On my social media one of my regular hashtags is #happyathlete. For me the ultimate purpose of having, training & schooling horses is to make them happier and healthier. So our dressage training consists of much more than only dressage…
I believe that happy horses who love what they do can be much better performers. As a good competition horse needs to be super fit, intelligent, sensitive, motivated and confident we need to train on all these skills, besides all basic work, lections and maintaining if not enhancing their health.
One of my biggest role models is Ingrid Klimke and I love her style of riding and her way of training. Like her I try to keep our dressage training interesting. For sure you have to work a lot on basics, you have to train the lections and tests required but I try to do one thing at a time.
Every training starts with walking on loose reins for minimum 15 minutes, followed by what I call a warmup jog/stretch. Then a short walking break and then it depends what is on our schedule. Sometimes it will be only working on basics, sometimes focusing on one specific area (f.ex. counter canter and collection). And regularly we will do poles or hacking out. This is fun for all, but you can also train all things like coping with different situations, concentrating while distracted, etc. I feel my horses get lots of confidence out of these various situations and me on the other side I will learn how they react.