Flatwork TREC Training / Applied Dressage – by Sue Squirrel

The weatherman had predicted ‘winter squalls’ with a very raw chill factor on Saturday 20th January. What a great day to be riding, in an outdoor arena, on the Fens!! We are either mad or dedicated – my husband definitely thinks the first!!

Pelydryn and I were in the second group in the morning. As I arrived at the venue the sleet stopped, so the waterproof over trousers came off, and I tacked up and went to meet our trainer, Tara Osborn. Tara usually trains dressage riders, so I thought it would be an interesting session putting her ‘spin’ on TREC obstacles.

Tara was very interested in the how we thought our horses went, what we had achieved together and what we wanted to improve on. She watched us warm up and summed us up very quickly. Basically whatever equestrian discipline you want to ride at it all boils down to your position, where your weight is, balance and working with your horse not against it. We were encouraged to use more ‘seat’ (- hips!) to ask for either sideways/forward/backwards/fast/slow movement and not depend on the rein contact, as well as staying central in the saddle.

Pelydryn started to improve on the way he stayed in an upright flowing rhythm through the bending poles, shamrock, even the neck rein and we then managed to achieve the sidepass – it did take a while for him to understand we wanted sideways and not backwards, but in the end we managed it by quiet repetition, and using our ‘seat’ – hips!, to get the hind leg under and across. Our MA also improved, feeling the stride through our seat and moving those hips again to encourage the pace you wanted to maintain.

I really enjoyed our outing to the Fens, Tara’s way of explaining ‘why’ was straightforward and made a lot of sense. The way she asked us to think how we were riding each obstacle – not forgetting our hips!, showed by the end of the session when we put the obstacles together as a course.

A big thank you to Tara and Sarah for being out in the arena all day, on one of the coldest wettest days in January (- the sleet started as Pelydryn went back into the lorry, the next group weren’t so lucky!) I will definitely be there for the next TREC Training¬† / Applied Dressage sessions in April that Sarah is organising.

Let’s just hope we can put it all together at Park Farm, the first competition of the summer season, and that my hips have recovered!