"Riding is a dance, but horse and rider have to listen to the same music." ~ Pedro Torres
"One of my favorite exercises is three strides of shoulder-in, three strides of half-pass and back again using very small aids. Also helps to do transitions within this exercise." ~ Mistie Cantie
"You cannot get a quality jump with a bad approach – and the quality of your approach comes back to the way you work your horse on the flat. If you get a quality jump from a bad approach then you are a very lucky rider." ~ Andrew Hoy
Many riders ride with tight elbows, and busy hands. Instead strive for relaxed and mobile elbows, and quiet and still (yet supple) hands!
"Use the shoulder fore to close the horse up." ~ Carl Hester
Riding is like a marriage between the horse and rider. Don’t let the familiarity trick you into doing the same thing over and over.
"Since the criteria of a correct seat are the same as the criteria of good posture in general, being constantly attentive to one’s bearing when standing or walking is excellent training. A correct vertical posture of the head and the trunk on horseback is not a special posture applicable only to riding." ~ Kurt Albrecht
"You should recognize that your equine partner has an eye of its own when jumping and allow a good horse to have some role in the decision making process." ~ Frank Chapot
"Contact doesn't only refer to the hands, reins, and bit, but to the whole rider. A rider must give the horse contact through his entire seat. This means that his legs must lay gently against the horse's body, his seat must be balanced and supple, and his arms and hands must follow the horse's movement quietly and evenly. This create a smooth cycle of movement as the horse takes the rider with him. Only this then creates contact." ~ Klaus Balkenhol
"It’s important that the rider doesn’t disturb the horse – leaning this way or that – and that is the same with this pulling and pushing. You give a half halt, but half halt is not just pull back and then let go. First of all you have to push the horse into your contact, and while you do a half halt, the horse should not get tighter in the neck and not get slower in the hind legs. Actually we want to engage the hind legs. It’s something you have to work on all the time, and get to feel it. When you tell the rider, now this, now that, you are already too late. You have to practice this, so that the riders get to feel it themselves." ~ Monica Theodorescu
"It takes ten years learning how to sit on a horse without getting in his way. It takes another ten years learning how to influence the horse, and then a further ten years learning how to influence him without getting in his way!" ~ Unknown
— No wonder it takes so long to learn to ride!
We have to teach the horse to love to learn.
Think of letting your knees fall down and back to lengthen your leg in Dressage. This can help to prevent the dreaded "chair seat."
When doing a turn on the haunches or a pirouette, the rider must keep their weight centered over the horse, with an engaged inside seat bone. I see far too many riders (at all levels) letting their weight fall to the outside, which is a hindrance to their horse in those movements. Every step or two within the movement, think of sitting over and engaging your inside seat bone.
For a horse to be really good at jumping out of a deep distance, they need to have an understanding of how to shorten their stride without losing any hind leg engagement. This is why it is SO important that you do NOT pull on the reins when you feel you are meeting the fence on a tight distance. Encourage them to wait with your body, but keep your leg on rather than pulling, which only stops or stiffens the horse’s hind legs.
Think of your brain as a densely wooded area with paths running through it. Whenever you are trying to learn how to do something new, you have to blaze new pathways in your brain.
Very often the "silly" spooker has a physical reason for acting that way - either pain or unresolved tension somewhere in their body.
Any excessive closing of knees or thighs takes the rider's lower leg off of the horse. I feel it is more correct to wrap the entire leg around the horse for half halts and downward transitions - as if giving the horse a hug with your legs. This encourages the horse to keep the hind legs stepping under in the downward transition, and invites the horse to keep their back up as well. A tight upper leg will stop the horse, but it will tend to make them stiffen their back and stop their hind legs - almost as much as pulling on the reins.
Bend is NOT created with the inside rein. All that does is turn the horse's head and neck to the inside. The rider's inside leg should send the horse up into the outside rein - filling it up. That will create bend in the middle of the horse's body... putting a tiny bit of slack in the inside rein.
I am a big believer in a system of continuity when training horses and riders. I think that the correct foundation should be laid out even at the most basic level. So that the rider does not need to go back and re-learn things as they progress. So much easier and less frustrating for riders to learn the right way to begin with.
"That they stay loose is the most important, the most mistakes are made when the riders start to collect them. Collection is not slower or shorter, collection is more cadence, more energy behind, and that only works with a really loose back, with suppleness – and that is what they lose. We have so many super super good three and four year old horses, you see them moving at the Bundeschampionate, and it is unbelievable how many super super good horses – but how many go on to the sport later? Because most riders when they go to collect them, make them too stiff, too tense, too often it is only with the hand, that they only make the neck up, short, instead of making them lower behind. To collect them, you have to start behind, and not in front." ~ Hubertus Schmidt
Notice that the stiffest tree is the most easily cracked, while the bamboo or willow survives by bending in the wind. Think about how this concept might apply to both horse and rider...
The lazier type of horse will often do best with a little gallop around before any Dressage work.
With any game that involves strategy, there is usually a "best move", a "second best move", and so on, that you could make at that possible moment. The same is true for training a horse. The trick is knowing what the "best move" is, right at the moment that your horse does something wrong.
If either horse or rider has a hole anywhere in their foundation, that hole will haunt them for life unless they go back and fill in at some point.
When your horse gets too low with his head, it is NOT an effective correction to attempt to lift his head with your hands. Even if that does succeed in raising your horse's head, it creates a hollow back. Only lowering the quarters raises the front end correctly.
"Lateral work to achieve straightness: My horse was backing off instead of accepting the left rein so we rode renvers to the left and shoulder in to the right. As soon as he was accepting the left rein we could go straight - and actually succeed at being straight." ~ Annette Gaynes
Ride your horse like you just know he is going to do everything right. He will feel your positive vibes.
"Beware of the modern day notion that a person can 'invent' a new horse training method. There are no quick and easy ways. Truth is that the training of a horse is a study, a craft, an art. Training takes patience and the knowledge develops over many years. Many of the principals by the horse-masters are principals that are not ready to be understood until they have been experienced. The experience takes many years to acquire and many different horses to acquire it from. The principals can be built upon and expanded and explained with different nuances of the language, but it cannot be reinvented." ~ Xenophon
It is SO easy to let bad habits creep into your riding. This is why you must have eyes on the ground - no matter what level you ride at!
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