Growth Comes from the Bravery to Keep Learning

Beginner Riders

Have you ever tried something new? Do you remember the first time you got on a horse?

Starting anything new for the first time can be challenging. You’re nervous and scared. You may even be afraid you will mess up. Dressage is no different. It’s hard and takes time to learn, to become proficient. Even after years of riding, you may not master dressage.

What is Dynamite Riding Academy’s number one tip for new riders? Don’t give up. No matter how hard it seems, and it will seem hard, keep riding! We are here to help you and support you. You simply need to keep showing up.

Beginner RidersDressage is not an easy sport.

But if you love horses and riding, you can accomplish your goals. All it takes is a little hard work. Too often, people want the easy way out, but we know the easy way never gets us to our goals. Think about it, does the quick fix diet work? Does one weight training session make you strong? Nope. You need to work on those continuously to see results. Dressage is no different.

According to author Maxwell Gladwell in his book Outliers*, it takes 10,0000 hours to achieve greatness in any area. It’s a good book and theory but deals with exceptional people in their chosen field.
Have you spent that much time learning dressage? Probably not. By no means does this mean you can’t accomplish your goals. It doesn’t mean to give up on dressage. Instead, it is a means to keep moving forward and keep practicing! It takes time to become great at anything, not just dressage.

If you love horses and aren’t afraid of hard work, keep showing up!

One day everything will click. You’ll get it. You’ll be out there scoring over 70% on your dressage tests. You will be having fun and maybe even helping others reach their riding goals. You can inspire the next generation of riders to keep going.

Remember, hard work pays off. Don’t give up on your dreams, even when it seems impossible.

How do you stay motivated to keep pushing forward in your lessons?

*Jenna is an Amazon Associate and may receive a small percentage if you purchase through this link.

What is Dressage?


I may help Heather with photography, social media, and her website, but I know nothing about riding. I couldn’t tell you the difference between dressage or western. I figure there must be others out there like me and some of them want to learn what dressage is or maybe why they should learn dressage. We get to learn about dressage, and you don’t have to do any of the heavy lifting because I did all the research! You get to sit back, sip your favorite beverage, and learn all about dressage!

Merriam Webster defines dressage as the following:

-the execution by a trained horse of precision movements in response to barely perceptible signals from its rider
-the word dressage is French and means to train or drill.

Think of dressage as a foundation. Any rider can benefit from starting with dressage. If you are unsure which direction your riding will take you, starting with dressage is beneficial for both horse and rider.

dressageThrough dressage, your horse can become more athletic and more disciplined, and you’ll become a better rider. It will help develop your horse’s gait and responsiveness. You will improve balance and create a unique connection to your horse.

Learning the Basics

The pyramid of training is a great framework to progress through dressage. The base of the pyramid is rhythm. You may or may not go sequentially through the pyramid, but it is more helpful to build your training and experience. The pyramid is as follows:

Rhythm – energy and tempo
Relaxation – elasticity and suppleness
Connection – acceptance of bit through acceptance of aids
Impulsion – increased power and thrust
Straightness – improved alignment and balance
Collection – increased engagement, lightness of the forehand, self-carriage

A handy brochure can be found here.

The Test

Dressage tests are a great way to check you and your horses progress. You will be competing against your self to get a better score each time. The tests are done in an arena that is 20×40 (or 60) meters with letter marks at certain spots in the arena. Riders do a formalized sequence and a panel of judges rate horse and rider on a 0-10 scale. To move to the next level, you will want to achieve at least 60% on your tests consistently.

There are several levels in dressage:

  • Training Level
  • First Level
  • Second Level
  • Third Level
  • Fourth Level
  • Prix St. Georges
  • Intermediare┬áLevels
  • Grand Prix

I hope you enjoyed this introduction to dressage! We hope to do more articles on the training pyramid, dressage levels, and various aspects of testing!

What level of dressage are you?

Interested in buying a horse to be able to advance in dressage? Check out our post on buying a horse and get your free worksheet for when you start looking!

Top 6 Tips When Buying a Horse

There is a lot to think about before purchasing your first horse. It’s a considerable investment for a lot of people, and you want to make sure you’re getting the right fit for your family and the horse. Dynamite Riding Academy has put together this guide to help you find the perfect horse for you!

  1. Research – talk to people. Start with your instructor. Ask what they would recommend for you and your needs. Ask other horse friends what they think would be a good horse for you. Make sure to tell them your history with horses. Have you had lessons? If so, what kind and for how long? Is the horse just for you or do you have kids that will be riding too? Head over to google and check out different breeds of horses.
  2. If you aren’t taking weekly lessons, start now. You will need to know how to handle your horse.
  3. Figure out your financial situation and if you can really afford everything that comes with a horse. Maybe once you look at all the costs you decide leasing a horse or joining DRA’s co-op is more for you. Expenses can include board, lessons, competitions, Ferrier, vet, tack/equipment, feed/supplements, bedding, and other miscellaneous costs that tend to pop up when least expected.
  4. Found a potential horse? What should you look for:
    Size – can you mount and dismount with ease? Where do your feet hang?
    Breed – of course, DRA thinks you should get an Arabian, but we know breeds are different so make sure you find the one that’s right for you!
    Age/Experience – find a horse that has the experience you want. Do you want to compete? Find one that has shown. An old mare may seem best but if she’s never been trained now is not the time to start!
    Gelding or Mare – Geldings tend to be less moody and more reliable.
  5. Go meet the horse! If possible, take someone with you like your riding instructor or a trusted friend with equine experience. Be sure to handle the horse on the ground. How does the horse react? Are they calm? Will they let you approach and remain calm for grooming? Ask the seller to ride first. If they won’t, it may be a red flag. Make sure to ask about the horse’s history. Trust your gut on the seller and horse.
  6. Lastly, buy your horse! Be sure to have a vet check out your horse before finalizing the sale.

Get your printable Guide to Buying a Horse to keep track of your notes and options!