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Muscles: Should you ride fast or slow?

Muscles: Shall we Ride Fast or Slow? Perhaps one of the most delightful aspects of riding is the way it steadies and focuses our human minds in those moments we sit astride. For myself, anyway, I savor the monastic contemplation of the first minutes of a ride as I consider what does this horse need? Every session originates from how I can improve the horse’s physical wellbeing, and this requires a good deal of paying attention. It also requires a decision: to ride fast or slow? Many of us ride at a speed WE prefer, or one that the horse Read the full article…

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Wobbling to Better Movement

(periods of instability can lead to better proprioception, even in Terriers!)   Wobbling to Better Movement Out of necessity my horses have become lighter and balanced in their movement over the past two years since moving to a new facility. I say out of necessity because this facility, while ideal in almost every way, lacks an ideal arena. What this means is that we do our schooling in a variety of places: the field, a track, the small sand arena, trails. This variety, plus less than perfect surfaces translates to the horses needing to recruit their stabilizing and postural muscles Read the full article…

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The Sandwich Lope

The Sandwich Lope   When Western Dressage first established itself, we instructors struggled to describe the requirements of a “working lope” clearly enough for students. We wanted to be sure to differentiate it from the stilted gaits seen in the Western Pleasure discipline, and yet it was also not the animated jumping-across-the-ground canter of the traditional dressage world. It should have springiness and energy, we told students, but not excessive speed. The horse should be adequately on the bit and lifting his back but maintaining the obedience and calmness seen in reining horses. So, what exactly might that feel like? Read the full article…

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Shoulder-in…a.k.a “Abdominal Therapy”

Believing that I was offering some insightful coaching, I nearly assaulted my student with picky corrections about her leg-yield. Make him straighter, I urged. No, now get him bent more. He needs more energy. Wait, not too much—now LESS energy. She rode a few more attempts and I kept picking them apart. Finally Kay stopped, put down her reins, and gave me a wise smile. “You need to realize that I am happy just to be going sideways at all,” she admitted. Sure, all those other details sounded like worthy goals, but for now the plain act of getting her Read the full article…

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Here We Go Galloping

Here We Go Galloping Gulp. I tried to work up the nerve to let the reins out another inch or two as we cantered around, but I was having a really hard time doing it. First of all, my horse might run off. Second, if I got lucky and she did not run off, she would definitely fall on the forehand and careen about like an untrained plodder. A conversation with Dr. Gerd Heuschmann kept playing through my mind, during which he insisted on the value of galloping dressage horses while riding in a light seat with long reins. He Read the full article…

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