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Lessons from a Dressage Schoolmaster

Alison King visits grand prix dressage trainer Leah Wilkins to get schooled by an upper-level veteran dressage horse, and learn the true feel of ‘correct.’

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By: Alison King |

I remember the day 30 years ago when I first saw Cindy Ishoy and Dynasty on TV, dancing together at the 1988 Olympics. I was a young, horse-crazy girl living in Newfoundland and had no idea what dressage even was. But in that moment I knew I wanted to do it. With no dressage riders or trainers on the island at the time, it’s no surprise my three-year-old Quarter Horse/TB cross seemed rather confused by my attempts to make him do ‘dressage.’ I hadn’t the first clue what the training scale was, how to ride a horse forward from behind, or even that reins were for anything more than turning. Over the years we were lucky enough to have a few clinicians and coaches come to the province and drill the basics of dressage into us correctly. But their help wasn’t enough for me to master much more than training…

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