Making the Connection


    Many people claim to find dressage as exciting as watching paint dry. While I am definitely not one of them—I love dressage!—I have to admit that my eyes glaze over like a deer in the headlights and my brain freezes when I see the words “training scale”– you know, that whole pyramid of requirements needed to attain the pinnacle of dressage perfection, the true nirvana of horse and rider as one.

    However, if you want to have that magical “on the bit” connection with your horse, there’s no getting around the prerequisites. Despite knowing this, I stare blankly at it when it appears before me. Concepts like “rhythm” are easier to feel in the saddle.  It can be frustrating when you just can’t seem to get it. Until you stumble upon it through trial and error (and maybe sweat and tears), or your instructor says just the right thing to cause the lightbulb to come on for you. Then, hallelujah! It suddenly makes sense, and dressage seems possible.

    While we did include the training scale on pg. 41, it’s accompanied by great user-friendly advice from dressage trainer and coach Jane Savoie. As an author and clinician, Jane has a knack for turning vague concepts into simple, practical steps.  After working on our “Dressage Mysteries Solved” article series, I can now look at the training scale without turning into a zombie. Check out part one on page 38, and you too can get on the bit. Jane says so!
    Perhaps your challenge is fingertip control on a loose rein, better barrel turns, bigger fences, or learning lead changes. Riding goals are as personal and varied as the spots on an Appaloosa. For our first issue of 2010, we asked about your riding goals–see “HI Spy,” pg. 64, to see what fellow readers and riders aspire to, from riding without fear to making the Olympics. (Visit to add your thoughts on  this and other questions.)

    Riding fear is a biggie—the elephant in the room (or barn aisle).  “While almost everyone experiences it from time to time, almost no one admits to it,” reveals our new Stable Thinking columnist, Cathy Atkinson. This month, Cathy brings fear out into the open and explores why it carries such a stigma in the horse world. Turn to pg. 8 for a seven-point plan to cope with fear, from someone who has been and there done that. We hope you’ll enjoy Cathy’s common-sense advice and insight on the horse world in this new column.

    Stay connected and share your riding challenges and “a-ha” moments this year. E-mail, or find us on Facebook at 

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    1. The advice I remember and try to carry our is, “Don’t ever ride a dirty horse. Its an insult to the horse.” Dorothy, Calif.


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