In Rien van der Schaft’s previous article, he spoke about the phase most riders forget about, the phase of the contact rein. In this first phase of the training you want to achieve three things, namely relaxation, forwardness and that your horse accepts the contact. Once you’ve established that, it’s time to move onto the second phase. Rien will explain what this phase looks like and what you should pay attention to.
In all the years he has been teaching riders from all around the world, Rien van der Schaft noticed that the core of 99% of all of the problems riders deal with spiral down to one phase in the training. According to Rien, it’s the phase most riders forget about or don’t do correctly: getting the right connection.
It is easy to unconsciously avoid certain elements of training on a daily basis. Over time this causes major problems. We tell ourselves that we are just not going down the other end of the school because we are working on a smaller area, knowing full well that our horse often spooks at the chair, tree, nothing at the other end.
The recent 2017 British Dressage Young Horse Forums which took place over two Mondays in January have gone down a storm, providing an invaluable opportunity to learn from and share ideas with respected figures from within the sport.
Finding relaxation in a position of strength is something my Pilates' instructor said to me recently. The key to most top level sports is training the body to relax in a position of strength, or endurance, or speed. Dressage therefore can be defined as just that: finding relaxation in a position that requires strength, both in terms of horse, and rider.
Researchers Neveux, Ferard, Dickel, Bouet, Petit and Valenchon of the Universities of Caen and Strasbourg carried out a study in which they tested the effect of classical music during stress episodes in transport and farriery. They found that playing music reduced stress during transport, which could lead to safer management practices and better welfare.