Dressage (a French term meaning "training") is a path and destination of competitive horse training, with competitions held at all levels from amateur to the Olympics. Its fundamental purpose is to develop, through standardized progressive training methods, a horse's natural athletic ability and willingness to perform, thereby maximizing its potential as a riding horse. At the peak of a dressage horse's gymnastic development, it can smoothly respond to a skilled rider's minimal aids by performing the requested movement while remaining relaxed and appearing effortless. Dressage is occasionally referred to as "Horse Ballet." Although the discipline has its roots in classical Greek horsemanship, mainly through the influence of Xenophon, dressage was first recognized as an important equestrian pursuit during the Renaissance in Western Europe. The great European riding masters of that period developed a sequential training system that has changed little since then and classical dressage is still considered the basis of trained modern dressage.

Early European aristocrats displayed their horses' training in equestrian pageants, but in modern dressage competition, successful training at the various levels is demonstrated through the performance of "tests," or prescribed series of movements within a standard arena. Judges evaluate each movement on the basis of an objective standard appropriate to the level of the test and assign each movement a score from zero to ten - zero being "not executed" and ten being "excellent." A score of nine (or "very good") is considered a particularly high mark, while a competitor achieving all sixes (or 60% overall) should be considering moving on to the next level.

Monday, July 23, 2018

A Dressage Student's Handbook The Trot

        The trot comes in two beats, diagonal pairs, separated by a period of suspension. It is shown here in the photo above. The outside hind and the inside front in the air and travelling together, the inside hind and outside front on the ground travelling together.
         It is important that the thrust of the hind leg is the reason you post (or swing in the sitting trot), your posting or pushing must not be the reason the horse trots. Be sure to invite the horse to bounce in the period of suspension rather than push the back down. Obedience to the leg is necessary to achieve this. If you have a very hot horse that tries to run along, post very slightly slower. To do this keep yourself in the saddle just a split second longer and in the air just a split second longer. This way you are managing the balance and the tempo with your posting rhythm as well as the half halts with your reins. It can be that if you only use your reins you will loose track of the balance and natural movement of the horse, this in turn will cause you to balance on your hand and the horse will do the same, this will cause your rein aids to no longer work properly.
          If you have a lazy horse it is important not to push the horse along all of the time. Be sure to use your positive forward aids correctly and with good reaction and then go back to neutral so that your horse learns to move on its own without constant pressure. The application of the aid means go, the removal of the aid means stay the same, and is a reward. The horses are not born knowing this, so it is up to us to teach it. By neutralizing your leg aid you are allowing the horse to move freely, if he faulters, slows down or lowers his head as a response to you not squeezing or pushing you must teach him this is an incorrect response. Ride as if the correct thing will happen when you remove your leg, and push him forward and then remove the aid again. Do not get stuck in the rut of riding with a constant pushing aid because your horse misunderstands, teach him.
          If the back muscles are tense and blocked the hind leg will not be able to step under the center of gravity. This will cause difficulties in the self carriage and the aids being understood by the horse.
The goal of the rider is to find the optimum pace for the horse on a given day where the hind legs, front legs, back and neck all work together in the same size, strength and power. One then develops this through the ride to improve the strength level and suppleness of the horse. I find that it is best to return to this place of relaxation and balance often during the ride so that the horse always feels like what we ask is possible, the work is not overwhelming and they do not look to my hands, seat or reins when they loose their balance.
           Please feel free to email me at nancylaterdressagehorses@mail.com with questions!

I hope this improves your ride.

Always remember;
             Be youthful in your approach~Anything is possible~Connection is the key

1 comment:

  1. I love the image of “inviting the horse to bounce” in the trot. It reminds me of how I was taught to think of riding to a cross country fence on a downhill approach- feel the horses shoulders bouncing in front of me like I’m dribbling a basketball. Creating that feeling made it possible to go down a steep slope to a fence yet have the horse feel uphill in his balance.