Thursday, September 1, 2011

Stuff we need to work on

I got the book in mail yesterday, already on chapter 6. The first thing that the author (Kurd Albrecht Von Ziegner) says to teach the young dressage horse is Relaxation. He says that a warm up to reach the stage of Relaxation may take 10 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the horse, the atmosphere, and the horses level of fitness. What he's describing as relaxation and being ready to work, I've thought were symptoms of being tired in Siaga, who takes about 15 to 20 minutes to reach that stage.

So this is the first thing we will start to work on, is reaching relaxation and being willing to move forward with me and listen to what I ask of him. Before beginning work in the make-shift arena I'm going to make in the front yard, we'll probably go for a little trail ride just to get the juices flowing, so to speak, and watch for that relaxed, long and low, swinging back signal to say he's ready to work.

Once he reaches that stage of relaxation, we're going to start on Regularity, which comes next in the book. Regularity refers to the foot falls of the horse in each gait, and such exercises as going up and down hills and over cavaletti helps.

These are the first two sections in the book.

The third section, which I will start after I feel that Siaga has developed a soft, even, long and low, relaxed, regular movement in walk and trot (and canter if I feel brave enough to attempt that) is Freedom, where the horse is to feel free and willing to move forward, but not rushing, when asked. This should, I would think, develop in tandem with the other two.

The fourth section on the training tree outlined in the book is Contact, which is getting the horse on the bit in a rounded and relaxed, but not collected, frame. Then, in order, is getting the horse On the Aids, where the horse is appropriately responding to the riders hands and legs and seat, Straightness, having the horse developed evenly on both sides and moving fluidly in a straight line without flex to one side or the other, Balance, or having the horse carrying his weight properly, but again, this is not collection.

Then it goes into Durchlässigkeit. I'm assuming this is pronounced something like "Durch-less-i-kite" but I'm not sure. Anyways, this means that the horse is supple, capable of shifting his center of balance forwards, backwards, or to either side. That one is going to be very complicated.

Next is Schwung, another German word, which refers to the powerful impulsion of the hind-quarters. It would seem that Siaga, as a Quarter Horse, by breed, should have quite a bit of Schwung, with that big butt. A horse unwilling to propel strongly with the hind will have a hard time achieving Collection, which is the next, and final phase.

After this section, the book goes on to discuss figures, movements, transitions, and then onto the basic first level test. The final sections regard lateral movement and finally the flying change of lead.

So far, I think I'm getting around to understanding this stuff. I have no plans for showing Siaga in dressage, but hey, you never know, maybe some day, maybe. Anyways, I understand we are both new to riding, more or less, and certainly both new to English riding, let alone Dressage. But, as with all things, we will get there some day, some way.

Check here (Google books) to see the book I bought, The Elements of Dressage.


  1. forward, forward, and more forward - yes I agree. I use pole weaving poles to teach turning. I walk or trot them. I made a keyhole to work on turning on the forehand, or turning on the hind. I also use orange cones or barrels for figure work, and ground poles to focus foot falls.

    You can use all of those things in the early work on up to the advanced. They help keep the horses, and your, boredom levels down. Circles and circles suck, but they have their place. Spiral ins and outs at walk and trot and very helpful too.

  2. Yeah, I plan on keeping it mixed up. Thanks for the ideas.