Dressage Tip From England

A useful tip for riders of any discipline-but especially dressage riders-is to concentrate on differentiating between leg and seat when working the collected gaits, and so ride with a lighter seat particularly in the canter. “The leg is for energy and the seat is for length of stride” is one of my favorite sayings.

In all the gaits but particularly the canter, many riders drive too much with the seat which asks the horse to lengthen the stride and so has to be contradicted by a holding hand. As a result, riders find that their horses become heavier in the hand or tight in the back in the collected canter.

If the rider energizes the canter with the leg, supported if necessary by the spurs or dressage whip, and rides with a lighter and quieter seat, the horse will be able to round his back and engage the hind leg better. So the weight is taken back to the hind leg and off the forehand. In this way the horse learns to carry himself in better self-carriage.

When riding in the collected gaits, try to concentrate on which part of your body is causing the horse to respond. You will be amazed how much lighter your horse becomes when he is moving from your leg.

Good luck and keep riding.

Christopher Bartle

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