(Peter Paul Rubens – Detail from Equestrian Portrait of the Duke of Lerma – The Collection – Museo Nacional del Prado)
“Now for your Cherishings, they are those which I formerly spake of;
Only they must be used at no time but when your Horse doth well,
(© Kim Walnes 2018. Photograph by Bo Reich.)
To me instructing is a sacred trust. I feel it is my responsibility to create a safe space where neither human nor horse are judged. It is my job to understand where there may be mental, emotional, or physical blocks in both…to bring these to the awareness of the person while addressing these blocks with kindness, competence, and a feel for what each person/horse can handle in the moment. I always make it clear that I well know that everyone, both horse and human, are doing their very best in any moment.
(© John Richard Young, “The One-Sided Horse” first published in Arabian Horse Express, January 1992.)
A reader of this column writes: “How come you have never mentioned horses that have one-sided mouths, horses that just won’t take an even feel of the bit on both reins? They give easily to the rein on one side, but stiffly resist the opposite rein. They move forward with their necks more or less curved to one side, always the same side, and their heads slightly tilted so that their ears are not on the same level. What makes a horse move this way? What can be done to correct such a horse, beyond riding with the reins completely slack?”
(© Jim Reilly 2007. Reprinted with the permission of the author. Artist Carle Vernet, 19th century lithograph by G. Engelmann, 18 Rue Cassette in Paris)
Our horses will do everything for us when we show them through the correct aids, given at the right moment. The best aids will not be successful if they are not given at the right moment. ~ Walter Zettl
(© 2011 Manolo Mendez Dressage. “The Importance of Riding the Whole Horse: Supple and Tension Free” by Manolo Mendez with Caroline Larrouilh. First published in The Baroque Horse. All photos by Kate Barber, artistic rendering of feature photo by Danielle Skerman).
“Bring the back up, bring the back up!!!”“Drive the hind leg under, more, more, MORE!” and “Make him more round, rounder” appears to be considered by a lot of riders to be the three keys to dressage. To achieve these goals they are taught to put the horse in a frame by pulling on the outside rein while kicking with the inside leg, often while keeping the horse in endless shoulder fore or shoulder-in. Instead of a flexible, supple and tension free horse, this approach creates stiff and crooked horses, with little enjoyment for their work, and eventually leads to soundness issues.