Posted by: forgingahead | October 1, 2008

Learning Dressage from the Stirrups Up

Anke lowered my stirrups yesterday.

I know I just lost my non-horsey triathlon friends. For folks who don’t know about horses then perhaps my opening line is intriguing. The horse folks are glued to their screens.

A quick recap of the cast of characters. Anke is my dressage trainer from Germany. I *LOVE* her. She’s a magician. Seriously, when she’s in the arena with me my riding elevates to a point where I Do. Not. Recognize. Myself. Yes, she’s that good.

Now Voyager is my true love horse. He really *LOVES* Anke because she is teaching me to be a kinder gentler rider. This makes him very happy.

Now Voyager grew up on a racetrack and has a work ethic that makes me feel like a slacker. Sure he starts of most of our rides moaning about how he doesn’t want to go faster and would I just let go of the reins already? Once he tests my level of commitment to the ride he happily settles down to work.

Anke has been away for a while (at the OLYMPICS!) and upon her return has been deluged with requests for training and teaching. Seems word got out that she is a dressage goddess! So Now Voyager and I have been on our own for a bit.

Yesterday we had a lesson. Oh joy! After watching me warm up for a bit she told me to stop and we lengthened my stirrups. THREE holes. That’s a lot. She said the shortness of the stirrups was making my butt stick out. Hey, it’s nice to have something to blame a butt on, right Jenny?

Suddenly I felt like my legs were extra loooong and I kept losing my footing. Get your heels down Kathleen. We did a bunch of 20 meter circles at the trot and then added in canter.

Here’s what I love about the way Anke teaches…we’re on the circle at the canter and she’s saying, “inside leg, more inside leg.” I do this. But clearly not enough because her voice gets louder and she says, with authority, “now, more leg, now, now, COME ON!”

It’s like her voice is a string connected to my puppet leg which increases pressure to the beat of her voice. Very cool. And the best part? Now Voyager literally *jumps* into the next canter stride. The feeling is like going from riding a pony to riding a warmblood. We’re floating on air.

Anke paid me the highest compliment at the end of the lesson…”that’s the most I’ve ever seen your butt stay in the saddle.” Jenny would be proud.

pleased as punch,



  1. As your admiring try athlete friend and one of your (also admiring) horsey friends, I say YEE HAW! Love the photo too.

  2. that is a WONDERFUL photo, i love it!

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