Traditional Dressage Lessons

Dressage students celebrate awards

Karen has been teaching for a lifetime. Riding, then flying, then Dressage. She enjoys the challenge of the communication with the student – finding words or images or feelings, drawings in the sand, specific exercises to make the concept real for the student.

Rider Position

She is particularly adept at acting as a translator from horse to human and vice versa. Much of the focus in the dressage lesson is on rider position. The student will, through time, become more aware of the sensations within her own body – the places that are restricted, strong, or disconnected/not monitored. A combination of exercises in the saddle (on the longe on a school horse or the rider’s own horse ) and continual monitoring, reminding, changing of the position of rider body parts, along with exercises suggested for home time and exercises to be incorporated into the riding lesson, bring about the desired changes over time. A little humor and a lot of empathy are offered along the way.

Teachings from Mary Wanless, Sally Swift, Felicitas von-Neumann Cosel, and Sylvia Loch form the theoretical foundation for Karen’s teaching. It is an approach which emphasizes true balance and not just a seat for the competition ring. Riding in true balance brings a lightness to the work and ensures that the rider’s aids are subtle and improve the horse’s way of going.

What to Expect in a Riding Lesson

When arriving at KKM for a lesson, there is ample parking and a rider may tack at her trailer or use one of the grooming stalls. Or, she may schedule the use of a KKM School horse, any of which are dressage champions who also teach. There are many benefits to at least starting on a school horse. The school horses will certainly give the answer that is sought when the rider’s aid is correctly applied. This provides correct feedback for the student and teaches the feeling of what a correct answer from the horse is – what it feels like and how it looks. Eventually this knowledge can be carried to one’s own horse.

It is possible to teach on a student’s own horse and is preferred by many students because of the bond that they have with their horse or because they want to train their own horse. This usually takes a little longer to accomplish the same goals but can be very rewarding when success is met.

The feelings, figures, or movements learned in the lesson are summarized at the end of the lesson and questions are solicited in order to make sure there is solid knowledge before parting.

Once a student is secure is steering, stopping, and riding three gaits, it is offered to ride out around the pastures or on a trail before finishing for the day. This is a great close to the arena work and puts the horse and rider “to bed” with a happy heart.