Paul Belasik: Why are Fundamental Problems Persisting in Modern Dressage? (Part II of II)

Paul Belasik: Why are Fundamental Problems Persisting in Modern Dressage? (Part II of II)

(© Paul Belasik 2017. First published in www.horsemagazine.com. Reprinted with the permission of the author. Photographs courtesy of Paul Belasik.)

In an effort to understand and explain the persistence of certain fundamental problems in elite dressage, I have written a short series of articles. In the first article, I discussed the consistent misunderstanding of bend and its seismic effect on performances. In this article, I want to address hollowness in the horse’s back, which is increasingly seen, and worse, is becoming acceptable in modern dressage particularly as it relates to collection.

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John Richard Young: Riding to Get Smooth, Balanced Transitions

John Richard Young: Riding to Get Smooth, Balanced Transitions

(© Text content John Richard Young. First published in Arabian Horse Express, 1991. Engraving credit Jean Daullé 1753: Louis de Cazaux-Laran de Nestier (1684-1754), premier écuyer cavalcadour of King Louis XV riding Le Florido in school walk exercise. Le Florido was a fine Spanish stallion given to Louis XV by the King of Spain. More about M. de Nestier at the end of this article.)

“Try to steal from a walk to a trot to a canter as gradually as the sun rises.” – Colonel M.F. McTaggart

“Good transitions are signs of accomplished riders with ‘feel’,” begins John Richard Young…

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Paul Belasik: Why are Fundamental Problems Persisting in Modern Dressage? (Part I of II)

Paul Belasik: Why are Fundamental Problems Persisting in Modern Dressage? (Part I of II)

(© Paul Belasik 2017. First published in www.horsemagazine.com. Reprinted with the permission of the author. Photographs courtesy of Paul Belasik.)

After working with, and observing the work of so many up-and-coming modern riders, it is perplexing to see that there are still so many fundamental faults in the performances. At first I thought it was endemic to a particular national style that had proliferated through the exaggerated effect of certain teachers. Although this may not have been the case initially, I believe these problems are now universal among many modern dressage riders, regardless of country. I have chosen three areas of concern that, if addressed, could make a huge difference in the overall performance of dressage. In this series of articles, I will discuss 1. bend, 2. hollowness, and 3. the inattention to deviations in limb patterns.

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Manolo Mendez on Pirouette (Part III of III) Introducing the Canter Pirouette

Manolo Mendez on Pirouette (Part III of III) Introducing the Canter Pirouette

(© Manolo Mendez and Caroline Larrouilh. First published Baroque Horse Magazine, 2013. Image Courtesy Manolo Mendez Dressage.)

The canter pirouette is a high level movement, a very difficult exercise that requires balance, suspension, suppleness, listening and collection from the horse. To have a good canter pirouette, we must have a good…canter.

We must have a pure three-beat canter and be able to collect and lengthen the horse’s body without struggle. We must be able to go from gallop to medium to collected, to very collected canter and out again without the horse losing power, balance or willingness.

Defining the correct canter pirouette

In the canter pirouette, the horse has to bend through his entire body and spine in the direction of travel for six to eight strides. He has to turn on a small diameter circle and his inside hind leg has to act as a pivot, lifting and dropping in the same hoof print with every stride. His outside hind leg has to travel on a bigger diameter circle around the inside hind leg.

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John Richard Young: Shoulder-in technique requires time, attention

John Richard Young: Shoulder-in technique requires time, attention

(© John Richard Young. First published in Arabian Horse Express September 1990. Thanks to Yvonne Welz and her archives at www.thehorseshoof.com. Image of François Robichon de La Guérinière and student, “L’Epaule en Dedans” (Shoulder-in) by Charles Parrocel.)

Last month I expressed my negative opinion of the shoulder-in as an efficient schooling exercise, particularly when attempted by the average, semi-skilled rider. I gave reasons for my opinion and quoted other horsemen who agree with me.

However, I do not expect everybody else to agree with me, nor would I presume to force my views on those who prefer to think differently. I would rather help them, if I can, in pursuing the way they wish to go with their horses. Therefore, the following remarks about the shoulder-in are addressed to fledgling trainers who, for whatever reasons, elect to follow in the footsteps of tradition regardless of what I think.

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