Dressage Strengthens Ex-Race Horse

I am very happy to report that Who’s Cindy Sue aka “Quinn” will be attending her first dressage schooling show this weekend. We are making our debut in the Intro Test A.  I have found a dressage trainer that has worked with us and has determined that her gate irregularity that the vets were deeming as “lameness” was truly a training and balance issue (I was ready to hop off and hug this woman!) In just two weeks of working with her and  using classical dressage techniques, I have a new, relaxed horse and she is becoming more and more regular.  Unbelievable how you train and ride can affect your horse!

I am new to dressage so I too am a student.  I am coming from the hunter/jumper world (25 years of this) where we hover in two point, dressage is a challenge but makes so much sense.  Here are two clips of us practicing pieces of our dressage test. We are getting longer periods of time where she is able to hold herself….the all important self carriage. No canter work yet except brief periods on a circle, she’ll get there!  She is also able to trot cross rails, but she does want to go, go go! Jumping is not going to be an issue for her. This summer our goal is to do Intro Tests A and B, and start schooling eventing at the amoeba/elementary level!

Rebecca Bonner Austin

Many horses coming off-the-track seem to have soundness issues but most of these are resolved with some chiropractic work and proper exercises. They use different muscles at the track and they need to be relaxed and rebuilt with proper exercise. Doing a chiropractic adjustment is not enough, you need to do exercises to build the muscles to hold the adjustment in place. If you can’t find a good chiropractor you can still do the exercises. Work on the lunge line at walk and trot and don’t do canter work until the horse is moving freely on both sides. Back your horse up when on the ground and see if she reaches under equally with both back legs. At first the horse will not reach very far underneath and there may be a large gap between the front and rear feet. Keep backing the horse every day until the feet almost touch when backing up. This will mean that the hips are unlocked and the horse can now reach underneath herself and build up the back and hind end muscles. When your horse is backing well, back her up a hill to increase the difficulty of the exercise. Find more information about “Does your horse need chiropractic care?” on the Bits & Bytes Farm Web site.