Dressage Perspectives – Delighted to be featured by Pegasebuzz!

Dressage Perspectives has been chosen by Pegasebuzz founder Roxanne Legendre to join a hand-picked group of equestrian brands whose content is featured on the app! It was a lovely and unexpected compliment to be asked to join this group because in Roxanne’s words “We select each of them for their renowned experience in a field or their expertise on a specific subject”. It has been a pleasure to connect with some of the other brands who have been chosen by Pegasebuzz; some like Mirror Me PR are already familiar and others such as Pierre Beaupere Dressage , who has a training philosophy I love, and Ecuerie Active , who are designing stable environments with the needs of the horse in mind, were delightful new discoveries!

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I absolutely love Pegasebuzz, it is a visually stunning app, available in both French and English. Your experience is tailored exactly to reflect your personal interests. The content is diverse, chosen to appeal to equestrians across disciplines, but it is all brought together in a delightfully elegant online environment.

Your personal profile is the centre of your experience, where you tailor your preferences and create your world! It is really easy to navigate within the app. It is easy to comment, share and save your favourite posts to your profile. Moving from one post to the next is simply a matter of swiping across.

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My feed is built around my interests; the blend of articles about dressage, fashion, people and events keeps me amused and engaged. I love that I can be reading a technical article about dressage one moment, exploring an upcoming Show Jumping event the next and then looking at beautiful images from a high fashion shoot. I even found myself falling in love with a stunning pink jumping saddle from LGM Sellier.

 

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Pegasebuzz is a wonderful resource if you are looking for a job within the industry. There are positions listed all over the world from entry-level and internships to boardroom positions, from niche equestrian brands to national governing bodies. You set the filters to focus on exactly what you are looking for. Employers should certainly keep Pegasebuzz in mind when they are hiring. It fills a gap in the market for business focused recruitment within the equestrian sector. As a marketing graduate with an equestrian background I found this particularly interesting. I found my finger hovering over the apply button on a few occasions. Whether you are just browsing like me or searching with a stronger intention, this is a great place to look!

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If you would like to discover Pegasebuzz you can download the app free via the App Store and Google Play. I have the IOS version and have found it to both user-friendly and stable. Even the loveliest design concept needs to be strongly functional and this app really is.

You can connect with Pegasebuzz across all of the major social platforms too. I particularly love their Instagram account – roxanne.legendre  where I can get lost for a while in a world of beautiful show jumpers, dream barns and luxury brands. Roxanne Legendre is a photographer with a talent for capturing unusual angles and curious details and I really like this. Not only is this high quality photo journalism from the most exclusive sporting events, it has originality and a distinctive vision. For me as an artist and a keen amateur photographer this is really inspiring.

I enjoy following all of the Pegasebuzz social accounts because they each deliver a subtly different experience whilst keeping the same sense of community. There is always something new to discover and share.

Pegasebuzz will be a great way to keep up to date with our posts and so much more – make sure that you don’t miss out on being part of this beautiful equestrian world!

Download on iOS here 

Download on Google Play here

 

 

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Review of the Passion K Dressage Saddle from Prestige Italia.

Needing a Dressage Saddle often starts with a saddle fitting problem…

At the end of January a pupil of mine took over the ride on a very interesting little dressage horse who really needed a new saddle. Her owner had already tried just about all of the high quality second-hand saddles she could find and it was obvious that the fitting was going to be too complex for that approach, so I recommended calling in a very good saddler. Undoubtedly the best saddler in the region happens to be a Prestige Italia stockist. I had ridden in one of their gorgeous saddles before and really admired it for comfort, lightness and the design. As the coach and someone who rides the horse regularly I had a vested interest in making sure that the saddle was as great for the rider as for the horse. I was optimistic that he would be able to find us a really good saddle to take both the horse and my pupil’s training forward in.

What I look for in a Dressage Saddle & why I love with this one.

You will notice that this particular saddle does not have an excessively deep seat. I believe a rider must develop a seat that is independent of the saddle, otherwise the saddle is just masking problems and even contributing to tensions. My ideal saddle is barely there; it is pared down, minimal and close contact. In my late teens I was told by my coach that a saddle cannot give me a deep seat and nor can it keep my limbs under control, those things are down to me. It is equally now my responsibility as a coach to make sure my pupils develop good seats. A saddle that gives me the freedom to sit well, if I can, is all I can really ask for.

The saddle must not make us sit badly, beyond that it is our responsibility to sit well.

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There is a relatively flat space at the deepest point of the seat. This ensures that the pelvis of the rider can be held upright, which in turn allows the knee to drop down. The twist of the saddle is wide enough to encourage the rider’s hips to open, but not so wide as to be uncomfortable and thus create tension. The cantle is not excessively high, which I like. The saddle with a high cantle behind you can become a trap under the wrong circumstances. I have seen a rider, in the process of being thrown, get her leg caught around the very high cantle of her saddle which frightened the horse ever further and prolonged the problem for them both. Easy in and easy out is preferable for me! So the seat of this saddle ticks several boxes for me. I think it is an excellent choice for my pupil because it will offer her the freedom to sit well but will not influence her seat excessively.

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Given my love of close contact saddles, the fact that this is a mono-flap was always going to be a selling point. The less that there is between your leg and the horse the better your communication will be. As I discussed in Better Dressage -Contact the leg is a two-way interface, not just a means of issuing instructions. Through a mono-flap saddle you can read the horse more easily and give an aid more easily; a small aid will be more easily felt. I often aid through my inner thigh and knee too, and this is inherently easier to do in a mono-flap saddle.

Now I come to one of the few things that I do not like about this saddle, the relatively big knee block.  To put my tastes in perspective, the following photo is of another student of mine riding in a different saddle, a Podhajsky by Ideal. I first encountered these saddles through my coach and I have recommended them ever since. They are perhaps the perfect saddle to suit my preferences.

M3391M-1011This saddle allowed me to ride advanced dressage, hack out and jump small to medium-sized obstacles in it with equal ease. It was, after all, designed by a person who believed in all round riding and training for dressage horses. Although clearly not the saddle for a specialist show jumper or event rider, it is brilliant for the advanced dressage rider who likes to vary their routine without changing saddles to do so.

 

When it came to fitting a saddle for the mare in question however, I wasn’t about to quibble over knee blocks! If it had been a knee roll I might have done. A roll, if it is too big, can push the knee away and can contribute to closing the back of the hip, thus blocking the energy flow over the horse’s back. Ideally, the inner thigh of the rider should lie as flat as is possible. A block should act only in a worse case scenario, for example if the knee is suddenly displaced by a more than usually violent movement. Under normal riding conditions I would expect the knee to sit with its inner surface flat on the saddle flap, not exerting any pressure on the block. If a riders knee is jammed against a block then there is pressure, upwards and backwards through the thigh bone, which can act against the horse’s attempt to push the seat-bone forward. Whenever we grip inwards into a knee roll or jam the knee against a block we reduce the free movement of our hips, which the horse needs in order to move freely forward.

It is important that, however much it sticks out, the block doesn’t sit in a place that affects the rider’s usual leg position. The block on this saddle actually allows the knee to sit softly on the flat of the saddle flap and is therefore no problem at all.

 

 

The fit of the saddle for the horse was very good. I was really hopeful as we went into the arena that it would prove to be the solution we were looking for. It all depended on how the horse moved in it and how my pupil felt when it was her turn to ride in it. Everyone knew from my smile that I’d fallen in love with it at least! The difference a really good saddle makes to the way a horse works is massive. I knew quickly that the saddle was meeting with the horse’s approval too. Her hind legs were engaged, her back was lifting and swinging, her shoulders were free and she was working happily with plenty of power.

From a rider’s perspective I found the saddle comfortable and easy to ride correctly in. My hips could move freely with the hips of the horse, I could feel her back clearly and my leg felt relaxed and stable. The location of the stirrup bar in relation to the deepest part of the seat is one factor which can influence your leg position and stability a lot. Having a saddle that is the correct size for you has a great bearing on that as well. I was able to use more seat and less seat at will to influence her movement through collection and extension. When there isn’t enough room in the saddle you can end up wedged on your seat-bones and unable to either emphasise or de-emphasise them. When I engaged a little more seat we had big open extensions there for the asking, which meant that she was reading my seat as easily through the saddle as I was able to read her back. The seat is the primary communication interface and it is vital that the saddle lets all of the messages through clearly, both ways! This saddle certainly does that. The leg contact was great too, as you’d expect with a mono-flap saddle.

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How the saddle is working out and why we need a jumping saddle now.

Three months down the line it has proven to be a sound investment. It is a great saddle to ride in and also supports my role as a coach very well. Now that it has been in my life for a while I can say there is nothing I dislike about this saddle. It is comfortable and does absolutely what we need it to do. The little mare is progressing well in her training and seems very happy with our choice.

Do I like this saddle as much as the Podhajsky by Ideal? I’d have to say almost. The Podhajsky remains my absolute idea of perfection! In terms of the seat the Prestige is equally likeable. The main difference, for me is that knee block. I know that if it were the Podhajsky we were dealing with, I’d be able to pop my stirrups up and go for a gallop, or jump a little grid, without that knee block getting in the way. But then, on the other hand, I wouldn’t have the excuse to be tempted by the gorgeous Prestige Italia jumping saddles either! I am now feebly resisting the idea that a  jumping saddle is necessary. After all cross training dressage horses over jumps is really important and you can’t do that in just any old jumping saddle. That is my story and I’m sticking to it 😉

For this particular horse the Podhajsky would not have been a viable option. It starts at 17″ and the Passion K that fits her so well is 16.5″. Sometimes for the smaller horse it is not just the seat length that is an issue with a larger saddle, it can be the length of the points. The points on a saddle designed for a larger horse can obstruct the shoulders of a smaller horse or large pony. The fact that the Passion K was available in 16.5″ makes it a good choice for the larger dressage pony too.

We know that along with all of the other benefits, the Passion K dressage saddle has built-in adaptability as our little mare develops her physique. This is a really practical advantage, that I imagine would appeal to a lot of horse owners. The adjustment requires a saddler to visit of course, but that would always be the recommended course of action anyway.  In terms of price the Passion K, like the Podhajsky, costs a substantial amount, but is not especially expensive in comparison to many specialist saddles. If you are looking for a saddle that will support correct riding, only cost a small fortune, and let your horse move to the best of its capabilities then these are both very good options to check out!

https://www.idealsaddle.com/assets/brochures/Ideal_Dressage_Saddles.pdf

https://www.idealsaddle.com/catalogue/view/2/dressage-saddles

http://www.prestigeitaly.com/#

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ProLite Performance Pads

ProLite Performance Pads are awesome! We use them everyday and they offer us solutions to meet both long and short term needs. They are one of the most important investments we have made in our horses comfort; and comfort equals better performance and happier horses.

Temporarily improving saddle fit.

No pad can compensate for a saddle that fits your horse perfectly. I would not advocate the long term use of pads which alter the saddle fit. In the short term though I use the Multi Riser Pad because I can totally customise the effect it has on the saddle balance. This is great with horses that are changing shape rapidly, for horses at the very start of training and those who lost muscle tone due to time off. There are times when it is not practical to have a saddle reflocked, mainly because the situation is very temporary. We have the Multi Riser pad, which has additional ProLite inserts for the front and back, and I am keen to try the Tri Pad, which has a third central pad for even greater adjustability! Of course, without the additional shims, the Multi Riser Pad is useful to pop under a well fitting saddle for even greater weight distribution without impacting the saddle balance at all. If you were to buy only one ProLite pad, I would recommend this because it is multi purpose. Be sure to store the inserts carefully when not in use, or you will end up hunting for them at the bottom of a tack locker when you do need them! Having learnt from my mistake, I now keep mine neatly together in a clear sandwich box!

Optimising every day performance in dressage training and equine rehabilitation.

The main use we make of the ProLite pads is to give extra protection to the horses’ backs in day to day training. For this we use the ProLite GP and Dressage Relief Pads. The specific quality I love about them is the ability to distribute pressure evenly over as wide an area as possible. Several things can contribute to this – a relaxed rider with a good seat, a saddle with broad panels and, for me, the ProLite pad offers a lovely additional safeguard. I do a fair amount of remedial training and equine rehabilitation so providing comfort and protection to the weak or vulnerable back is especially important.

ProLite pads are an ideal product for the young horse, the older horse or any horse with a sensitive back. That said, I use them on the fittest, strongest horses too!

One thing I am a stickler for is that all saddle cloths and pads are pulled up fully into the gullet of the saddle. It is vital that they exert no pressure upon the spine. The ProLite pads are shaped beautifully, even for the high withered horse. They sit up into the gullet, clear of the spine all the way along, and most importantly they stay there whilst you are working. I have never known them to move, even through the most energetic training session, through galloping, jumping and impromptu rodeo riding! The pad is always exactly where you put it at the start.

ProLite pads are very lightweight and that is another feature I love. I always liked gel pads and used those in the past but the weight of them was a disadvantage, as was the difficulty of keeping them from slipping down over the wither. With the ProLite products that is never an issue. I also used to feel that the gel pads somehow reduced the two way communication between my seat and the back of the horse; with ProLite pads I feel the communication is just as clear as if the pad was not there at all. This is so important for the dressage rider who needs to ‘read’ the back of the horse and influence the movement through their seat.

The pads also wash easily and wear extremely well. We launder all of the saddle pads and bandages every two or three times they are used and in the case of the ProLite pads we wash them weekly. In one extraordinary case I found a ProLite pad which had fallen down a gap between two buildings and spent an entire winter there. When it was discovered, soaking wet and disgusting, I decided to try washing it. Not only was the structure of the pad intact, it washed up bright and clean as new. It is back in everyday use and you would never guess what it had been through!

The ProLite Performance website explains that the product offers 3 in 1 protection from impact, pressure points, and movement. Specifically they absorb lateral movement without moving against the skin of the horse. This means that the hair is unruffled and the coat is not rubbed. The importance of this for dressage horses goes without saying. Click through to the ProLite Performance website and have a look at the full range of products for horse and rider!

Roeckl Riding Gloves

Writing about products seems like an obvious, even an inevitable step for a blogger. It was always a part of my plan for Dressage Perspectives but I wanted to find an approach that I was really comfortable with. I started by thinking about the products that I use, as a dressage rider, on a day to day basis.

The first product that sprang to mind was my Roeckl Chester riding gloves. The incredible popularity of Roeckl gloves among high level riders in all disciplines speaks for itself; their list of sponsored dressage riders is a roll call of classical and competitive experts. Now, I am not one of that select group and I’m not writing this in the hope of free gloves by the way; lovely as that would be!

I have used Roeckle gloves for everyday training and for competition for almost twenty years now, they are the only brand I will buy. When I go shopping for riding equipment I always go alone, to say I am picky doesn’t even begin to describe the experience. I believe in excellence, that somewhere out there is a perfect version of each item I need.

What I look for in a riding glove is for it to feel like a second skin, to be able to forget it is even there. Perfect contact with the mouth of the horse is about the right riding style and the right bit of course, but it is also about the gloves and the reins you choose. These details really do matter when you are devoted to getting it right.

I work with my horses in hand a great deal and not only do these gloves give me the same sensitive contact as when I ride, they offer great emergency traction if horses are playful and pulling. Although very fine, they have protected my hands effectively on the few occasions that a line was pulled quickly from my hand. There is no additional ‘sticky’ on the palms or fingers to add bulk, the fabric itself offers all of the grip required. Critically, it does not offer excessive grip, which can be very irritating.

The longevity of these gloves is a feature that matters to me. Back when I was riding at least five or six horses a day, which is pretty heavy wear and tear on riding gloves, I found a single pair lasted me at the very least six months. I only ever own two pairs at a time, one for everyday and a pair for competitions, though the pretty colour combinations do tempt me to buy pairs I don’t need!

Keeping them looking good is easy; I wash them in with my laundry from time to time and air dry them. Prior to finding Roeckl I used to buy the thinnest leather gloves I could find but I certainly couldn’t machine wash those and there wasn’t the same lovely stretch over the back of the hand. When I have my hand softly closed around the reins I hate to feel even a slight pull across the knuckles – I told you I was picky! I do try on other gloves when I am in tack shops but none of them have ever rivalled Roeckle for comfort, feel or style!

If you want to give them a try you will find they are stocked by many equestrian retailers and are readily available online.

Roeckl produces a range of gloves for different sports. Their web site in English is at http://www.roeckl.de/en/