To become a true horsewoman (or horseman) it takes more than just popping out to the barn a few times a week to hop on your horse and get assaulted by your instructor. I firmly believe that to really know something you must first understand it inside and out. Now while I do not expect you do go off the deep end into the world of obsession where I reside, off horse education is an excellent way to augment and enhance your dressage education. This is also an excellent way to spend time if your are recouping from an injury or a surgery with either you or your horse. Instead of sitting around wishing you could be riding, consider learning as much as you can from other sources. By the way, no one is paying me for the honor of my endorsement.
Source Number One: USDF E-Trak
There is a huge amount of information on E-Trak, but there are only a few people who can stay focused amongst a deluge of articles and videos. Luckily USDF takes care of that for you. Once you go to the USDF website and log in (Note you must be a member to take advantage of e-trak, but it is worth the membership just for this, even if you do not show.) you click on the e-trak icon. Once there click on the green button labeled “Learning Center”. Now you should see an icon named “In Depth Study” and this is where it gets fun. USDF has built an array of two hour classes in a range of subjects from Nutrition to Classical Training to Stable Management that you can study. There are a mix of videos and articles that you watch and read and once finished you are tested. After you test, your score is submitted to USDF and you get credit toward a USDF University Certificate or Diploma. It is fun to work toward a Certificate but even if you have no goals in that arena, the structure of these education modules helps keep your focus, and the testing ensures that you have learned the materials.
Source Number Two: http://www.dressageclinic.com
On a related note the website Dressage Clinic has paired with USDF to create materials approved by USDF and feed into the USDF University program. They are a series of videos and lectures that you watch and then afterward take a short quiz. This quiz keeps you from zonking out during whatever is happening. Your passing grade is sent to USDF and then you get points toward the USDF University Certificate again. The only downside is that a membership costs around thirty dollars a month.
Source Number Three: Hilary Clayton at Michigan State University
Hilary Clayton is one of the great resources in the world’s collective education toward equine biomechanics and function. Not only that, she has written extensively for dressage publications on a wide array of subjects. The Michigan State website has links to her articles which are ALL worth a read or two (or five). For the sake of ease I will just link to her publications from here because their site is sometimes a bit sticky. Click here for here Dressage Today articles. Click here for her USDF Connection articles. And click here for their annual reports (just scroll down a bit). The annual reports are a bit more in depth but still very interesting. If you enjoyed her magazine articles then you will most likely enjoy those as well.
Source Number Four: The Australian Equine Behaviour Centre
This is an interesting site with a wealth of articles. The crux of it is they work toward creating a logical system of cause and effect within the mechanics of riding horses, and the aids that work therein. They aim to address equine psychology and create a system that works within it. This are people after my own heart. Click here to read up.
I hope that these resources help add to your dressage and equine base of knowledge. Remember that education starts with you and without knowledge you do not even know what questions to ask, let alone the answers. If you have additional resources that I have missed then PLEASE let the community know in the comments section, with a special emphasis put on free or inexpensive resources.
- Confidence In The Show Ring: The Audition Mentality (dressagedifferent.com)
- The Trials and Tribulations of Traveling (dressagedifferent.com)