(© 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.
Where would we be without the generosity, courage, and friendship (and sacrifice) of the horse?
(© Kip Mistral 2018. All rights reserved.)
Bienvenue, welcome to Château Versailles! I am Marie-Adélaïde de Savoie, Duchesse de Bourgogne, wife of Louis, Duc de France (and the adoring mother of a handsome little boy who will be the future King Louis XV!). It is such a lovely afternoon that we are gathering to ride a promenade around the Château. Our horses will be brought up to the Cour Royale (courtyard) in a moment. As always I will ride my beautiful white Spanish mare, La Colombe. She is sweet and soft like the dove for which she is named. Since you’re here, you must join us!
(© Herman Melville, Redburn: His First Voyage (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1976), pp 271-2. Photograph: Roadway and quay at Regent Quay West, Aberdeen, Scotland. More information at bottom of post.)
“Among all the sights of the docks, the noble truck-horses are not the least striking to a stranger. They are large and powerful brutes, with such sleek and glossy coats, that they look as if brushed and put on by a valet every morning. They march with a slow and stately step, lifting their ponderous hoofs like royal Siam elephants.
(© 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.