Understanding the Half-Halt

The half-halt is a specific riding aid given by an equestrian to his horse, in which the driving aids and restraining aids are applied in quick succession. It is sometimes thought of as an “almost halt,” asking the horse to prepare to halt in balance, before pushing it onward to continue in its gait. Uses of the Half-Halt The main purpose of the half-halt is to rebalance the horse, asking it to carry its weight […]

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Pyramid of Training Series: More on Impulsion

The foundation for the Pyramid of Training is rhythm, with energy and tempo, and relaxation, with elasticity and suppleness. The rider brings rhythm and relaxation together through connection, which is evident by the acceptance of the bit through the acceptance of the rider’s aids.  You will observe fluid movement between horse and rider when rhythm, relaxation and connection are evident and, as the horse progresses through his training, you will also start to see impulsion, […]

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2013 Exercise of the Month and the History of the Dressage Arena Letter Markers

2013 “Training by Degrees” Exercise of the Month It has been said that Western Dressage teaches you to school your horse by degrees. Degree by definition means relative extent, amount, intensity or level of something. So, training your Western horse using classic Dressage principles by degrees would imply to slowly introduce these principles to improve your western horse. The WDA of MN is excited to announce “Training by Degrees” WD Exercise of the Month. We […]

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Pyramid of Training Series: What is Impulsion

Impulsion, from Wikipedia Impulsion is the pushing power (thrust) of a horse, which comes from its desire to move powerfully forward with energy. However, speed does not create impulsion, and a rushing horse is more likely to be “flat” than impulsive. A horse can only have impulsion if its hind legs are engaged and its elastic back allows the power to come through.  Impulsion can only occur if the horse is coming properly up through […]

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Pyramid of Training Series: In-depth look at Connection (Acceptance of the Bit through Acceptance of the Aids)

On the bit is a dressage term that means much more than just the horse’s head position. On the bit refers to the rounded feeling that is achieved when you ride your horse from behind, over his back, through his neck and into your hands.  A horse that is on the bit is on the aids…responsive and ready for the rider’s next queue. When a horse is truly on the bit, he will have a […]

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Pyramid of Training Series: In-depth look at Relaxation with Elasticity and Suppleness

Relaxation…probably one of the most important parts of the Pyramid of Training as it significantly contributes to the work ahead. Relaxation prepares the horse both mentally and physically allowing him to perform his work without tension that hinders his movement. A relaxed horse willingly accepts his rider’s aids and moves with a supple back. In turn, he is able to bend throughout his body. He demonstrates his elasticity by willingly lengthening and shortening his strides. […]

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Pyramid of Training Series: In-depth look at Rhythm and Tempo

In last month’s Training by Degrees article, we learned that rhythm and tempo is the result of relaxation, both mentally and physically. We also learned that when the horse is relaxed, he will travel forward in a natural free flowing rhythm of the four gaits: the 4-beat walk, 2-beat trot, 3-beat canter, and 2-beat rein-back. However, this is a very broad description, rhythm means much more than just the number of distinct beats per stride […]

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Intro to the Training Pyramid

While attending a clinic, a student asked the clinician, who happened to be a renowned dressage trainer, if he thought a particular horse had the potential to excel at Grand Prix, the highest level of Dressage. The clinician smiled at the student and replied, “A good horse…is made!” Talent, conformation, and temperament will help make a horse great but without quality training, you have nothing. Regardless of discipline, age, breed, or background, quality training applies […]

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Training by Degrees Origin

In January’s issue of the Western Horseman magazine, there was an article from Lessons from Legends called, “Old is New Again” featuring Jack Brainard, Advisory Director to the Western Dressage Association™ of America.  In the article, Jack Brainard explains, “I think that Western dressage teaches you to school a horse by degrees”. Degree by definition means relative extent, amount, intensity or level of something. So, training your western horse using classic dressage principles by degrees […]

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