By Sally O’Dwyer, Dressage Amateur
Are you a dressage fanatic going a little stir crazy because you are unable to ride? Don’t be blue! Pursue your passion from home. Here’s how you can continue your journey to becoming a fabulous dressage badass ….
1. Remember how you said you wanted to ride a musical freestyle (MFS) but didn’t have the time?….. Start at the USDF website for guidelines. Sandra Beaulieu’s eBook on Musical Freestyles provides details and sample tests she designed. To create your own music for your freestyle, download the free software program called Audacity. To learn how to use Audacity, check out “how to” Youtube videos. Scour the internet, Spotify, and other music apps to find the music of your dreams! Watch MFS on Youtube for ideas. Search instrumental versions of your favorite songs. There are also Facebook groups available to support you, such as “Create a Musical Freestyle”.
2. Get Stoked! Create a vision board to inspire and motivate you. Be crafty and make it a piece of art. Glitter please! I make one each year and the base is a 3’x5’ white board. Put it where you will see it often. Use content that moves you. Put your favorite dressage pictures up there. Get yourself some affirmations and goals and plaster them all over your board.
3. DIY: Create Your Own Workout. Google “Exercises for Dressage Riders”. Assemble and write down a short doable workout that takes no more than 20 mins—if it is short and sweet, you are more likely to do it. Extreme workouts are not necessary. Three times a week is fine. We could all benefit from strength building exercises, particularly working the core muscles. I found muscles in my core that I didn’t know existed. Yoga is great to improve flexibility.
4. Make a Fabulous Photo Book about, guess who? You and your horse! Go through your photos, pick the best, and create a fantastic, awe-inspiring, priceless edition to keep forever. I create a new book every year, so I have multiple volumes. Shutterfly and other similar companies make it easy, and they often have sales. They also will take your photos and turn them into pillows, wall art, and more so that you can redecorate your home in chic dressage style.
5. Saddle Up with the Best Horse Fiction. Keep your horse mojo by reading heartwarming books—Here are a few: The Eighty Dollar Champion, Joe – the Horse Nobody Loved, the Perfect Horse, Seabiscuit, The Girl on the Dancing Horse, Chosen by a Horse, Horse Crazy, and Horse Stories. Some good humor books are available as well: Dressage Unscrambled and The Dressage Rider’s Survival Guide. There is even a steamy Dressage Novel Series called Dressage Chronicles. Giddy up and watch horsey movies as well: https://horsenetwork.com/2014/08/50-best-horse-movies/
6. Train That Brain. There is lots to learn off your horse.
Dust off your stack of dressage books. Be a good student, highlight and take notes. Ask your friends for recommendations of their favorite dressage books and build your library.
The internet is a great educational tool. Did you know that USDF has an online University?
Just for fun, USDF Region 5 has challenged USDF Region 4 to see which team can get the most USDF University credits and diplomas between now and September 30th, 2020. The battle begins. See if your region is participating as well!
Learning a test? Check out others who have posted their rides YouTube. Make sure they are riding the most recent test! Visualize yourself riding along.
Download USDF TestPro from the iTunes or Google Store. Worth the $17 bucks to help you learn your tests.
There is gold in your tests. If you are like me, you tend to stuff them in a box and forget about them. Now is the time to pull those bad boys out. Review and take notes on what the judges had to say. Any common themes?
7. Organize your horsey paperwork if you haven’t already. Get a storage box and make files. All your records should be at the ready—ownership papers, vet and shot records, deworming and shoeing calendar, farrier, tests, barn info, expense records, photos. Search Free Horse Record Forms on Pinterest and go nuts! Make a file for your local GMO, USEF, and USDF. BTW, this would be an excellent time to renew memberships.
8. Get Ready. Be a Good Girl (or Boy) Scout and be prepared. Go through your show wardrobe. Will you look your best? Perhaps it’s time to get rid of that ratty, ring-around-the-collar, old yellowed tie—you know who you are! Get a show trunk and fill her up with everything you need—make sure your trunk is not too heavy and has wheels to tote around the showgrounds. You can get them at Home Depot for less than $100.
Here is a super article on how to get ready.
Extra Credit-Research nonprofits that serve horses and donate!
Hope these ideas help pass the time while we stay at home. I am sure that we will be back in the show ring before too long. This is temporary! See you soon. Be well and stay healthy.
About Me: I am a boomerang rider, like so many other amateurs. I began as a kid with backyard ponies and horses. Then college, family, and career consumed me, and horses took a back seat in my life. I attribute, or blame Megan, my youngest daughter, for getting me back into horses about ten years ago. She expressed interest in riding, and I jumped all over it and leased a horse for her. Turns out, she was a lot less interested in horses than I was. But it got me going again and now I have two horses, an Off the Track Thoroughbred and a young Warmblood. I am loving the journey, especially all the wonderful people I have met, and am currently working on earning my USDF silver medal. I call myself a dressage passionista and enjoy sharing with others what I have learned, offering encouragement and support to others. Dressage can be intimidating, and we need to hold each other up and build a nurturing, supportive community. We ARE good enough! I have started a new blog called getdressage.com.