"Don't delude yourself into thinking that you have light, soft hands, if you ride with loose, almost dangling reins on a strung out horse. That can be done with insensitive hands as well. A soft hand requires the rider to feel whether the horse is softly on the bit, chewing, and whether it responds to a light pressure, in other words, whether it has an active mouth. If he rides with loose reins, the horse can have a dead mouth, which will only show up when you use the reins to stop or to shorten the strides, as it will either let you pull its nose onto its chest, or it will invert, and in both cases it will open its mouth." ~ Oskar M. Stensbeck
"When you're carrying a bag of feed over your shoulder and that bag slips, what do you do? You move underneath the bag. That’s exactly what happens to the horse. Every time you move, he's going to try to get underneath you. So, our job is to stay in the middle and not move around so much." ~ Buck Davidson
From Facebook fan Nicole Cotten Ackerman ~ "Someone once suggested I recognize that I was nervous because 'I love this and am so lucky to be doing it', and now I say that out loud to myself and my horse every time the nerves creep in... works wonderfully!!!"
"When your horse loses his 'go', try sitting lighter, not deeper. I find on my mare, when I'm losing impulsion, I'm gripping or riding too deep. And when I just relax my legs and drape them and use my hips more, my horse goes forward. Sometimes that means standing for a split second and re-adjusting my seat to get lighter but it works!" ~ Jennifer Stankiewicz
It may seem like riders only need to think about a formal conditioning schedule at the upper levels, but every horse at every level will benefit from a balanced and well thought out conditioning schedule.
I observed a very exotic horse on a show grounds the day before he was to compete. He was an Iberian horse of some sort who obviously had a lot of training. But unfortunately he was totally wired. A thumbnail: held together, tense throughout, unable to stand still in a halt or make a clear four beat walk. All his trot work was very cadenced and suspended but not going forward. Even his medium trot did not track up. The canter was equally problematic. He would switch behind at times, and in both the pirouettes and the tempis he seemed blocked. I kept thinking "circus." (Click on Blog Title above to read full entry)
"Permeability can only exist when, on the one hand, the thrust and impulsion from the hind legs reach the forehand undiminished, and on the other hand, when the weighting and flexing half-halts fully reach the hind legs. This requires the forehand and hindquarters to be aligned in such a way that, on a single track, the horse always adjusts his spine to the straight or curved line of travel, so that the hind legs follow in the same line as the front legs." ~ Waldemar Seunig
When trying to eliminate a bad habit in your riding, try exaggerating your bad habit momentarily to the point that it seems ridiculous. This will increase your awareness of what you have been doing. After that, practice exaggerating the opposite for a while to change your behavior.
When working with fresh horses that want to look around and be unfocused, do yourself and your horse a favor, and let them have some free time to relax at the beginning of a workout. Either a short time lunging or free schooling, or simply a 10 to 20 minute walk on the buckle to let them gawk and take everything in. Then, when you pick up the reins and go to work, you will usually find that there is less resistance.
Be careful not to move to the sitting trot too early in a ride. Doing so before the horse is fully warmed up and truly moving through his topline can often be detrimental, as the horse will be more likely to stay stiff and tight through his back muscles.
It should be a big red flag to you if your instructor is the type to say that all jumps should be treated the same. It can be a sign of lack of knowledge or teaching experience in a trainer. Riders should be aware of every question posed by each individual jump, and should not treat all jumps the same. Things that need to be taken into consideration are the shape of the jump, the footing, the terrain involved before and after the jump, the lighting, the kind of approach you are given, and what is on the landing side of the jump.
Dressage is a natural activity 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 and empathetic manner.
"Suppleness of the back is a very central topic. The natural gaits of the horse have been the way they are for a million years. For example trot – two beat, a swinging phase and diagonal movement. In trot the right forearm should be parallel to the left hind cannon bone. If you don’t allow the long back muscles to swing and allow the movement to get through the poll to the horse’s mouth, then you destroy diagonal movement. If you block the loin area, then the front legs come out and the hind legs don’t follow. Then my question is – is this trot?" ~ Gerd Heuschmann
"My family’s approach for all of our horses, no matter which career we have chosen for them, is to do the same versatile basic training in the first years. The more systematically a horse gets strengthened in his musculature and the more carefully he gets suppled in his youth, the stronger he will be to start his specialization after this basic training and this sufficient capability means that the horse will remain healthy despite increasing requirements." ~ Ingrid Klimke
"In the plague of disinformation that has engulfed our culture, there seems to be a whole new generation of rider-trainers who have some serious misunderstandings about the significant role longeing with side reins plays in the training of the dressage horse." ~ Paul Belasik
If you come into a triple combination with a canter stride that is too short for the distance inside the combination, you will have to really drive to the B element to get out. And the action of your horse having to reach for that second element will make it MUCH more difficult to jump the third element cleanly.