Learning the art of dressage

Dressage has been described as horse ballet in which horse and rider are expected to perform a series of predetermined movements

Aida Andersen (l) coaches Carol McNeil on Bugsy in the art of dressage at the McNeil ranch in Birch Island on Monday.

“She is the best dressage instructor I’ve ever worked with. I’m just so happy she’s living in the Clearwater area.”

That’s Birch Island resident Carol McNeil’s reaction after studying with Aida Andersen for several weeks.

Andersen and her partner, Lars Kolind, have owned Nakiska Ranch in Upper Clearwater for about 1 1/2 year.

Recently Andersen, who trained with several dressage instructors in Scandinavia at various levels, has started teaching privately as well as helping out with the North Thompson Ladies Drill Team.

“Dressage is all about controlling the horse,” Andersen said. “Horses like to have a clear chain of command. They like to know who’s boss. When a horse is confused about who is in charge, they panic, and accidents happen.”

Dressage has been described as horse ballet in which horse and rider are expected to perform a series of predetermined movements from memory.

“The horses love it,” Andersen said. “They love a mental challenge. It’s incredible how much they understand.”

“They’re intelligent, social animals. You need to remember that, and that you’re training large, very muscular athletes. You’re not training a bicycle.”

Andersen said McNeil’s horse, Bugsy, a 17-year-old Morgan, is what they call in the dressage world a “schoolmaster.”

“He knows all the moves. You just have to get him to relax and he’ll do it. He’s such a gentleman,” she said.

“A horse like Bugsy needs to learn new things, go places, see other horses.”

Training a horse for dressage involves a lot of stretching, bending and relaxation, as well as developing muscular strength.

The objective is to do the movements precisely and without strain.

“There should be no tension. That’s not acceptable,” said Andersen. “Everything should be soft and easy.”

The skills learned in dressage are transferable to other ridging styles, including Western.

“It’s essentially the same thing they’re doing, just different tacks,” she said.

“A really good roping horse, once it’s trained, feels very proud to be taken out to control cows. It wants to be praised for doing it right. As for the cows … they couldn’t care less.”

Andersen has several other local riders who she is coaching in dressage.

Recently she also began helping out with the North Thompson Ladies Drill Team.

“We’re all very excited about it,” she said. “It takes a lot of work to ride a drill program. They’re doing a very good job.”

Just Posted

Police chase ends in two arrests

Suspects in stolen truck evade RCMP from Alberta border to Clearwater area

Independent business in Blue River pays it forward

Blue River Sledz donates a generous amount of clothes to the less fortunate in Kamloops

Clearwater Carpet Bowlers give to three local groups

Carpet Bowling is held at the Evergreen Acres Hall on Mondays and Thursdays at 1 p.m.

Yellowhead Community Services (YCS) celebrates community partnerships at open house

The event featured musical performances by the children in both care groups operated by YCS

Hospital Auxiliary raffle winner

The next fundraiser for the group is the annual Garden Party on May 5, 2019

Trudeau to make it harder for future PM to reverse Senate reforms

Of the 105 current senators, 54 are now independents who have banded together in Independent Senators’ Group

Supreme Court affirms privacy rights for Canadians who share a computer

Section 8 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects Canadians against unreasonable search and seizure

B.C. fire chief pleads with Ottawa for traumatic stress support

Campbell River fire chief Thomas Doherty presented concerns to federal government

‘I practically begged’: Kootenay woman with breast cancer denied referral to Calgary

Breast cancer patient left to fight disease alone after being denied referral to Calgary

21 detained before Paris protests as police deploy in force

There was a strong police presence outside the central Saint Lazare train station, where police in riot gear checked bags

ICBC to apply for 6.3% hike to basic insurance rates

Crown Corporation said it will be submitting its next basic rate application to the British Columbia Utilities Commission Friday

Media, robotics, Indigenous studies coming to B.C. Grade 12 classrooms in 2019-20

Provincial tests are also being changed for students in Grade 10 to 12, the Education Ministry said

Stranded B.C. trucker writes final wishes before being rescued 3 days later

‘I was just praying someone would come along’

Canfor Corp. extending temporary curtailment of sawmills in B.C.; cutting hours

Vancouver-based company says the decision is due to declining lumber prices, high log costs and log supply constraints

Most Read