Start Strong To End Strong Essay

2656 words - 11 pages

For many, Equestrian sports all seem very similar; the most the masses can distinguish between one discipline and the next is the type of saddle that is used. All disciplines are the same to some extent. Each one requires certain basic principles to be taught before moving on to more intricate parts of the training process: obedience and rhythm of the three basic gaits of movement. These basic principles can all be summed up into one training method: Dressage. Dressage – meaning training in French – is teaching a horse to be obedient to whatever the rider asks of him or her (Schriner). No matter what style of riding is being trained, obedience is the first step in the process, proceeding to the more involved steps in the Dressage training scale such as: rhythm, relaxation, connection, impulsion, straightness, and collection (“Pyramid of Training”). The second step in Dressage supplies a means to perfect the rhythm of each of the horse’s three gaits: four beats at the walk, two at the trot, and three at the canter (“USDF”). Gaits, along with obedience create the two key objectives in the instructing process and from there, any discipline may be taught. In whatever way the disciplines of riding may differ on the surface, they all center their training techniques on those of Dressage, and Dressage should therefore be the first step in training a horse.
Perhaps one discipline that needs the greatest mastery of the basics is jumping. It combines the movement of the horse on the flat, as well as incorporating objects that a horse and rider must jump. Before even attempting to clear a fence, trainers must ensure that horses are able “to keep a steady pace at each gait… and perform upward and downward transitions” correctly to ensure that the training basics have been achieved (White-Mullen 103). It is a top priority because with the added obstacles, perfection of the preliminaries is necessary in successfully clearing a jump. Obedience for this discipline is required. A horse must depart from the walk to the trot or the trot to the canter when the rider gives the cue; these changes of gait are called transitions. Without a timely response on the horse’s part, there is a chance of a refusal of the jump, or possibly the demolition of an obstacle; however, it does not stop at the basics; the other steps in the Dressage training scale also come into play for this discipline (Schriner). For instance, in order for a horse to sail over the jump, he or she must be balanced and straight. This does not just allude to the horse and rider being in a perfect line headed for the jump, but that the horse’s body is straight. When the horse’s body is aligned correctly, the haunches, or hindquarters of the horse, will not be swung one way or the other and the shoulders of the horse are also aligned with the middle line of the jump. Straightness is a key component taught in Dressage, and is used to teach a horse to be responsive (Schriner). A horse will be asked to...

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