Balance – for me that is the point of dressage – everything we strive for comes back to this.
As far as I’m concerned, and contrary to popular belief, you don’t need a specific horse for dressage.
Any horse regardless of shape or form will benefit from good consistent work. Worked properly a horse can find a better balance within their body, whereas a stiff and uncoordinated horse falls in on turns and circles and doesn’t move its body to the best of its ability and balance.
You can see it and feel it.
The same goes for us. As a rider, if we don’t have good balance, we interfere and upset our horse’s balance and subsequently the way it moves.
We all know what it feels like to change hands.
* Brush your teeth with your other hand
* Write your name with your other hand
* Change your favourite leg to stand on
Most of these simple everyday tasks became challenging when we swap our dominant and more efficient side over to our not so strong side.
Yet, we expect our horse to be able to do this every day. Every time we change rein, we expect them to be coordinated and athletic enough to maintain their balance, and continue to be in alignment, and do what we ask.
As riders we want to encourage the horse to use his body the other way around: carry with the naturally pushing leg and push with the carrying one in a way he is not used to working in.
Another beneficial effect of this is that the muscles start to develop evenly, become smooth and work like a well-oiled machine – they soften up and work together as a team as fitness and education improve.
Lateral movements are the most efficient exercises to master balance, and as you both become more balanced and in tune with each other, you can see and feel that the angle and degree of flexibility will change as the horse becomes more balanced from side to side. It is worth persevering with this whatever level you and your horse are at; you can just adjust the exercises for both of you so that you are both balanced, have a positive experience and can comfortably progress.
Feel free to contact me if you like more information