- How effective are your aids?
- Does your horse immediately respond?
- Are they crisp, clear and true?
- Or are you having a numbing effect on your horse?
Dressage in its original form was developed as a test of the horse’s obedience. Today your training should demonstrate that your horse is obedient to your aids.
I am a big believer in putting the leg on and then always immediately off – a squeeze and release. This assumes that your legs are hanging gently at your horse’s side and only being used when needed and not clamped on for dear life. In order to get your horse sensitive however, from this starting point you have to work towards the point where your horse actually will go from just a click of the tongue or the slightest pressure with the calf.
Which I explain in this post : How to get, and keep, your horse sensitive to your aids.
“One of my mantras – focus and simplicity. Simple is harder than complex. You have to work hard to get your thinking clear to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” – Steve Jobs
Find the heart of the matter and then halve it.
We all are guilty of not challenging ourselves when things are going well. Goodness me, we spend enough time struggling to get it right without putting more pressure on once we have achieved something worthwhile. But are we not seeking continual improvement? My advice to you is that once your horse is established in his way of going and/or a particular movement, when you give the aids, half the applied pressure, quite simply to test if you can get the very same required result in a more subtle way.
If the answer is yes, next time half the pressure again, until you strip the aid back to its ‘essential state’ where in time you will ‘think’ trot, your body will automatically react by doing the absolute minimum required and you will lift effortlessly into the transition.
In dressage the aim is to seem to do as little as possible. Clearly this is the ultimate goal but whilst you are en route you should continually work towards this goal in ‘baby steps’ by reducing pressure gradually. By doing so you are teaching your horse sensitivity to the aids. This may sound overly simplistic, but it works. Sometimes, just doing what you have always done or what someone else expects of you muddy’s the waters and overly complicates things. Do what you do and see if you get the same results when you halve the pressure. See what kind of magic you can create. Have a go, it will surprise you.
Have fun, as always!