Gaited Dressage at St. George

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By Jennifer Klitzke

What could be more unusual than seeing a Mustang among Warmbloods at a dressage show? How about a barefoot horse that doesn’t trot!

Last month I took my Spanish Mustang to St. George’s Dressage Academy Schooling Show and was so impressed with the facility, the friendly people, and the show organization, that I asked if I could bring my Tennessee walking horse to the next show and ride the NWHA tests that mimic the USDF tests with gait in lieu of trot. After the show secretary talked with the judge, they both welcomed us into our own division.

St. George’s Dressage Academy not only has a state-of-the-art facility, they really know how to order the weather! A perfect “10” summer day: sunny, slight breeze, 75-degrees, and no bugs, made for a very comfortable outdoor show. Warming up in the St. George’s 80 x 220 indoor arena was such a treat: giant fans kept the air moving, dust-free felt footing was so comfortable to ride on, and mirrors along the far wall helped me see what I was feeling in real time. There was plenty of space for everyone to warm up. The outdoor arena at St George’s is on an even plane and the footing is also well groomed, watered, and consistent through out. If you’ve ever ridden your horse on inconsistent footing or in an arena on a slope, you know how much that affects consistency of gait and balance.

Gift of Freedom (Makana), my naturally gaited barefoot Walking Horse, had the second highest score of 72.4% among 58 rides ranging from Intro to Prix St George. Not bad being the only gaited horse among trotting Warmbloods. Training Level Test Three includes flatwalk, flatwalk on a long rein, medium walk, freewalk on a long rein and canter with movements as serpentines, 20 meter circles, straight lines across the diagonal and center line halts.

Makana and I also earned a respectable score of 68.79% in First Level Test One which includes all of the gaits in Training Level plus medium canter and running walk,  and canter circles are reduced to 15 meters. The coaching I had received from Jennie Jackson has really helped us be more forward, connected, and engaged. Plus, the longer leg position Jennie showed me is helping to keep my heels from creeping too far back.

St. George’s Dressage Academy plans on having more schooling shows next year. A schooling show doesn’t get any better than this, so we’ll be back and I hope to see you there too!

A huge “thank you” to St. George’s Dressage Academy for opening up their luxurious facility to schooling shows. It is a treat to ride at such a nice place!

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Video: Naturally Gaited Dressage at St. George: NWHA Training Level Test Three

Video: Naturally Gaited Dressage at St. George: NWHA First Level Test One

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