The BDH Dressage Assessment

Now that I have been riding the BDH for roughly a month, I have a much better idea of his strengths and weaknesses on the flat. For later comparison, I think it would be interesting to chronicle our starting point together.

Jack has three quality gaits- i.e, a 4 beat walk, balanced trot, and an engaged 3 beat canter. I can’t tell you how many bad canters I saw while shopping, and so this most basic of criteria was actually quite important to me in seeking a dressage partner. Anyways. The best way to document his abilities is by gait.

The Walk
Jack is a fairly forward thinking horse, until it comes to the walk. It’s obvious that the walk is not much more than a ‘break’ to him, and so he’s quite good at moseying in this gait. I am working on reminding him that he’s still working, and over-emphasizing my following hand and getting him forward. When he’s using his neck and actually walking with purpose, he has an 8 walk, but man do you have to work for it at this point in time. Meanwhile, transitions down to the walk tend to have that horrid ‘splat’ quality, so thinking forward into the downward transition is also a point of concentration for us.

The Trot
The trot is probably Jack’s best gait right now. He’s fairly balanced, though tends to lean on the right shoulder in both directions. Our main focus right now is encouraging him to reach out to the bit, but I imagine the trot is going to come along the fastest in the scheme of things.

The Canter
Jack has a good quality canter right now, but man is it green. Those giant shoulders of his are his best bet at balance, and it takes some work to convince him to sit and balance from back-to-front and not the other way around. So while longitudinal and lateral balance are both an issue for him at the moment, we’re focusing most on the lateral balance. The fact that his canter is huge is also a little tricky- it’s easy for his body to just run away with him, and surprise us both. Keeping it organized can be like riding a fine line between breaking into the trot or getting flat, long, and running. All the baby problems, in the body of a 9 year old!

6 thoughts on “The BDH Dressage Assessment

  1. That’s how Chimi was when I first got him!!!! His canter was so massive and unbalanced I was never sure we would stay in the dressage ring. I’d alsways say he was a 6 year old trapped in a 10 year old body 🙂

  2. P is like that also. Out free, he has a wonderful walk and canter and his trot sucks. Under saddle his trot is the best and most balanced. He’s the same as Jack where he looks at the walk as a break and our downward transitions to walk are awful. He has a wonderful canter, but can only keep it collected for short periods of time before he gets strung out. Getting better though, and so will Jack!

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