Ask The Trainer

/Ask The Trainer
2207, 2014

Head, Shoulder, Hip and Heels?

By | July 22nd, 2014|

What is the importance of head, shoulder, hip and heels alignment, and how does it affect a horse’s way of going?

Try this self analysis exercise for me… Stand on the ground with your legs approximately 2-2’6″ apart and with bent knees, align your body so that your ears are over your shoulders, your shoulders are over your hip, and your heels (ankles actually since you are flat-footed on the ground) are aligned directly in line with your hip… Find your balance while keeping head […]

2805, 2014

What is Leg Yield

By | May 28th, 2014|

One of the first ‘yielding’ lateral exercises in the development of horse and rider. It is a suppling exercise as well as being a fundamental lateral movement at its core that will greatly improve the horse’s longitudinal and lateral flexibility. At the same time the rider is introduced to learning how to balance and control the sideways driving aids and the outside (holding) aids by feel and timing. Later in training the leg-yield is used to not only supple, but also to encourage self […]

2205, 2014

“Less is More”

By | May 22nd, 2014|

Consider that a horse feels a fly… even a midge on their skin, so being able to ask and achieve the desired result is a better goal than having to tell for the same result.

Provide your horse the opportunity to respond to a light touch with the leg, seat and/or artificial aid, and DON’T nag [a horse will tune out a nagging aid]. If your horse blocks out your light touch, ask with more – quickly and only once – then return to light queries.

With […]

1905, 2014

What is a Half-Halt?

By | May 19th, 2014|

At its most subtle, the half-halt is a moment where you close then release (long pulse) your seat, leg, and hand aids to increase the attention – and improve the balance of – your horse in preparation for any transition/movement.

Through the correct use of the half-halt we create energy and as that energy is collected it can be used to clarify and benefit any movement or transition. When you attain that pivotal state between attention and balance you own it all!

505, 2014

What About “Circles”?

By | May 5th, 2014|

All circles are measured by their diameter. A 20-meter circle, therefore, is a circle with a 20 meter diameter. The general circle sizes in dressage tests are: 20, 15, and 10 meters. Half-circles are incorporated in both training and test levels [an example is the “serpentine”]. Volte and Pessade are also variations of circles incorporated in higher levels of training.


The 20-meter circle is arguably one of the most important training figures in dressage and is seen […]

305, 2014


By | May 3rd, 2014|

The bold self-assurance with which a horse performs; normally goes hand-in-hand with the trust he/she has in partnership with the rider.

105, 2014

What is “Contact”?

By | May 1st, 2014|

USDF describes “contact” as

The reins are stretched so that they form a straight line, not a loop. “Correct contact” or “acceptance of contact” is determined by the elasticity of the connection between horse and rider. (Note: The third tier of the Training Pyramid is represented by the concept of “Connection” in the U.S., and by the concept of “Contact” [translation of “Anlehnung”] by the FEI [see Foreign Terms section].)

I believe contact and building a connection to the horse are synonymous. I like to […]

1004, 2014

How I Met Buck Branaman

By | April 10th, 2014|

I’m a German trained Bereiter, F.N. formerly trained in Warendorf, Germany who has focused primarily on dressage for the past 30 years. In the 80’s (1985) I had an epiphany… his name was Buck Branaman.

I was importing horses from Europe (Germany in particular), training and breeding Hanoverians in California at St. George’s Farm (Moorpark) at the time, now a thoroughbred breeding farm.

My father had sent me an extraordinarily well bred 3-year-old Hanoverian gelding as a gift (Maat dressage lines). As I started him […]

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