March 2019
On the Bit
In This Issue
Barn News & Updates
Dressage Training Video: Charlotte Dujardin Masterclass: How to Ride Straight Flying Changes
Dressage Training: Christine Traurig: Pushing Away from the Bit
Horse Care Tip of the Month: Do Horses Like Being Rewarded with a Pat?
Life & Style: 4 Common Dog Behaviors, Decoded!
Recipe of the Month: Red Velvet Cheesecake Cake
Paula's Pearls: "Ah-Ha!" Moments in Riding
A Little Inspiration: Something to Brighten Your Day
About Paula Paglia Dressage
Barn News & Updates
The Adequan West Coast Dressage Festival in Temecula, CA
paula and slipstream
Home from an amazing weekend at the Adequan West Coast CDI Series Show in Temecula, CA. Tonight I am floating on a pink cloud after a weekend I have only dreamed of 💕 I am so proud of the way Slipstream handled her first CDI. We did the PSG (made a few unfortunate mistakes... I had the jitters) We rode in the beautiful CDI ring on footing that was like a trampoline with all international judges. On the last night I rode under the lights during the gala in the Intermediare 1 freestyle and won! Lucy handled all the distractions like a real professional! Thank you to Ed and Sherrill Tripp for believing in me and helping us get there! We have had so much fun with this “little black firecracker!” She is a very special horse❤️ Thank you Ulf Wadeborne for all your help. We are excited to see our future.
scottsdale snow
Sonoran "Snow-nami"
If you live in the Valley, you remember our super-soaker rain and snow storm we received in late February. Not only did we have buckets of rain, portions of North Scottsdale got several inches of snow! Check this out!
Dressage Training Video
Charlotte Dujardin Masterclass: How to Ride Straight Flying Changes

Source: DressageHub

Olympic Medalist and World Record holder Charlotte Dujardin has truly mastered the finesse of riding a dressage test. The perfection she exhibits while riding Valegro is not an accident. In this video we get to take a quick look inside how she sets her horses up for success in the flying changes in dressage. Once you have mastered the flying change the work is just getting started, the changes need to be more straight and more uphill in the balance to correctly ride your horse forward in the tempi changes in dressage. 
Dressage Training
Christine Traurig: Pushing Away from the Bit

This sophisticated term describes the epitome of throughness, perfect connection and ideal self-carriage.
Christine Traurig
The term “pushing away from the bit” is often misunderstood and is not to be confused with the situation in which the horse drops or evades the contact in any way. In fact, when the horse is pushing away from the bit, he responds to the leg aid with absolute, ever-present willingness to go perfectly to the bit. The horse that is pushing away from the bit has a finely established understanding of contact from a leg aid and he never feels apprehensive about reaching out to the bit again and again. In order to get the correct feeling of pushing away from the bit and the resulting circle of energy, the rider needs to understand the rein aids.

The Rein Aids and their Functions
The Aids. Dressage riders rarely talk about the rein aids, so in my years of training and teaching, I often find myself explaining how the reins work and how they—through the rider’s hands—affect the horse during application.

I’ve ridden a lot of jumpers on the flat and have come to understand the rein aids as they are explained by the likes of Bernie Traurig and George Morris, who are masters of the jumper world. They and the German Federation’s manual explain it like this:

The inside rein is a flexion and a direction indicator. In simple terms, the inside rein is like the blinker in your car. In our sport of dressage, we indicate flexion and direction at the same time. The inside flexion is indicated by the rider bending her wrist or closing her fingers softly into the palm of the hand. The inside direction is indicated by the rider moving her inside hand slightly away from the neck with what we call (in a young horse) a “leading” or “opening” rein. The hand moves in the direction you want the horse to go. Later, when the horse is more educated, the hand doesn’t move more than, perhaps, three inches away from the neck, but if the horse is properly trained, he understands that it means, My rider is indicating the direction.

The outside rein is like the steering wheel because it executes direction. The rein rests against the neck as the hand is positioned next to the wither. As such, that rein:

1. ...sets boundaries to prevent over-bending in the neck;
2. ...guards and aligns the shoulders to make the horse straight. Once the horse is straight and aligned... 
3. positions the neck longitudinally to develop roundness within the alignment and then the rider can move the shoulders to turn the horse.

Later this leads to the rider’s ability to move the shoulders or the front end into the direction of the horse’s motion in movements such as shoulder-in, half pass and pirouette.

The Rein Functions 
The Following Rein stays in contact with the horse’s mouth and follows the horse’s motion with sensitivity and feel in the direction of the horse’s mouth. When the rider’s educated hands follow the mouth with elasticity and consistency in the contact, it creates a horse that is supple through the topline and in beautiful balance and self-carriage.

The Stationary Rein. When the horse leans on the bit, runs through the hand or grabs the bit, the rider responds with the stationary rein to establish the respect and submission to the bit. The stationary rein is fixed; it stops following, and in so doing, it has a direct effect from the corners or the bars of the horse’s mouth, through the topline, all the way back to the hind legs. The rider’s hands, positioned on the left and right sides of the withers, form a straight line from the horse’s mouth to the rider’s elbows. The stationary rein is the one you use in teaching the young horse to stop and, later with more sophistication, to halt. Later, it is applied when the rider half halts and asks the horse to push away from the bit. As the horse understands the stationary rein aid more finely and with greater sophistication, the aid becomes nearly invisible, which indicates the horse’s growing understanding of pushing away from the bit.

The stationary rein is a vital part of the aids for the half halt. The driving aids send the energy to the stationary direct rein, which restrains in a passive way because, instead of following, the rein becomes stationary. When the horse pushes away from the stationary (direct) rein, it causes the horse to shift weight to a hind leg and engage, or bear weight on a bent hind leg. Because the weight shifts back, the rein contact gets lighter in direct relation to the lightening of the forehand. The stationary or direct rein in all its functions can come through all the way to the hindquarters only if the horse is longitudinally supple over and through his back.

The Giving Rein. The rider’s hands soften in the contact to the horse’s mouth when he responds to the rein aid.

Contact and Connection
In our sport we talk about contact and connection. In my mind contact refers to the relationship between the rider’s hand and the horse’s mouth. Contact is developed from the driving leg aid to the contact-permitting and contact-receiving hands, thus teaching the horse to accept the bit.

Connection is the relationship between the horse’s hind leg and the bit as the hindquarters send energy through the topline to the bit and (through recycling) back to the engaged hind leg. The ideal connection enables rideability between leg and hand and the harmonious blend of aids with throughness. 

Pushing away from the bit is frequently defined by the fact that the horse is fully accepting the contact and has a proper connection; that is, the boundary-setting or passive restraining effects of the direct rein do not back the horse off the contact. Rather, the horse accepts it even more so as the driving aids repeatedly... Click here for the rest of the article.
Horse Care Tip of the Month
Should You Pat Your Horse for a Job Well-Done?

Many riders are in the habit of reaching down and giving their mount an exhuberant pat on the neck as a "good job" and "congrats we did it!" But new research shows we might be sending mixed messages. Read on to learn if horses find it enjoyable or just plain confusing.
horse pat

Yes! A clear round! Not a single bar down! Woohoo! All right! Big high-five, buddy!

Uh, yeah, maybe not.

I’m every bit as excited as the next person when my favorite sports team make a great move, whether that’s a touchdown or a three-point basket or a home run or a clear show jumping round. And I know how it goes—the loudspeakers blare out the celebration theme, the crowds jump and roar, the sports announcers declare that it’s incredible, and everyone on the team, including the coach, high-fives the superstar. That’s part of sportsmanship; it’s an expression of thrill; and it’s usually a great honor to the “high-fivee.”

But when that “high-fivee” has hooves instead of hands, well, I fear the honor gets a little misconstrued.

Again and again at the 2014 Alltech World Equestrian Games in Normandy, I saw riders doing this sort of modified high-five with their horses. Yes, I get it that they’re thrilled and energized, and I get it that they are loving that horse at that moment about as much as possible. They want that horse to know that they’re about as happy with him as they can get.

But that modified high-five—most would probably call an exuberant “pat”—is actually a pretty tough slap on the neck. Three or four in a row, usually, distributed with all the power generated from the excitement of the success of the round and the ambiance in the stadium, with pops so loud sometimes you can hear them over the cheers.

While that all looks really super-duper sporty, the thing is, the horse is probably there going, “What? What did I do? Why are you slapping me? I just did a clear round!”

Of course, patting horses is a pretty common way of thanking them. People have been doing it for decades, probably centuries, in all disciplines of competition and of course outside the competition ring as well.

But all that probably means is that for decades and probably centuries, we’ve been confusing our horses. “Hey,” our horses might be saying. “I did a good job! How come I always get hit on the neck when I’ve done my best?”

Researchers have been looking into the kinds of tactile (touch) rewards horses would prefer. Andrew McLean, PhD, has even successfully trained some of his research horses using wither scratching alone as a positive reinforcement aid (with no negative reinforcement at all). And researchers know horses are sensitive to touch, with much higher sensitivity than people used to think. Some research groups have even demonstrated how differently horses respond to different kinds of massage techniques, indicating that they’re highly sensitive and able to distinguish slight differences in touch.

We know now that horses prefer the gentle touch, and my guess is that they probably have no real understanding of the concept of that honorable sportsman’s high-five they’re getting in the show ring. I know it might seem a little bit less anticlimactic out there if riders stopped slap-patting their horses after clear rounds and started scratching their withers instead.

Still, some dressage riders have already started doing this, and it works. Granted, dressage doesn’t garner quite the same ambiance as a show jumping stadium. (That being said, you should hear the explosive cheering after Charlotte Dujardin and Valegro end a freestyle routine!) But gentle caressing and scratching works to convey the “All right, buddy, you did a great job!” message to the horse far better than any human culture slapping techniques ever could.


WTF!! was my reaction when I read a year or so ago that some people think that it's cruel to pat a horse. They reason that because horses don't pat each other, it's unnatural to them so, we shouldn't either. Well hey, horses don't go riding around on each others backs either do they -well not most of the time- and we still do that. Oops sorry, I forgot, some people think it's cruel to even ride horses! Anyway, I digress.

Many of us reward our horses when we're pleased with them by patting them, usually on the neck, sometimes more energetically than others-occasionally accompanied by a 'woohoo!!' depending on the level of the task we've both completed. I tend to think they pick up on the positive energy and associate it with patting, in a sort of 'well if it makes her happy. then it makes me happy' kind of way.

But I tend to use patting when I've finished riding and when I'm actually in the process of riding and want to reward my horse for doing something difficult I usually lower my hand and give them a gentle wither scratch which I think is less disruptive to the rein contact and more relaxing. However, some trainers would say even that disrupts a steady contact and you are better to simply press your hand against the neck.

Anyways, now some researchers have actually put patting vs scratching to the test. The aim was to discover which method a horse finds more relaxing whilst under saddle because it is generally assumed that relaxation in the horse is a necessary ingredient for both learning and efficient movement. So, they rode eighteen horses and monitored their response to wither scratching, patting, and no interaction at all. Each horse was ridden through a short obstacle course and then one of these three methods was randomly applied for a minute. The horse was then ridden through the course twice more and each of the remaining methods was applied. Horses were monitored for heart Rate, heart rate variability and behavioural postures of ear, leg, tail, head and mouth movements.

Maybe it's not much of a surprise to read that their research revealed that wither scratching, which we know horses do when mutually grooming each other, produced a significantly longer duration of relaxation than the other two treatments and they concluded that wither scratching for a one minute period may help to increase relaxation when the horse is standing under saddle.

But what I find very interesting, is their discovery that these horses displayed a similar number of agitated behaviours during both neck patting and no interaction at all.

So, if you want to keep your horse relaxed then it looks like wither scratching is the best reward. But, I think I'm still going to give my horse a good pat when I want us both to do a little victory dance around the arena and at least it's only as equally agitating for a horse as doing nothing at all!

Life & Style
4 of the Most Common Dog Behaviors, Decoded

What’s up, Fido? Get the scoop behind four common dog behaviors to understand what your furry friend is trying to say to you.
What does it mean when dogs wag their tails, or yawn around you? If you've ever wondered what your dog is trying to communicate to you, you're not alone. These experts share how to decode four common behaviors.

When Your Dog Yawns
Though yawning can indicate fatigue, it can also be a sign of stress, especially if she’s in an unfamiliar setting. “A yawn serves a physiological function. As soon a dog opens her mouth, it gives them extra oxygen in case they need to run or move quickly,” says Nicholas Dodman, B.V.M.S., research coordinator for the Center for Canine Behavior Studiesthis link opens in a new tab in Salisbury, CT. If you see your dog yawning, especially if she does it several times in a row and is also licking her lips, try calming her by talking to her, petting her, or removing her from the situation.

When Your Dog Wags Her Tail
Wagging can mean your dog is excited or happy; it can also signal fear or mistrust. One way to decode a wag: Look at the direction, Dodman says. If the wag swings more to the dog's right, it reflects happiness, more to the left communicates negative emotions like fear or feeling threatened. Speed and position are also clues. A slow wag, especially if the dog has her head down and is blinking or looking side to side, can indicate submission. A tail pointed straight up reflects confidence; a tail tucked under says I'm afraid.

When Your Dog Tilts Her Head
She's trying to identify what a sound is and where it's coming from. When the dog tilts her head, sound reaches each ear at different times. A head tilt can also mean the dog is trying to tell the difference between familiar phrases like "Go for a ride and "Go for a walk."

When Your Dog Licks You
Licking is a sign of affection, but it can also be a request for distance. "The dog probably wants to interact but is saying Go slower," says Carlo Siracusa, D.V.M., Ph.D., associate professor of clinical animal behavior at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicinethis link opens in a new tab. For example, if a dog licks you tentatively when you hug her, she's probably thinking, Hey, easy there.
Recipe of the Month
Red Velvet Cheesecake Cake

Red Velvet Cheesecake Cake
"OK friends, this month's recipe is admittedly quite time-intensive. However, if you're like a lot of people, and spending time in the kitchen baking is relaxing and therapeutic for you, you will enjoy the satisfaction that comes from creating this showstopper of a dish. As, I'm sure, will your lucky friends or family that get to eat it. This decadent diet-buster is similar to the one they serve at The Cheesecake Factory - but rumor has it that if you make it at home, the calories don't count - wink, wink! " Paula

24 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 tbsp all purpose flour
1 cup sour cream
1 tbsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs, room temperature

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
4 tsp natural unsweetened cocoa
1 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 tsp white vinegar
4 tsp red food coloring
1 cup hot water

16 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1 1/4 cups butter, room temperature
12 cups powdered sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
6 oz white chocolate chips

6 oz red Wilton candy melts
3 tbsp heavy whipping cream

1. Preheat oven to 300°F. Line the entire inside of a 9-inch cake pan with aluminum foil. Press it into the pan to get it as flat as you can. You’ll use the aluminum foil to lift the cheesecake out of the pan when it’s baked and cooled.
2. In a large mixer bowl, mix the cream cheese, sugar and flour together until combined. Use low speed to keep less air from getting into the batter, which can cause cracks. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
3. Add the sour cream, and vanilla extract and mix on low speed until well combined.
4. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing slowly and scraping the sides of the bowl after each addition.
5. Pour the cheesecake batter into the lined cake pan.
6. Place the cake pan inside another larger pan. I use a larger cake pan, but you can use a roasting pan or any other larger baking pan. Fill the outside pan with enough warm water to go about halfway up the sides of the cake pan. Bake for 1 hour.
7. Turn off the oven and leave the cheesecake in the oven with the door closed for 30 minutes. Do not open the door or you’ll release the heat.
8. Crack oven door and leave the cheesecake in the oven for another 30 minutes. This cooling process helps the cheesecake cool slowly to prevent cracks.
9. Remove cheesecake from oven and chill until firm, 5-6 hours.

10. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line the bottoms of two 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper and grease the sides.
11. Add the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, cocoa and salt to a large mixer bowl and combine. Set aside.
12. Add the buttermilk, vegetable oil, vanilla extract, eggs, vinegar and red food coloring to a medium sized bowl and combine.
13. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and beat until well combined.
14. Slowly add the hot water to the batter and mix on low speed until well combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed to make sure everything is well combined.
15. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and bake for 23-26 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out with a few moist crumbs.
16. Remove the cakes from the oven and allow to cool for 3-5 minutes, then remove to a cooling rack to finish cooling.

17. When you’re ready to build the cake, make the frosting. Add the cream cheese and butter to a large mixer bowl and beat until smooth.
18. Slowly add about half of the powdered sugar and beat until well combined and smooth.
19. Add the vanilla extract and mix until well combined.
20. Slowly add the remaining powdered sugar and beat until well combined and smooth.

21. Use a large serrated knife to remove the domes from the top of the red velvet cakes.
22. Place the first layer of cake on a serving plate or a cardboard cake round. Spread about 1 cup of frosting evenly on top of the cake layer.
23. Use the aluminum foil to lift the cheesecake out of the cake pan, remove the foil and place the cheesecake on top of the cake.
24. Spread another cup of frosting evenly on top of the cheesecake, then add the second layer of cake on top. If the sides of the cake don’t line up, use a serrated knife to trim off the excess cake or cheesecake.
25. Frost the outside of the cake. Check out my tutorial for frosting a smooth cake, if you’d like.

26. Press white chocolate chips into the bottom of the cake, around the bottom edge. Refrigerate cake for about 20 minutes.
27. To make the red ganache, place the red candy melts in a small bowl
28. Heat the heavy whipping cream just until it begins to boil, then pour over the candy melts. Allow it to sit for about a minute, the whisk to melt. If it isn’t completely melted (and it probably won’t be), heat it for another 20-30 seconds, the whisk until smooth.
29. Allow the ganache to cool until it thickens up a good bit, but is still pourable, then transfer to a squeeze bottle.
30. Drizzle the ganache around the edge of the cake.
31. Heat the remaining ganache (you can leave it in the bottle) for about 10 seconds to soften it up again, then pour it onto the top of the cake and quickly spread to the edges.
32. Allow the ganache to cool and firm, then pipe swirls of the frosting around the top edge of the cake. I used the Ateco 844 icing tip. Add sprinkles, if desired.
33. Store the cake (in an airtight container, if possible) in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Cake is best for 2-3 days.
Paula's Pearls
"Ah-ha!" Moments in Riding

When riding, instead of focusing on “heels down,” ignore your heels and focus on positioning your “toes up.” You’ll find that pulling your toes up uses a different set of muscles and it makes a profound difference in your seat. You’ll find that it opens up your hips and knees better, and allows you to sit deeper and on your seat bones. Give it a try and let me know what you experience!
A Little Inspiration
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 & Facility
  • Boarding/Training
  • Lessons
  • Showing
  • Purchase/Sale
  • Clinics
  • International Equine Procurement 

  • Regulation arena with premium footing
  • Oversized stalls, cleaned multiple times daily with premium shavings
  • Fly misting system and cooling misting system 
  • Two all-weather turnouts
  • 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