What Tools are in your toolbox?
Updated: Oct 8
This is a question Janet Foy would like all Dressage riders to utilize
Janet Foy is in an elite group of Fédération Equestre Internationale five-star judges in the United States. Five-star judges, the highest level, officiate at major championships such as the Olympic Games, as well as at lower-level competitions. Foy has judged all the major U.S. dressage competitions, including the U.S. Dressage Festival Of Champions, the FEI North American Youth Championships, and selection trials for major international championships, as well as judging extensively abroad.A U.S. Dressage Federation gold medalist, Foy also sits on the U.S. Equestrian Federation International Disciplines Council and the Dressage Sport Committee. - Excerpt Chronicles of the horse.
I have watched numerous videos of “Judge a test” with Janet Foy but I never knew she is so much more than an elite Judge with a good eye. The riders were there to learn how they could improve the movements in their test, and I sat in awe of the energy Janet put into every horse and rider. The improvements were instant and I was so inspired by her humble way of teaching each horse and rider as if they were all training for the Olympics. Janet Foy’s specialty is working with all types of horses and understands the rider who is on a budget. You can learn more about this in her book “ Dressage for the not so perfect horse”
I wanted to share some of the important key points I learned at the clinic.
Tools for balancing the horse:
Haunches out is a great exercise for helping balance the horse. This exercise works well after a corner to help stretch and supple both sides of the horse.
Leg yield on a circle being careful not to over bend the horse, this will cause the horse to twist it’s poll and throw the haunches out. The outside leg needs to keep the horse from running out through the shoulder.
Increase the bend in your shoulder in by riding a 10 m. Circle in corner to shoulder in. Keep your weight neutral so the horse doesn’t confuse with half pass.
Trot and canter half pass, keep the quality of the gait before the bend.
Tools for the horse that won’t stretch into a free rein:
Give and take the outside rein while flexing towards outside, this not only creates suppleness but invites the horse to seek the downward contact.
Think of ways we can get them to stretch into the rein, at the canter for instance, when the front is up, take the rein, when down give.
Ride shoulder fore with outside flexion, at all three gaits.
Some random tools:
In lengthening, don’t push every stride or horse will rush instead of lengthen. ( I’m super guilty of that one )
Over bending drops the shoulder in every movement.
Always strive for the same amount of weight in both reins, you can ask for a lot of bend, but you have to let go.
Don’t rush from movement to movement, give your horse thorough, committed instruction.
There’s still so much more about half halts, lead changes, etc. but most importantly… Ask if you have mental or physical tension from your horse, or both.