* The arena is a classroom, not a gymnasium *

Dressage

What is dressage

Before the year of 1900, there were no dressage horses. The first dressage competition was held in the end of the 19th century. Before that, no one talked about dressage horses, they talked about the dressage of the horse.

I am not sure about the English language, but in Swedish, we use the word dressage about dogs too. But when we talk about dogs, dressage means to teach the dog to obey. That is how they used the word about horses too in older days.

So what is dressage for me?

First, it is about finding a communication between horse and rider. That is often called obedience, but as many people find that a negative word, it is better to use the word communication.

Then, it is to exercise the body of ... Read more

Introduction to Dressage

Many years from now I held a 5 day clinic in mid Sweden. I had some minutes for myself so I went out on the outside balcony of the indoor riding arena to get some sun and relax. Below me the organizers had built a number of small pens for the horses. While I stood there a lady came with her very cute American Curl mare and let her out in one of the pens. The mare was only 3 years and was on the clinic to be broken (horrible word).

When the mare went out in the pen the lady gave her a tap on the neck, closed the gate and went away. I saw how the mare looked up and said “Wow, I am free!” Then she started a show I will never forget. During a few minutes, she made most of the exercises you ride in high level Dressage ... Read more

Classical dressage

I like what Sylvia Loch says about that the classical dressage: "Classical Dressage cannot be reinvented - it is as old as the hills!" She also writes that no one can claim it.

Problem is however, to find the right name for it. I don't know how you react on "classical" outside Sweden, but when you use that word here, it gives a hint that it is a concept that you are not allowed to alter. And even if we never can claim the classical dressage, we must also know that the classical dressage will never be fully discovered. There is always more to find and more to learn, for man and mankind, about the wonderful ability to play with the horse. If we push to strong on "classical", it will soon be considered as "old fashion dressage". I ... Read more

The asymmetric body

The horses, just like us, use their bodies in an asymmetric way. So far everyone will agree, bit when it comes to why and how I am not sure the agreement will last.

We all are, for reasons only God knows, predestined to use our body halves in different ways: We are left- or right handed. That develop different skills for the body halves. We write better with one hand than the other but can not blame any stiff muscles for that. As kids most of us can cart wheel in one direction, often to the left, but don't dare to try to do it the other way as we feel we can not balance and coordinate. And as adult rider, just try to think the thought of mounting the horse from the right. Many of us can't and most of us wouldn't dare. It feels ... Read more

The reason for lateral work

We all have friends who lift weights at a gym, do yoga or else care about their bodies and it's function. Though: No matter how fit and strong and coordinated they get, when they have to jump over a drench in the forest, they all do the same: They swing their left leg forward, pushes away with the right foot and land on the left. That's how most of us do. Do it the other way feels uncomfortable, clumsy and maybe scary no matter how much we exercise. I guess there is a few highly trained gymnasts and dancers that may be comfortable to do it both ways, but they are few.

That is however our goal with the straightness training of our horses: To get them as comfortable as possible to do any exercise in any direction and on any hand. ... Read more