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It’s winter, and finding the motivation to ride can be hard. Having horses at home is a wonderful privilege, but unless you are lucky enough to have an indoor arena on your farm, riding outdoors makes things tricky.
Building an outdoor arena is on my wish list, however, in these temps, the footing would most likely be frozen anyway. My rides at home during the winter months are limited to hacking around our farm when the wind isn’t going to make my face go numb.
If I want to school, I will trailer over to Wanaja to use their indoor. This is a great way to keep up with our training, but it’s a time commitment. I’m looking at 4 hours from the time I walk out my door to when I walk back in it.
Moving to Florida for the winter months would be amazing, but that’s not in my budget. Instead of focusing on the things I can’t do, I try to stay grateful for all the things I do have and find ways to continue my training out of the saddle. I am finding myself doing more yoga (mission “toes in” is in full swing), reading dressage articles, and watching dressage videos!
In the latest issue of USDF Connection, I read the article From Training Level to Top of the World featuring Janet Foy. Here, she recommended attending dressage clinics and watching top-level riders via streaming platforms to continue learning. With access to thousands of videos on Dressage Today OnDemand, I am able to do just that!
Don’t let the winter blues stop you from continuing your dressage journey! Below are three videos from the series “Laura Graves—Inside Training Sessions with Verdades”. Laura demonstrates a “Monday” ride on Verdades. I’ve included a link for a sneak peek from one of these videos below. Enjoy!
In the first video, Laura discusses how she handles the first schooling session following a show and how to prepare for an upcoming holiday break. She starts with a 10 minute walk warm-up explaining why she feels that walking is so important.
Laura is not riding in spurs or with a whip for a specific reason. She has a “no spurs on Monday” rule. Her reasoning is that she wants to know that she can get the job done without a spur so that when she does ride with one, it adds something to the aid. I love this and that she is riding him in just a snaffle.
Laura is constantly testing Diddy’s reaction to her leg. If she does not get an ideal reaction from an ideal aid, he gets a correction. For a horse that knows an aid, if they take a second to think about it, they are already behind your aid.
I’ve got to up my game!
Next, Laura begins her trot warm-up, focusing on a steady rhythm that Diddy is responsible for carrying. As she incorporates leg yielding, she expects that the rhythm and contact do not change. Even though it’s a light day, he still needs to be honest and working through his body.
Laura used the mirrors in her arena to practice square halts and to be her eyes on the ground as she progressed through her session. Her attention to detail throughout this video was inspiring. Her calm demeanor and quiet style of riding are all things I strive for in my own riding.
In the second video, Laura continues her schooling session with some piaffe and passage work. She expects Diddy to be so hot off her leg that it’s like he is reading her mind.
She uses the mirrors quite often to confirm what she is feeling is actually correct. She explains that what feels great may not look the best and what may not feel great, is better than you think.
Does it make me feel a bit better about my own riding that Laura Graves needs confirmation of the correct feel? You darn betcha!
I found these videos to be so inspiring that I took all I learned to the arena on my next ride! The feeling that Josie gave me after our warm up was amazing!
Check out this video clip of how focusing on the ideal response to the ideal aid improved the way Josie moved through her body!
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