|Katie Lee competing on Hillgarth Red Ray
Good conformation is important for a dressage horse
The conformation of a horse is one of the most important considerations when buying. Conformation means
how a horse is put together and is vital to the way it moves. A horse that moves well is less prone to wear and tear and should
have a longer working life than one that moves badly. A good mover is also worth more money as a competition horse. Very few
horses have perfect conformation but the buyer should always aim high. More info here.
You need a good instructor if you want to compete at dressage as even top international riders have trainers. Basic
exercises should include:
- 10 minutes walk at beginning of session on a loose or long rein - this can be in arena
or a short hack. Helps to warm up and loosen out horse as well as getting fluid moving in joints.
- Rising trot
on large curved tracks, i.e. 20m circles, figures of eight, changes of rein across the diagonal.
- Teach horse to take
rein forward and down.
- Half-halts when riding from one transition to another, to shorten or lengthen stride, to warn
horse of new movement, etc.
- Halt and immobility - Train horse to stand square and stay still.
- Half circles
and returning to track.
- Serpentines - help develop looseness and teach horse correct bend.
- Turn on the forehand
- beginning of lateral sideways movements.
- Rein back.
- Leg yielding - good for looseness and for teaching
rider co-ordination of aids.
- Half pirouette or half-turn on haunches.