Showcasing the Benefits of Dressage to all Disciplines

Lynda Palmer and Nancy Michalski Pas de Deux (Ruth Sobeck photo)

Educational Event held by the Palos Verdes Chapter of the California Dressage Society

By Lynda Palmer and Nancy Michalski PVCDS Co-Chairs

This article is a reprint from Dressage Letters, a publication by the California Dressage Society.

“The benefits dressage offers to any horse’s training are improved muscle conditioning, improved soundness and flexibility, improved rideability and improved behavior.”Ellesse Jordan Tzinberg, International Grand Prix Dressage Rider & Trainer

PVCDS Chapter Co-Chairs Nancy Michalski and Lynda Palmer with Melissa Creswick

Educating and demonstrating to the broader horse community on the Palos Verdes Peninsula about how dressage training can benefit all equestrian disciplines was the goal of the Palos Verdes Chapter’s educational event,  Communicate with Your Horse through the Language of Dressage. The event was held on October 16 at Ernie Howlett Park in Rolling Hills Estates, thanks to a generous CDS educational grant.  The event featured demonstration riders from multiple disciplines including western, jumpers and equitation who were coached by clinician Melissa Creswick to improve overall suppleness and harmony with their horses.

To engage the community, the PVCDS chapter reached out to all the non-dressage trainers in the Palos Verdes area and invited them to nominate two riders to ride in the clinic with Melissa. Demonstration riders were chosen on a wide variety of horse breeds and disciplines to show that any horse can benefit from dressage.

The Event

Fifteen riders filled eight one-hour time slots and attracted close to 80 spectators throughout the day.

Left: Sponsored rider, Gale Lucas and Skye, Missouri Fox Trotter. Right: Sponsored rider, Ruth Sobeck, DVM and Blossom, former nationally titled mounted shooting horse

Sponsored riders Julia La Plant and Chrystal Mielke with Trainer Mary Hirsh and Clinician Melissa Creswick

One of the most notable rides included a young pony club rider whose horse was so unruly that Melissa recommended she dismount. PVCDS co-chair Nancy Michalski then followed Melissa’s directions and hand walked the horse next to the other Pony Clubber’s horse until the mount calmed down. The pony clubber mounted and began working next to her teammate until her horse was comfortable. From there, both riders had a very productive lesson with Melissa. Pony club trainer, Ken Anderson commented.

Sponsored riders Malia Uiiki and Rachel Bond Portuguese Bend Pony Club

“Melissa’s teaching of my Pony Club students was absolutely amazing! She took a difficult and potentially dangerous situation and created a beautiful demonstration of good horsemanship.  Using the buddy system, pairing a nervous horse with a calmer one, she gave the audience a memorable example of how to use the horse’s herd instinct in the training process. By the end of the lesson, the two horses were working quietly together. Through the use of positive reinforcement and horse psychology Melissa kept the horses and riders safe and happy.”

Ken Anderson, Trainer

The event was dedicated to helping riders to connect with their horses and in that spirit, the lunchtime entertainment showcased how horses and music go together.

Lunchtime Activities

First up, the PVCDS co-chairs performed a Pas de Deux followed by the Palos Verdes Junior Drill Team. The lunchtime entertainment generated a crowd of 30+ spectators.

Junior drill team

Dinner at the Park

Following the clinic the over 40 riders, trainers, spectators and the clinician gathered for a BBQ dinner. It was a great end to the day with equestrians of various disciplines coming together to share a meal and talk about the day.

Supporting Events

There was a series of supporting events surrounding the Saturday event.

  • Guest Speaking

Melissa also was a guest speaker at the Palos Verdes Peninsula Horseman’s Association (PVPHA) meeting on Thursday October 14th focused on exercises to better communicate with your horse. PVPHA is a local non-profit organization comprised of riders of all disciplines including western, jumpers, dressage and pleasure riders dedicated to maintaining horse keeping and trails on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. Most riders on the Palos Verdes Peninsula belong to PVPHA. Over 30 equestrians of various disciplines attended the meeting.

  • Paid clinics

During the weekend, paid clinics were offered with Melissa on Friday October 15 and Sunday October 17. There were 17 rides between the two days which included PVCDS and non-PVCDS riders as well as riders from other chapters.

Paid clinic rider Susan Garman and Rama


The PV chapter used this event to generate awareness about PVCDS, CDS and dressage through articles in CDS Letters and the Palos Verdes Peninsula Horseman’s Association Dispatch as well as social media posts and shares in Facebook, Next Door and other local publications. Posters and flyers were plastered throughout the Palos Verdes area and multiple email blasts were sent to the PVCDS email list plus the trainer email lists. In addition to creating awareness, this event provided the non-dressage community an opportunity to experience first-hand, what dressage can do for any horse.

PVCDS was thrilled about the success of the event, which provided a way to showcase how dressage training can benefit all equestrian disciplines.  The event reached close to 100 horse lovers. As an added benefit, PVCDS membership increased and it was a great way to connect the equestrian community in the local area. This quote from trainer, Tiffany Chui sums up the sentiment from the trainers and community.

Thank you for organizing this much-anticipated event since last year! CDS was so generous to sponsor thanks to your application efforts, enthusiasm and combined/organized efforts!  I think it was successful in reaching out to lots of interested riders and really also their families in the process of disseminating what dressage (and better reading of horses’ body language during exercises) is and can be across disciplines!

Tiffany Chiu


Leave a Reply