Thousands of riders pursue the sport of dressage across the globe, and the majority do so on a budget and with the horse they already have, or quite simply, the one they can afford. This means riders daily face the challenge of mastering one of the world’s most esteemed equestrian pursuits on horses that may not be bred specifically for the task, or even if they have been, may not be top prospects for any number of reasons—behavioral quirks, conformational impediments, age or soundness issues, you name it.
For 35 years I had the chance to ride with many of the top American, Canadian, and European trainers. During this time, I rode and trained Thoroughbreds, Morgans, Arabians, Lippizans, Warmbloods, Quarter Horses, and Appaloosa crosses. I have ridden many very different horses in the course of my riding and training career—different sizes, shapes, colors, and breeds—and in some cases, I’ve ridden them to the highest levels of dressage competition.
I own a huge library of equestrian books. But the one thing I have discovered is that most books are written for “perfect” horses. I found that training horses was a bit experimental. The rider needs to keep in mind the horse’s physical abilities and limitations, as well as deal with her own thought processes.
So now I have compiled my best tips for training and showing the horse you have (or the horse you love, despite his “faults”) through the levels. In my book DRESSAGE FOR THE NOT-SO-PERFECT HORSE, you’ll find lists of the common “imperfections and evasions” experienced when riding movements—from simple transitions and leg-yield to zig-zags, tempi changes, and piaffe—followed by training tips and creative ways to “perfect” the “imperfections.”
I hope that this book can help more of you have fun with your not-so-perfect dressage horse, every step of the way.