Reiner Klimke said “Riding is easy. It is knowing what aid to use, when, and at what intensity. That is the difficult part.” This is not the exact quote, because I can’t find where I read it, but I think you get the idea.
So how does this translate into making dressage easy or easier? If you know me, then you know I break it down into parts.
1. KNOW what you want.
Did you want right lead canter? Did you want your horse to walk ? If the answer is “uh… well… but it was ok” then you have not identified what you want the horse to do at this moment, or in the next moment.
If you have not identified it, then your horse isn’t going to know and then they usually start choosing for themselves. Not a good idea if your horse can start making decisions.
If you just want to trot a 20m circle, then you have identified the job. And now you can do step 2.
2. ASK for what you want. Ok, now you know what it is you want. Then ask for it. You know the aids, so use them cleanly and clearly so your horse can understand and hear you.
Instructor: “did you ask your horse for that?”
Student : “not really, but he is being so good.”
Hmm. But… is he being good? really, if you didn’t ask for it then how is he being good. So next time ask for what you DO want. Try to avoid telling him “No, don’t do that.” Give him a job, ask him to do that job and see to it he gets it done (#3).
3. Make sure you GET what you ask for. This is the follow thru, did your horse respond to the aid that was given. Did you get what you wanted?
The best example I have is when you tell your dog to “sit”. Then you push his bum down to confirm what you ask. You wanted your dog to sit, you asked him to sit, then you made sure he sat.
This doesn’t answer the hard questions on what the aids are or fixing training issues, but this is a basic/simple way to develop a nice riding horse, solving a lot of training dilemmas and can be applied to the most difficult exercises. Sounds simple?
Well, go do it. Decide what you want, ask for it and make sure you get it. Easy 1 2 3.