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To make diagonal lines and center lines accurate in the Dressage ring, imagine that there is a dotted line connecting the letters that make up that line. And plan your turns so that you can accurately get onto that line.
Always remember that your goal with your hand position should be to have a straight line from your elbow to the bit. Hands above that line (which I see far too often!) break the true connection. The horse may feel lighter, but will not be truly seeking the connection. Hands below that line will put painful pressure on the bars of the horse's mouth, which will cause him to either resist or back away from that pressure by curling and dropping behind the bit.
Mental limitations are often much more career limiting than physical limitations when it comes to riding. If things are difficult for you physically, don't give up! You will get there!
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Rows of small bounce fences are a great way to build strength in your horse's canter.
"Routine becomes even more important when you are somewhere that you’ve never been." ~ Tonya Johnston
I always like to see horses jump into cross country complexes like coffins and sunken roads in a catlike way rather than jumping big. This means they are thinking ahead as well, and are preparing to do some good "footwork" between the jumps. Keep this in mind when approaching the first element of these kind of complexes. Maintain a supportive leg, but be careful to not override the first element or approach too fast.
"'Land in your feet' from every jump to avoid tipping forward." ~ Chris Bartle
A horse has to be straight to have true impulsion. Any stored energy leaks out where the body is crooked, changing the energy in the stride from impulsion to merely forward momentum.
"A deep seated saddle can limit the freedom of your hips to really move with your horse and you may not even realize how much your saddle is limiting you. Try an old style dressage saddle and you might just be amazed with the difference." ~ Kelly Jennings
"Putting in those long slow miles when you can provides a great base to fall back on." ~ Catherine Norman
"I've been having riders glance at the brim of their helmets when they half halt. The change in upper body position is remarkable." ~ Laura Klecker
While it is important to have a plan when riding, you should always be ready to adapt that plan as necessary. Ultimately, you ride the horse and not the plan!
The concept of collection is often best introduced to the horse in the canter, as that is often the gait that the horse finds it easiest to learn how to "sit" more behind.
Riders should practice jumping corner jumps, skinny jumps, and arrowheads with an approach from every possible angle, as course designers are increasingly setting up situations where your preferred line may be not an option.
Riding with shorter stirrups will stretch out your leg and improve your shock absorbers.
You will usually get more give from the horse when you ask more quietly and carefully.
"Feel the hindleg in your hand, a steady hand. Today we have this fashion for hand riding, don’t copy fashion, what is important, is correctness. You must have elasticity from your shoulder to the horse’s mouth, a straight line, a steady connection and elasticity of hand." ~ George Morris
"Don’t ride to other people’s ability – always ride to your ability and your horse’s ability." ~ Andrew Hoy
"Suppleness means that the muscles contract and de-contract, and this has to go through the entire horse, it cannot be blocked in the middle of the back, and it also has to go through the rider." ~ Susanne Miesner
"We should read the old books because competition breeds a lot of false information. It breeds artificiality, it breeds exaggeration." ~ George Morris
"A mounted horse must convey the impression that horse and rider are cast in one piece and inspired by the same will." ~ Waldemar Seunig
Any issues you have at the canter are usually there at the walk too, but just don't bother you as much because you're not going very fast. And it's easier to fix things at the walk.
"The most repeated mistake is the riders' weight taking off before the horse and often with catastrophic results - The rider that learns to look after the Engine, Line and Balance of his horse on the Approach and allows his horse to make the decisions about where he takes off, repeatedly puts in a smooth and confident performance" ~ Lucinda Green
Dressage is the very best physical therapy that you can do with a horse. But ONLY if it is done 100% correctly !
If becoming a great rider wasn't hard, everyone would be able to do it. It's the hard that makes it great.
"The absence of a correction is not a reward to a horse. The only thing that is a reward is 'good girl' or a pat on the neck or giving them a sugar. You can’t train a seal without fish." ~ Robert Dover
"The more soft and gentle my aids are on cross country the better, then I can really speed up, slow down, turn – a balanced turn – have my horse absolutely under the centre of gravity. That’s what I need in a pirouette, and that’s what I need in a line of fences, where you have a narrow one uphill, down two strides, turn, there the horse must be in balance." ~ Ingrid Klimke
The horse's loin area (behind the saddle) is loosened and suppled with each good lateral step behind. Just one reason of many why lateral steps are a very important part of training horses.
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