Today, let's focus on the Free Walk.
1. What is the free walk? The free walk is a gait of relaxation.
2. What should it look like?
* Your horse should lengthen his frame and lower his head and neck so he looks like he's going to graze. His poll is lower than his withers.
* He should open the angle at his throatlatch so his nose points a bit forward, and he looks like he's stretching toward the bit.
* His strides become longer so…
Can you feel when your horse's hind legs are on the ground? This is an important skill to develop because you want to time your leg aids so that you give them when your horse's hind leg is on the ground...specifically just as it's getting ready to push off. That's the only time you can influence a hind leg.
I feel where the hind feet are by feeling my horse's hips. When a particular hind foot is on the ground, my horse's hip is higher. It feels like my…
You can help your stiff horse bend better by using benign antagonism. Remember, benign antagonism is just a training philosophy that allows you to custom design your program for each and every horse. It simply means that you kindly and quietly do the opposite of whatever your horse chooses to do on his own. For example, if your horse likes to carry his head too high, then you ride him "deep". If he likes to put his head on the ground, then you ride him "up". If your horse…
With a young horse, you do changes of canter lead through the trot. Around Second level, you do simple changes of lead. In a simple change, your horse goes from canter to walk and back to canter without any trot steps.
At Third level and above, you do flying changes. In a flying change, your horse stays in the canter and switches his lead during the moment of suspension, when all four feet are off the ground.
In this article, I'll go over a single…
First, let me define rhythm and tempo. I want to do this because lots of dressage riders use those terms interchangeably and they don't mean the same thing.
Rhythm - Regularity of the rhythm refers to the even spacing between each step in a stride of walk, trot or canter. Regular rhythm is a priority for all work--whether or not you're riding a pure dressage horse. Movements and exercises should never be done at the expense of rhythm. Rhythm should always stay…
Added by Jane Savoie on January 16, 2009 at 5:30pm — No Comments
You've probably heard lots of discussion about whether or not to work your dressage horse "deep." There are a variety of opinions on the matter. Some riders warm up and cool down their horses "long and low" to stretch and loosen the muscles. Others always school in a balance and frame appropriate to the level at which they are working; they never stretch their horses. Many trainers school in a deep frame only during the movements when the horse habitually comes above the…
Added by Jane Savoie on January 9, 2009 at 9:00am — No Comments
Your horse's weaker hind leg is the leg on his soft side. There's nothing wrong with your horse! Almost every horse has a weaker hind leg because few horses are ambidextrous. The weaker leg is the one on your horse's "soft" or hollow side. The stronger one is on his stiff side.
The weak hind leg doesn't step directly underneath your horse's body. Your horse displaces it slightly to the side to avoid carrying weight with it. On the other hand, the hind leg on…
Regardless of which discipline you ride, it's very important to sit straight and square in the saddle. Can you tell if you're collapsing at your waist and sitting crookedly?
Ask a ground person to stand behind you.
1. Are your shoulders level (i.e. the same height)?
2. Is your seat in the center of the saddle so that each seatbone is the same distance from the middle of the saddle?
If your shoulders aren't level which means that one…
Added by Jane Savoie on December 26, 2008 at 8:30am — No Comments
Do you saw left and right on your dressage horse's mouth or wiggle the bit with both hands to get him "on the bit".
If you "saw" on your dressage horse's mouth by alternating squeezing and releasing with your hands, you're riding your horse from front to back. He might look like he's "on the bit" because his head is down and his nose is on the vertical, but you don't have an honest connection from back to front.
The only part of your horse's…
When you train your horse, you're speaking to him in a foreign language. Think about how it feels to have someone speak to you in a language you don't understand. If you don't know the language, you can't understand them. If they speak slower, you still won't have a clue what they're saying. If they shout at you, you still won't understand.
That's how it is for your horse. When you train, you're developing a non-verbal language with him.…
Your horse should be able to flex laterally at his poll to the left and right. If you're not sure if he's locked at the poll, ask yourself some questions:
Will he easily flex to the left or right with one quick turn of your wrist or does he stiffen against the action of the rein?
Does he tip his head on small circles or lateral work with a bend like shoulder-in?
Are his ears level when you ride either to the left or to the right?
Lots of riders are confused about how to smoothly switch their long dressage whip from one hand to the other. Many of you tell me you feel awkward while doing this, and you're concerned about making your horse uncomfortable and disturbing the contact because you're twisting the bit in your his mouth.
So many riders are confused about how to warm-up their horses so they can have a productive schooling session. So here are 9 tips to help you with your warm-ups.
As a rider and trainer, your goal in the warm-up is to take the restrictions away from your dressage horse's body. So depending on the day, your warm-up could be as short as 10 minutes, or it could end up making up your entire ride.…
Here are some great tips for breaking that cycle of fear...
The simplest, quickest, way to relax is to BREATHE.
Now, I know you're breathing or you wouldn't be reading this! ;-) But are you breathing in a way that promotes relaxation?
1. Let's find out. First, let's dissect what you do when you inhale.
Stand up. Take in a really deep breath. Did your shoulders go up? If they did, you're just breathing in your upper…
I hope you enjoy these 3 Easy Tips to Make Sure Your Horse is Crossing His Legs Enough in Leg Yields
When you do leg yields from the centerline to the long side, it's not always easy to make sure that your horse is crossing his legs enough. That's because as long as you manage to get from Point A to Point B, you can fake yourself out into thinking you're really going sideways. But if your horse isn't crossing his legs enough, you're losing most of the suppling,…
Added by Jane Savoie on November 7, 2008 at 8:30am — No Comments
In order for your lateral work such as shoulder-in, haunches-in, and half passes to be effective as collecting exercises, your horse must BEND.
Think of the following equation. Bend+Sideways=Engagement. (Engagement means the bending of joints. As your horse bends his hind legs, his croup lowers, and his forehand goes up--kinda like a seesaw or an airplane taking off.)…