By Donna Hammond
This article won first place in the 2018 GMO Newsletter Award in First-Person Experience for GMOs with fewer than 75 members. It first appeared in the March 2018 “On the Bit,” Eastern Iowa Dressage and Eventing Association
Equipped with laptops or tablets, a score of enthusiastic women settled down at the Coralville Library on February 6th to learn how to use the internet as a training tool. Fueled by snacks kindly provided by our hosts, Nan Barta and Sue Bennet, we opened our browsers as Jean Rude walked us through horses in cyberspace and shared tips and tricks. Are you paying $36/month to Dressage Training Online in order to see video sessions by top trainers and riders? Bummed that you cannot attend the annual USDF Trainers Conference because you are not a professional or an FEI level rider? Stop! Login to the USDF site, and look for USDF Education Library (formerly known as eTRAK) – a compendium of articles and videos. There you will find over a thousand videos and articles, as well as USDF Online Courses and Short Courses by Topic (used by those in the L Education Program no less) available as PDFs paired with how-to videos accompanied by commentary by top riders and trainers. Free walk, half-pass, stretchy trot – you name it. And all free for the price of the USDF membership. The videos are great, you say. Buuuuuuuuuut, you don’t have a big screen TV in your arena. No problem. Record the audio from the video or that last clinic with Pierre Cousyn, Vera Kessel or Cindy Ishoy. Tack up your pony, slide your phone into a pocket, pop in your earbuds, settle (gently) into the saddle, and press play – and you have your own personal trainer guiding you through the exercise. Commuting to work, running errands, vacuuming, or waiting to pick up guests at the airport? With a podcast player on your cell phone you can listen to the USDF podcasts, or download the app for Dressage Radio Show by Horse Radio Network to your phone. Anne Cizadlo was a recent featured guest on this popular podcast, dispensing tips on riding a test with hosts Reese and Phillip. You can listen here (Episode #452). Within an hour, Jean introduced an entire new set of training tools that we can use at little to no cost as we work to improve our riding and our horses’ gaits on our own. And, just a final note from your scribe, spring has nearly sprung and with it many of our ponies are experimenting with airs above the ground as the weather warms. Ride safe!