Dressage Over Fences

I spent part of my day off yesterday riding Moe with Anne and Atut. Moe was in his usual high spirits, and Anne suggested taking him through some small gymnastics. She set up a one stride to a two stride, with the jumps about 18″ high.

Gymnastics are not a strong point for Moe and me. In my younger days, I didn’t practice them often. I didn’t like them, they were a pain to set up, and I much preferred to zoom around over various cross-country obstacles set up in the pasture. Any time we were forced into doing them (like at Pony Club camp), Moe rushed through them, turning one-strides into bounces and taking fearsome distances on two and three stride lines. At shows, I always sort of let Moe pick his own pace and distances- it seemed easier than trying to rate him, even if it meant we sometimes knocked rails.

Anne is a dressage person and a stickler for accuracy and straightness. So when we approached the line and Moe (somewhat surprisingly) ducked out of the second fence, Anne chided me for not approaching the first fence straight. I tried it again and Moe threw a veritable fit, dancing sideways and attempting to charge around. He felt frustrated and confused. I had never really asked him to do a line my way and he didn’t see the point in starting now.

We ended up taking the three jumps down and just having poles on the ground. For the most part, Moe walked and trotted quietly over them. Once I corrected my riding, he was straight as an arrow. Funny how dressage and its concepts carry over into every other part of three-day eventing.

While Moe had some ugly moments of confusion and disobedience, he was generally willing to do what I asked, once he’d figured it out. If I can keep my riding precise, I feel confident we’ll have little trouble with gymnastics and pulled rails in the future!

Author: Stephanie

Equestrian, amateur cook, people person.

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