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  • Writer's pictureKristie Cotton

A Man’s worth depends upon the nobility of his aspirations

It always looks so easy to solve problems by taking the path of least resistance. What looks like the easy road turns out to be the hardest and most cruel. Winston Churchill 1874 – 1965

Dressage practiced correctly is used to gymnastisize any horse in any type of riding. Suppling exercises were created as a benefit to self carriage, lightness and obedience. (Yes, I would like a 1200 lb. Animal to respond to what I ask ) Horses that are balanced and light are  not only athletic , but easier to ride. These horses present themselves as noble, and beautiful.


Carl Hester-The horse magazine Just as it takes a dancer to slowly develop strength and balance, the same goes for the horse, in all disciplines.

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 “One often demands things that the horses are not capable of doing in a desire to push them too fast and teach them too much. These excessive demands make them hate exercise, strains and tires their sinews and tendons, upon whose elasticity suppleness depends and often these horses end up ruined when it is believed that they have been trained. Thus, no longer having the strength to fight back, they obey, but without grace or any spirit. “

         —– François Robichon de La Guérinière (1688–1751) was a French riding master who had a profound effect on accepted methods for horse training, and one of the most influential writers on the art of Dressage.

I am sincerely heartbroken when I see a following of yanking the horses head this way and that to ” soften ” and then adding a tiny yank on the bit to be sure the horse “understood ” softening to pressure. Is this where we have come to in our desire to achieve ” partnership ?” To me the horse seems confused, like yanking someone to go somewhere but not actually communicating where you are taking them. This is a very popular training method, even being taught to young riders. I need to speak up about it, it’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing.                   Focusing on the placement or ” feel ” of the horses neck creates a false sense of softness to the bit. There is a whole spine there surrounded by important muscles that need to be addressed. Horses are so tolerant to what we think is beautiful. Horses as well as young riders are very intelligent and can absorb the education of correctly balancing a horse. Learning to prepare the horse for something as simple as halt using body nuances, creates comfort for both horse and rider.


Moving on to the misuse of the curb… now appearing everywhere. If you have a strong contact on the shanks in order to create a softening or placement of the horses head, you are actually inviting the horse to set his head on the bit, bracing his back and causing abnormal gait movement.


Apologies after showing example of misuse of  bit with shanks


self carriage and comfort

Your going to need a bigger bit! The stronger you pull, the more damage you will create. The horses physique is intricately designed,  educate yourself regarding how to properly balance the horse for ultimate comfort mentally and physically.

If  you are taking shortcuts that appear to work,  it creates a false feeling of lightness.  The horse will lean and push on that bit more and more until he has learned to contract his back every time you place pressure on the bit. Tug of war begins and he will win or submit. This eventually leads to lameness, especially sacroiliac problems.

I am not a beautiful rider that has won awards and trophies but I have studied the bio mechanics of the horse. I can honestly claim to have helped many horses that presented behavior or lameness issues. I have also taught many young riders to learn how to properly coordinate and balance the horse with quiet dialogue, not harsh contact on the bit.

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If you have a horse, think about your motives and at what point has it become about your goals of glory and attaining them. Have you dismissed the horse as an animal of intelligence and feeling? François Robichon de La Guérinière wrote about barbaric methods ruining the horses spirit over 100 years ago, take some time to think about what you are asking of your horse and do you anatomically know why you are asking that of them?

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The horse does one of two things. He does what he thinks he’s supposed to do or he does what he thinks he needs to do to survive—Ray Hunt

  1. Title quote by Hazrat Ali

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