By CHRISTINE RIVLIN – When I think of “dancing between horse and rider” I think of the sport of Dressage. Dressage entails the guiding of a horse through a series of complex maneuvers, some compulsory movements, as required by each test of each level from training level to Grand Prix and some more artistic, as in the movements in the freestyles. In either case, the movements of the horse are caused by a finely tuned set of cues given by the rider’s hands, seat, weight, and legs. When done properly, it should appear effortless on the horse’s part, and essentially movement-less on the rider’s part.
Dressage is the ultimate partnership between horse and rider. A beautiful dressage horse has gradually and systematically had its musculature sculpted and conditioned, similar to a ballet dancer. We want the musculature to develop correctly, with the ultimate strength, but flexibility. The muscles should be elastic, yet capable of being explosive in a controlled manner such as moving into an extended trot, or canter, yet have the strength and agility to compress and carry weight on the hindquarters such as in a canter pirouette, or the piaffe.
This process takes time for the horse not only physically, but mentally. If the horses are mentally rushed, they lose the feeling and look of “happiness and willingness.” Anything forced, cannot be beautiful. There must be a partnership. Those of us who ride dressage appreciate to achieve anything close to “dancing with your horse” takes hours of training, repetition, and endless patience. Just as in people athletes, horses progress at different rates, and this process cannot be rushed. It takes years to develop an equine athlete, to the highest level, of Grand Prix. But the wait is well worth it! To see and or feel an equine athlete in motion with the ultimate development of their musculature physique is truly amazing and is truly “dancing with your horse.”
READ MORE ABOUT AUTHOR CHRISTINE RIVLIN