Edi­tor’s Note

Practical Horseman - - Contents -

As I read U.S. dres­sage Olympian Lisa Wil­cox’s pro­file this month, one sec­tion in par­tic­u­lar caught my at­ten­tion. Re­turn­ing to the United States after many years in Europe, Lisa dis­cov­ered that a com­mon prob­lem was horses be­ing rid­den from front to back rather than back to front (page 30). This was partly be­cause their rid­ers weren’t re­mem­ber­ing to give in the half-halt. If a half-halt doesn’t work, you give and then “come with a lit­tle stricter half-halt,” Lisa says. “But is has to be an im­pulse. If you hold un­til you feel a give, they will never give.”

These com­ments were sim­i­lar to those of USEF “R” dres­sage judge Karen Adams, also in this month’s is­sue (page 46). When judg­ing, she says she of­ten sees a mis­un­der­stand­ing of how to achieve a rounder, more col­lected gait and shape. “When I see back­ward pulling or saw­ing on the reins or hold­ing the horse’s head down … these in­di­cate re­sis­tance.”

In their ar­ti­cles, both Lisa and Karen give sug­ges­tions on how not to fall into the pulling trap. Karen shares two “rub­ber-band” ex­er­cises—gym­nas­tic ex­er­cises that work op­po­sites against each other. One is chang­ing back and forth be­tween an in­side and out­side bend to loosen your horse from side to side. The other is ask­ing your horse to reach for­ward and down into the bri­dle and then ask­ing him to come back up into a rounder con­nec­tion while you chan­nel his ac­tive en­ergy straight be­tween both of your lower legs, seat bones and hips into re­ceiv­ing aids. Lisa gives help­ful in­sights on how she taught her stu­dents when she first re­turned: She had them on cir­cles, do­ing tran­si­tions and spi­ral­ing in and out. She ex­plains that most of the train­ing holes she sees in the U.S. hap­pen be­cause rid­ers want to move quickly up the lev­els. She re­minds stu­dents “that pa­tience and trust in the clas­si­cal train­ing sys­tem al­ways pro­duce the best re­sults in the end.”

Other ar­ti­cles in this is­sue—cov­er­age of a clinic with six-time Olympian Robert Dover (page 38) and dres­sage rider JJ Tate’s ad­vice on how to ride an ac­cu­rate cir­cle (page 66)—show how ad­her­ing to the clas­si­cal train­ing sys­tem ben­e­fits both horses and rid­ers. So if you’re hav­ing chal­lenges in your train­ing or you’ve hit a plateau (been there, done that!), don’t hes­i­tate to re­turn to the 20-me­ter cir­cle and check how you’re school­ing your horse. Re­vis­it­ing and so­lid­i­fy­ing the ba­sics will end up be­ing a faster way for­ward.

Take care. Edi­tor

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