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It is not just about riding the horse

This sport of dressage is a never ending journey of figuring out how to better the horse's balance, strength, and comfort in the work. Each exercise is developed to work the horse evenly from front to back and left to right.

What we do outside of the saddle matters as well. Your ride should be surrounded by therapies that enhance the muscle recovery of the horse, help the alignment of the horse, and comfort the horse before and after training.

This post is about what I use to ensure my horse is not only benefitting from the training that we do, but also looks forward to our time together. The only way that I can ensure this, is be as thorough as possible on their day to day care to ensure I am meeting their needs physically and mentally.

Some Training Methods Used

The Pessoa System and the Equiband System are normal tools in my training program. I see posts all the time about how bad the Pessoa system can be, but every time I see the picture with the post, it is being used as incorrectly as possible. Any good tool can still be used incorrectly, so please be sure you are properly trained in using these tools before moving forward with them.

What I love about both of these tools is the external cues they give the horse to move properly. Just as I use resistance bands on human clients to correct incorrect movement patterns, I can use these tools on the horse for the same reason.

The Pessoa System

I like the Pessoa system because it teaches the horse the correct idea of connection. It shows the horse how to lift the core and push the back legs into contact. This in turns lifts the horse's back muscles. This allows me to not only work the horse's muscles properly, but also without the burden of the rider's weight. (Not sponsored by Pessoa)

The Equiband System

The Equiband system is unique because it offers the external cues of resistance bands on the core and hind end and can be used in ground work or under saddle. It teaches the horse how to move evenly behind, straighten the pelvis, and lift the core and back. The other bonus of the Equiband is that they can help a rider who is not as proficient in teaching a horse to carry properly yet. It allows them to feel the horse carrying properly through the body, (Not Sponsored by Equiband)


Exercise puts a toll on the body. We feel it after a workout and so do they. How do we ensure that they stay happy and comfortable in their work? Through physical therapy.

Funny story. I put out a post asking other's which blanket therapy options that they like best and why. One person commented "good riding and a well fitting saddle." That statement is so true, but I have questions for this commenter. Do you not feel pain/ soreness after a workout no matter how good your form was? Do you not seek therapies to ease your own body (massage, chiropractic, hot tub, long hot shower, heating pad, ice pack, etc.)? My horse is working for me because I asked him to. He is willingly working even though he technically could over power me and tell me no. I need to ensure that I am doing everything in my power to make them comfortable and happy in the work. The horse does not understand that his muscles are sore because they are rebuilding stronger, they just know that they hurt and that you are asking them to work through it.

Because of this, we have a system at DDressage that our horses look forward to because it feels good. We use the sandwich effect:

  1. Feel Good Therapy

  2. Work

  3. Feel Good Therapy

  4. AND of course Delicious Horse Treats (Use Deirdre10 at checkout to get your discount) Before, During, and After Work

What does this look like?

Before or after the ride we use the Bemer Blanket and Leg Cuffs , the RevitaVet Poll Cap and Tendon wrap (I would love to have ALL THE PIECES, but working on that one piece at a time), and/or the Theraplate. As well as ice therapy on the legs after a ride. We tailor it to what we observe each horse prefers. Sometimes it changes based on each horse's preference. For example, Florentino will pull us to the Theraplate after the ride, but not always before. Felix prefers to have the Bemer after a ride. We try to listen the best we can.

What is the purpose of the therapies we use?

The Theraplate increases circulation by using a circular vibration the moves the blood through the body to increase healing time, bring blood to the muscles for warmup, and bring blood to the muscles for recovery and cool down. (Not Sponsored by Theraplate)

The RevitVet system is a red light therapy system that has been proven to shorten healing time and be an amazing step towards injury prevention. The coolest thing about RevitaVet is that it is designed for the horse and provides the light therapy exactly where they need it.

Ice boots after a workout and after a cool down allow the tendons in the legs to form back up after being stretched. Cooling of the tendons after a hard workout is the best way to avoid injuries and help your horse recover quicker. (Not sponsored by any brand of ice boot, but you can order our favorite ones here, ORDER NOW)

The Bemer is one of the coolest pieces of equipment that we have. The Bemer works with PEMF wave length that is unique to the Bemer Group. They have also partnered with NASA to add this technology to the new space suits to keep the astronauts healthy in space. What does it do? It increases micro circulation. Why do our horses need this? Because activity, workload, pain, and inflammation slow the circulation system down causing more and more pain and inflammation! Watch the video HERE to see for yourself. What does this mean for your horse? Less pain. Less inflammation. Faster workout recovery. More engaged parasympathetic system which means that the horse gets into the "rest and digest" phase quicker and more efficiently. I can talk all day about this... if you wan to chat more about it, let me know and I will give you a call. (So, Bemer and DDressage are partners. If you would like to support DDressage and have a Bemer of your own, horse or human, you can visit this site to learn and to purchase. I WANT A BEMER OF MY OWN)

As you can see, training includes so much more than riding. You too can come up with a therapy system that will help your horse through the training process with comfort and enjoyment. Remember that your horse does this for you, what can you do for them?

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