By CHRISTINE RIVLIN – Basics, I feel, are important for the horse. I always suggest people review, or at least have an idea of the classical training pyramid. At the bottom of the pyramid are rhythm, regularity, and relaxation. Rhythm being correctness of footfalls for the horses gaits…a four beat walk, a two beat trot, a three beat canter (I know there is discussion at times in canter pirouettes that the canter actually has a four beat rhythm, but for our general purposes let’s say the canter should remain three beats) regularity being that each gait stays in correctness of footfalls within each stride of each gait. Strides should remain consistent, i.e.: not a short stride then a long stride, not a higher step with one leg or diagonal pair of legs. Relaxation I describe as a calm mental state with a degree of positive tension in the horses musculature, ready to participate with the riders direction and aids.
Next we move to connection. The horse should quietly accept the bit, which should be connected to a rider’s quiet, non- interfering hands. The horse should want to stretch into the bit with the long muscles thru the top of the horse’s neck, forming a solid, soft line from the base of the neck, thru the poll, and ending with the horse’s nose on or slightly in front of the vertical depending on the level of training. Of course, connected to the soft arched neck, is a supple loose back, with softly swinging hindquarters. The horse mouth should remain quiet, with no tension thru the jaw, poll or neck. The horse should quietly chew the bit, forming a degree of “foam” at the horse’s mouth. I do not like to see the mouth gaping in any fashion, the tongue rolled up, or out of the mouth, or any sort of gnashing of the bit. If all of the above is present, the horse’s musculature should be developed equally laterally and longitudinally thru consistent exercises performed on both hands.
Most horse are not born consistently “even” from left to right, so the exercises, while not fatiguing the horse, should be performed in a way that you are constantly working to improve the musculature of the horse in a soft, supple, even way from left to right. I always like to see a horse of any level look well, and evenly physically developed, especially over the horses back, neck, loins, hindquarters (topline), and that the horse accepts the riders aids…hands, legs, seat easily and softly, In turn the rider should be able to perform the aids in an non-interfering way with the horse.
READ MORE ABOUT AUTHOR CHRISTINE RIVLIN