Dressage4Kids Tips: Ride Better with Christoph Hess

Straightness – A Challenge

Practically every horse has a natural asymmetry. Eliminating this asymmetry and thus straightening the horse is a central task of basic training.

Every rider must realize there is no such thing as an “absolutely” straight horse. This means that all riders, regardless of discipline or level, must rise daily to the challenge of straightening their horses.

The Corner – A Bending Line

It sounds counterintuitive, but what really helps is riding correctly through the corners. Every corner that the rider travels helps her straighten the horse. A corner is a quarter-volte, provided that it is ridden through correctly. How deeply you ride into the corners will depend on your horse’s age and, above all, level of training.

This means you won’t ride quite as deeply into the corners with a five-year-old (picture a 10-meter volte) as you would with an older and/or more highly trained horse. In this case, you could imagine a volte with a six-meter radius. What does experience tell us? Perhaps you are not riding the corners as quarter-voltes. The horse is not being positioned and bent through the corner. Often, the corners are ridden very flat and the horse does not come through with his hindquarters in the direction of his forehand. Often, the hindquarters fall out.

Therefore, you must give the task of riding bend through the corners special attention. When you can get successful “straight bending work” in the corners, it helps you correct the horse’s asymmetry and improve his straightness. At the same time, you are improving the horse’s obedience to your leg aids, which is especially important for the horse’s durchlässigkeit. This should apply regardless of how deeply you are riding through the corners.

If the rider goes large around the whole arena and rides through every single corner correctly – that is, her inside leg is driving the horse to the outside rein and she has the feeling that the horse is bending around this leg – she is on the correct path. Every time she rides through a corner, she must be able to feel forward with her inside rein, without this changing the horse’s connection and balance.

Thank you to Martha Cook and Trafalgar Square Books for providing this excerpt. Ride Better with Christoph Hess is available at Trafalgar Square Books. D4K friends can use the code D4K2020 and receive 25% off.

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