"From half-halt to half-halt, you have to own the rhythm of the horse's footfalls in each of the three gaits and the tempo or how fast they are going over every meter of ground in that gait." ~ Robert Dover
To create a more uphill feeling when spiraling in on a circle, imagine that you are going UP a spiral staircase. With each stride inward on the spiral, grow taller and think about going up an imaginary step.
"When something goes wrong, 99% of the time it's because there is a breakdown in communication between you and your horse, and he no longer understands what you're asking at that moment." ~ Laura Tomlinson
"Many horses today have no contact with other animals. It is important to realize that the horse is not born for the stable, the horse wants to be cantering in the fields. It is not good if the horse is alone, horses need contact with other horses. What is perfect is if the horse can go outside in a group of two or three horses, like when he was growing up." ~ Christoph Hess
"My father, the late Dr. Reiner Klimke, always strived for Olympic glory, but he was well aware that he would not reach this goal if he took shortcuts. He knew it was better to wait rather than to rush a horse’s training." ~ Ingrid Klimke
Your ability (or lack thereof) to control your horse's shoulders will show up in just about everything you try to do when riding. It will often be quite evident, as it can be very hard to steer properly or keep your horse straight when you do not have 100% control of the horse's shoulders!
Did you know that there are 3 distinctly different ways of controlling your horse's shoulders?? Many riders are in the habit of using only one of these 3 methods. And very often it is actually NOT the best of the 3 for their situation. So they continue to struggle to accurately control their horse's shoulders in turns, circles, and lateral work to at least some degree.
YOU are most likely using only one of these 3 methods. Are you using the right one?? Read on to find out! (Click on Article Title above to read full article)
"Sit in your saddle, go with the rhythm, into your horse. If you lean forward, lift up out of the saddle, then the hind legs are not under control and the horse can come on the forehand, his hind leg starts to come up not under. That’s why sometimes it is a good idea to put away the stirrups and say ‘oh do I really sit?’ Sit back, look to your point, keep your hands totally quiet and try to guide him." ~ Ingrid Klimke
"For ourselves, however, far the best method of instruction, as we keep repeating, is to let the horse feel that whatever he does in obedience to the rider’s wishes will be followed by some rest and relaxation." ~ Xenophon
"First, the horses start as 3-year-olds on the single longe. Then, they work under saddle and in the double longe, learning to work from behind and search for the bit. Balance is the key to their success." ~ Ullrich Kasselmann
"Just as a house would be of little use, however beautiful its upper stories, if the underlying foundations were not what they ought to be, so there is little use to be extracted from a horse, and in particular a war-horse, if unsound in his feet, however excellent his other points; since he could not turn a single one of them to good account." ~ Xenophon
"The trust between human and horse is based on the same behavioral rules that regulate social life within the herd: Those who have obtained a higher rank in the herd assume at the same time the responsibility for the weaker members." ~ Kurt Albrecht
The more "black and white" you can be when working with horses, the more confidence they will have in you. Gray areas where sometimes a behavior is allowed, and sometimes it isn't, only serve to confuse them. They have to have a clear understanding of your aids and your expectations.
"Horses still are, and always will remain, herd and flight animals. I don't claim this is the rule, but all too often we see valuable horses wrapped in the proverbial cotton wool, spending the greater part of the day in the stall, whereas in nature, a horse would move up to 30 kilometers (more than 18 miles) daily. To satisfy the natural needs of horses, and movement is an essential one, it's by far not enough to exercise them only an hour under saddle every day." ~ Uta Graf
Remember that your "working" gaits should show a consistent speed and tempo throughout your entire Dressage test. It is a common mistake, for example, for the rider to let the trot after the walk be much quieter than the trot immediately after the canter. And this is very obvious to the judge.
"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." ~ Christine Traurig
"For a horse that likes to get heavy, we want to get to a place where you can drop the reins and they stay on your aids. For a horse that gets too light, and above or behind the bit, we want them to be confidently taking the contact and carrying you forward. The horse has to be as light or as heavy in the contact as YOU want them to be. You get to decide, not them." ~ Robert Dover
You have to be able to SEE yourself achieving whatever it is that you are currently striving for. If you don't have a clear picture of what you want in your head... If you cannot visualize yourself successfully accomplishing something - it may be a lot less likely to happen for you. Get in the habit of using visualization techniques to help you to achieve what you want in your riding, and your life!
"Contrary to popular belief, horses do not get bored with basic work. If the rider demands exact responses, paying close attention to detail and quality, neither horse nor rider will have time to get bored, rather, a true sense of accomplishment will be gained." ~ Erik Herbermann
"I don't mind working with some of the lesser talented horses and a lot of my riders that have those lesser talented horses I see with light bulbs going off and things registering in their minds in terms of the methodology. And when they are lucky enough to have something with more talent I know they are going to be exceptional horsemen and trainers who are going to be able to produce really good results." - Jeremy Steinberg
"Trust and respect are two-way streets. We want the horse to accept us as leaders of the herd, to guide them safely and to provide protection and comfort. In return, they will give us their respect, and willing submission to our ideas about what to do next, and when and where. But this respect can only be based on well deserved trust." ~ Walter Zettl
"I am so surprised/shocked that almost every time I ask even an advanced rider to ride without stirrups they moan or make a face. A serious rider should prefer riding without stirrups. I even have riders who have never ever ridden without stirrups. Come on teachers, let's think about developing better seats. And riders, if your teacher doesn't tell you to, do it by yourself." ~ Lendon Gray
This is me and Willow - my 6 year old Connemara mare. She is an incredible horse and starting out on our eventing career she has completed three events (up to BN) on her dressage score. Unfortunately our dressage scores are poor (high 30s low 40s) due to the tension you see in this warm-up video. While this is at a show grounds she is like this anywhere, including at home. She has her teeth done regularly, gets PEMF and massages, has had several lameness exams (including a 5-stage PPE with radiographs) and has properly fitting saddles. She rides in a soft rubber mullen.
I have worked with many in-person trainers and not much has been accomplished. I'd say that her main problem is that there is no stop in her. She is extremely hot and sensitive and hates to be pulled on but pretty much the only way to stop/slow her is to pull and that bracing seems to cause the tension. I've tried the "turn to a stop" and that has really helped her relaxation but she is happy to keep turning all day. We've seem to hit a wall in our progression and am really hoping for some guidance. (Rose)
Willow is so cute! When she relaxes and slows down, I bet your scores will go up dramatically. I have LOTS of ideas for you! (Click on Video or Question title above to read full answer)