My basics are classic dressage. It doesn’t matter if the horse is under a western, english, spanisch or no saddle at all. The goal and the way to the goal is a happily and relaxed working and forward going horse.
I believe that a certain amount of dressage work is necessary and good for every horse. You don’t need an expensive riding arena though. A wide trail is good enough to work your horse through the different stages of the training scale (rhythm, suppleness, contact, momentum, straightening, throughness, development of capacity, collection and neck bend).
My experience actually is that a young horse is more comfortable learning the four first stages of the scale out on the trail instead of in an arena, ideally accompanied by an other horse. I train and trained all young horses this way. They already know the outback from going for trail rides as foals and later loose or on a rope. Having the young horse nearby while riding another already teaches it the vocal signals for the different paces or for stopping.
A healthy horse knows all the movements for dressage already. If you watch young stallions playing you can see lead changes, pirouette and piaffe with ease and natural beauty. The difficulty in riding a horse is to „talk“ a language it can understand. So basically, training a horse is teaching it our rudimentary vocabulary of aids (weight, leg, reins and supporting voice) while being very precise ourselves and alert to give support in the right moment.
My lessons consist of three stages: warming the horse, working, cooling down.
There are lots of little breaks during the work to comfort and praise the horse and let it relax.
Also teaching mainly dressage, a little jumping every now and then is very good. Working over poles and small jumps can teach horses focus, flexibility and reaction.
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