Teamwork and Confidence

Simone Page riding in a clinic

Teamwork and Confidence

By Simone Page

I used the SEDA Scholarship to participate in a clinic with Linda Strine last winter, and since then I have ridden with her much more while she stayed in Covington for the winter. I am so grateful to have been given the opportunity to spend time training with her. When I first rode with Mrs. Linda, I had just gotten my new horse, Koda, from Florida. We were told he had some dressage training for the first six years of his life and then he spent the next few as a jumper only, so we were not quite sure what we had to work with and what dressage he already knew.  I had also been out of competition for a year due to my previous horse’s injury, so it felt like I was starting all over again. My main goals were to regain my confidence as a rider, bond with Koda, and strengthen our connection as a team. 

Koda and I were making progress quickly, but we all agreed that a clinic with Mrs. Linda would be extremely beneficial. In the clinic, Mrs. Linda and I went back to the basics with Koda and worked on becoming relaxed in the back and on his tempo and collection. We worked on even hands, elasticity in the elbows, wrists, and shoulders, easing tension in both me and Koda, and keeping a constant bend at every opportunity. She introduced to me the benefits of smaller circles and serpentines for bending and stretching. We started working on shoulder-in exercises to help learn to move the different parts of his body independently. We had been working on leg yields, but Mrs. Linda helped me improve them tremendously. We began to work on turns on the forehand and walk-to-canter/canter-to-walk transitions which I had not done before.

Mrs. Linda gave me cues that I continue to think about as I am riding. One of the best things she told me is to remember to become a “sack of potatoes” when I feel Koda becoming tense. This helps him to relax in his back and slow his tempo. I also slow his trot with only my posting. Another cue is to think of my legs as if we they were on skis and to think of Koda as being on train tracks, with his head leading and the rest of his body following. Although many of theses are very basic skills, the cues continue to help me to visualize and set the exercise in my mind for myself and Koda to connect as a team.

Working with Mrs. Linda was such an amazing opportunity for Koda and me together. She was so patient and clear with everything that she taught me. I have learned so much and have grown as a dressage rider. I have realized how much I can enjoy dressage with Koda. I will be competing in Le Bon Temps as my first dressage only show, and I am very excited and look forward to working with Mrs. Linda again in the future.

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