Here is a simple exercise for everyone as long as you have started asking your horse for simple bends (including those doing Grand Prix). At all gaits and with no fuss, using an easy inside rein that does NOT go toward the horse’s withers (an indirect rein), can you bend him a little left for four or five strides and then within one stride bend him a little right for four or five strides? He doesn’t turn because your inside leg prevents that. You should be able to do this ANYTIME – walking along the track, doing a leg yield or a half pass, or a canter pirouette. This should be easy and it is NOT wagging the head, but just a simple change of bend of the neck.
I taught my first lessons in a month recently and the lesson I found myself repeating often, and I hear other instructors repeating a lot, is the importance of the outside rein. This is a huge subject, but in brief… The concept of inside leg to outside rein is mega important. BUT that doesn’t mean one hangs on the outside rein or allows the horse to lean on the outside rein. If you were to give the outside so it goes loose for a stride, nothing should fall apart. On the other side is the importance of the use of the outside rein in general. The inside rein is generally the suppling rein as needed and also turns the horse’s head and neck. But the outside rein connects the horse’s body to his neck. (Many of you have been in the situation of trying to turn the horse where he doesn’t want to go and you pull his head practically to your knee and the horse continues to go in the opposite direction – just because his head turns doesn’t mean his body goes in the same direction.) So your most important turning aids are the outside rein and leg and the most important bending aids are the inside rein and leg. This is mega important on circles and corners to ensure that when you are bending the horse his shoulder doesn’t fall out.
Excerpt from Cavalletti for Dressage and Jumping (4th edition) by Ingrid and Reiner Klimke
Thank you to Martha Cook and Trafalgar Square Book for providing the below excerpt!
Cavalletti for Dressage and Jumping (4th edition) is available at Trafalgar Square Books. D4K friends can use the code D4K2020 and receive 25% off.
Cavalletti Work on Circles
Riding over cavalletti on circles and half circles makes a welcome change for young riders. The horse should already have a sound basic training and be used to working over cavalletti on straight lines. When working on both straight and curved lines, the horse must be straight. This means the hind feet must follow the tracks of the front feet. On circles, the horse is not straight if he makes the common fault of lifting his hind legs and moving them out to the side rather than stepping forward under the center of gravity. In order to avoid this, he must be flexed to the inside.
Cavalletti work on circles and half circles helps to loosen the horse, and can rectify stiffness on one side or the other, so the horse bends and flexes equally in both directions. If a horse is not straight, he will often lose rhythm – this is where cavalletti work can help by restoring elasticity and encouraging the placing of the hind feet under the center of gravity.
Over poles, the horse does not have the chance to step out to the side with the hind legs. The length of stride and pacing of the feet is so precise that the horse maintains his rhythm by himself. It takes very little practice before the hind feet step into the tracks of the front feet.
A figure of eight works the horse equally on both reins. Each circle requires four cavalletti set in a fan near the short side of the school. It is important to leave the track free so you can ride around the whole school on the track. In trot, this exercise is known as “changing direction through the circle.” It is not as useful in walk as it is in trot, but it is best to ride it in walk to start with, and you can revert to walk if you have problems.
Riding over cavalletti on circles is especially beneficial for training the horse’s inside hind leg to take weight. Because of this it can be quite strenuous, so avoid doing it for too long. Always tailor schooling sessions to the stage of training the horse has reached.
I recommend spending a little time staring at the picture and thinking about where all the joints are and how they move. Check out the website: www.horsesinsideout.com. There is some wonderful educational content there.
One excellent exercise that I think many people do not use enough is the turn on the forehand. For beginners this is a wonderful exercise for learning coordination of the aids – how much leg, where to put the leg, and just enough hand to discourage the horse from moving forward, but not hanging on the mouth. For the green horse, it’s a wonderful way to introduce moving away from the leg as opposed to going faster to the leg. For the advanced horse it can be an excellent tune-up.
I am amazed at how often I have to have riders get off at the beginning of a lesson to adjust their helmets. In brief, your helmet should be steady on your head, not able to wobble (especially if you put your hair under it). The brim should be just above your eyebrows. The chin straps should be just tight enough that if you open your mouth wide it pulls the helmet a bit tighter on your head. There are many online tutorials about helmet fit and the safety of various brands of helmets. Remember they do not last forever and also if you have had a fall where your helmet hits the ground you must replace it. This might also be a good time to look into cleaning the inside of your helmet.
I would love for those of you exercising at home to share your exercise routine with us. Hopefully you are working to strengthen your core, and working on your flexibility and balance. Write us a note or share a video on Facebook.
For those riding
What a great time to do all your riding (except your warm-up) without stirrups (your horse is safe, right?). Surely I don’t need to talk about the value of riding without stirrups, do I? You should ride without stirrups enough that it is your preferred way of riding. Make sure you aren’t gripping with your thighs and that your legs are hanging long and of course that you aren’t using your horse’s mouth for security. If you’re nervous about cantering, practice at walk and trot. If you are nervous about trotting, practice at walk until your confidence grows.
What happens if while you’re cantering you take your leg off your horse’s side. Does he break? If so that tells you that you are holding hm in the canter. You are using up your leg aid just to keep him going. If this is the case, get your canter, give him a little push forward, and then take your leg away (let your heel down). Two strides later give him another little (big?) push and take your leg away. Gradually you will be able to keep your leg off longer, but even if you have to push him every third side, so be it, but make sure your leg comes off in between. It’s fine to have your leg close at all times, just make sure you’re not clutching. And of course, this is the same at walk, and trot.
Canadian Diane Creech is collecting blue ribbons both north and south of the border so Chris caught up with her to find out the secret of her success. Our first Young Reporter Koryn Staehling tells us about the Kids 4 Dressage Festival that was hosted by Lendon Gray. Plus, we welcome a new sponsor, HorseShow.com. Listen in…
Dressage Radio Episode 113 – Show Notes and Links:
- Host: Chris Stafford – follow Chris on Twitter
- Photo: Diane Creech by www.DressageDaily.com.
- Guest: Diane Creech
- Guest: Young Reporter Koryn Staehling about www.dressage4kids.com
- Link: Listen to all the HRN shows on the Hallway Feeds iPhone App.
- Link: Click here for the trial offer: www.audibletrial.com/hrn
- Please follow us on Facebook.
- Follow Horse Radio Network on Twitter.
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Debbie McDonald and Lendon Gray are back in conversation to share some helpful training advice and offer sharp observations on typical challenges for dressage riders. Take a listen right here.
Dressage Radio Episode 105 – Show Notes and Links:
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Debbie McDonald and Lendon Gray discuss young riders’ careers in dressage, their opportunities for riding different horses, spending time with horses out of the barn, and the importance of horsemanship in the sport. A fascinating conversation with two great horsewomen, so take a listen…
Dressage Radio Episode 85 – Show Notes and Links:
- Host: Chris Stafford
- Guest Co-host: Debbie McDonald
- Photo Credit: Becky Lamas
- Guest: Lendon Gray is a popular coach and founder of Dressage4Kids – www.dressage4kids.com
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Traverse City, MI – August 31, 2010 – Horse Sports by the Bay is pleased to announce that Hampton Green Farm, known nation-wide for their dedication to dressage and to the development of the PRE Horse for Dressage in America, will be hosting a Dressage 4 Kids Fundraiser and exhibitor party during the Great American Insurance Group/Region 2 Dressage Championships on Saturday, September 11. The Regional Championships are being held from September 9 – 12 at Flintfields Horse Park in Traverse City, MI, which is home to the prestigious Horse Shows by the Bay Equestrian Festival.
The fundraiser features a silent auction which will include riding helmets donated from English Riding Supply and other retail pieces donated by Sporthorse Saddlery and Equine Source among others. Funds collected from the auction and from ticket sales to the exhibitor party will go directly back to Dressage 4 Kids’ extensive education campaign. Donations are still being taken for the Auction; please email here for more information.
Saugerties, NY (July 13, 2010) – Pan Am Gold Medalist Lauren Sammis, who is back in the Grand Prix show ring with Al Guden’s Sagacious HF, spent time with young dressage riders recently when she served as a judge at Lendon Gray’s Youth Dressage Festival at Hits-on-the-Hudson in Saugerties, New York. Sammis, who worked for Gray as a working student starting in her early years, was thrilled to take part in Gray’s annual Youth Dressage Festival, an event that attracts young riders from around the world.
“I judged the 7-9 year olds and the 16-17 year olds and they were unbelievably cute and adorable,” Sammis said. “This is exactly what you want your children to be involved with because they were braiding their own horses and ponies, taking written exams and taking part in an equitation class series.”
This is special audio update on Courtney King-Dye’s condition by her good friend and trainer Lendon Gray. This was recorded April 15, 2010. Listen in as Lendon shares some great news…
Dressage Radio Courtney King Dye Great News Update – April 15, 2010:
- Photo Credit: Dressagedaily.com
- For more updates visit Courtney King-Dye’s website.
- Courtney King-Dye’s Facebook Fan Page.
- To send cards and best wishes: The Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation, 1199 Pleasant Valley Way, West Orange, NJ 07052. c/o Courtney King Dye
- Visit the Succeed Ebay Auction page to buy items and support Courtney.
- Here is a link to etsy.com where you are able to purchase a ‘ComeBackCourt’ t-shirt. They are $30 each and 100% of the profits are going to Courtney’s medical fund. http://www.etsy.com/shop/coup?section_id=68839
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