Thursday, June 16, 2016


What does relaxation of the horse mean to you?  To me it means a horse that is breathing deeply, with soft eyes, relaxed over the topline, and willing to stop, go, and stand from the seat/body aids alone.  This is no easy feat in and of itself, but I think a lot of times, especially in Dressage, there is so much emphasis on "connection" that the connection really just ends up being the brakes and that leads to tense jaws, short necks, and locked backs.  If you can ride your horse at all three gaits on a loose rein, stop and go from your seat, and THEN add in the connection with the reins, everything about aligning, balancing, and directing the energy of the horse seems to be much easier.  Nothing new or innovative about this but it seems like one of those things that cross all of the equestrian disciplines and that all really good riders do, even if they don't know they are doing it.


  1. I am still working so hard on that 'connection', not control (as it used to be for me for most of my riding life). After I learned natural horsemanship techniques, I started my girl on seat and breathing for control and she is much more relaxed with a loose rein. As her training progresses and the rein connection becomes more important, I am struggling to keep it all about communication and not start relying on the reins again out of habit!

  2. Me too Wendy! I find it fairly easy to do the loose rein relaxed ride but adding in the reins for connection tempts me to use my hands more and more especially as the work gets harder. So hard to resist the temptation to use the paws and instead use all the other body aids! I do think you see a ton of this currently in dressage competition with riders using the reins for control instead of connection. The best riders across all the disciplines don't though, they use body and breathing...