Behind the scenes: dressage

Well, if all commercials were like this, I might get cable TV again.


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Rider Position with Kyra Kyrklund

Kyra Kyrklund is a dressage god. You should listen to everything she has to say (plus, she has a cool Swedish accent).

Here’s a clip from an older USDF Symposium with Kyra discussing effective rider position. Kyra calls the rider’s core the “middle part.”


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Long and low — my favorite exercise

I am a huge believer in riding horses in “long and low.” I think it keeps them happy and sound. It’s not an easy exercise for the rider, nor is it something that a horse who’s previously been improperly ridden will pick up in a day. But if you want a dressage horse to last long into his twenties, you oughta try it.

Here’s a pretty good video discussing long and low:

How to engage your horse’s back:



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Organize your upper body

Remember, your horse will only perform as well as you do.

Here’s a good article on a few upper-body control exercises using Pilates, from the September 2012 USDF Connection magazine.

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Charles deKunffy: Training sessions: physical, mental and spiritual

Sit down, turn off all distractions, and watch this 5-minute video of Charles deKunffy talking about the dynamics of a riding lesson. “An ever changing, dynamic, complex effort” between rider, horse and teacher.

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Valegro at six years old

Okay, so apparently not only is Carl Hester one of the greatest horsemen and dressage trainers of his time, but he also can predict the future.

Follow the link to watch a fun clip of Carl talking about Valegro and his Olympic partner, Charlotte Dujardin, in a clinic ‘way back in 2009. Wait for the “victory extended trot” toward the end of the clip — it’ll take your breath away.

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USDF/USEF Young Rider Graduate Program

Calling all dressage Young Riders! WWU dressage riders, this is the perfect opportunity for you:

“The Young Rider Graduate Program is designed to help bridge the gap between young rider status and the professional world of international competition, teaching, training, and equine business management. The curriculum provides eligible participants information for a “seamless” transition from the ranks of a young rider to that of an adult amateur, professional, or high-performance equestrian.

“The program’s format is a two day educational seminar that focuses upon relevant topics such as fundraising, sponsorship, grant opportunities, insurance, ethics, business management, international competition, goal setting, and leadership. Key USDF and USEF personnel discuss the roles that both organizations will play in their future professional lives.”

The program is available to USDF member riders between the ages of 20-28 riding at Third Level and above. We’ve sent WWU students in the past, and they’ve gushed over how valuable the seminars were.

Check it out at

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The ten habits of highly effective dressage riders

This has been going around Facebook for a little while, but I thought it was good enough to point to again.

The Ten Habits of Highly Effective Dressage Riders

I was going to pull out a couple quotes as my favorites, but I like it all so much that instead, I’ll just strongly encourage you to go read — really read, not just skim through — the whole thing.

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Dressage Radio

For those times you want to immerse yourself in dressage information, but can’t sit down to read a book or magazine or watch a video, try The Dressage Radio Show. You can listen to the weekly show through the dedicated webpage, or subscribe through iTunes or Zune.

The Dressage Radio Show is part of the Horse Radio Network, which hosts a whole bunch of shows covering a variety of disciplines including driving, eventing and western. It also runs a “Horse Tip Daily” show. And it offers mobile apps for both iPhones and Androids.

Check it out!

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Video: Correct rider position with Hilda Gurney

Hilda Gurney is one of the greats of American dressage. Here’s a quick (3 minute) video overview of correct rider position, filmed during the 2012 USDF Annual Convention and Symposium.

Correct rider position with Hilda Gurney

And here’s a good rider body-awareness article — it’s a .pdf file from USDF e-Trak:

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