Articles on Dressage

How to Converse with your Horse

Riders often hear that we should be in a “dialogue with our horse,” but what does this really mean? Horses do not communicate with anything like the complex linguistic structures that humans have developed, though they do seem to have complex ways of communicating, which we can only superficially interpret. A large part of any… (Continue Reading) How to Converse with your Horse

Think Ahead

So much of great riding is about intention and attitude. When you are mentally focused on where your horse is going, rather than where your horse is at the moment or where it just was, then you are thinking ahead. When your intention is focused on the future, then it is easier for your horse… (Continue Reading) Think Ahead

Pirouette Aids

I think the pirouette, whether at the walk or the canter, is one of the most technically demanding exercises for the rider in dressage. It requires the utmost precision, feel, and timing from the rider for the horse to be able to carry it out well. However, with adept application of the aids, even horses… (Continue Reading) Pirouette Aids

The Classical Seat Pt. 1 – Seat Movement

For the dressage rider, the seat is one of the most vital points of communication and harmony between horse and rider. There are many factors that contribute to how strong or weak those bonds can be, and I will revisit this topic in an ongoing exploration of what constitutes a “classical seat.” For the moment,… (Continue Reading) The Classical Seat Pt. 1 – Seat Movement

Troubleshooting Canter Departures

The problem I see most often in the canter departure is that horses brace and scoot forward in a rushy or medium trot instead of picking up the canter. Once this happens a few times in a row, it becomes a sort of learned behavior and it can be difficult to break the cycle as… (Continue Reading) Troubleshooting Canter Departures

Applying the Canter Aid

Not infrequently, I find that riders (and horses) have difficulty getting into the canter, which can become a matter of anxiety for both partners. I want to talk about how to develop a clear language with the horse to get a clean canter departure. In my next post I will also discuss a few of… (Continue Reading) Applying the Canter Aid

Set Your Horse Up to Succeed

This is a phrase I use to encapsulate an aspect of classical training philosophy that I have found very useful over the years. Horses learn fastest when they do things the right way more than the wrong way – we all do! As a musician, I know that if I want to reproduce a passage… (Continue Reading) Set Your Horse Up to Succeed

The Arena as Dojo?

For the last couple of years, I’ve done some cross training in the discipline of shotokan karate. There are many interesting parallels to dressage, but there is one thing we do in karate that I think would be useful for riders to think about, and that is the ritualization of respect. So much about karate… (Continue Reading) The Arena as Dojo?

The Indirect Outside Rein

There is a useful rein aid that I call the “indirect outside rein” because in involves using the rein on the outside of the bend in a direction away from the direction of movement. When I ask my students to use this aid, I say, “half-halt with the outside rein away from the neck.” Why… (Continue Reading) The Indirect Outside Rein

The Indirect Inside Rein: Positive and Negative Effects

This is an issue that has cropped up in several lessons recently, so I have been particularly aware of how we use and misuse the indirect inside rein in dressage. The indirect inside rein can manipulate both horses’ shoulders and haunches, whether intentionally or not. Just to clarify the aid I’m talking about, imagine a… (Continue Reading) The Indirect Inside Rein: Positive and Negative Effects