If things are going wrong with your training, you should ask yourself what is happening, why is it happening and what is the solution?
The art of seeing a problem is being able to interpret what is happening and to decide what the solution is.
Flatwork is all about good foundations, which I call ‘fundamentals’, and they are very simple and straightforward:
If you have that framework you can go anywhere and you need to have all of them to different degrees and levels.
I don’t like the word impulsion as I find it a bit overused as a phrase. The horse should be going into the bridle and he should be slightly in front of the leg. What I mean by that is he should always be going forward from the leg into a nice polite contact. When you ask the horse to decelerate he should do so without being impolite i.e. leaning on you, inverting, trying to run.
You have a polite contact when he is light in the hand; he should be soft in his lower jaw, not crossing his jaw or trying to get his tongue over the bit or grinding his teeth. You should feel as if you are able to ride him on a piece of elastic.To achieve this make sure that you are not getting heavy and that he is not using your hand as the fifth leg to help himself balance. He should be holding himself. Again it is the fundamentals
As I said earlier, riding is supposed to be pleasurable. If your horse does not go forward and you are having to do all the work you will be asking yourself where is the enjoyment in that? A good exercise that I use to Improve the horses' responsiveness to your instructions and to get him listening and concentrating on you is the ‘Fives and Fives’.
The Fives and Fives
is used to improve balance, responsiveness and calmness. Here is how it works:
I. Take up your canter on a 25m circle.
2. Ride five strides of canter followed by five strides of walk then five strides of canter and so on.
3. Repeat approximately five circuits on each rein.
What happens is that the horse starts to understand what will happen next. He is going to canter in a minute and so becomes very alive in his walk and in canter he doesn’t get heavy because he knows he is going to walk shortly. He starts to be very receptive to what you are asking.
This exercise improves engagement because as the horse goes into walk he is expecting to go into canter at any minute so he is engaged and ready to strike off. As he goes into canter he knows that he is going to start walking at any second so he does not get forward or heavy. Again he is holding his own balance because he knows he is going to be changing pace. He also becomes more receptive to the aids for the strike off to canter and the downward transition into walk.