Wednesday, January 21, 2015

You Can Classic Online Dressage Portal

As you guys know, every now and then I like to give a little shout-out to folks who I feel provide an excellent service for horsepeople, like Marina the NH guru at my stable or the folks at Gredos Ecuestre who organize such fabulous long-distance horseback rides.  So here's another one - my dressage instructor Daniela has finally launched her new international online interactive dressage training portal at

Now I've honestly never been much of a fan of video learning - my impatient and ADD brain prefers books and articles to videos as I'd rather scan ahead and pinpoint exactly what information I'm interested in rather than watch an entire 10 minute video in order to find the 2 minutes which I actually end up finding useful.  So I was pleasantly surprised when I found that nearly all the videos on the portal are under 5 minutes and many are just 2-3 minutes long.  And each video is dedicated to just one exercise you can do with your horse, with condensed instructions on how to best do so and basic troubleshooting - no long and rambling introduction or conclusion "selling you" on why to do it or summing up all its possible benefits.  The first time I visited the site I found myself viewing one video after another until I discovered I had spent about an hour watching without ever getting bored or impatient - and those were just the "preview" lessons.

Here's an example preview lesson I found especially useful working on teaching the meaning of the outside rein.

As you can see, in just two minutes I have a new exercise to apply while riding Starbuck, easily incorporated into our daily routine.  And the nice thing about a video rather than a book or article is that the movement you're looking for from the horse as well as the correct rider position is visible throughout.  Also, more and more I'm learning to try to visualize (literally, create a picture in my mind) what I'm trying to get Starbuck and I do when I ask for a certain movement which is proving difficult for her to understand - and being able to simply replay the video either in my mind or -since the website is optimized for mobile use- even pulling my phone out of my pocket to quickly refresh my memory is a big help with this.

Daniela recorded the videos, which are available in English and in German, with her two horses - her fabulous Prix St George level warmblood and his son, a 6 year old colt who's just starting out.  So there are videos for nearly all levels of dressage, from beginning groundwork both on the lunge, double lunge (ground driving) and in-hand or the young horse's first lateral steps to tempi changes and collected canter.  And not only dressage is covered - gymnastic jumping, games and warm-up, winter, obedience and stretching exercises to keep your horse interested and supple are also featured.  There's also a blog where you can get a better overall idea of her training philosophy and a forum to share your experiences or ask questions, and aside from the free "preview" lessons and blog posts there are several subscription levels with a huge library of "Pro" videos, from a one-day pass to a "gold" subscription which includes video coaching, direct contact with Daniela and discounted clinic prices.

I highly recommend the website to anyone who's looking for some fresh ideas to incorporate into their training or riding routine (especially if you like groundwork as much as I do) and can personally attest as to the effectiveness of Daniela's training style and her knowledge, feel and experience - in the past two months Starbuck's movement, attitude and even her conformation (yay topline muscles!) have improved unmistakably and I feel much more confident about working on our own now that I have these new resources at my disposal and have started to reap the results.  And what's most important to me is that she's very sensitive to the horse's comfort and future wellbeing as well - for instance at the moment she has me using side reins when lunging but we warm up and cool off without them and only use them for short periods of time, and when riding after 10 or 15 minutes of "hard work" (i.e. lateral work or using more than a light contact) she always reminds us to have a rest walking actively on a loose rein.  And I can honestly say that Starbuck enjoys her work more now that she's starting to build the muscle to make it physically easier and is learning that her body can do new, powerful and fun things.

So if you have a minute, trot on over to and check it out - you won't be sorry!


Daniela said...

Thank you Sarah for your nice article! Looking forward to see you :) besos

rani said...

Very nice article. Thanks for sharing.

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