Welcome to the dressage spot, a place for the young (or young at heart) dressage riders wanting to gain information on the sport of dressage, training tips, equine health care, maintenance and fun!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Recent Update

    This week is the first ever USEF Outreach “ride a test” clinic.  I was lucky enough to be selected and I think it is really going to help us get ready for next week. They are having several more outreach clinics around the US so be sure to apply. If you can get enough people in your region to want one, it never hurts to ask George or Charlotte.  They both seem really excited about these new programs and growing youth opportunities.  
    Then there are two more CDI’s directly after the debut.  During that time it seems like all my friends in college are on spring break.  As the rest of the world is buried under snow I think they all are thinking “who do I know in Florida” and they think of me!” Mom is in fact home for the second day iced in in Texas.  Although I wouldn’t tell her I bet the students are happy for the extra days to study for her test.  
So I have a few friends coming each week to visit (mostly like the beach not me).  Just kidding guys, anyway the couch is always open and many of you will see me most weeks in March with a few extra teenagers around.  Just say hello as they aren’t horse people and may be overwhelmed by all the activity at shows and may need a little guidance.  
    I have one more weekly singing at the grille on March 4th.  I think the weekly singing has been pretty tough on my schedule.  Having never even had a singing lesson I had no idea how hard it is to pick a song to sing let alone to memorize it, find the music in your key and tempo.  The finale is March 15th be sure to get your tickets at 
    It will be really fun and is for a great cause.  We need to get a lot of dressage people there to cheer for any performer in dressage as the winner’s discipline gets a larger cut of the money.  GO US Dressage! Due to scheduling issues my backup singer setup has changed and I am scrambling to start a new set up but I know it is going to turn out amazing!  I even got some help from a dance student with the moves.  
   The Florida Youth Championships are coming up in less than three weeks as well.  Make sure you get registered through the show secretary!  It is going to be so exciting this year as the Europeans are coming.  We need to represent everyone, so whether you are riding or just watching lets show the European youth we are not just poor step-kids in the equestrian world.  See you there.

Monday, February 16, 2015

How to Look For Educational Programs

I thought I would take the time this week to give a heads up to or perhaps retell some of you about some great opportunities for training and scholarships.
First, for those of you that have participated in ANY Dressage 4 Kids events, the have two great scholarship opportunities now.  The first is the Lendon Gray Scholarship for training.  This can be used for clinic fees, training fees or other expenses of education.  The link to the application is below.  You need to complete the form, have two recommendations letters and then email to the address on the application. A budget for your expenses of your plan is required so you will need to spend some time on that. 

Also on the Dressage for Kids site is the Courtney’s Quest scholarship application.  This is for international competition level events only.  However, when you get to the point of wanting to compete and qualifying to compete in Europe this is the place to apply.  Again, you have to have participated in a Dressage 4 Kids event to qualify to apply.  This year, I hope when they take a U25 team to Europe all the riders are former D4K participants and everyone applies.  I think it would be great to have that bond as a team and to show what a great change D4K has had on dressage youth in America! 

The site also has some great ideas on a career search program and a mentoring program.  I have not participated in those but anyone who has please leave some input about them in the message section.  No matter what I encourage everyone to participate in everything you can.  You never know where the next opportunity may come from or where your path might take you as a result.
I mean I even got up and sang at the American Equestrian’s Got talent competition.  I was the first singer on the first day of auditions.  Truly ugh!  I have never been so nervous in my whole life.  However, the 500 dollars pays for a lot of feed and shoes (horseshoes of course).  But even better I am getting to work with and become friends with some really great girls who are now helping me by being backup singers for the finale.  I think you are all going to get a kick out of this (or a big laugh).  
Another thing that is new this year is an opportunity with the new youth coaches.  The are doing a ‘ride a test’ clinic.  The application is below for future ones.  I have been selected along with some great riders to do the first one here in Florida at the end of February.  I am really excited because it is the week before I do my first ever U25 and it is at a CDI-W.  I am really interested to get some judge feedback before then and really work to enhance my potential test scores.  Furthermore, I get to see the other riders do nearly similar level tests and gain info from their rides as well. 

Lastly, I have learned this season about the unlimited opportunities for young students to work in internship positions, working student positions and sponsored rider jobs.  There are some posted full time on the internet like the amazing opportunity to work at Maplecrest Farms with Reese Koffler-Stanfield.
Other opportunities you have to make by asking.  Find a trainer you admire or a breeder you think does an amazing job and write to them.  Tell them your goals and why you came to them.  Explain what you hope to learn and what you could potentially do for them.  It never hurts to ask and even if things don’t work out in the end you will have not only tried but have learned valuable information from that failure. Sometimes the things that don’t work teach us more or are better for us than things that do.  
Finally, check your breed associations and GMO’s they always have opportunities whether it is volunteering at shows or scholarships everything gets you further into the life of horses and the dream of being part of that world!  
I went online for 5 minutes and found all of these-and applied for the last one!

Friday, February 6, 2015

Laura King Hypnosis

    “So how does one learn something new?”  This was the question posed at the RDHMW by hypnosis therapist Laura King.  So that we could understand she asked a bleacher full of young dressage riders to think about sitting in the saddle.  The majority of communication with your horse is through your body, not your hands.  As you go up the levels the communication becomes more subtle and more intense with each small piece of communication.  She said we came to the clinic to fine tune our abilities by learning from the best trainers. We are watching and listening.  The information we take in goes to the only 12 % of the brain is what we think and reason.  The majority is like an iceberg ‘below the surface.’ An example of this is when you are told by your trainer how to do something differently and then you get on your horse and do it the same old wrong way you always have.  Why is it hard to ‘retrain’ your brain or to break habits?  Because the 88% of your brain does what it is trained to do.  Your expectations and thought are made into reality by the power of your mind.  It takes 21 times of doing something over and over a new way to reprogram or retrain your brain.  
   So if you want to change something in your life, whether it is a riding issue or something else, she said you have to overwrite an old program.  So when you think about the brain there is a hard drive and software.  The 88% is the hard drive that has to be reprogrammed.  You have to override the hardriveYou want to define what it is your working on and what you want to change.  Your 12 % conscious mind has to be aware and focus to create new habits.  She uses hypnosis to shortcut the rewriting of the hardware.  It bypasses the 12% critical thinking.  She said it is like guided imagery or guided visualization which is what Dr. Susser talks to us about. She just aids in that. 
You have to have a focal point on what you want to retrain. She uses a focus word.  Think of that word whenever you want to remember the new lesson.  The word brings up the thought or visualization that you are trying to overwrite with.  Too often when we lose focus our mind goes back to the old way of doing things.  If you have a new focus word that you tell yourself is associated with the new focus it will help to get you back into that mode.  I guess it is kind of like a mantra or a saying that brings you to the new plan.  I write these on my mirror all the time.  Whenever I feel myself heading down doubt lane, I read one of the sayings and it helps to keep me focused and looking forward and not dwelling on what I did wrong in the past.  I think that is really similar to what she is saying.  
She also said that many people have a fear of hypnosis because they think they will be made to do something they do not want to do.  She said that no one can hypnotize you to do something you don’t want to do.  It is impossible.  You have to want to do it.  It is just a faster way to relax the mind and get around the 12 percent and make it easier to reprogram.  It is science.  It has been proven that an image in the mind is just as powerful as the reality.  She talked about the effectiveness of placebos on people getting better. Your mind is that powerful.
The problem with dressage is often that we are perfectionists and we tend to focus on the error. Because we focus on the error we tend to do it over and over again incorrectly and by doing so we program our mind to do it wrong.  She said she had a top jumper come in and show her his video and all he could see was the one error he wanted help with and not the entire rest of the video he did amazingly. That is what our brain does.  
She has a great CD called Peak Performance for dressage riders that is great to use right before you go to bed.  It helps to put you to sleep!  It actually is about visualization and she just aids in it.
She went on to talk about different types of learning.  I have heard this before from my mom because she actually does a speech at the university on learning styles.  I know I am auditory so this stuff works great for me.  I can listen to something and it helps me to learn it. It is also why certain trainers that give verbal directions on how to fix things work great with me.  Visual learners have to see the information and kinesthetic learners have to experience it through physical motion.  There is a website www.VARKlearn.com that has a free test you can take to find out what you are.  Knowing what you are can really help.  For example, now when I have a speech to give I read it into my phone app and then listen to it over and over instead of trying to read it.  I am not great at speeches yet but that has helped me to get a little better or maybe just have less anxiety about it.  She said they can use hypnosis to help you balance out what you are not.  For example, I am not visual at all.  So they could help me to be more balanced and not completely auditory. 
Once we get the 88 percent trained correctly we can just tune out the reason and ride with instinct and memory we would do better. 
The last things she said was your subconscious mind doesn’t hear the word don’t.  For example, don’t think about a black horse. I bet you just did. So you can’t say to yourself, don’t do ________. You have to say the way you want to do it.  The brain will only hear that you want to do it.  So write the phrase to yourself.  So for example, drop saying “I do not want to miscount my 3’s” and instead say, “I am going to count my 3’s perfectly.” Either way your brain will make it happen you will miscount in the first case and not in the second. When you have a negative or ‘don’t or can’t’ thought hit the cancel button.  Do this with your focus word.  Then you can get back to what you are working on.  She uses a meaningless word like “purple elephant.”  That takes you away from the previous thought and then you can’t refocus on the correct way to program yourself.