Basics and More

Basics and More

By Keely Smith, SEDA Scholarship Recipient

Keely SmithHello readers! My name is Keely Smith, and I was awarded the Spring 2021 SEDA Scholarship. First of all, a huge thank you to SEDA for awarding Bodie and I with the SEDA Scholarship. I am so proud to be a part of such a great organization that focuses on the education of riders. Twice a year, SEDA offers a Scholarship to two individuals: adult amateur and young rider, to further their education in the sport with a clinic, workshop, seminar, or taking lessons with another trainer.

My horse, Bodie, and I have been doing dressage only for about eight months now. I bought him almost two years ago and we started off eventing.  My trainer, Kalie Beckers, helped me to find what I was comfortable with and passionate about, and that is riding dressage. I am forever grateful to Kalie and her continued support with Bodie and I. We have grown so much as a pair and are forever grateful for SEDA, Amen Corner and Lagniappe for putting on schooling shows that we can attend.

When I was awarded the Scholarship, I was ecstatic to have been awarded this opportunity but unsure on what to use it for. I decided to take some lessons over my winter break from university with Mrs. Regina Milliken who trains out of Twin Hills, formerly Oak Hill Ranch. Mrs. Regina is an FEI dressage rider and trainer. I also rode in the Laura Ashley Dressage clinic after the show at Amen Corner. Mrs. Laura Ashley is an FEI dressage rider and trainer who also judges at shows.

Keely SmithBoth of my lessons were very similar as I am working on the basics and accurate mechanics to use in Training Level dressage. The move from Introductory Level to Training Level is not super tough on the horse or rider learning a test-wise, but the judges score you harder on the basics such as impulsion, gaits, freedom, correctness, and submission. Training Level also introduces some new concepts that I have been working on, such as: stretchy trot, longer movements in the canter, more prompt transitions and serpentines. Getting to learn new techniques from multiple people is very helpful because most of my training is done by myself or under supervision of my parents.

Mrs. Regina taught me the concept of self-carriage which has been very helpful in our rides. She explained if I cannot carry my body and my arms the correct way then how will any horse ever carry themselves underneath my guidance. Mrs. Regina and I spent a lot of time also on getting Bodie to move with more impulsion. I was using my leg aid too often and incorrectly and he became numb to my leg aid. Now, with Mrs. Regina’s knowledge, Bodie is way more responsive and thankful that I am not constantly kicking him on. I now ride with my leg “away” from my horse only using it when its needed, and his responsiveness has increased tremendously. 

Mrs. Laura asked me what I wanted to work on in our lesson and I explained to her what I have been working on with the self-carriage, so we worked on that, focusing primarily on my wrists and hands. We also worked on Bodie moving more forward with more impulsion which is something Mrs. Regina and I had been working on. Mrs. Laura told me if my clucks aren’t scary to my horse then I am being too nice. I will not get what I am asking because my horse will not anticipate what I want. Mrs. Laura also explained that if I am overusing my clucks then they will not be effective anymore, similar to how Mrs. Regina taught me about overusing my leg aid. With her saying this, we did some transitions of a slow relaxed walk and then Mrs. Laura would ask me to cluck one time and with that I should get a lot more impulsion, forwardness, and attention. After doing it a couple times Bodie caught on, and now I have a new tool to use the correct way to encourage a bigger walk and help him to anticipate the trot.

I have a bad habit of riding around constantly in the walk and trot with “broken wrists” which is incorrect in the small picture and in the big picture is holding my horse back from accepting the bit and being able to move freely. Mrs. Laura thoroughly explained  the importance of holding my wrists straight to my elbow and keeping my thumbs up. We worked on this in the walk for about 30 minutes and once we went to trot, everything clicked. It was a huge “Ta-daa” moment for me with my position. 

Both Mrs. Regina and Mrs. Laura stressed the importance of me holding my hands and arms in the correct form and we spent the majority of both lessons at the walk which was beneficial for me and helped all of those concepts to click. 

This opportunity of education has benefited my horse and I beyond words, and I am so thankful and excited to apply this knowledge to all of my future rides. I encourage anyone that has the desire to continue their riding education to apply for this SEDA Scholarship.

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.