Culture Shock

Nautica has officially entered his third month of dressage training! We have thrown an insane amount of new concepts at him and so far he is taking everything in stride. Tiny little dainty saddlebred strides. Our biggest challenge has been getting him to engage his hind end and take larger, more forward steps. We’re finding out that a strong hind end is essential for doing literally anything dressage-related, so it has been our number one priority.

Slowly but surely working on that dressage trot. You go, buddy!

During our progress, Nautica has undergone some major changes:

  1. A big jump down from our saddle-seat full bridle to a dressage legal, copper lozenge loose ring snaffle. Taking away my leverage bit has made me realize that I am extremely weak in my upper body and Nautica is also a major jerk who takes advantage of me uneducated to any form of true, correct bit contact.
  2. Learning to accept and yield to leg pressure rather than speeding up, leaning or falling in. ‘Forward’ may be ‘first’ but bend comes before all else. Nautica is about as flexible as a chunk of rebar.
  3. How to canter without leaning on the bit whatsoever. Nautica has taught me to rely on the leverage bit to balance him the canter. 1000 lbs vs. 130… wonder who will win that one in a pulling match? Contact will come as we both learn to soften.
  4. How to canter in general. We forgot.
Softening the inside rein as we work on our bend at the trot

It’s been a very eventful two months and, all jokes aside, Nautica is making progress at a breakneck pace. In addition to being bombarded with all of this new riding knowledge, Nautica has had to learn “regular horse” things such as an entirely new schedule and daily turnout with other horses. Tt turns out he gets his social skills from me. 😬

This has been a lot to take in, but I’m starting to believe that I have had more anxiety about all of it than he has. As a breed, the American Saddlebred is resilient and adaptable. Nautica is no exception!

He knows he is a good boy!

3 Replies to “Culture Shock”

  1. he is so handsome 😉 sounds like good progress too! one of my good friends made the switch from saddle seat to eventing, and after getting over the initial hump she now feels like there are a lot of similarities between core dressage and saddle seat concepts. good luck!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! I’m definitely seeing similarities in the two! It’s great that Nautica and I have the knowledge from one to apply to the other. I also have an upcoming OTTB eventer that I’ve been working with off and on for three years, and I love getting to apply the things I learn with her to Nautica and vice versa!


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