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Harmony is born out of a genuine empathy for the horse and a compassionate awareness of the mental and physical impact of the work on the horse.

 

The Horse’s Analysis of Classical Dressage

 By Tonja Dausend ©2002

Your horse can recognize good riding, can you? For the answer to this question, look to the horse! As you ride or watch horses in training, ask yourself the following questions:

 

Is there an aura of harmony and serenity between the horse and rider?

Does the riding improve the horse’s…

  • Enjoyment of his work?
    • Is the horse moving in a way that is consistent with its nature?
    • Does the horse look confident, content and comfortable?
    • Is the horse enjoying the work?
  • Relaxation and freedom of movement?
    • Is the horse moving in a natural way?
    • Do the horse’s eyes have a soft expression?
    • Is the horse’s breathing deep?
    • Are the horse’s neck, jaw, and ears relaxed?
    • Does the horse’s back swing freely?
    • Does the horse move freely, in a regular swinging tempo?
    • Do the horse’s legs swing with ease, like pendulums?
    • Are the gaits free and natural, as opposed to mechanical?
    • Does the energy pulsate forward through the horse from its haunches to the bit?
    • Is the horse continuously offering to reach forward and down into an even, friendly, neutral, steady, elastic contact, with its face at or slightly ahead of the vertical?
  • Responsiveness?
    • Does the horse respond eagerly to virtually invisible aids?
    • Can the horse readily shift the direction of his energy back and forward and from side to side at the slightest indication of the rider?
  • Strength?
    • Does the training build the horse up rather than break him down?
    • Does the horse move with more powerful strides, elasticity and suspension?
    • Are the gaits improving and becoming more pure?
  • Balance?
    • Is the horse becoming more agile and lighter on his feet?

Is the rider:

  • Relaxed yet poised?
    • Are the rider’s movements under control, without a hint of involuntary ricochet?
  • Well balanced?
    • Is the rider centered on the horse and in a correct position that is maintained with ease?
  • Well versed in the aiding system?
    • Are the aids imperceptible to the onlooker?
    • Are the aids timed correctly?
    • Is the rider using the aids in the appropriate amount?
    • Does the contact offer a neutral, even, elastic, continuous presence?
    • Is the rider coordinated and capable of giving aids that are clear to the horse yet imperceptible to the onlookers?
  • Operating as a single entity with the horse and in perfect harmony with the horse at all times?
    • Does the rider have clear empathy for the horse?

If the answers to the above questions is yes, then the riding you are fortunate to catch a glimpse of horsemanship at its best!

 

 

2000 - 2008 © Tonja Dausend  - Terms of Use

last updated August, 2009