Cross training tips

I’ve just started understanding how useful dressage basics are for riding in general. I hated when my trainer asked me to do dressage moves as a kid because I thought it was boring and I just liked moving fast. I’ve seen the light now and am wondering what the best things to focus on with limited dressage knowledge. I prefer jumping as my main focus but I’d love to have some basics for dressage in my toolbox. Any suggestions for cross training?

I would highly recommend some lessons with a good dressage trainer. That will truly be the best way to get off to a good and correct start as they can evaluate where you and your horse are at and what will be most helpful for you.

And as a side note - cross training works both ways! I’m a former eventer turned dressage rider but I’ve started taking lessons with a hunter trainer over the last few months. I started just for fun but to my surprise it has done wonders for my dressage work. It has made me a much quieter rider already and has really helped my horse strengthen his hind end and use his body better :slight_smile:

Take lessons with a good trainer. That’s the best way to use dressage to help your riding. Dressage, even just to better your jumping, still requires a commitment. It’s not about “moves,” it’s about fine tuning, having your horse connected back to front and responsive to your aids. From that comes lateral work and collection that are useful for your horse’s fitness and rideability.

cavaletti work…its fun for both you and your horse and wow. what a difference it makes. probably the best video or instructional books are Ingrid Klimke’s cavalletti for dressage and jumping.

As has been suggested lessons with a good dressage instructor will quickly assess where you are and start you in the correct direction to get the maximum, benefits from dressage work. There is a real reason for the First and Second level work, and that is to strengthen the horse through gymnastics so that they are strong enough for the upper level work.

I love to jump as cross training with my FEI horse (my coach cringes when I jack the jumps to 3’6" once each month for my benefit (whee!), but knows I’m careful and that my mare is quite capable of doing it easily). :slight_smile: Two things I like to do to combine dressage into my jump schools are to:

  1. First, set a low jump or cavaletti near the outside track (B or E location). Then, canter down “center line” and do a half pass to the cavaletti, flying change over it, and repeat the patter coming back the other way. This helps me time the change and take-off, focus on straightness in the half-pass, and practice timing/fluidity of getting the half pass to the center of the jump one stride before it (i.e. simulating the letter where it would end in a test). This can also be done at the trot and with leg-yield.

  2. To work on elasticity in the canter and the response to transitions from extended or medium to collected, I’ll pick two jumps in the ring (rarely a straight line–more likely a long-ish bending line, and sometimes the second fence is a skinny to really keep me honest/straight) to canter between. I’ll go through the first time in a working canter to get a feel for the strides/line. Then I’ll repeat the line and either add or take away strides between them while still focusing on the roundness of the turn and straightness to the fences. A variation on this theme is to go back and forth between medium canter between two jumps and collected canter between the next two (again and again).

What types of exercises do you already do to incorporate dressage into your jump schools?

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What types of exercises do you already do to incorporate dressage into your jump schools?[/QUOTE]

To be honest, I haven’t used dressage until recently. I really didn’t like it as a kid so I always worked on “flat work” and jumping. I’ve done leg yields and some extensions in my flat work before but nothing that I consider dressage now. Those were frustrating enough for me. I feel like I have more patience and understanding of how a horse needs to move now. Which is why I’m starting to look into cross-training tips.