Updated: Oct 7, 2022
Are you a riding coach passionate about sharing your love of all things dressage with your students? Here at Online Dressage International we hold the same principles: dressage is for absolutely everyone and every horse and rider can benefit from getting involved with our beautiful sport.
To this end, we are offering all of our equestrian coaches a 10% discount on every entry made for both themselves and their students, for the duration of the Autumn League. So if you're an equestrian centre or freelance coach, please get in contact to obtain your voucher code.
We caught up with two of our busy equestrian coaches Daniela Schmidt of Addestramento del Cavallo Sportivo in Italy, and Dorota Stokowska of Klub Jeździecki Podkowa Leśna in Poland, to find out why it is so vital to foster dressage at grass roots level.
Based in Italy, Daniela has a huge online audience for her educational posts, tips, video tutorials, internships and seminars. (Check out the ACS website here: https://www.addestramentocavallosportivo.it/ ).
Her overriding principle for training a horse is one which will resonate with every horse owner: "Training a young horse for sport is like polishing a rough diamond, whose beauty and perfection will depend on the attention to detail and the love that goes into it. And there won't be one identical to the other."
When asked on the importance of promoting dressage to all equestrians (irrespective of their background), her answer was simple: "Students shouldn’t see dressage simply as a discrete discipline, but as the foundation for whatever they want to build in their equestrian career. If they want to discover the deepest equestrian secrets, that lead to absolute harmony and make the horse look and feel good, there is no other way then dressage."
These sentiments are echoed by Dorota Stokowska, manager at the thriving equestrian centre: Klub Jeździecki Podkowa Leśna in Poland.
"Dressage is not only one kind of riding at a competition, but is essentially a way to achieve harmony between a horse and a rider. It is the foundation for all other equestrian activities - jumping, pleasure, and so on. We should train dressage on a basic level to understand a horse: its body and our body!"
Dressage often has a stereotypical image of being dull, stuffy and elitist. So how should we promote dressage to those riders just starting out on their equestrian journey?
Daniela says that the task of fostering a passion for dressage lies firmly with the coach: "If students understand the reason behind teaching the art of dressage, they will appreciate it. It’s the teacher's job to make the students enjoy dressage from day one. Training the horse in a proper way is necessary not only to reach our equestrian goals, but also to keep the horse healthy and motivated. At the end of the day, horse riding should be a pleasure for both horse and rider and this can only happen if things make sense for everyone."
Dorota's approach also has horse welfare at its heart: "The art of dressage helps our horses. We all love our horses (without exception!) so it stands to reason that we should want to take care of their body and condition. Dressage prepares the horse's body to carry the rider's body; it gives horses proper muscles and balance. And the other side of this same coin is the rider's body. We too have obligations. I always repeat to my students same rules during every training session (especially with beginners): you must use your body properly, when you want your horse to listen to you. Learning dressage and how to stay balanced and give clear aids allows us to "talk" with the horse in his language and to move with harmony."
Dressage can often seem intimidating to a rider just starting off. Is there way in which we can make our sport more inclusive to all? Daniela says the clue is in the name: "Dressage means nothing else but training. And of course, we all want to effectively train our horses and get better. The training scale is there to guide us step by step to help reach the horse's maximum potential. This is why there can’t be quality without dressage. If you do things the right way, results will follow!"
And what of those competitors who fear that they need a 'dressage horse' to compete successfully? Dorota disavows her students of this notion: " Of course it is nice when your horse has the natural build to potentially cope with higher level movements. However, every horse and rider (trained in the correct way) is capable of medium strides, lateral work, direct transitions and so on. And they are a lot of fun! Dressage is for every type of horse without discrimination."
Dressage is certainly a love affair for all of us, regardless of where we live in the world. And that love of our sport (and how it unites us all) lies at the heart of Online Dressage International.
Daniela explains the enduring appeal of the sport: "Everyone can fall in love with dressage if it is explained from the right point of view. Your level of riding is unimportant. Put the basics in place and you will have a healthy horse and a motivated rider. Dressage starts from zero and never ends."
It is clear that our sport is lucky to have inspiring coaches like Daniela and Dorota at the helm - coaches that genuinely understand the vital role dressage plays in our lives as equestrians.
Feeling inspired? If you are a coach and want your students to get involved with online competing with us, then drop us a message for your discount code. You will not find a better way of motivating students (the ribbons are gorgeous!) and all of our judges are handpicked for their ability to give constructive and detailed feedback: perfect for integrating into your coaching sessions and the ideal way to set specific and achievable targets. Our mantra is: 'Train. Compete. Achieve.' for this very reason.
Email us at: onlinedressageinternational.com or catch us on Facebook (and Insta) here: https://www.facebook.com/onlinedressageinternational
You can follow Daniela on Facebook here (as well as catching her on YouTube and Insta): https://www.facebook.com/equitazioneperamore
And follow the exploits of the talented students and coaches at Klub Jeździecki Podkowa Leśna i TKKF Ognisko Podkowa here: https://www.facebook.com/KJPodkowa