Paula Paglia Dressage
On the Bit
December 2018
In This Issue
Barn News & Updates
Dressage Training Video:  How to Make Your Trot Bigger & Better for Competition
Dressage Training: Trot Lengthening: The What, The Why and The How
Horse Care Tip of the Month:  The "Wrap" on Horse Blankets
Life & Style: 51 Simple Holiday Decorating Ideas
Recipe of the Month:  Salt & Pepper-Crusted Prime Rib with Sage Jus
Paula's Pearls: "Ah-Ha!" Moments in Riding
A Little Inspiration
Barn News & Updates

Holidays at Paula's

We're Ready for the Holidays!
The horses are snuggled up in their blankets happily munching hay and enjoying this cool, "desert wintry" weather. The whole facility is adorned with holiday spirit and we're all enjoying the festive air around us. This year at our annual barn holiday party, instead of a white elephant gift exchange, we'll be collecting donations for Opportunity International - a non-profit that aids people in impoverished countries to start their own businesses and educate their children. We're all excited about this philanthropic part of the party and I'll update you here on just who and how we helped! If you'd also like to donate, you can click on the link above.

Don't Forget to Sign Up to Compete in the 2019 Arizona State Dressage Championships
Your $25 Nomination fee must be received before qualifying scores are earned. The qualifying period for 2019 started October 1st of this year and goes through September 30th of next year.  Find a link to the form here.

Upcoming "Vaquero Horsemanship through Classic Riding" Clinic with Rodolfo Lara
Rodolfo Lara
I am so excited to bring this clinic to our area next year. He is currently working wonders with my horse Davie. Stay tuned for 2019 clinic dates!

Dressage Training Video
How to Make Your Trot Bigger & Better for Competition

How To Make Your Trot Bigger And Better For Competition - Dressage Mastery TV Ep230

Dressage Training
Trot Lengthening: The What, the Why and The How

trot lengthening
The horse that has been taught to lengthen his trot stride properly has gained more than the ability to cover more ground. He has acquired an essential building block for the rest of his career. (Photo by Amy K. Dragoo) 

We start talking about lengthening the trot early in any training program. Trot lengthenings first show up in competition in First Level, Test One. Though the definition of the lengthening is pretty simple, trot lengthening is often misunderstood and not so simple to train properly. When horses don't learn to go forward and lengthen properly before they begin advanced work, which happens all too often, it comes back to haunt riders again and again in the higher levels.

Covering Ground
The "what" of the trot lengthening is fairly straightforward. The horse pushes himself from behind and through his whole body into longer suspended strides. He covers as much ground as he can in balance. If you watch a horse doing a proper lengthening across the diagonal of the arena, he will need fewer strides to get from one end to the other than he does at the working trot. That is the key to a good lengthening in both the trot and the canter. It doesn't quicken, and though the lengthening teaches the horse to put more weight on the hind legs as he is learning to push, it doesn't require carrying as much weight on the hind legs as do medium and extended trots at the higher levels.

When a horse is lengthening properly, in the walk, trot or canter, he uses his whole body, pushes off from behind and moves into the hand. He also has the ability to put his nose in front of the vertical, which I will explain more about later.

In the U.S. Dressage Federation's Glossary of Judging Terms, lengthening is defined as "Elongation of the stride an the outline of the horse, yet maintaining the same tempo [beats per minute] and balance as in the corresponding working pace." I don't agree completely with this definition because there are fewer beats per minute when the stride is lengthened. The rhythm, however, stays the same. By rhythm, I mean the clarity and the regularity of the footfalls. In other words, the trot has two beats, the canter three beats and the walk four beats.

The feel of the trot lengthening should be familiar. Most of us have been trotting out in the field or down the road with a group of horses. The horse gets longer and gets some suspension. Typically the horse is carrying himself in a good way. Imagine that feeling. That is the trot we are looking for here. Suspension is the natural by-product of the lengthened stride. Even in many good horses, the working trot doesn't naturally have much suspension. Later, in the working and collected paces, after he has learned to lengthen or gain ground in his body when the leg goes on, his stride gets slower and longer.

Learning from Lengthening
Why is learning such an important building block for training? Lengthening teaches the horse to use his body and neck and to move into the hand. If the horse does not know how to move into the hand when the rider's leg is used, pushing from behind with his nose in front of the vertical, he will have critical problems throughout his training with contact and with the ability to use his back and go forward properly. That is the biggest reason for teaching the lengthening.

Giving a tired, heavy horse the clues he needs to lengthen a little will ask him to push rather than to pull and become harder in your hands. A sensitive horse also learns to accept the leg because he understands, with calmness, that it means to go forward.

The horse's ability to stretch and to push into your hand, using his entire body, is a skill here for the rest of the article.
Horse Care Tip of the Month
The "Wrap" on Horse Blankets

blanket bandit

Whether or not to blanket a horse is an often-debated question and there are many logical and justifiable reasons to go either way.

In normal weather conditions, many horses do not need a blanket, especially if they have access to food and shelter and have grown a healthy, thick winter coat. But for horses with special needs such as older or geriatric horses, pregnant mares, horses with compromised health conditions, or horses that have been clipped, blankets are certainly appropriate. Consideration should also be given to the horse's breed, hair coat quality, feeding routine, and its acclimatization to the existing conditions.

Horses have been adapting to the climate for millennia and they still depend on ancestral ways to regulate their own temperature. In the fall, the horse's coat will start to grow longer and coarser, and its density will thicken. In cold temperatures, this thickness will fluff up with the long guard hairs standing out rather than lying close to the skin. This traps air close to the skin, providing an insulating layer to protect from the cold. It's sort of like a down jacket. Additional oils accumulate in this thicker coat, especially in pastured horses, providing extra insulation. In addition, horses generate internal heat when they eat hay, so free access to hay or forage add to their ability to regulate their body temperature, while shade and shelter provide protection against the elements.

"People seem to forget that we have only had blankets for horses recently and they have been domesticated for 6,000 years," says Gayle Ecker, director of Equine Guelph at the University of Guelph, Ontario. "We have to remember that horses have developed their own ways to thermoregulate and we have to respect that. There are certainly times when a blanket will be beneficial to a horse for specific reasons and for specific time periods, but many horses do not need the blanketing that they are given by their owners. In fact, at a recent welfare meeting, there was a presentation on the welfare implications of over-blanketing, and we should take some time to seriously think about our actions. Are we really helping? Or do our interactions interfere?"

All too often, well-meaning horse owners throw on a blanket and it's there for months. But it may be ill-fitting. It may be too big so it slips around the horse's back and pulls on the neck. It may be too small with tight strapping that starts rubbing and causing skin abrasions. Or it may be the wrong type of blanket for the weather conditions.

"An ill-fitting blanket could set your horse up for injury," says Ecker. "Horses get their legs caught in the straps, the blanket can shift and hang down one side which can irritate or spook the horse, or sometimes it encourages other horses to nibble and chew on the blanket which can cause other issues."

Knowledgeable tack store owners can provide excellent advice on the kind of blanket best suited to specific conditions and the best fit. Deciding to blanket the horse means checking out a  ... click here for the rest of the article.
Life & Style
 51 Simple Holiday Decorating Ideas

The holidays are meant to be a time to enjoy precious moments spent with family and friends, but all too often we find ourselves rushing to decorate our homes perfectly. The good news is a few garlands of evergreens, a colorful wreath in the window, or an arrangement of simple votives flickering on the mantel can create an abundance of cheer. Here are some quick and easy ways to make your home festive. 

Use What You've Got

Create your own holiday palette using hues already incorporated into your décor. A blue-and-white tabletop of Spode marine plates was adapted to holiday entertaining by adding evergreen boughs and topiaries accented with blue glass balls. A cobalt-blue gnome sits in the center for an elfin touch.

Fragrant Pomanders

Pomanders-oranges studded with cloves-are a unique form of aromatherapy and are associated with the holidays. In medieval times, a pomander was carried in an ornate round case as a protection against infection in times of pestilence. Today, they are an easy-to-make, fragrant decoration with a rich history.

Seasonal Shimmer

On this mantel, mercury glass has a stunning effect when illuminated by candlelight and a pair of sconces. The wreath hung above is sprinkled with a hint of silver as well, tying together the elegant presentation.

Little Boxes

Piling small wrapped boxes on a serving tray adds a little magic to your celebration. For entertaining a younger crowd, place small wrapped chocolates around the house for a festive scavenger hunt. The children will love it, and the adults might be grateful 
for the distraction!

Deck Out That Bench

Put a bench to work in the off-season: Give it holiday spirit with an arrangement of holiday greenery, pine cones, gazing balls, and ornaments. Look around your garden for small spaces to stage a winter display. A basket of pine cones with cut boxwood will not only dress up an empty bench, but will also help you complete your gardening chores for the season.

Click here for the rest of the 51 decorating tips.

Recipe of the Month
 Salt & Pepper Crusted Prime Rib with Sage Jus


Prime Rib

"I love a special entree for Christmas dinner. Even better, is one that's as easy to prepare -- yet seemingly decadent and complicated -- such as this prime rib. The recipe is from celebrity chef Michael Mina, who has the restaurant Bourbon Steak at the Fairmont Princess Resort." - Paula

  • One 14-pound prime rib bone-in roast, tied
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 20 large sage sprigs
  • 20 large thyme sprigs
  • 8 bay leaves
  • 8 shallots, peeled and halved
  • 1 head garlic, cloves crushed, plus 4 cloves thinly sliced
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons freshly cracked black peppercorns
  • 1 cup dry red wine
  • 5 cups beef stock or low-sodium broth
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Step 1    
Preheat the oven to 400°. Set the meat in a large roasting pan, fat side up. Season the meat generously with salt and pepper. Around the roast, scatter 10 sprigs each of sage and thyme, 6 of the bay leaves, the shallots and the crushed garlic cloves. Pour in 1 cup of the water and roast for 45 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 275°. Roast the meat for about 2 hours and 15 minutes longer, adding the remaining 1 cup of water to the pan as the juices evaporate. The roast is done when an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part registers 135°.

Step 2    
Transfer the roast to a large carving board. Pour the fat in the roasting pan into a large heatproof bowl, stopping when you reach the syrupy pan juices at the bottom. Pour the pan juices into a small bowl and discard the vegetables and herbs.

Step 3    
Set the pan over 2 burners and add 2 tablespoons of the reserved fat. Add the onion, peppercorns and the sliced garlic, remaining 2 bay leaves and 10 sprigs each of sage and thyme. Cook over moderate heat until the onion is softened, about 8 minutes. Add the wine and cook, scraping up any bits stuck to the bottom and sides of the pan. Pour the mixture into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Add the beef stock and pan juices and cook over moderate heat until slightly reduced, about 15 minutes.

Step 4    
In a small bowl, whisk the flour with 2 tablespoons of the reserved fat. Whisk the paste into the saucepan and simmer the gravy until thickened, about 5 minutes. Strain the gravy through a fine sieve and keep warm until ready to serve.

Step 5    
Cut the bones off the roast and slice the meat 1/2 inch thick. Cut in between the bones and serve them on the side. Pass the gravy at the table.

Suggested Pairing
This juicy prime rib roast needs a powerfully structured but fruit-driven red, such as a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon.
A Little Inspiration

Paula's Pearls
"Ah-ha!" Moments in Riding

I am getting back to the topic of straightness and alignment. I had a horse which I was struggling to keep straight. I had the neck twisting at times and was struggling to figure out why. After a vet exam we treated hocks and neck and I was confident the horse was comfortable, so as the rider I focused on alignment. 

If haunches can't be placed where we need them and shoulders placed EXACTLY where they need to be, the whole spine is not working right and the energy is not flowing through the back correctly. I compare it to a shopping cart which has a wheel which is not rolling properly on the cart. It makes the cart veer off the line you are wanting to travel. It is annoying and until you fix the alignment of the wheels, the cart won't travel straight with no stickyness. The exact same theory goes for a horse, we need to keep our seat and back lined up evenly over the center of the horse's back and the horse's alignment under us straight and balanced.
About Paula Paglia

Paula Paglia
Paula Paglia, owner and head trainer of Paula Paglia Dressage in North Scottsdale, Arizona began her professional training career in 1979. Paula is a USDF Bronze, Silver and Gold Medalist and has been named ADA Rider of the Year numerous times through 2014. Paula has been an integral part of the training and success of her clients. She is credited with creating numerous winning horse and rider combinations through the FEI levels. She has developed Regional Winners and sent many students to the National Junior Young Riders Championships, the North American Young Riders Championships and the National Dressage Seat Equitation Finals.

Formerly the head trainer at Dynamite Dressage, and the head trainer at Los Cedros, she is thrilled to now offer her own niche to her clients: a full educational program based on dressage, developing amateurs, young riders and other professionals to their fullest potential. As owner of Paula Paglia Dressage, she has taken the best of training practices used throughout her career to offer a specialized experience for her clients. She considers her facility to be "heaven for horses." Owning her own facility allows her to cater to every horse's special needs.

Paula has trained with some of the most successful trainers and riders in the world, including Debbie McDonald, Leslie Reid, Christine Traurig, and Conrad Schumacher.

In 1992, Paula began importing warmbloods from Holland, Poland and Germany. Presently, Paula conducts personalized buying trips abroad for her clients, as she has extensive experience selecting and starting young horses and developing them up the levels.

The Paula Paglia Dressage philosophy is to develop a partnership between horse and rider. The well-being of the horse is the primary consideration. Paula evaluates each horse and rider individually and will design a program appropriate to their ability, yet focused on the long-term goals of upper-level classical dressage. Each horse and rider is developed at their own pace, allowing each team to be mentally and physically strong at each level of competition.

Paula believes that a successful training regimen is a logical, step-by-step process that utilized the horse's natural intelligence, his loyalty, his goodwill, and his honesty. A sensible, kind and structured training program will produce a horse with a strong muscle structure and a sharp working mind. Both are necessary to compete at the national and international levels of dressage.  
Paula Paglia Dressage Services

  • Boarding/Training
  • Lessons
  • Showing
  • Purchase/Sale
  • Clinics
  • International Equine Procurement 
  • Regulation arena with premium footing
  • Over-sized stalls, cleaned multiple times daily with premium shavings
  • Fly misting system and cooling misting system 
  • Three all-weather turnouts
  • Medical, shaded turnout
  • Premium hay feed 5x a day
  • Personalized grain/supplement feedings 2-3x a day
  • Automatic waterers/outside tubs and interior buckets cleaned daily
  • Hot water wash racks
  • Locked tack rooms
  • Laundry rooms
  • Blanketing/final night check
  • Caveletti course
  • Access to Equine Corridor trails
  • Regularly scheduled on-site clinics
  • Trailering to shows available
Paula Paglia Dressage | 480.695.4581  |