If you want to achieve harmony with your horse, it is necessary for both of you to be balanced and centered. This requires the rider to have correct proprioception (the ability to sense her body position in space) and use it to follow the movement of her horse. This allows the horse to feel a clear connection with her rider and to be able to understand the aids given. It also helps the horse to relax and stay light in motion. The concept of balance is an important one when riding dressage as it impacts how the horse performs in a test. The judges are looking for a harmonious relationship between the horse and the rider, which is created through mutual trust and clear communication.
If the horse is tense, nervous or resistant to the rider’s aids, this is not harmonious riding and it will affect the result of the test. To develop harmony with your horse, you must begin by working with him without a saddle and in hand to improve the clarity of your communication. Once you’ve established this connection, you can move on to more demanding exercises such as shoulder-in and haunches-in at the walk and then pirouettes at the trot. It is essential that you remain playful in your approach to this work, not allowing yourself to get too serious about it. This way you’ll both have fun and enjoy the process. During this phase you can start to see how bringing the horse into balance will benefit both of you. You will find that he is more willing to respond to your requests and will begin to look forward to the ridden work.
This is because he will be able to relax and stay in balance, which makes it more fun for him. It is this joyful feeling of unity that will help you to reach harmony with your horse. As you continue to develop this connection with your horse, you will begin to find that you can ride in harmony with him at the walk, trot and canter, and even a jog. However, it is essential to remember that this is a process and it takes time for you to build this unity with your horse. Ultimately, you will come to a point where you can ride in harmony with your horse and be completely at one with him, and this is the ultimate goal of all riders.
Ylvie Fros is a Centered Riding(r) Level III instructor and squire as well as a selected trainer in the Academic Art of Riding(tm). She teaches around the world to promote healthy dressage for horses with increased rider awareness. She combines the principles of Zen and horse and human biomechanics to create her unique style of teaching called Relational Riding(tm). She is the owner of Partridge Horse Hill, an equestrian training facility in Ontario, Canada. Her clients and students have won international titles in competitions ranging from Show Jumping, Thoroughbred Makeovers to Mustang Training Challenges.