The more things change…

Article from , it is a repost from their own article from 1986.  Still just as accurate today as it was then.


Chris Hector takes a lesson with Tina Wommelsdorf

We published this story back in 1986, it is a sobering thought that 30 years down the track, the same fundamental problem shows itself over and over again in the dressage arena…

You’ve probably witnessed the conversation a hundred times.

The horse has disgraced himself.

The offence may vary. Perhaps he cantered too fast, or too slow, or refused to canter at all – the post mortem often has a depressing sameness: Perhaps he is sore, maybe you should try BTZ? Do you think his teeth might need attention? Have you tried him in a mechanical hackamore? I had a horse that wouldn’t canter and my chiropractor had him right in ten minutes! It’s his breeding, those XYZs are always a problem…

And on and on goes the list, and all the time the cause of the problem is sitting right there (literally) in front of them. The rider simply cannot ride well enough to expect the horse to perform!

The horse has not yet been born that will continue to function with the rider bouncing, gripping in the saddle and pulling on his mouth. Sure, you can bang a double bridle on his head and hide the problem for a while. Or get one of the fix-them-quick experts to do an instant ‘re-education’ job on him – to bash him into submission for a while, but eventually the truth will out.


Eventually he will run through the most severe bit. Eventually no amount of bashing will cower him into submission. And then we are back with that original, inescapable conclusion.

The problem lies not with the horse but with the rider… and it is a case of rider heal thyself.

Of course there will be some who take the other option. Sell the horse as a hopeless case (he probably is by now), and start in on wrecking another. That this sort of process is repeated time and time again all over the land, is a everlasting condemnation of those instructors who are more interested in telling their clients what they wish to hear than offering them a simple and surefire solution:

‘We will just have to get your position right. On the lunge, with no stirrups or reins, until you are secure in your seat.’

It is not such a pleasant experience, but a month or so on the lunge can be the beginning to a lifetime’s enjoyable riding, for both horse and rider, and surely is not such a price to pay?

Of course there are some instructors who will not absolve the rider and blame the horse. Instructors like Tina Wommelsdorf. Tina has travelled the length and breadth of Australia spreading the message that riding starts with the rider. Go to one of her schools – as I was fortunate enough to do recently – and the message is hammered home.

The horse’s problems are problems caused by the rider. Until the rider learns self discipline, no success can be achieved.

It is not a fashionable message, not a welcome one to many, but Tina has seen fashions come and go. She has seen the gimmick trainers with their instant solutions come, and just as quickly go… and nothing in their routine of miracle cures has caused her to deviate from the principles she learnt in ten years at the German Riding School. Principles that were re-inforced and hammered home by the late Franz Mairinger, The principles by which Tina trains her own horses, and. the same principles that produce the greats of the dressage world, like Dr Neckerman, like the present day superstar, Dr Klimke.

“The problem lies with the rider’s body,” says Tina, “because the body reacts to what the horse is doing instinctively, and not at the rider’s command. The riders are not aware of what is happening, so they get stuck with their hands, which is the worst thing. Or they don’t push – which is also bad. In other words, their body is just reacting to the horse instead of being told what to do by the rider’s mind, so that they can train the horse.”

“Even riders who can sit quite well, don’t seem to be in control of their hands. The hands can wreck everything. If you surrender both reins, if you have a loop in the reins to teach yourself not to hang on – then you can’t hang on, and you have to ride forward instead of sideways. It doesn’t matter how well they can sit, if their hands are not under control and they jam, then they cause a jam in the horse. You can’t isolate the jam in your own hand, if you have a jam in your hand, you have a jam in the horse.”

“Unless the rider is completely in charge of the hands and is able to ride the horse into a forward reaching hand, he will create a jam in the horse, and then the horse cannot perform to the best of his ability – in fact, usually the horse will not be able to bend to one side.”

“The rider must concentrate on position. Your position is everything. If your position is wrong, then the horse cannot go. It is technically not possible because you are causing that famous jam.”

“You will even see it in the higher tests. Riders are stuck on one rein, and it is usually the side that the horse is naturally bent to. The horse does a lovely half pass to one side – and next to nothing to the other, because the rider is holding the horse on that rein. The horse can’t bend the other way.”

“The best way to overcome this problem is to surrender the contact on both reins, so that the rider’s body cannot involuntarily take up one rein and hold it. While the rider’s hands maintain contact, the body is just so quick in instinctively holding one rein that the rider is just not aware of it. Particularly since the rider has probably been doing it for a long long time. If you surrender both reins, if you have a loop in the reins to teach yourself not to hang on – then you can’t hang on and you have to ride forward instead of sideways.”

“The rider is inclined to do all the corrections with the hands, when the riders should be doing the corrections with the seat and the legs.”


Right through the school, Tina emphasised the importance of correctly riding forward and into a corner – rather than trying to pull and steer the horse onto the line.

One youngster was so spooky in the indoor school, that his rider had come equipped with trotting blinkers… and still he attempted to shy out of the corner!

“No, don’t pull, just ride him straight into the corner straight, forward,” came the command.

“Impossible,” came the reply.

“I will show you.”

Tina positions herself a few yards in from the corner. The rider rides straight ahead, the horse comes to a halt, deep in the corner, his chin practically resting on the wall of the school.

“See, it works.”

“But you were standing there … ”

“OK, I will stand back, now do it again.”

Tina is well and truly clear of the corner and the horse still goes deep and comes to the halt. And to drive the lesson home, Tina gets on board, and rides the horse dead straight into the corner with a half-moon loop in the reins! The rider is impressed.

“You can demonstrate to the rider when you make them ride straight into the corner and stand next to the wall, they CAN get there if they ride forward. They will wobble all over the place if they try to ride sideways! Once the rider goes straight into the corner, they get the feeling of riding forward, instead of trying to hold the horses out. Then they can transfer this same feeling to riding on a curved line, also forward, then they get the idea of forward riding.”

“If you can make the horse go forward, then the hands will not be tempted to act incorrectly. I want the rider’s hands forward reaching so you are bringing the horse to the bit – not the bit to the horse. If you start with the head, you are not riding the horse, you are jamming it in. You must bring the horse to the bit, so he is engaged and carries himself.”

“The head position occurs all by itself, it falls into your hands. The horse’s nose will not poke out if you can push him sufficiently to take more weight on the hindquarters. He will automatically round himself if you have an amiable contact with him.”

Christopher and Cedar contemplate the mystery of the forward reaching hand…

Perhaps I am a bit thick, but for a long time I had problems understanding Tina’s ‘forward reaching’ hand. Somehow I had it in my head that the hand had to actually move forward at the moment of the push. What Tina was talking about is far simpler. The forward reaching hand simply means that the hands are positioned well in front of the body, making a straight line from the elbow to the bit.

Tina would demonstrate over and over again that if you let the reins go long and the hands come back to the body, then that forward going impulse is lost. The immediate worry was that by shortening the reins you would shorten the neck, but it soon became apparent that with the hands in the correct position, Cedar could still travel in a long outline and on a relatively short rein.

But the horses were not expected to rush around the arena with absolutely no contact. Once the rider’s hands had learnt the lesson of the no contact position, they were expected to half halt/check (remember most riders back then had no idea what half halt meant) over and over again…

“You can’t keep on pushing without checking. Otherwise the horse gets faster, faster, faster. You have to have half halts to maintain a tempo that is yours – otherwise you can’t push. And unless you can push, you cannot train. You have to keep on checking the tempo of the horse so that you can push him, and when you push you can engage the hind legs correctly, and then his position will follow. He is light in front and he will round himself.”

“Very often the half halt is completely misunderstood by the riders. Or mis-executed! Instead of checking and easing off, they are checking and getting stuck, and it becomes a halt. If you read Reiner Klimke’s writings you will find that he says it is the most important thing in your riding – and that if you get stuck with your hands, you are not riding the horse anymore, you are holding it.”

“The rider should say to himself: ‘I am taking my hands back only reluctantly, to slow the horse down. I will immediately allow them to go forward again, so that I can ride into a forward reaching hand’. The rider must control himself before he can control the horse … and must maintain that control.”

“That is the most important step in your riding is that you can control yourself, and that you know at all times what your hands, seat and legs are doing. You are aware of yourself and your actions.”


“If the rider cannot control his body, then he must go back to the exercises to promote an independent seat. Once the seat is independent, then the arms and legs are independent. Until they have that seat they must go back onto the lunge. No reins, no stirrups· until they learn to sit because they are balanced and not hanging on. If they are not balanced they grab with the legs, and they push the horse inadvertently, and then they grab hold of the rein to slow it down. It is a vicious circle. Or they hang onto the reins for security and that is backwards riding. They are holding the horse instead of riding it.”

 “Forward is the most important ingredient in all your riding. If you listen to the Old Masters, they always say ‘Forward is everything’. Ride your horse forward and straighten it. That is always neglected, no-one wants to listen to it, they all want to hear about indirect, opposing reins, and God knows what complicated expressions… when forward is everything. If they follow that forward principle they could ride!”

“It is really sjmple. All collection should be forward, everything is forward. The minute you get a problem, forget what you are doing, just ride forward with both legs, until you have the hindlegs correctly engaged. Then try the exercise again.”

“The great riders are forward riders. Look at Dr Neckermann, he is absolutely the embodiment of forward riding. I have watched him time and time again, and he does all his corrections forward. When his horse won’t stand square and well at the end of the lesson – he rides forward out of that halt time and time again. He never corrects a horse standing still, he rides forward and out to correct. There is no backwards correction, it is all forward.”

“All movements are forward movements. The flying change is a forward movement, and if you don’t ride them forward, the horse will swing the quarters and you don’t get a straight . line. People seem to think that they want to change from the left to the right. Really the horse must just canter on, either on the left leg or the right leg – forward, not side to side.”

“People don’t seem to want to admit that it is so simple. Perhaps because carrying it out and learning it is not so simple for the rider. The body is basically frightened, self preservation plays its part. When someone gets on a big seventeen hand horse, the legs want to grab so you don’t fall off, the hands want to hang onto the reins so he doesn’t get too fast… To set yourself completely free and say ‘Yes, you may go, I want you to go forward, I will make you go’ takes a lot of self discipline. But that is the only way. When you ride a horse forward, he doesn’t want to run. he horse only runs when he is on the forehand.”

“It all starts with self discipline. With the rider! You ride as you live.”




For the original article, click the link below:


Isabelle vom Neumann-Cosel Dressage Seat Clinic notes

Sue and I (Amira) went to the Isabelle clinic “Improve your dressage seat” last week.   It was mostly a lecture, with a short rider demonstration toward the end.  Here are the things that really spoke to us:

On torso position

  • Everyone is crooked to one side, just like horses.  Everyone must go through a process to correct it by getting feedback from their trainer / others, or looking at a mirror.  It is a long process – bodies want to revert.
  • When you see a crookedness to one side, move your PELVIS to the center, not your shoulders.
  • To avoid collapsing to the inside when going through a corner, make sure you are “looking over the outside ear of the horse”.  Your outside eye should like up with the outside ear.

On legs

  • During the demo, the rider had a very stiff knee and ankle which were not absorbing the movement.  We saw pronounced movement in the hips to compensate.  Isabelle pointed out that the rider’s pelvis was tilted forward  (the front was pointing downward) and said that this blocks the ability of the knees/legs to follow the motion.
  • 2-point is a good warm up for your ride at trot.  The knee should be flexing with each stride, not just the hip.
  • When cantering, focus on a stable upper body with the pelvis moving and legs moving.
  • The aid for inside leg should be a DOWNWARD and weight-bearing movement of the leg.   She demonstrated standing and preparing to pivot and step off 180 degrees to the right.   When you prepare for the right turn, you stand on your right leg, your center of gravity goes above your right leg.  Your left leg stabilizes (friction) against the floor (slightly to the rear) as your torso turns to the right.   When you lift your left leg, the pent up energy from the torso rotation occurs and your entire body pivots right.   The inside leg aid should feel like that preparation step before you lift your outside leg.

On skeletal rotation

  • Rotating your arms and wrists so that your palms face upward and elbows close to ribs is the correct posture for dressage.  (I THINK she said that this makes your arms move independent of shoulders. This is the opposite of having your hands out in front of you with the palms down.   I think she showed that when your rotation is closed, moving your arms forward pulls your shoulders down and forward.)
  • How to carry a whip then?  Since you can’t carry it with your palms upward, or even at a full 90%, whips are harmful to this posture.  1) Don’t always carry a whip, practice without it sometimes.  2) Try to keep the rotation in your shoulder/elbow even if you can’t keep it in your wrist.
  • We should practice stretching and rotating our legs so that our toes point toward each other.  She demonstrated by standing with an extreme bow in her legs and the toes were 45 degrees to the center.
  • But you can’t hold that position on a horse because your knees have to fit around the horse?  She said to pay attention to the feeling in your butt and upper legs while holding this rotated posture on the ground.  Try to get the same feeling / muscle tension when riding.




Some good dressage quotes

Here are some really insightful quotes about Dressage and horsemanship which I want to share.  – Amira

Mary Wanless on learning through the levels


I increasingly think that within the sphere of dressage there are two kinds of riders, and I hope to encourage a ‘third way’ which avoids the traps inherent in both positions. There are those who are content to ride preliminary dressage tests forever, and those who have great ambitions that will not be satisfied until they reach Prix St George – whatever the cost to the horse.

In the ‘third way’ people would progress up through the competitive grades in the way a young horse is ideally supposed to. But few riders either have, or learn ‘en route’, the skills that are required. The truth is that most people have at least one ‘sacrificial horse’, who they ride without enough skill or respect to be ethical in their approach. They might be determinedly competitive, or just putzing around, but either way they are doing that horse a disservice. Hopefully, they then meet a good trainer who helps them dig themselves out of the holes they have dug themselves into. Depending on how easily they turn things around, that horse may remain their sacrificial horse (but will, we hope, be the last of the line), or he may become their ‘laboratory horse’.

This is the horse on which they discover how the rider/horse interaction works. When you reach this stage, your riding may not always be brilliant, but you are heading in the right direction, and working it out as you go along. This rider could, in theory, go up through the competition grades making that ideal progression, but she is likely to find that the lateral movements pose her some big difficulties that keep her in the laboratory. More likely, she will make that progression on her next horse, who will benefit from all the learnings on the other two, and will not have to suffer her inept attempts at riding.

Some of the people who come on my courses arrive saying ‘I’m only a happy hacker, and I do the odd competition, but I want to ride my horse in a way that does not hamper him. I want to know that I’m being ethical.’ What usually happens is that they get to this stage and find it so exciting and satisfying that they want to learn more! But it is fine to choose to stop there, and horses do not stand in their stables thinking ‘This is terrible. I’ve been wasted. I’m seven, and I ought to be at medium by now!’

However, it saddens me enormously when the choice not to progress has been imposed on the rider through resignation. This happens when she becomes convinced that she does not have the talent to go further, and resigns herself to doing her prelims at the same skill level. This dooms her to keep making the same mistakes over and over again. This is a completely different ball game to learning from experience, perceiving the rider/horse interaction with increasing clarity, and discovering that your skills are growing – even if you make the choice to keep entering prelims.

I look forward to the day when the vast majority of riders receive lessons which give them the basic skills that their horses need them to have. And I also imagine how ordinary riders, with nice but ordinary horses, can work their way up through the competition grades, without being considered – by themselves or others – to be an elite group of privileged riders (and also without being looked down upon because they are not riding large expensive warmbloods). In the ‘third way’ they become learning riders, who already have good baselines, and are working hard, honing their skills as they go.

Balance in Movement, Susanne von Dietze

On troubleshooting fork and chair seat (Pg 141)

The length of the stirrups is a potential cause for chair seat or fork seat. … Too short a stirrup encourages the chair seat, too long a stirrup forces the rider into the fork seat.

Balance in Movement, Susanne von Dietze

On forward (Pg 132)

The biggest and most common mistake when bending and straightening a horse is not to ride the horse forward enough.  Each turn requires strength and impulsion.  And when the forwardness is lost in a turn, the horse inevitably comes onto the forehand and becomes tight.  Only a push-off from behind enables a horse to free his front-end and to carry himself. Only then can the rider gain influence over the forehand and position it as desired.  The more weight the horse takes up behind, the lighter the forehand becomes and the easier and freer the front end can move and be adjusted to the hindquarters.  Remember the famous statement. ‘Ride your horse forward and make him straight!’

Balance in Movement, Susanne von Dietze

On troubleshooting lateral movement aids (Pg 133)

Another, a little unconventional, tip for feeling correctly balanced during a lateral movement is: ‘Take off the saddle!’  Without a saddle, you can feel your seat bones much more distinctly next to the horse’s spine and you can clearly determine whether you are loading your inside seat bone forward-downward, or if you are collapsing in the hip and evading by using your upper body as a lever.  Horses who find lateral movements difficult can often be more easily shown what is required of them without a saddle.  The saddle remains an alien object between horse and rider.  Of course, the saddle allows much better stability for the rider and thus facilitates a stronger influence.  But many seat faults can be wonderfully concealed with a saddle, from the instructor as well as from oneself.  Without a saddle, one is a lot more dependent on balance and much less able to compensate through strength.

6 Key Behaviors of Elite Performers – Riding

(Re-posted from Dressage Rider Training)



One of the hardest words for me to learn to say was the word no.

I was so used to saying yes to everything and then having to come up with apologies and excuses as to why I couldn’t fulfill those promises.

Once I realized I had this problem with saying yes to everything I soon realized I wasn’t alone. The truth is vast majority of people struggle to fulfill on their promises all of the time and if you are reading this you are most probably relating to this issue.

The problem is that it’s just easier to say yes sometimes then to say no. So you do end up over promising and under delivering. You end up diluting what you are capable of because you are simply spreading yourself so thin. We say yes when we really mean no. We start projects that we know we don’t have the capacity to complete. We set ourselves up to fail by operating in an unsupportive environment. All of these things then cause us to be exhausted, run down and not have the energy or time to actually achieve what we are wanting to achieve.

Here’s the thing; there is only one attribute that sets apart the elite performers from the good performers; and that is integrity.

Know this is not the type of integrity that you may associate with honesty and truth. But the type of integrity that means you are your absolute word. Not only to others, but to yourself.

You see being your word and doing what you say you will is absolutely imperative to success, in every area of life. Whether its taking your dressage up to the next level or starting a new business.

When we get stuck in this spiral and trap of saying yes to everything you instantly disconnect and become disempowered because you simply can’t do everything well. You subtract from your full potential and you don’t allow yourself to show up and be truly present when the time counts.

Think about this, what do you feel when you are late for an appointment because you overbooked or you eat a bag of lollies when you’re meant to be removing sugar? Or when you run out of time in your day to ride, due to overlooking whats really important to you.

Do you feel guilt? Do you feel ripped off? Do you blame others for taking up your time?

All of these thoughts and feelings are clearly disempowered, but guess what you created them. They are the symptoms that show up when you are out of alignment from your truth or your purpose. When you don’t prioritize whats important to you.

So, is it possible to be your word, show integrity and stay empowered all of the time? If I said yes I would be lying, because things to happen life does get busy. The point however is knowing what your priorities are and making choices that suit them and not someone else priorities or schedule.

In order to create that integrity I thought I would share 6 key behaviors that I believe elite performers demonstrate that we can apply to our lives to help us excel as dressage riders.

Compassion for self and others

There is no such thing as perfection and being perfect is an illusion. High achievers I believe understand this and therefore demonstrate a level of compassion to themselves on the journey. They understand that not everyday is going to be great and the key is about continuing to move forward. To dusting themselves off and continuing to put in the work. Its about putting the time in. They say its 10,000 hours to master a skill and not every one of those hours are going to be great. So by understanding its about chipping away and moving through the ups and the downs and not getting to attached to them. Understanding that they are all part of the process to success. One of the greatest milestones you can have on the road to optimal success is learning to exercise utmost compassion for where you’re at on your journey. That compassion truly is the springboard to taking your skills up to the next level.

Self-awareness and the ability to get back on track

In order to be truly successful you have to have a certain level of self-awareness. When you are disconnected or your mind is cluttered you become disempowered. This doesn’t help you move forward. Elite performers know that knowledge needs to be applied, they don’t let circumstances get in the way of progress, so are constantly choosing to reconnect to what motivates them, moment by moment, to create extraordinary results in their lives.

No means no

When you build this self-awareness you gain the ability to know what you want and what you don’t want. You discover what you have capacity for and what you don’t have capacity for. You see the top performers in life do not over promise and under deliver because they inherently know when to say yes and more importantly, when to say no.

Success comes from being truly focused on what you want to achieve and what is going to move your forward towards your goals. Elite performers have way less ‘shoulds’ in their vocabulary because they are more concerned about what they want than what others want for them.

Supportive environment

Environment is everything when it comes to success. Late nights are not conducive to 6am schooling sessions before you head off to work. And days where you are pulled all over the show don’t provide you with energy at the end of the day to ride your horse either. Just like a cupboard full of chocolate is not helpful when you are committed to avoiding refined sugar and surrounding yourself with people who do not share your vision is setting yourself up for a rough ride on the road to achieving your goals.

Its no surprise then why elite performers choose to create a support team and an environment that gives them the best chance of success. That is why the Dressage Rider Training program is so powerful. No matter where you are you can find the support to help you on your road to success. The top athletes in the world don’t just put support mechanisms in place, they gather coaches, the learn and they surround themselves with what they need to succeed.


Are you someone who is always running late, do you call ahead to the person you are meeting or do you just show up past the scheduled time all apologetic? Do you often have a clash in your diary and end up double booking people? Or do you promise to yourself this week I will start putting myself first, yet other appointments to others get in the way first.

Often, being a little late, overbooking or leaving the dry-cleaning for pick up until next week is not a big deal. However all of these things not only take extra energy due to the extra stress they create, but they also create a feeling guilt and disempowered because you are continually not doing what you say you will.

Is that really a recipe for success?

Where elite performers differ is that they are on top of their game and when they need more time or to tweak their environment to get the job done, they renegotiate the terms with the other person concerned, before they let themselves or others down. They put plans in place to make these sort of things not happen repetitively. Of course the odd stuff up here and there is no big deal, but if this is a continual pattern you are seeing maybe its time to look at your priorities.

Step into Resistance

A big part of growth is being stretched. Taking yourself to that uncomfortable zone to expand your skills. Do you spend all your time in rising trot, because you just can’t master sitting? Are you staying competing at a level you are comfortable at because you aren’t wanting that uncomfortable feeling of stepping outside your comfort zone. Maybe your coach is teaching you how to do flying changes but you don’t like the reaction you are getting, so instead of asking in different ways you instead are just avoiding it all together.

The CEO’s, dressage superstars and elite performers of the world have got where they have because they don’t shy away from discomfort. In fact, they know that when they feel like backing out, that’s the time to go in and grow. The truth is growth and achieving your goals lies in stepping into resistance, being stretched and embracing the uncomfortable because on the other side of those feelings is everything you could ever want and more. This is how you are going to achieve your goals.

So, take a moment to look at your life. Where are you currently experiencing success? Is it where you want it to be? And what about the areas where you are not performing quite so well? Ask yourself if I want to truly achieve success and put in the 10,000 hours what needs to change. You see success doesn’t come from just wishing or dreaming about it. All the knowledge and hopes is redundant unless it’s applied.

Being true to your word for yourself and others is the key to success. Learning to say no to the right things and yes to the things that help you develop further is going to truly unlock your potential.

(Re-posted from Dressage Rider Training)

Schooling show blues


“A, enter working trot”

This is it big guy!

Turn… Turn! Turn! Crap.  And so it starts…

Steer straight at the judge, maybe his butt will hide A.

Time to stop. Or trip. Ok we stopped. Great!

No it isn’t treat time!

Trot! Nice corner.. Circle…. Circle… Bend.. Cmon buddy please put your head down. Fine. Don’t. I’ll make a nice circle anyways.

Or a D shape.

Ok canter coming up.  Forward! Forward!

Good corner… Rock back, we can do this.


Too big a circle! Turn !


Don’t you dare trot. Keep cantering!

Made it. Time to trot.



Yeah., thats me, almost falling off my horse at a dressage show.

So much for that corner.  Hi judge!

Right, we should be walking.

Not slogging. Move your butt!

Free walk!  We are good at free walk!

Head down.. Keep walking.. Forward!

Ok reins time. Outside rein first. Got it. Now inside… Fumble the whip. Through the corner. Whip gone. Almost got the rein.. Close enough!

Good corner.

Getting quick….

Half halt buddy.  Half HALT!

Time to circle.. Inside leg. I didn’t say canter! What the heck, Horse? Half halt

Half halt.

Half halts not working.  Fastest circle ever.

Motorbiked that corner.  Half halt?

Time to canter.  Nice launch into canter!

Can we make the circle? Yes! Was it the ugliest circle ever? Yes!

Long side… now we are galloping.  Oh god, the fence is coming up.

Down transition… please? Trot. Whoa. Trot.  CORNER!  Ack!

Centerline… centerline, going too fast

And THAT was a 16 meter turn onto centerline.

Oh, NOW you are going to spook at the judge’s stand?

45° halts are the height of fashion now a days.

Smile at the judge.  Hopefully she thinks my horse is cute.


Dressage quote: rider position

In order to bend the horse correctly, it is important for the rider to sit in good balance and influence the horse independently from his motion. The balance of the upper body is again of great importance here. I found one image very helpful in this context. When you sit on your horse, imagine that the horse’s neck is your own spine. And if the neck was raised up vertically, your trunk has to be identical to the horse’s neck, the horses’s ears next to your ears…

This image can help you to follow the movement with your upper body. It is a possible way to describe the complicated way of sitting through corners. … Every lateral bending of the horse asks for rotation of the rider! This rotation in the rider’s upper body has to match equally with the lateral bending of the horse.

Sally Swift: Centered Riding




Forward? What the heck does that mean?

(Amira again)  Last week, I found myself wondering what the heck Forward is.  Like so many horse concepts, it isn’t simple.

The conversation went like this…

Is it when the horse goes faster?  Not always

Is it going slower, aka “trotting in place”?   Maybe, if the horse isn’t starting to crash.

Is it that stage right before the horse changes to a faster gait?  Eh….

This is forward  —  (the horse appears to be trotting)

This is not forward – (the horse appears to be trotting)

I hope you are laughing at my pain <grin>.  There really was a good conversation, but a lot went over my head.   I think I’ve got a better grasp as a result, but still a long way to go!

I wanted to share this detailed article about Forward, which might help us prepare for that conversation in the future.

Dressage Today: Charles de Kunffy Explains the Meaning of “Forward”

My new favorite exercise – training level dressage

Amira here again!  (Your technical computer geek and adult amateur (very amateur) horse rider!)

I’m super excited about this exercise and wanted to share it with you.   When I do this counter-flex work with Gideon, he gradually becomes more and more supple, and even gets rounder, as we go around the figure-eight.  And it is relatively easy to try at a walk.  Considering that we are trying to move from intro level dressage to training level, it must be an easy, straightforward exercise <grin>

Pre-requisite skills?

  • Using leg aid at the girth (for bend)  vs a leg aid closer to the shoulder (for a shoulder yield)
  • Re-balancing / half-halts
  • Turning while counter-flexed

counter flex exercise training level dressage exercise holly linz

Really basic tips (please read the article below for expert instruction):

As you ride this, remember that your horse is giving you their balance.  Don’t abuse their trust.   To reward them, let them straighten out of the circle in the direction of bend (toward the outside of the circle).  When you are just starting, try a few steps of counter flex and reward quickly.

Here is the full article with credit to Corinne and Holly Linz.  (We know famous people!! )

Dressage Today Magazine

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