Dressage for confidence and better relationship
instruction by Joanne (Jo) L. Belasco
  Dressage seems to be on everyone's lips nowadays. Many people say they ride dressage or they teach dressage, but they don't all mean the same thing. To me, dressage is about building a better relationship with our horses. I feel in love with dressage because of the way a rider and horse can dance together with such subtle communication, it sometimes can't even be seen. Dressage is not about the fancy moves that high level riders do. It is about a good foundation that allows you to ride your horse confidently and that allows your horse to carry you better.

I believe that dressage is a wonderful training method for any rider - western or english - because it gives a rider confidence. I use three principles in my teaching, and in my own interactions with horses:

-- Balancing: We must first balance ourselves before we can move forward with any kind of riding. Horses are very sensitive creatures - think of one flinching a muscle when the horse feels a fly on him or her. We need balance so that the horse can focus on what we ask, rather than on constantly keeping us in the saddle.
-- Centering: As we become more balanced, we can work on centering ourselves. When we are physically centered on our horse, we can use our seat and legs in subtle ways to ask for movements. When we are psychologically centered, we can be more attune to the subtle response the horse gives us as we ask for movements.
-- Connection: As we learn to balance and center, we also learn to connect to the horse. By connecting to the horse, beginning to feel the horse's legs as they touch the ground for example, we can learn how to control each footfall. Doing so allows us to feel more confident and to have a deeper relationship with our horse.

How do we learn balance, centering, and connection? How do those principles combine to make a better rider? How can you learn more? Take a lesson, and we'll explore these and other methods to make you a better rider.

~ Jo

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