Watch this page daily for quick handy tips and quotes, some of which are from our loyal members and fans! If you would like to contribute, email your tip to: firstname.lastname@example.orgClick on each Tip/Quote Title (in blue) to make comments.
"We want to GUIDE and SHAPE, we do not want to create straight jackets and do hostile take overs." ~ Manolo Mendez
"The harder you work, the better you get... if you remember to work harder at getting better." ~ Jimmy Wofford
"Having a horse with crazy gaits and an eagerness to please at 5 years old is freaking me out because I’m really feeling the weight of the responsibility to not push too hard, too fast." ~ Lauren Sprieser
Something every rider should be thinking about!
"I think it is important to recognize that horses do not just teach us about how to ride and train them... they teach us lessons about our lives, and how to live them." ~ Jimmy Wofford
Dressage is natural for horses, but that does not mean it is always easy for them. Since we cannot explain to them why we are asking them to do things that require increased effort, and go against their natural instincts to do things in the easiest way possible - we must handle any inevitable resistances that might show up with patience in a quietly persistent manner.
"The seat and weight aids are supporting aids. They support either a leg or rein aid, or both. Don’t underestimate their significance though. They are important aids, especially in the fine tuning of advanced horses. The leg and rein aids will fail to achieve their full effectiveness without the support of weight and seat." ~ Christian Thiess
"As I grew older, I became more aware of the basic principles of dressage, and the first is soundness. In my country we have vets at the stables 24/7 – it's a red flag, it tells you something is wrong. Why is the horse limping? Because it is not worked correctly. You need dressage for soundness, to build muscle, to get the horse carrying the weight on its hind legs – then you have less vet problems." ~ George Morris
Correct Dressage training will improve the balance, carriage, responsiveness, strength, and confidence of the horse of ANY discipline.
If your breastplate is fairly tight when your horse is standing still, you will be preventing your horse from being able to use his shoulders at all as he moves and jumps. Make sure there is enough room to put a fist between the middle of the breastplate and the horse, or a little less so for breastplates with elastic.
You can't balance or collect energy that you don't have. Forward first!
"I’m a big fan of ground lines. I think it teaches the horse to have better technique in front. Everything that we do is connected — the way we start on the cross rail to this, it all connects. We're building through our training." ~ McLain Ward
"The rider's seat is a 'transformer' whose role is to modify the energy emitting from the horse's haunches." ~ Charles de Kunffy
When bending your horse, keep your focus on the middle of his body, not his neck. Bending in the ribcage is what is important.
If you want to become a top rider or trainer, you can't dabble… you need to immerse yourself totally in the sport.
A calm yet mobile mouth means that the horse is light in the hand, and relaxed through the jaw and neck, which allows for easy swallowing.
"I can’t tell him off for wanting to try too much. He has to be rewarded because all he’s trying to do is try a bit harder." ~ Charlotte Dujardin
"So what do we see when we watch these masters at work? We learn what it means to become a good rider. It means to be picky, detail-oriented, motivated for your whole life, paying attention to every stride, having a system but with the flexibility to adjust it. Even before you can control the horse, you have to first control yourself (99 percent of problems with a horse are caused by the rider). Finally, a good rider needs the willingness to say, 'I made the mistake. The horse didn't make the mistake.'" ~ Christoph Hess
Clinics can be great for the overall experience of doing lots of testing exercises, while hopefully getting some new tools and ideas to add to your "toolbox". But private lessons with your trainer are where you establish your basic foundation and understanding of your training system.
Don't forget to ride the last stride before every jump… don't "jump ship" and freeze up on your horse just when he needs you the most.
Courage is like a muscle, it is strengthened by use.
"How can the rider expect the horse to have confidence in his hands when this piece of metal is constantly moving in his mouth?" ~ HLM Van Schaik (Dutch Olympic Medalist)
If you want to jump well, make sure you can consistently canter over poles on the ground in a smooth, balanced manner. I am always surprised how many riders are attempting to jump courses, yet they cannot nicely canter over a ground pole.
In a good connection, the rider's hands should breathe with the horse's mouth.
A Dressage rider’s leg should lie softly on their horse's side like an "al dente" noodle - draped around the horse to allow for soft, subtle, and precise leg aids.
Do you clench your teeth or have a tight jaw when you ride? Remember that horses tend to mirror their riders....
Many amateur riders have a tendency to worry about the fact that their aids may not always be 100% correct when they ask their horse to do something. And therefore they are less likely to insist if their horse does not respond correctly. But just remember that horses can be taught to do just about anything from just about any aid. You can teach your horse to canter on the left lead if you pull on his left ear…. if that's what you want to do. So while it IS important to make sure your aids are as correct as possible, make sure you DO insist that your horse listen to your aids. Even if you don't ask for canter or leg yield the exact same way his last rider did, your horse CAN figure out what you are asking for, if you motivate him to do so.
"The horse is the fastest learner of all domestic animals—including children. If you stay alive by running away, you better learn fast." ~ Robert Miller, DVM
"In the warm-up, I mostly ride curved lines so that I can work on lateral suppleness along with getting the horse relaxed over the back. I spend as much time as it takes for the horse to feel relaxed and willing to lower and stretch from his withers. I do circles, serpentines and figure eights. There is no point in going on with movements if the horse is not supple over his back. I also use leg yields as part of the warm-up to help get the horse responsive to the inside leg and connected to the outside rein." ~ Charlotte Bredahl-Baker
"We try to have discipline and attention to detail in everything we do. Being aware of all these little details gives me an advantage. And if I get a little edge everywhere more often than not I am going to be ahead." ~ McLain Ward
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