Trainers, and farriers… these are two very important people that will make or break your experience in the horse world. The right trainer is the key to your success with riding, and the right farrier is key to your horse's soundness.
"May every rider strive for a better connection with his or her horse by observation, closer understanding and patient groundwork. It matters not what discipline is pursued, only that there be a perfectly balanced union between the two – man and horse – so that the two become one." ~ Frederic Pinon
"The horse has to learn to look after himself, otherwise I might as well get off and just chuck him over. And I’m not that strong. I don’t go to the gym." ~ elite show jumper Ben Maher
For the horse, the learning happens on the release of the aid. That means if you don't release the aid, the horse will not learn.
"Riders tend to lean back and pull on horses who are rushing, which makes a bad situation worse. When you pull back against your horse, he will usually invert, drop his back and lean against your hand. Once he is in this shape, no bit in the world will solve your problem." ~ Jimmy Wofford
"The much more important things to me are the walk and the canter. They’re the two things you can’t change. With the trot, by teaching the horse to have more suspension, you can change the trot. I never worry about how bad the horse trots. I know with my training, I can make it look spectacular. Even a really ugly horse, you can make it look really special. Don’t worry if you have an ugly horse." ~ Charlotte Dujardin
No matter how balanced a horse is moving, he will never be in self carriage if he has a rider that is hanging on his mouth.
Only if the shock absorbers in your hips are working properly, will you be able to keep your hands and upper body quiet as you sit the trot or canter.
"The most important point is the character. If they are not willing to work with you, then they can have the best quality in the world, but it won’t work. If you go to the Olympic Games, you can see fifty horses that are qualified, all these fifty horses can do the Grand Prix, but the winner is the one who does it at the moment he is asked to do it. He wins with his talent, but he also wins with his brain – this is so very important, the way you live with your horses every day, that you have the horses on your side. Horses must be happy horses, they have to be willing to work for you, you cannot make them work. That’s why in your daily work you must think hard about your horse – how is he feeling? Is he happy? He has to be obedient, but he cannot be squashed, you have to leave him with his personality. Sometimes horses with not such good qualities, they can win if they want to do the job." ~ Jean Bemelmans
Transitions act as a test of your connection. If the quality of your connection is lacking as you begin a transition, it will be particularly evident as you execute it.
You should always strive to feel the horse's hind legs in your hands as they step up into the rein connection.
You will get the highest level of brilliance from your horse by letting them have as much freedom as possible. Show them what is required, and then leave them to perform as much as possible on their own.
"Recognize the smallest change, the slightest try." ~ Ray Hunt
Submission to the outside aids is necessary for a smooth, resistance free downward transition.
With young or untrained horses who conformationally have a high set on neck (which is a good trait to have for a jumping or Dressage horse), you have to be particularly careful that you don’t work them in a frame that is too advanced for their strength level. It takes enormous strength in the horse’s lumbar back to carry a rider in a higher frame for any length of time. Ride for too long in a higher frame, and they will get sore in their lumbar back, and often resentful.
"Just as the sculptor at first chisels the future outlines of his work of art with powerful blows out of the crude block of stone, and then lets it develop in increasingly finer detail in all its beauty, the aids of the rider must also become more and more delicate in the course of the horse's education. Every rider should always keep this strictly in mind and especially avoid destroying with crude aids, out of impatience or other reasons, what he has built in his previous work." ~ Alois Podhajsky
A real collected trot should feel like a contained medium trot. Not just slower, with shorter strides - but with enough stored energy and contained power that you feel that all you have to do to get medium trot is release it. And the same for collected canter.
"Riders are very often but mistakenly glad to see their horse arch his neck, regardless of how it is arched (whether too high or too low or behind the bit or stiff). Have you ever seen a horse with an arched but stiff neck, looking as though he were nailed to the bit ? That kind or arch does not imply a horse on the bit." ~ Charles de Kunffy
Many horses are more brave and confident when truly on the aids, as they feel more truly connected with their riders.
For those of you with horses that want to "run" into the canter when working on walk to canter transitions (accelerating and taking a trot step or two before picking up the canter), think "halt" as you are applying your aid to canter from the walk.
When the rider attempts to give the horse "support", it doesn't help a horse learn to balance. Instead it gives them something to lean on, and actually USE for balance. Correct and soften, and your horse will learn to balance itself without relying on you to hold them up.
Always keep in mind that you do not necessarily need to slow down to rebalance your horse between fences when jumping. A horse can be balanced at just about any speed. You can also change the shape of the canter stride without changing the speed. And most importantly, the rhythm.
To succeed in Eventing, you need to be as motivated by your failures as much as you are by your successes.
A big key to success lies in the rider's ability to differentiate between resisting and pulling on the reins.
"One can never, I believe, strive for a lack of criticism in riding – because I don’t think that there is such a thing as perfect riding. I don’t think anybody’s performance is beyond some sort of criticism." ~ Tad Coffin
"Riding is a dance, but horse and rider have to listen to the same music." ~ Pedro Torres
"One of my favorite exercises is three strides of shoulder-in, three strides of half-pass and back again using very small aids. Also helps to do transitions within this exercise." ~ Mistie Cantie
"You cannot get a quality jump with a bad approach – and the quality of your approach comes back to the way you work your horse on the flat. If you get a quality jump from a bad approach then you are a very lucky rider." ~ Andrew Hoy
Many riders ride with tight elbows, and busy hands. Instead strive for relaxed and mobile elbows, and quiet and still (yet supple) hands!
"Use the shoulder fore to close the horse up." ~ Carl Hester
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