator because I think it will be a good way to focus on my position and build up some good muscle memory that I can take back to my own horse. Maybe I'll even get to play with the high level buttons on the simulator :-)

Photo credit: Dream Ride Equestrian

B) Schoolmaster Lesson!

I have never ridden a dressage horse other than my own, and so I've never ridden a horse who knows more than me. But I was doing some more searching and found this lady in Calgary who teaches private lessons, group lessons, skype lessons, and schoolmaster lessons. I managed to book a schoolmaster lesson with her for this weekend (since I'm in Calgary anyways). If it goes well and we seem like a good fit, I will try and do semi-regular lessons with her through Skype when I'm at home, and then come to Calgary for occasional schoolmaster lessons in the winter and haul Kachina up for occasional normal lessons in the summer.

Pretty, but not ideal for driving
It may seem like overkill to be doing 4 different lessons this weekend, but by the time I pay for gas and hotel, I think it's actually the most cost effective. Plus the total cost for the whole weekend will be about the same as a rated dressage show.

I'm so excited for this weekend to get lots of saddle time and learning without the stress of hauling my horse far in the winter (also, gas for just my car will be a whole lot cheaper than the truck and trailer!). I will definitely do a couple review posts when I get back.

My trailer - sturdy but not light

No comments:

Post a Comment