What Is Real Dressage Riding?
There is one phrase that sums up the true relevance of dressage riding, written by one of the greatest minds in dressage:
"In horsemanship there is no neutrality. You are either furthering your horse's wellbeing or destroying it."
- Charles de Kunffy
Whether dressage riding or another equestrian discipline is your interest, do you feel that despite your best efforts there is more struggle going on between you and your horse than the harmonious unity that good riding is supposed to represent?
Modern dressage has perhaps become more about the art of hiding this struggle than finding a genuine union between horse and rider. Whether through forceful aiding with spurs and double bridle, or by seeking the ever more talented horse whose spectacular movement overshadows the quality of the riding, this approach is taking us further and further away from what dressage, or simply good riding, is really about.
Real dressage is about addressing gymnastically the unbalanced forces that create all feeling of struggle between horse and rider, not just presenting a pretty picture. It is the unique art of channeling the power from the hind-leg through the horse's body to create a beautiful and balanced flow of movement.
As a rider you can learn how to use your posture in such a way as to resolve the lack of balance inherent in the horse's natural way of going, so that you don't end up having to control the horse with the bit. Go to The Importance of the Posture in Riding to find out more about this.
It might take some hard work, but when you get the feeling of becoming part of your horse's movement with the ability to bring out its harmony and power, you'll never want to go back to holding on!
How do you make this happen?
- Make some simple but fundamental changes in your riding position
- Understand the process of developing your body for good riding allowing you to tackle each part in the right order
- Recognize the right responses from the horse that consolidate what you are doing
Have a look at Real Dressage Training Tips for some useful pointers in riding and training for engagement.