Month List

Quick Links

Dressage Training Level Requirements

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   January 26, 2011 20:05


"Training level is your foundation - those are your basics upon which everything is built.  The five basics are:  relaxation, forward movement, regular rhythm, straightness and lastly, obedience.  That is your foundation.  In succeeding levels you don't lose any of those qualities.  You add to those qualities.  Just as a a house that isn't built on a strong foundation is going to fall in a storm, you are going to run into difficulties at some point if you haven's established those five things from the beginning."     Jane Savoie

"I like to see that the horse is in a natural carriage, meaning the walk, trot and canter he does in the test should resemble the walk, trot, and canter he does free, except that he is under control of the rider and accepting of the aids.  That allows a lot of difference in the frame of the horse, depending on his natural movement and balance.  Horses that are built more on the forehand, like the Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse, should be more open, meaning traveling a little in front of the vertical,  stepping out to the reins, so that they can keep their balance.  Horses with a higher head and neck can go in a rounder frame so that they travel more through their back."             Pam Goodrich




Xenephon's 350 B.C. Advice for Selecting a Young Horse

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   January 26, 2011 10:34
The ideal head of the warhorse

Many of Xenophon's suggestions below are still applied today when selecting a sport horse.

Xenophon details what is to be examined when inspecting a horse to buy as a war-mount. He is especially careful to stress the importance of soundness. His recommendations include:

  • A hoof of thick horn, and a frog that is held off the ground.
  • Pasterns that are not too straight and upright, as these will jar the rider and are more likely to become sore, nor too long and low, as they will strike the ground when galloping and will be cut on rocks.
  • Thick cannon bones
  • Good bend in the knees, as the horse is less likely to stumble or to break down
  • Thick and muscular forearms
  • Broad chest, for both beauty and because the legs will be less likely to interfere
  • A neck that is high-set and carried upward. Xenophon believed this would allow the horse to better see what was in front of him, and also make him less able to overpower the rider, because it would be more difficult to put his head down.
  • A bony head with a small jawbone, a soft mouth, and prominent eyes for good vision
  • Large nostrils, for good respiration and a fiercer appearance
  • A large crest and small ears
  • Tall withers, to help hold the rider on, and to give a good attachment between the shoulder and the body
  • A "double spine" (fleshy back), which is softer and more comfortable, as well as prettier
  • A deep, rounded side, which allows the rider to stay on more easily, and allows the horse to better digest his food
  • Broad, short loins, allowing the horse to raise the forehand and engage the hindend (Xenophon describes the ability to collect), and are stronger than long loins.
  • The hindquarters should be muscular and firm, for speed
  • The gaskins and buttocks should be well separated, so the horse stands wide behind, allowing him to be more balanced, and to give a prouder bearing
  • He should not have large testicles

Xenophon then directs the reader to look at a young colt's cannons to predict his height.



350 BC Training Advice by Xenophon

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   January 24, 2011 19:51

Xenophon first makes a point to say that the reader should not waste his time nor endanger his health by personally breaking colts.

Before the horse is delivered to the trainer, the owner should know that he has a good temperament and gentle nature. The horse should trust people, knowing that they are the providers of food and water. If this is done correctly, the young colt should grow to love people. The groom should stroke or scratch the colt, so that he enjoys human company, and should take the young horse through crowds to accustom him to different sights and noises. If the colt is frightened, the groom should reassure him, rather than punish him, and teach the animal that there is nothing to fear.


How do you fix it when the horse comes behind the bit?

posted by Horse Owner Today    |   January 24, 2011 18:41

The answer is leg and a giving hand, and the problem stems from the opposite.  With many riders who don't have instruction, riding the horse behind the vertical makes him more comfortable and maybe they feel he is light on the aids.  But it's not correct in that it puts the horse off the aids and more on the forehand.  Then what often happens is that the rider begins to enjoy sitting into his back and pushing him around.  Pretty soon the back also becomes low so you have that horrible low in the stomach and low in the poll position which is a dead-end.   by Gary Rockwell