Dressage topics and dressage tests as well as many other fun horse topics are included in our blogs.

  • Let’s face it falling off is never fun! This article by Malila Wollan has some tips, and the statistics are startling!

    Let’s face it falling off is never fun! This article by Malila Wollan has some tips, and the statistics are startling!

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    How to Fall Off a Horse

    “Don’t jam yourself into the ground like a lawn dart,” says Austin Anderson, a trick rider and horse stuntman from Troup, Tex. You’ll have a few fractions of a second in the air before you land; use them to protect yourself by tucking your chin to your chest and preparing to roll, which will increase your deceleration time and distribute the force of the impact over more of your body.

    “Your priority should be protecting your head and neck,” says Anderson, who estimates that he has fallen from horses 150 times since he started performing at age 4. Many training courses on how to fall off a horse encourage riders to be careful about breaking their descent with their arms, but Anderson says that if you’re going down head first, you should use your arms as a bumperlike “crumple zone”: A broken wrist is better than brain trauma. Researchers have found that helmets reduce the risk of head injuries by as much as half, but fewer than a quarter of riders wear them, including Anderson, who opts for a cowboy hat instead.

    In his stunt work, Anderson is usually being paid to look as though he has been shot off his horse, which means he needs to tumble in an uncontrolled, limbs-akimbo way and often land directly on his back or belly. For this type of fall, wear a protective vest and prepare the ground ahead of time by removing rocks and laying down sand or peat moss to make for a softer landing.

    If you ride horses enough, you will eventually fall off; equestrians are admitted to the hospital at a rate of about once per 2,000 hours of riding, which is more than motorcyclists. Horse riders suffer higher rates of severe brain and body injuries than skiers, automobile racers and rugby and football players combined. Anderson has spent much of his life atop horses; he can ride standing with a foot planted on the back of two steeds galloping side by side. No matter how comfortable you are, though, horses are powerful animals: Some can weigh thousands of pounds; some can run 40 miles per hour. In comparison, you are slow and fragile — eminently breakable, really. “When you’re young, you recover easier,” says Anderson, who is 49. “But as you get older, you end up paying for those falls.”

      reposted from: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/25/magazine/how-to-fall-off-a-horse.html o.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
  • Fellow-American Ryan finishes a close second, Sweden’s von Eckermann takes third

    Fellow-American Ryan finishes a close second, Sweden’s von Eckermann takes third

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    Fellow-American Ryan finishes a close second, Sweden’s von Eckermann takes third  By Louise Parkes
    [caption id="attachment_10840" align="alignright" width="477"] Elizabeth Madden of USA (C), winner of the FEI Longines World Cup Final in Jumping sprays Champagne on Henrik von Eckermann (R) of Sweden, who took third place, as Devin Ryan (L) of USA, runs away from the podium during the awards ceremony in Paris, France, 15 April 2018.
    Photo FEi/Jim Hollander[/caption] America’s Beezie Madden (54) held on to win the Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping 2018 title in Paris (FRA) today, but she didn’t do it the easy way. In a cliffhanger of a second round she faulted for the first time over three tough days of jumping when last to go with the brilliant Breitling LS. And the crowd had to hold their breath until she crossed the line to a roar of approval, separated by just two penalty points from compatriot Devin Ryan (36) in second place. The biggest surprise package of the week, the relatively unknown Ryan was relentlessly cool yet again as his apparently bomb-proof grey gelding son of the great stallion Zirocco Blue continued to make the super-tough courses designed by Spain’s Santiago Varela look fairly elementary. The hard-luck story of the final afternoon was that of Sweden’s Henrik von Eckermann (37) who had to settle for third place for the second year in a row. In runner-up spot and carrying four faults as the afternoon began, he might have forced Madden into a jump-off but for a mistake with Tovek’s Mary Lou in the closing moments. This evening he wasn’t forgiving himself for that. Madden knew she’d been in a fight.

    "When I had that rail down I was a little nervous, but I still felt my horse was jumping well and I knew I had to pull it together to finish on four (faults) and try to get it done!"

    Beezie Madden (USA) The rider who previously claimed the title in 2013 said it was “double-exciting” to post her second win, and particularly with this 12-year-old stallion. “We’ve really believed in him but he’s taken time to mature, so for him to come through today is fantastic! It’s taken a little while to replace Simon (her 2013 World Cup winning ride) and Cortes (team silver 2016 Olympic Games) but it’s happening!” she added. Her two nearest rivals kept all the pressure in place when making no mistake in today’s first round, von Eckermann carrying his four points forward and Ryan still sitting on a total of six.  A little rattle at the oxer at fence three on the 13-obstacle course, and another at vertical no. 7 set American hearts beating a little faster, but Madden cleared the line with nothing to add, so the top end of the standings looked the same when the top 20 returned for round two over a new track. And Ryan, who hails from Long Valley in New Jersey, did it again, steering Eddie Blue home with apparent ease once more. At just nine years old the horse was the youngest in the Final but you’d never have guessed. “His brain is unbelievable, he never knocked a pole as a five or six-year-old, he won the American Gold Cup as an eight-year-old and was second at Devon, one of our biggest shows in the US - he’s just a fantastic horse!” said the man who qualified from the US East Coast series. Second-last into the ring von Eckermann knew he would pressure Madden with a clear, and this evening he was beating himself up about having the second fence down this time out. “It was my mistake, my horse jumped fantastic as always, but we got too close and I interfered - I should have trusted her quality and it wouldn’t have happened”, said the clearly disappointed Swede. You could hear a pin drop after Madden’s stallion hit the middle element of the triple combination at fence six. One more error would hand the title to fellow-American Ryan, but the lady who has two Olympic gold medals in her trophy cabinet along with a whole lot more valuable hardware didn’t crumble, bringing Breitling home with nothing further to add for a very popular victory. Only five female athletes have taken the title in the 40-year history of the series that every rider wants to win, and they all have one thing in common. Like today’s Longines FEI World Cup™ Jumping champion, Melanie Smith (1983), Leslie Burr Lenehan (1986) and Katharine Burdsall (1987) all flew the American flag, while three-time winner Meredith Michaels-Beerbaum from Germany (2005, 2008, 2009) was born in Los Angeles, California. It seemed history was repeating itself, as Burdsall’s victory was also posted at exactly the same Paris venue when the Jumping Final was last staged in France 31 years ago. The final standings showed three US riders in the top four places tonight as 2017 winner, McLain Ward, slotted into fourth spot. The happiest of all was new double-champion Madden. “I love the World Cup Final - each year I make it a goal to get there, and to win, and I did it again!” said the lady who will be aiming join the elite club of three-time champions when the Final returns to Gothenburg in Sweden for the 23rd time next April.
  • FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final 2018: Is anyone betting on the boys this time around??

    FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final 2018: Is anyone betting on the boys this time around??

    The statistics are stacked against them, but the five male athletes competing at next week's FEI World Cup™ Dressage 2018 Final in Paris (FRA) won't be intimidated by that....
    by Louise Parkes [caption id="attachment_10806" align="alignright" width="300"]Isabell Werth Isabell Werth from Germany rides Weihegold OLD as she finishes her final ride and wins the Grand Prix Freestyle in the FEI World Cup Finals in Omaha, Nebraska, USA on 01 April 2017.[/caption] Defending champion, Germany's Isabell Werth, may be the clear favorite to reclaim the title with her fabulous mare Weihegold, but as the lady, herself so often says, "with horses you just never know what's going to happen!", and there isn't an equine expert in the world who will argue with that. A total of 18 combinations from 12 nations will be strutting their stuff at the AccorHotels Arena when the FEI World Cup™ Dressage 2018 Final kicks off in the heart of the City of Lights on 11 April. Today's final start-list (HERE) shows a single change, as Australia's Mary Hanna has withdrawn with Calanta and is replaced by Great Britain's Hayley Watson-Greaves and Rubins Nite. This means that four countries, Great Britain, Netherlands, Sweden, and USA, will field two riders each, but Germany continues to have the largest representation as Werth is joined by Dorothee Schneider riding Sammy Davis Jr., and Jessica von Bredow-Werndl with Unee BB, giving their country a very strong hand. Making waves as the very first rider from the Philippines to qualify for the Final will be the 26-year-old former model, Ellesse Jordan Tzinberg, whose captivating back-story includes a determined recovery from a life-threatening accident, and who is likely to attract plenty of attention throughout the week.

    In the history of the FEI World Cup™ Dressage series, which is celebrating its 33rd Final, only four men have ever claimed the coveted title.

    First was Germany's Sven Rothenberger with Andiamo in 1990, and it would be another 19 years before America's Steffen Peters followed suit with Ravel in 2009. Edward Gal and the amazing stallion, Totilas, were champions in 2010 and then his Dutch counterpart, Hans Peter Minderhoud, came out on top with Glock's Flirt in 2016. Otherwise, however, the ladies have been the dominant force, and the most dominant of all was the incredible Anky van Grunsven who posted nine victories over an extraordinary 13-year period between 1995 and 2008, a record unlikely ever to be challenged. To a large extent, she is responsible for bringing the sport to the level of popularity it enjoys today, as she championed the early development of Dressage Freestyle to Music which has become so popular with audiences all around the world over the intervening years. Watching horses "dance" to the rhythm of their Freestyle musical score is quite an experience, the sense of symmetry and the depth of understanding between man and horse is spine-tingling stuff. Edward Gal and Totilas were one of those mesmerising partnerships that left audiences with goose-bumps during their relatively short, but hugely successful, career together, and the Dutchman, the only previous male FEI World Cup™ Dressage champion in contention this time around, brings another really exciting horse to Paris next week, Glock's Zonik whose extravagant movement has been delighting spectators throughout the winter season. At 27 years of age, Denmark's Daniel Bachmann Andersen will be one of the youngest competitors at the Final, earning his place with three great performances from the stallion, Blue Hors Zack. And although Britain's Emile Faurie just squeezed into a qualifying spot after having to withdraw at the last leg in 's-Hertogenbosch (NED), he has been showing tremendous form with Delatio who shot to center-stage when runner-up behind Sweden's Patrik Kittel at Olympia in London (GBR) in December. Kittel, of course, is a master show-stealer. If you want to easily understand the appeal of Freestyle Dressage then he's your "go to" rider right now, as his gift for combining crisp, quality choreography with the most toe-tapping music is second to none. And his unbounded enthusiasm is, quite simply, infectious. It was no surprise when he galloped to the top of the Western European League table this season, and he brings the brilliant Deja to Paris in a few days time where the host nation will be represented by Rio Olympians Ludovic Henry and After You. Girl-power will be out in force, but while the boys will be fewer in number they won't be overwhelmed. The FEI World Cup™ Dressage Final 2018 - bring it on!!
  • Riding The 20-Meter Circle

    Riding The 20-Meter Circle

    20 Meter Dressage CircleRiding The 20-Meter Circle

    Why Use the 20-meter circle to improve lateral flexion on your horse and learn how to change your bend when you change direction. When you ride on a 20-meter circle, you teach your horse to soften to the inside aids, and you learn how to ride your horse across their body from the inside leg (first) to the outside rein (second). Think Things to remember when riding a circle is that a circle is circular, so you are the same distance from the center at every step on the circle. Look at the spatial relationship of the circles in the Small and Standard Dressage Arena while riding the circle your horse's body arcs following the curve of the circle. So the inside of your horse’s body on the track is shorter than outside of your horse’s body on the track of the circle. Notice Circles will reveal stiffness in both the horse and the rider, and if you are uneven with your reins, the track of the circle is difficult to follow. Take note if it is easier to track one direction, if so then your horse may have a problem. Perhaps your horse is less flexible in one direction which is common, and the remedy is to spend more time in the awkward direction. When riding the circle your horse’s inside hind foot should track up into your horse’s inside front foot, and your horse’s outside hind foot should track up into your horse’s outside front foot. And you (the rider) shoulders and hips should match the horses bend. Plan Start riding the first 20-meter circle at the walk and plan your course. Remember that the bend is constant all the way around the circle. Think of a circle as having 4 points and ride from point to point on a curved line. Aids When you begin in this example tracking to the right: use the right rein or inside rein lightly to ask for for the bend and provide direction. The left rein or outside rein maintains contact and keep your horses straight on the circle. The riders right leg or inside leg stays on the girth encouraging the horse to move forward and to bend through its body to the inside of the circle. The left leg or outside leg is held slightly behind the girth to control your horse's hind end and keep it on the curved track and moving forward. Remember you are seeking lightness so if you have an unresponsive horse make a correction then return to the light aid.