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, August 20, 2018

A Dressage Student's Handbook; The Canter

   The Canter

                The canter has three beats, which I find confuses many people to start. First of all it is important to understand that the canter originates from the hind leg, when done correctly with proper energy.
                The outside hind leg steps first
                Followed by the inside hind leg and outside front leg together
                The last step is the inside front leg
     Because we learn in our beginning riding lessons to look at the lead instead of feel the lead many people are then confused to learn that it starts behind. As early in your training as possible try to feel the hind leg strike off and challenge yourself to know the lead without looking down. Without proper energy it is possible for the diagonal pair to get slightly separated where the outside front leg will actually hit the ground very slightly before the hind leg. This is incorrect four beats. This can often be seen by accident in a pirouette for example. It can also be seen in some techniques of riding where the movement is disturbed by the reins and the horse is unable to jump through with the hind leg correctly. Be careful to keep your horse supple and not to think of the reins as balance. In addition, follow, very slightly, the natural nod of the head and neck with your wrists, so that the half halt happens at the proper part of the canter. Half halting on the front leg can distort the jump of the canter and put the horse in a defensive posture.
                In all of your work you will learn to have your inside leg very slightly in front of the outside leg. In the canter the inside leg is in charge of engagement, the outside leg is in charge of the energy. Being very careful to keep your good positioning early in your riding makes good preparation for flying changes and for pirouettes. It is always important to build a good foundation, so that as the work becomes more difficult you are able to rely on your good posture and proper aids.

                     Please email questions to nancylaterdressagehorses@gmail.com

To be continued :)

Be Youthful in Your Approach
Know Anything is Possible
Connection is the Key


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