The famous Renaissance sculptor Michelangelo is credited with having said: “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” This implies “setting the statue free” by chiseling away all the rock that is not part of it. It is similar when developing the gaits of the dressage horse. Every horse has his own, unique walk, trot, and canter, as well as his own, unique piaffe and passage, which the trainer has to find and bring out, by eliminating everything that prevents the horse from moving optimally in his own, unique manner.
Training horses is pretty difficult, if you want to do it the right way. There’s so much you have to keep in mind at the same time to get optimal results. You are literally your horse’s fitness trainer and mental coach!
The most important thing in training should always be the well-being of your horse. Training a horse with integrity is different from forcing him into performance ‘tricks’.
The training should always lead to an improved balance in order to prevent injuries. Tendon injuries for instance, are often a result of the horse being crooked (even a tiny bit crooked) which leads to one leg consistently carrying more weight than the others, which will increase the stress and the wear and tear on the tendons until the horse is lame.
The same goes for problems in the back or pelvis, caused by the horse being ridden with a hollow back. That is why it is so important to do things correctly. Because I know how much time and effort it takes to train a horse well, I am happy to provide you with some tips to train more effectively.
As riders and teachers our particular approach, our techniques and methodology, our focus is very much a result of our own personal journey. It is shaped by the difficulties that we had to overcome, our own weaknesses, our discoveries, our teachers, the horses we have ridden, the books we have read, the other riders we have interacted with, and also by the students we have taught.
Occasionally, our personal journey leads us to discoveries that are real game changers for us. To others, they may be insignificant, but to us the world will never be the same afterwards. We can almost divide our riding career in pre-discovery and post-discovery. That’s how much these discoveries helped us improve our own riding. These game-changing discoveries will be different for everyone. In this blog post, I want to share some of my lightbulb moments that have helped me move to a higher level of understanding and practical skill. Perhaps they will be helpful for you as well, and maybe you can think of your own momentous discoveries and share them with us.