Maribeth Dunlap Dressage

Dressage Coddiwomple Blog

Dressagecoddiwomple

Dressage (n.) The art of riding and training a horse in a manner that develops obedience, flexibility, and balance. A way of thinking. A way of living. A journey.

Coddiwomple (v.) To travel in a purposeful manner towards a vague destination.

Welcome to my blog - my dressage coddiwomple - a meandering life journey which has and continues to take me down interesting roads where I have discovered extraordinary trouvailles and whimsical crooked paths.

Although I do not consider myself a writer of any grand quality, I am a bit of a spontaneous gallivanter who enjoys sharing and writing about my experiences and observations.

As a student of the horse, aviation, and life, I also view writing as another way to learn and cement the ideas further into my understanding. Writing allows me to dig deeper into the subject material and gives me more reason to research and explore. I love learning new things and I enjoy sharing what I learn with others.

If you continue to explore my dressage coddiwomple, I hope you will find my writings interesting and of some value. Most importantly, I hope this blog inspires you to explore new places and perhaps embark on your own journey - your very own extraordinary coddiwomple.

Feel free to contact me to leave a comment!  I'd love to hear from you.

~Maribeth

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Christmas Eve Dressage Poem

Posted on October 30, 2009 at 10:35 AM

Christmas Eve Dressage Poem

by MARY L. BRENNAN, DVM

OCT 30, 2009


Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the farm,

Only one horse was stirring, the brown one in the barn,

The only one to hang a stocking from his feed dish that night,

Hoping that Santa would come, and fill it just right.


The other horses were settled quietly in their stalls,

While their dreams were of horse treats, candy cane...

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Perfect Practice

Posted on March 17, 2009 at 12:15 PM

Perfect Practice

By Maribeth Dunlap

March 2009


I often give my students homework, usually something that we’ve been working on together, and something that they need to practice. I usually say something to them like, “remember, just don’t practice it - practice it perfectly.”


What is the difference between practice and perfect practice?


When learning a new skill, it takes ...

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Busy Hands

Posted on February 11, 2009 at 11:35 AM

Busy Hands

By Maribeth Dunlap

February 2009


Busy hands are usually the result of an ineffective seat. When the seat is not secure, or is unbalanced and out of position, the rider must use crude aids, larger movements with the hands and often the arms to try to control the horse. Any rein-aid that is not supported by the seat, becomes a rein that pulls, holds, or gives unintentional half halts and signals to the horse. This ultimately ...

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Becoming A Thinking Rider

Posted on February 1, 2009 at 11:35 AM

Becoming A Thinking Rider

By Maribeth Dunlap

February 2009


Over the many years of riding, training, taking instruction, reading and learning, I have learned and have adopted, in my own style, a systematic way of training and a systematic way of thinking. One step in the training process builds upon another. One exercise leads to the next while listening to the needs of the horse, feeling the horse, unlocking resistances and blockages that...

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Motivation and Maintaining the Momentum

Posted on December 1, 2007 at 11:25 AM

Motivation and Maintaining the Momentum

By Maribeth Dunlap

December 2007


This time of year, during the holidays, it can be difficult to maintain our focus on our riding and training. An additional distraction for me is the onset of cold weather. I’m not too fond of the colder months in central Pennsylvania and it can be difficult for me to leave my warm, cozy house for the great wintry outdoors. It is funny though, because ...

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Work on the Longe - Developing the Seat

Posted on October 1, 2007 at 12:10 PM

Work on the Longe

By Maribeth Dunlap

October 2007


There are many benefits and reasons for longeing. Longeing is an art itself and it takes many years of good practice to become effective. Longeing is meant to prepare a horse mentally and physically for under-saddle work and should be approached in a step-by-step, systematic fashion, building one step on top of another. With the use of proper and correctly adjusted equipment, longeing ca...

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Riding Accurate Arena Patterns

Posted on September 1, 2007 at 11:30 AM

Riding Accurate Arena Patterns

By Maribeth Dunlap

September 2007


There are three basis gymnastic tools that a rider can use to train a horse:

1. The seat and aids

2. The movements

3. The arena patterns.


Riding accurate arena patterns is a very important concept to the training of the horse and rider. This is not just a dressage concept either as it is very important to ride corners, turns and...

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USDF Glossary of Judging Terms

Posted on September 1, 2007 at 9:30 AM

USDF Glossary of Judging Terms

(This is not the complete list; only those terms most related to the horse score in vaulting are listed here.)


Acceptance - Lack of evasion, resistance, or protest; acquiescence. Used in reference to the horse's unresistant willingness to allow the maintenance of a steady contact, the application of aids, and/or the placement of the rider's weight.


Activity Energy, vigor, liveliness - re...

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The Mysterious Half-Halt

Posted on April 1, 2007 at 11:10 AM

The Mysterious Half-Halt

By Maribeth Dunlap

April 2007


There are as many definitions of how to ride a half-halt as there are definitions of what it actually is. It is no wonder that so much has been written and so many videos have been produced on this single subject and yet it still seems to remain a mystery to some and a controversy to others.


Let’s first consider the FEI definition of a half halt taken from ...

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Flexion & Bend/Lateral & Longitudinal

Posted on February 1, 2007 at 6:00 PM

Flexion and Bend/Lateral and Longitudinal

By Maribeth Dunlap

February 2007


I often run into folks who seem to not fully understand the differences and meanings of flexion and bend. Flexion refers only to the joint at the poll. Bend refers to the entire horse from the poll to the tail.


There are two types of flexion and bend, lateral and longitudinal. Lateral has to do with the right and left sides of the horse. Longitudinal ...

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