California Riding Magazine • August, 2008

Views & Reviews
The dressage queen obsessive-compulsive education fixation.

There are lots of jokes about DQs, or Dressage Queens, and I laugh as hard as anyone, even while wearing my DQ crown. One thing that’s no joke is the Dressage Queen Obsessive-Compulsive Education Fixation or “DQOCEF” (pronounced dee cue o’sef).

To anyone who spends a lifetime trying to perfect the unperfectable, the DQOCEF is perfectly normal. As fixations go, it’s not so bad. When a DQ’s significant other wants to find her (or him) they know that their dear DQ will be (if not away at a lesson, clinic or show) in the computer room.

Yes, the computer room; watching DVDs, visiting dressage video sites, or chatting (and occasionally lurking) online at bulletin boards. A DQ can find information any time of day or night, to fuel their quest for the secret to a perfect 20-meter circle or flying change.

Here are some wonderful dressage education resources this DQ found recently, and yes, it was after midnight, at home and on the computer.


Scott Hassler

Hassler Dressage: Young Horse Training

I discovered Hassler Dressage’s two-DVD set, Interactive Training Demonstration, Young Horses - PSG/I1, listed on their website and was intrigued by the name.

I was curious about the pros and cons of how much and what kind of training is appropriate for young horses. I wanted to know how to bring out the best in young horses without overworking them, injuring their bodies or frying their brains. Not that I’ll ever be training a young horse myself, but it’s one of those “knowledge for knowledge’s sake” DQOCEF kind of things.

Having watched the growing attention being paid by our national federations to the training of young horses over the last few years, I knew that Scott Hassler has been deeply involved. As the USEF Young Horse Dressage Coach and as a motivating force behind the development of young horse dressage programs such as FEI Young Horse classes and the Young Dressage Horse Training Symposiums, I thought I’d find some good information on Scott’s DVDs. I was not disappointed.

Filmed during a clinic given by Scott in March, the DVD showed seven young horses ranging from age 4 to 10. Right at the start, Scott explained that he would be showing how he likes to work with young horses, although “my way is not the only way.” It was crystal clear, however, that with Scott’s way, there’s a whole lot of strategy behind the decisions about how much work and what kind of work each individual young horse should be doing.

Even though I sincerely doubt I’ll ever train a young horse myself, I found so much of interest, and so many valuable nuggets of information on these DVDs, I can only give some examples that I hope will whet your own appetite for more knowledge.

Scott said that in this sport, we get a little too serious, and a little too intense at times, and that we need to relax and enjoy it. We need to understand that horses have spirit, too!

He compared our training to taking the horse to the gym, that all horses have strengths and weaknesses. We need to let the horse feel good about what he does well, so he gains confidence, and not just drill and drill on the horse’s weaknesses.

One quote that I loved was, “If the horse’s back isn’t swinging, we don’t have the right to sit the trot,” making the point that it’s the rider’s responsibility to ensure that the horse’s back is swinging.

When asked by a member of audience when it’s appropriate to introduce the double bridle Scott answered—when we can control the horse’s body. When we can flex him, collect him and ride him forward. If we can’t collect him, then no double! He emphasized that we only have one chance with a horse’s mouth – if you blow it, there’s no going back.

There are many other gems of information, philosophy, training and hours of beautifully ridden, gorgeous horses in Hassler Dressage’s Interactive Training Demonstration, Young Horses - PSG/I1, but the space to describe them all is running out.

I learned a lot from these DVDs that I’ll apply to riding my already-trained, not-so-young horse. If you, like me, have a fixation on dressage education, or if you’re training a young horse yourself, I highly recommend that you visit www.hasslerdressage.com and order these DVDs for yourself.


Online Dressage Videos

When it’s late at night and you can’t sleep, what do you do? Reach for a sleep aid? No, if you’ve got DQOCEF, you log onto your computer and watch dressage!

Two web sites: www.DressageTrainingOnline.com and www.DressageClinic.com, provide streaming video of reality training videos. In layman’s terms, streaming video means that you watch the videos on your computer directly from the provider’s web site—the videos are never “on” your computer and you can’t download them.
To view these videos only, you need broadband access such as a DSL or satellite connection, rather than dial-up. If you’re not sure what you’ve got or if it will work on your computer, visit the sites and click on their sample videos—if the samples run properly, you’ve got the right connection.

Each site has its pros and cons, with different selections of trainers and videos, and both sites add new videos regularly. I’ll leave it to you to check them out and decide which you prefer, or maybe you’ll opt for both. Monthly fees for each are less than the cost of a lesson, which makes them (in my humble opinion) a great investment.
DressageTrainingOnline.com offers videos of trainers/riders, a judge’s view section where a judge gives ongoing comments on an actual show-ring test and specialty content including exclusive videos of United States Dressage Federation events such as conventions and symposiums. This site also features complete coverage of the Olympic Selection Trials with commentary from Janet Foy and Hilda Gurney.

DressageClinic.com offers a North American and a European option, with the ability to switch from one to the other, even on a monthly basis, if you like. You can also view Internet broadcasts of dressage shows such as the Palm Beach Dressage Derby and Dressage at Devon ... if you’re too busy riding at home to travel the country to dressage shows, this might just be the next best thing.

There’s a wealth of great instruction on these web sites, so choose one site, or both. For less than the cost of a lesson, you can’t go wrong by watching, learning and becoming the best dressage rider you can be.

Visit www.DressageTrainingOnline.com and www.DressageClinic.com for more information.

Happy Reading, Happy Riding

Whether you’ve been infected by Dressage Queen Obsessive-Compulsive Education Fixation or not, I wish for you the wisdom to find the knowledge to make the time spent with your horse a pleasure to you both. Happy riding!