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The Crest Release, the Automatic Release, and Everything In Between (With Pictures!)

There are a huge range of possible different releases that a rider can use when jumping a horse over a fence. All the way from a "negative" release - which means the rider is actually pulling back on the horse's mouth in the air, like this: 

The Test for Self Carriage

Self carriage of the horse is one of the most important goals in dressage. When the horse is in self carriage it is balanced independently of its rider, not using the rider's hand or leg for support in any way. How do you know if your horse is in self carriage? You should be testing him often throughout your work. Here's how you check to see if your horse is carrying himself:

The *Volume* of Your Aids

Riding is supposed to be about developing a harmonious partnership between horse and rider. When done extremely well, the horse appears to be performing entirely on his own, just following the thoughts and desires of his rider by apparent telepathy.

More commonly, we see riders doing lots of strong driving, kicking, spurring, pulling, yanking, and overall using aids that are just... shall we say, a bit crude??

So, if the "crude aids" category sounds frighteningly familiar to you... how do you go about changing to the more "harmonious partnership" mentioned above, with a horse that is responsive to feather light aids??

It CAN be done. ANY horse can learn to be alert, attentive, and responsive to nearly invisible aids. The key is to... 

The Benefits of Jumping Fences at Sharp Angles

Even though I already have an article about how to ride jumps at an angle, and how to teach the green horse all about angled jumps (check that out here,) I wanted to further discuss some of the benefits of jumping at angles - of which there are many! And I also want to cover what level of horse and rider should be working on angled fences on a regular basis. Read on to find out! 

An Exercise For Riders at All Levels, That Will Improve Your Dressage Test!

This exercise has SO many benefits, using more attention to the corners of the arena to attain more bending and suppleness, and transitions between them to increase your horse's hind leg engagement and carriage. Read on to find out how to do it!

A Funny Story - With an Important Message!

About 10 years ago, I was coaching the very talented young rider in the above photo at an Event at the Carolina Horse Park in North Carolina. Her horse absolutely loved cross country, and could get very strong with her. 

So, as we were warming up for that phase, I was trying to show her how to better control her strong horse in a galloping position. And to use this technique well, a rider has to have a fairly flat back (as that makes it possible to push your hips back.) Since this rider was noticeably rounding her back, I kept telling her to... 

Jumping Rideability Exercise # 2 - For Horses & Riders at All Levels

This very basic (and often overlooked) jumping exercise will improve your horse's rideability, as well as the overall harmony between you and your horse when jumping courses. It may not be easy to do well at first, but it will get better and better with practice! Here's how to do it: 

An Advanced Trot Pole Exercise to Improve Suppleness, Strength, and Rideability

It can often be helpful to have some NEW exercises to try to improve the issues that you spend every day working on. Many times something brand new and a little out of the norm can really push you past the slump you are in! Here is a trot pole exercise, best suited for horses and riders that are working at second level Dressage or above, that will increase your horse's suppleness, engagement, and rideability. It will also help to make him stronger, which will make everything that you ask easier for him!  

Lateral Work as "Medicine" For the Dressage Horse

Many riders tend to think of the lateral movements as something that you need to be good at to show the judge as you perform them in the Dressage ring. But riders should actually be thinking about using the various lateral exercises as tools, used judiciously to make improvements in the way the horse is moving and carrying himself. 

Much like treating an illness with exactly the right medicine to resolve that specific illness... A rider needs to know exactly what specific lateral movement their horse NEEDS at any particular moment - to improve alignment, straightness, throughness, engagement, and evenness in the reins. Here are 10 examples of problems that you might encounter with your horse, and the specific lateral exercises that you can use to help fix them! 

A Spanish Riding School Exercise to Increase the Collection in Your Horse's Canter

This great exercise, direct from the Spanish Riding School, will increase the collection in your horse's canter. It will also improve your counter canter work, and is a great way to build towards canter pirouettes. Here's how to do it!

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