Stay­ing on Track

Dressage Today - - The Clinic -

You’ll never over­face your horse, if: (a) he has rhythm and (b) his topline is soft and pli­able so he can re­ceive your mes­sages.

Here’s how you might think about these two qual­i­ties:

Rhythm. The aids are given within the rhythm of the gait and your power source must be in that rhythm so you have tim­ing and a feel for the mo­tion of your horse. With­out rhythm, you don’t have ac­cess to your horse’s back, which means his topline will be tight and as a re­sult, you don’t have per­mis­sion to get louder. If your aids get louder when the topline is tight, your horse will scoot, break or lock. If you have rhythm, you can ex­plain your wishes clearly to him.

Topline. If you try to bend a board, it’s go­ing to snap be­fore it shapes it­self. The horse’s back must be sha­pable and soft like wire coat hanger. It must bend so you can ply it. The topline must feel like it can be molded and you have ac­cess to it.

As you do the num­bers ex­er­cise, the topline should be tended to all the time. You’re shap­ing and sup­pling so your horse can re­ceive the mes­sage with the next num­ber and the next num­ber. With rhythm and with a topline that is able to re­ceive your mes­sage or your di­rec­tives with clar­ity, you will rarely over­face a horse. You can eas­ily add more en­ergy, more mo­ti­va­tion, more pre­ci­sion or get a quicker bal­ance shift.

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