George Stubbs, Pumpkin with a Stable Lad


...if I have always worked honestly, my horse will carry me to the end of the world.

E.F. Seidler


News - Philippe Karl Clinic, 19th - 21st June, Pegestorf

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Introduction Horse J, Day 2
Horse B Day 1 Q&A Session
Horse C Day 1 Horse D, Day 3
Horse D Day 1 Horse E, Day 3
Horse E Day 1 Horse J, Day 3
Horse F Day 1 Horse B, Day 3
Horse B Day 2 Horse F, Day 3
Horse D Day 2 Horse A, Day 3

Horse G Day 2

Horse I, Day 3
Horse H Day 2
Horse A, Day 2
Horse I, Day 2

Between the 19th and 21st of June 2009, I was fortunate enough to be able to audit a three day clinic with Philippe Karl in Pegestorf, a gorgeous village on the Weser River in Germany's Lower Saxony region.

Over the three days, I took copious notes, many of which I have typed out here. These are in a fairly 'stream of conciousness' form, and it should be noted that any 'anomalies' are likely due to a misunderstanding, or mis-translation, on my part.

Horse B, Day 1.

A warmblood, has some issues due to previous training. Was purchased for "meat money from a top European dressage champion" as it was declared "dangerous" due to rearing etc. The horse tends to stress or panic if spurs are touched to its sides.

This horse steps very wide behind in the rein back. Try the rein back on a circle as the horse needs to flex his back. Don't do too much - use the leg (isolated) or the whip to support the hind quarters. The horse did start to flex his back and hind quarters, but needs a bit of time until he has really learnt the lesson. Also, try the rein back after a shoulder in, or, try a rein back in a light shoulder in for three or four steps. Doing a rein back on a circle does look strange, but it is already in the books from the 18th Century. If you have to, make the circle smaller to get the horse to step closer together (with his hind legs). Flex the neck in the exercise.

If you transition from the rein back straight into canter, piaffe or pirouette, these movements will all be very good quality.

The rider should use the spurs in order to be more precise. The spurs are better than a whip for this exercise.

The rider was asked to transition from the rein back to a collected trot, with the comment that "the horse should normally offer a good trot now".

Riders need to create situations where it is possible to get collection and then try for collection, don't demand collection. e.g. shoulder in, croup in. Then you can ask for extension, and ask for collection again. Doing transitions in shoulder in can help with collection.

The rider has been having problems with flying changes, so we will exercise this horse to se if he does it right. Do the flying change in a nice canter on a circle.

If you can, when working on an exercise, start on the horse's 'difficult side'. That way you can finish on a high note with the good side.

When asking for a flying change on the circle, try hard to keep on the circle, as then you only have three possible outcomes:

  • a good change (and we are very happy)
  • only a change of the hind legs (and we are also happy)
  • no change (and we can quit the ring)

To start on a left leat, sit to the right and keep the circle (this rider had a slight tendancy to sit to the left). Do some walk-canter-walk transitions on the circle, and in the renvers position to make sure that you get control and reaction. Just 2, 3 or 4 steps each time. Aim for clear and responsive transitions.

Even if this horse doesn't work, keep him on the circle. It is better that he doesn't do the flying change than to leave the circle and do the change incorrectly. When he changes via leaving the circle, he rushes, and changes his front legs first.

Another solution for this horse might be:

  • on the left hand, canter on the right lead
  • position yourself for a left shoulder in
  • then move the shoulders to the wall and Zack! Change!
  • we will try this exercise on the horse tomorrow. The horse comes from the outside to the inside.

Collecting exercises:

  • In shoulder in, walk to trot transitions.
  • Also, transitions to halt. From halt, direct to trot. Help him with his mobility.
  • Go for a collected halt - shorter transitions, test the possibility of the horse to flex his back and hind legs.
  • So, a quick collected halt followed by an immediate Trot On! STOP and GO! NOW! spring forward.
  • It is important not to ask more than the horse can easily do, but it should be more.

This horse needs to learn not to fear the contact of the spurs. Sometimes, you can ignore what he does (the horse's reaction to the spurs), and keep doing what you are doing e.g. soft touch with the spur to get the horse to accept the spur when placed forward at the girth. Eventually he should not move. Praise him when he accepts the contact.

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Horse C, Day 1.

This was a lesson within a lesson - a student was instructed by one of Philippe Karl's students. Philippe Karl provided commentary and correction as necessary.

This rider is working a lot on action-reaction, e.g. action-reaction of placing the horse's head up and down via the action of the bit. This was initially done on the ground at the halt and at a walk, placing the horse's head where we want it to be. Lift the head with the reins. Then, turn the head using the inside rein (over the neck) - but keep the head on the same level during the flexion.

When we can do one thing, this is good. When we do the second thing, make sure that you don't lose the first thing. When you do a third thing, make sure you don't lose the first and second thing. So, we can build up a language.

So for flexions:

  • head up
  • bend the head (on the same level)
  • then I can decide whether I want the horse to move his head down (whilst still flexed) for a stretch.

Be soft, but be efficient. The horse gives with his mouth. Use the inner rein - make sure that you are holding both reins on your side of the horse (i.e. the side you are standing on). Pull with your inside rein and push on the outer bit with your hand if you need to at the start. The inner rein hand starts at around the position of the shoulder. Pull it down! - your hand should not be up near, or over, the mane. The rein that comes over the neck should cross the neck near the wither. Make sure that you are standing near to the horse.

At the beginning, we might need to make very corrective actions. As the horse learns, the corrections become smaller and smaller and at the end, we have normal flexions.

The rider can now get on the horse, and we will try the flexions from the horse's back. Put your hands up to ask for the horse's mouth. Then, lower your hand. Don't let the reins be too long, otherwise your hands will need to be too high.

At the walk, first, think about the outer hand, then you can think about your inner hand (otherwise, you tend to forget about your outer hand).

Your hand, when up (correcting the horse's head position) should not be up for more than ca. 1 second.

To be able to bend a horse, you need to have a straight horse. Before you try to bend the horse, make sure that you have control of your outer hand. The outer hand waits for the correct position of the horse's head. Fix your outer hand where you want the horse's head position to be. Lift your inner hand, then drop it - the horse will round up.

Circle at a trot in contra bend - the horse looks out of the circle. Both hands are positioned slightly to the inside of the circle, and the outer rein lies lightly on the horses neck (acting as a neck rein). Here, the neck is bent OUT. So the 'inner' hand (inner to circle) is the outer hand in the bend. Keep it fixed and raise the (bend) inner hand, then drop to ask the horse to round. Remember to be efficient and 'quick' (with the hand movement) to success.

You must not forget the outer hand! riders do this all the time. The outer hand controls. Bend with the inner hand. The only hand should only ever be up (to correct) for a split second - not for hours.

Don't forget to give the horse frequent breaks, even if they are short. This gives the neck a chance to stretch.

If a horse is thinking too much about an exercise (anticipating / stretch), distract him with something like a shoulder in on a volte.

In the shoulder in, sit to the outside.

Make sure that you can round and stretch the neck on a volte.

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Horse D, Day 1.

This horse is a 17.1 hh warmblood of jumping lines. He is starting to learn piaffe and passage. He is very willing, and has been competing in dressage and winning at S level (Advanced) and about to start Prix St. George. He gets a bit nervous at competitions. He is a bit excitable in the canter, and tucks his head under. He has been trained in the Philippe Karl method for about four months, and since switching to this method, the rider has been able to get the horse to stretch long and low for the first time. There has been a great improvement in the horse over the last months.

This is a nice horse with very nice movement. We don't want things too good too soon, as this is the surest way to never get what we want exactly.

If the horse tucks under, put your hands up, bring the poll up and open, lighten the shoulder, transition to a trot. When he is long and balanced again, transition to the canter.

Think of the hand action this way. You ride dressage, but want to jump a 1.6 metre high fence. The horse is cantering too fast, so you want to slow him. If you put your hands low and back you will tuck his head under, so put your hands up and back to slow him down, so that his head is still up and he can still see.

In shoulder in, position your inner leg on the girth. Not back at all.

If he is in balance, you can open the middle finger and drop your hands to lighten the contact - the horse will still go the same.

Flex elbows up to do the transition.

Half halt - never pull back on the reins, move the hand slightly up. This is against your reflex. Keep your legs quiet.

A system to learn where you lose 100 Euro every time you pull back on the reins would be helpful. You would stop pulling back very quickly.

When the horse is going well in canter, lighten the reins.

To get length - pull up and release (the reins). Make sure the reins are long enough for the horse to stretch his nose out.

If you systematically train him in flexions, the half pass will be easier as he will hold himself in the bend, and he will be lighter for you.

The horse is in balance when he doesn't need support of the hand anymore e.g. you stop and drop the reins and the horse's head stays in the same position.

You have impulsion when you don't have to drive (the HQ) all the time.

In every exercise, set the horse up and he should do the exercise without the hand. The hand corrects, it doesn't hold.

The energy that a horse uses hanging on the hand is energy that is not used in doing the movement.

If you stand and lift the head and neck, you will see that the legs stay still but the body weight will shift back (this was done with the horse at a stand still - hands raised, head and neck up, hands pulling back gently and the horse clearly shifted his weight more onto his hind quarters).

A little bit slower rythym (but with energy) will give you longer steps and better gymnasticising. If the rythym is too fast, you are too much on the forehand or driving too much.

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Horse E, Day 1

This horse has some arthritic changes; The horse's vet had cleared the horse for light work. The unsoundness became more apparent after the warm up and the rider was asked to retire the horse.

The rider's second horse was a young horse and not long under saddle. Working on getting the horse on the bit.

Ride the horse in his trot, not more, not less.

A game like pulling a rope with a dog, but where we pull up rather than back, is the game that you need to play with this horse. If you do it long enough, you will provoke a reaction from him. Take firm contact for a few seconds, then offer him the reins.

To make a horse long is not easy. If he starts to lose the contact, take it up again, he needs to understand that he can't hide from the contact.

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Horse F, Day 1

An older PRE gelding. Has been ridden and trained following Philippe Karl's methods since young.

When moving from the shoulder in to the half pass, keep the same angle.

When the horse knows shoulder in and can do it with good quality, you don't need to do it for 50 metres. It doesn't prove anything.

Use action-reaction whenever needed. At some point you will hardly need to use it any more.

When doing a counter canter, you need to have the bend (really, you have the counter bend) before you get to the corner or go onto a circle. Canter on the outside lead along the long side of the arena, but bend in.

Don't use a horse's natural abilities until the horse is ready - e.g. with Baroque horses, don't accept the piaffe and passage to early, with Warmbloods, don't accept extensions too early.

Baroque horses often make work so easy, but they are often victims of their talent. They can be pushed too much due to their good natures, and will use the basics. Horses taht are untalented have an easier life, as no one tries to do anything with them.

On any talented horse, you need impulsion and balance - not side reins and whips etc.

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Horse B, Day 2

Pirouette to the left. Lighten the shoulders, sit to the left, hands lightly to the left hand side and look left.

The position of the body should tell you what is being done (e.g. what movement is being ridden). If you erase the horse, you should still be able to tell what movement was being performed by the rider's position.

Hands high to make the horse high at the front.

It is better to take a break at the halt than let the horse stretch out totally in a strange walk.

Traverse should look in, if traverse on a circle, look in a little bit more. You will look a bit arrogant, but that is ok.

Inner leg must be at the girth and outer leg back in the shoulder in. The same position in a half pass. You might need to use a whip to get him to react to the inner leg.

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Horse D, Day 2

Transition (e.g. canter to trot) by lifting his neck.

Flexing the horse with his head right up (when the horse sees something in the paddock, his head goes right up). Then flex his head to the sides. Straight and high. Then turn e.g. 45° to the right, light aid. Then put your hands down and give the reins.

If the horse is happy to stretch his neck and does it when asked, why not train high? It is not a problem.

Do not work with your hands. It is a conversation between your hands and the horse's mouth. Not a fight between your shoulders and his head.

You can do an extreme angle in the croup in (it is not correct!) to teach him to accept the aids, and then minimise the angle.

Be very clear with your hand, but only upwards.

The school of Légèreté is not lady riding for people that don't want to do anything to their horses. It means riding lightly and efficiently.

If you ask for stretchy nech in the trot, for example, on a circle and he goes faster without you asking him to then bring him up and say "no, slow".

To stop, bring his head up and stop. Head stays in the same (raised) place with the reins released.

PK very much likes humble riders! A rider at this level that questions herself is refreshing to see, as opposed to people with 10% of her knowledge that are very arrogant.

In the original French text of la Guerniere's book, there is a passage that says to balance a horse by bringing up, by pointing the fingernails up. This has never been translated into German (I don't know if it was translated into English).

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Horse G, Day 2

This was a palomino pony, ridden by a young lady who is being instructed by one of PK's students. This horse is extremely excitable and nervous (explosive and often its entire body shakes when taken away from home). Training Piaffe and Passage.

The horse would not walk for the student or for the instructor (constant jogging); would not pay attention to either.

PK suggested strong shoulder in on a very small circle to try to get the horse to concentrate on the handlers. The horse cannot trot as he is flexed and bent. After five minutes, the horse will generally be ok. Don't forget to change hands. Let the horse bend a lot, then you can give. This technique did improve the horse greatly (walk was achieved, but the horse was still nervous and distracted).

Question from trainer: When this horse walks, it crosses it's legs as if it is doing a Spanish Walk - how can this be fixed? PK said that the horse also has a tendency to do this in trot. Training the horse in a correct Spanish Walk could actually help it with the problem. If the horse does the Spanish walk in a relaxed manner, and with energy, then it will be better.

For this horse, try to exercise from Spanish Walk into Passage. When the horse can do the Spanish Walk better, the Spanish Walk will be slower. (Spanish Walk was practiced - and it was interesting to note that the horse did in fact calm down and concentrate more whilst performing the movement). Also, the practiced Spanish Walk to Passage transistions did seem to improve the transition.

Bea Borelle (PK's wife and a horse trainer in her own right) asked to be able to do some ground work with this horse, concentrating on getting the horse to focus on the handler.

Bea Borelle did some 'relaxation' and 'domination' exercises, using treats as a reward. She commented that if the horse is very excitable (such as this one), then you don't just give the horse one treat, give it 6 or 7 (e.g. lots) so that it forgets about wanting to go-go-go and is happy to stop, eat and breathe.

It seemed that the horse was calming down, and it was decided to give the horse a break and BB would teach the student some techniques with the horse in the evening.

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Horse H, Day 2

I did not get the history on this horse.

When doing action-reaction on the ground (when you are starting to teach flextions, and positioning the head), it is easiest to ask the horse to go on a circle - then you don't have to run to keep up. Keep your hands about 15 - 20 cm apart, not more.

When lifting the horse's head, imagine that you are lifting something that is heavy, but fragile. You can use strength if needed, but be gentle. Stop pulling up when the horse starts to pull down.

If you are working on a hand that the horse finds more difficult (such as a trot to the left), you might want to try to have both hands positioned slightly to the outside to stop him falling in on the shoulder (that is, hands shifted laterally to the outside).

The first duty of a good hand is to follow the mouth. This is valid in dressage just as much as in jumping (where the hand follows the horse's mouth over the jump). No artificial rein can give the same contact or result as a good hand.

If you have trouble keeping your hands at the same height and distance apart, you can try making a 'bridge' out of the reins. Keep tension in the 'bridge', which will keep your hands the same distance apart. You will also be able to see the relative heights of your hands easily.

You might notice that in the "correction phase" (e.g. from 'up' to 'stretched'), you might get a few steps that are like pacing. This is short, and only whilst the horse learns. In Grand Prix horses at the moment, you see this all the time.

Descent de main - you cannot do this unless you first lift the hand.

In the half pass to the right, you sit to the right (that is, you sink your seatbone).

To get his head up, try a soft pull up and try 'vibrating' softla to try to activate the horse. The horse's mouth should sit in your hands like a little bird on a branch - very fragile.

The first time you take the reins in the mouth of a young horse, you don't want poll flexion. You want to keep his throatlatch open, as there are lots of things in this area.

PK no longer long reins young horses, as you can only really pull back on the horse, and not up.

Exercise on the ground, stroking the horse with the whip so that he doesn't fear it.

To prepare on the ground for the piaffe, shoulder in, shoulder in trot - stop and go in shoulder in is a very good exercise. Then ask for a halt, and just before he stops, "tap, tap" on the hind quarters for two or three steps of piaffe - then stop. The piaffe should come from a wish to go forward.

Stop - trot - stop - trot - you will get to a point where the horse offers to go forward.

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Horse A, Day 2

This horse was a very willing, and very talented Lusitano. The horse is 'relatively' young, and has had numerous owners in his life (through no fault of his own). He has been recently purchased by a long time PK student. This horse was interesting to watch, as he seemed to try to anticipate what was wanted - e.g. if a few steps of piaffe were asked for and then the horse was given a break, he would offer piaffe when the rider picked up the reins again.

Use the curb to get the flexion of the poll.

When transitioning lateral movements, change your seat first, then your legs (if necessary). This will give you a smoother transition between movements.

Don't always train high - do shoulder in, half pass etc. Hands high, and then stretched etc etc - change what you do.

If the horse has a good canter, you will have lots of time for the flying changes (e.g. 2 seconds). If the horse has sewing machine gaits, he does not spend so long in the air, and you have less time. It is a bit more difficult.

Try a shoulder or forehand to the wall, and then do the flying change.

Get a nice walk, and then ask for a Spanish walk when everything is relaxed. Only do it once (don't repeat), otherwise you lose the opportunity to say "good boy". Do this out of a good, slow walk - don't repeat a bad movement, as it won't get better that way.

Travers on a 10 m volte with a correct bend, and then you will have no problem to ride it a little smaller - and then you have a pirouette (I think!).

Two things are easy in riding:

  • To be relaxed, as in sleepy or lazy, and
  • to be active, as in excited

Active and relaxed is the aim of classic dressage.

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Horse I, Day 2

This rider has trouble in flexing her back - it is always stiff. PK put her legs in front of the blocks on her dressage saddle, and said that she should trot. She sat more correctly in the saddle, and her back began to flex. PK said that the blocks are blocking her thighs, but unfortunately, that was the only saddle that she had found to fit the horse.

A travers on a volte is a good way to slow down a canter that is too quick. But sit in the movement.

Traverse walk and canter transitions are good. Take time to have a good position in walk, with a good bend and angle. If the movement is bad in the walk, it won't be good in the canter, so try to get it right. You can repeat this exercise 10-20 times each day for a while. It also improves the balance of the horse. In this position, it is difficult to rush.

You can try walking circles with a lot of bend (e.g. 45°) to build up the horse's flexibility. You can get a very nice walk, and then you can also try it in the trot.

Don't do passage out of piaffe until the piaffe is better (in this horse, I don't know that this is a general rule). Work on the passage from the trot.

Use the spurs to round; when the horse rounds, remove the spur, collect the horse, sit, apply the spurs again and passage.

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Horse J, Day 2

This was a nice Hanoverian mare by Don Frederico. Has been ridden very 'deep' in the past, and has had health problems.

Volte, zig zag, volte. Shift the seat and controlling leg - these 'frame' the horse (keep the horse in a frame).

Volte Zig Zag

In the volte, fix the outside rein, bend with the inside. Use lots of bend - if the horse still does not listen to you, stay in the volte.

The horse needs to know when you ask for bend that you mean bend, and the bend ends when the horse gets to the outside rein.

Sometimes, if a young horse doesn't keep it's head in position, or understand, leave the inside hand a little higher, or exaggerate until the horse understands. Then you have the result.

After canter, do a really foward trot.

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Question and Answer session

The action - reaction method is a very effective method to correct a horse, but it does need to be done correctly, or it may make a puller.


Someone wants to know whether they can get a good extended trot from a horse with a terrible trot?

Hmm... It is possible to extend the trot, but you can't make a Citroën 2CV easily into a Ferrari. It is a big investment in time. The only possibility - and you may not suceed, is to use neck extensions so that he gets used to moving to his maximum.


  • Good transitions
  • Good piaffe
  • Good Spanish walk
  • Good passage
  • Then try to extend the trot.

But, there is no guarantee. The horse either has the talent, or he doesn't, which is why we have 250,000 EUR dressage horses available.

Your horse already has this trot (ok, he has also a good canter, a good character, conformation etc). It may be best to concentrate on your other dreams with this horse, like piaffe. Then, look to the extended trot.

Why, in fact, do you focus on the extended trot?

(The questioner's response was inaudible).

Extended trot is possible with very light reins. Look at many old photos, such as Otto Lurke. These people could also do very good piaffe.


Someone asked a question about riding transitions with half-halts and transitions to halt.

This is completely explained in his book (book was freely available for all participants to read over the three days), but use active hands and pushing seat to bring the legs closer to the centre of gravity. As long as the horse is forward, he can't bring his hindquarters under. Piagge is not forward, therefore, hindquarters under, movement up.

As soon as the piaffe goes forward to collected trot, the legs move aft again.

Don't use half halts to slow down - as you want to brake, but you are still applying a driving aid (via the half halt) at the same time. If you ask the horse for something that he can't do, and he does it... either he respects the leg, or the hand, but not both.

He likes to tell a story about a young horse, but he could tell the same story about many, many horses. The young horse hesitates to trot at the application of the let. The whip is used sharply to make the horse move forward. Everything is good, and he goes around the arena twice.

Now, the rider asks the horse to stop - and gives a half halt using hand and leg. The horse has just received a lesson to move from the leg. He is confused.

Use your hand without your leg, and your leg without your hand when adjusting speed (e.g. fast and slow).

We change the balance of the horse by moving the horse's head and neck. In collection, we will use hand and leg at the same time, but not before - the horse doesn't understand.

As we want to ride from behind and through the back, the (rider's) legs must mean forward. If we follow the FN (German Equestrian Association), then we use lots of half halts, and we use our legs for slowing down or reinback more often than forward.


Someone asks how to do a correct transition from walk to halt? how to I ask for a reinback?

Move the horses neck up and back (via hands), and your seat back (but not driving!). Change your balance.

Do a reinback by lifting the neck. In books, it sometimes says that some horses can't lift the neck and must do the rein back with an extended neck.

How do I know if a horse can't life the neck, or won't lift the neck? It's not that he really can't, but that it is very difficult for him due to his conformation. Some riders say "my horse doesn't go back (rein back)", but you can get off his back, raise his head, and push him back....

For a horse that finds the movement difficult (e.g. one with a low set on neck), stretch his neck and then go in a light seat and ask for rein back. His back will not be hollow. One day, when his muscles are stronger, he can rein back with a higher neck.

So, you must adapt to the horse. At the end, the result will be the same (e.g. a good reinback), but the training will not be the same as some other horse.

Books usually only talk about one type of horse, with a certain conformation. Dressage should be good principles that can be used on any horse.

  • One principle is don't ask back with hands, this hurts and confuses the horse.
  • Don't confuse the hand and legs
  • Split excercises into pieces so the horse can understand
  • Don't ask the horse to do something until you are in the right position
  • If the horse is tense, relax him
  • etc

These are good principles.


A participant asked a PK's opinion on diagonalisation and parallelisation.

  • Diagonalisation: impulse on the rein when the opposite side hind leg on the ground.
  • Parallelisation: impulse on the rein when the on side hind leg is on the ground.

PK paraphrased General Lot (Baucher's best student):

"Before we use complex hand and leg movements, that you can't use or explain easily, it would be better to work on the balance and position that the horse needs for movement".

PK says that he agrees with this sentiment 100%. He feels that the theory is too complex, and that you have to use a 'brake hand' when you are wanting to go forward. Such systems are also impossible to teach, due to their complexity.

PK feels that it is difficult to exactly apply the correct squeeze of your fingers when your leg is exactly at 135° and...

No. You should put the horse in the correct position, and he will do what you want him to. Dressage is the way, not the destination. The horse can react from one signal.

A horse gallops free on his right hand with more weight on his left side and vice versa. If we understand this, we can ask for a canter by shifting our weight and asking for more forward. The horse understands balance questions.

Therefore, put horses into a balance such that he has an 80% chance of reacting how you want him to. Baucher came to this understanding and corrected himself in his 'second way'. He moved from complicated aids to simple aids.

Steinbrecht, and especially Zieger criticised Baucher's first method.


PK was asked when he starts work with a double bridle.

If you use the curb to force the flexion at the poll, it is always too early to be using the double bridle. If you use it to get more mobility in the mouth and you have the experience, you could use a double bridle on a four year old horse, assuming you can seperate the bits and have a good hand. You just need to be more precise.

When we start to work a horse in a double bridle, we will need to work on his jaw mobility again.

Never use force in combination of a snaffle and a curb, and then you will have (with its use) a much richer vocabulary.

But, you need to have a clever hand.


Does PK like a single link snaffle, or a double jointed snaffle?

The nutcracker effect only comes from having a heavy hand. PK feels that there have been more injuries from a double jointed snaffle as opposed to a single jointed snaffle. He quoted statistics from a Swedish study, and (maybe also) a study from the USA; I believe that equine dentists had been involved in the study.

Apparently 80% of horses in the study had mouth injuries (small or large injuries).

With double jointed bits, the bean can get pulled across narrow bars, and the bars can receive micro-fractures on the surface flesh. These don't always heal as the horse is ridden often (e.g. wound re-opened).

However, a think double jointed bit may fit better under a curb bit, as it will stay away from the curb's port.

PK likes to use a type of tom thumb snaffle with long cheeks, especially on young horses, as the cheeks can apply pressure on the face to push the horse's head (e.g. you use your left rein to move the horse's head to the left; the bit shifts slightly, and the cheek on the off side pushes slightly on the head).

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Horse D, Day 3

Start with transitions. Organise to have the horse in balance and self carriage.

Use walk - halt, trot - halt and rein back to make sure that he is more and more available to you. Then look at flying changes or piaffe.

Some good transitions for you:

  • walk to halt
  • halt to rein back
  • trot to walk
  • trot to halt to trot

The rider said: " the horse stops when I close my leg". PK said: "as he is a horse that knows collection, it is ok to use the leg a little at the end (of the halt command) to get the sit".

From a small volte in circle in the corner, outer hand fixed and the inner hand raised, direct into shoulder in on the long side.

PK says that the seat bone should always have the weight in the direction of travel - balanced when going straight, but weighted to one side in lateral movements.

Bend in the volte is the same bend as required in the shoulder in and the half pass.

Walk - canter - walk - hold him high and light, and then sink your hands. Then try for flying changes on the long side - but mainly work on keeping him in balance.

This horse is not so relaxed during the flying changes. You can hear a change in his breathing. He really needs to work on balance in the canter, then when he is balanced, work on his flying changes. Stop after a change, relax, let him breathe. Keep him relaxed.

Now, we will look at collected work.

Walk on - rein back - piaffe. To lighten the front, bring the head up (via hands up).

Also, try going back in smaller and smaller steps - and then you have piaffe backwards. Then piaffe on the spot.

Try transitions: Trot - collected halt now! (with a flexed back) - piaffe - trot on. His hind quarters should be really underneath him when he halts. Don't systematicall trot out of the piaffe - only when he is lazy.

Don't use the whip in piaffe, use it to start the movement.

The collected stop (in a horse that can be collected): Hands high - horse's head up - sit to stop now! - just as he stops, use your thighs to give him an idea of energy.

After Piaffe, can stop and have a break. This keeps him relaxed, even though he was just moving explosively.

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Horse E, Day 3

Work on action - reaction.

If he is not attentive enough in the walk, then trot.

Firmly hold your hands up, then slowly give. If he doesn't take, try again. Hold hands up for a few seconds to give him time to say "I'm uncomfortable". If he offers to put his head down, accept his offer. If not, offer it after a few seconds. If it doesn't work, be even more clear the next time.

If the horse 'discusses' when high, keep your opinion (i.e. hold your hands high). When he has finished trying to 'discuss' the position, offer him the down position - they will normally take it.

When the horse comes doen, keep the contact with his mouth.

Keep your hands separated equally.

If the horse starts to raise his head, you raise your hands straight away to correct. But you need to have contact when he is long, otherwise you don't feel him raising his head soon enough.

Moving your arms actively is good, as it also keps the rider relaxed e.g. relaxed in the arms. Arms in movement can't be stiff.

Confirm the work in walk, and then in trot - and then try for canter.


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Horse J, Day 3

How to teach a rein back? Easy to do on the ground, when there is no leg, but can become confused when under saddle. If you were to be consequent, you would teach with the whip on the hind quarters...

You do use the leg in rein back, but later, on a trained horse in order to shorten (collect?) the rein back.

Do lateral flexions on the ground, and work on the rein back on the ground. Then do lateral flexions on horseback.

With a young horse, you use an open rein to turn and hold your hands a bit further apart.

The smallest volte on a collected horse is 6 m. Do a 3 m volte at the walk with lots of bend and flexion. This is good to slow a horse without using the brake. Use also action - reaction, he will soon find a good head position.

Don't forget to give the horse a break - have him straight, move your hands high, and stop.

High is a priority in balance and contact.

We can stom with a round (flexed) neck (as in the riding position), but can often get a low head position and over flex.

When a young horse is a bit more trained, will also flex the poll when the head is up.

If the horse comes a little bit above the bit on the straight, fix your outer hand andn raise your inner hand.

If the horse fallse in, it can be more efficient to open your outside rein than cross the hands over the wither.

We don't want to have too big a difference between what we do in the walk and the trot. Teach in the walk, then in the trot. But don't work too much traverse or half pass in the walk, without working on the shoulder in at the trot.

Therefore, on this horse, improve the shoulder in, then work on traverse at walk and trot etc.

Sometimes, studens do all the movements in the walk, but none of them in the trot.

When working on the shoulder in at the trot, change between shoulder in trot - shoulder in walk - shoulder in trot etc.

This rider wants to work on the reinback, as it is often a problem for this horse.

  • Fix the outer hand to control.
  • Inner hand up to relax the mouth.
  • Shoulders a touch forward to lighten the body on the back, and
  • Ask for the rein back.
  • Then ask for round and forward.

For horses that fix their backs, leaning the shoulders forward to lighten is important.

Make sure that you are in a good position before starting. Legs move back, but they are totally passive - asking only with the leg.

Don't do too much at once, but over a few days and then the horse will be good.

In the halt and rounding, the horse is not allowed to go back. It's a nice offer from the horse, and means that she has understood what we want, but if we didn't ask for it, she shouldn't do it.

To round the horse, fix the outer hand and raise the inner hand.

A horse with a slightly low neck needs to flex the poll soonish, so the horse does not become fixed too low.

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Horse B, Day 3

Canter - counter canter - canter. Change the bend and your seat, canter immediately.

Sit to the right to start the left lead. Sit to the left to start the right lead. Don't forget to change the bend first, then change your seat in the trot. Don't give all the aids at exactly the same time.

When the horse can do it well, then change every three strides etc. not enough for flying change, but it is in the right direction. Efficient - teach a lot without having to do to many kilometers.

If you need to teach about the spurs, start gently and with constant pressure directly at the girth (i.e. on the girth), then apply the pressure a little more firmly. If the horse evades (goes backwards), do the exercise in a corner so that he can't evade. Then, when he accepts the spurs, you can teach him to react to them appropriately.

Need to sit outside in Shoulder IN for the flying change.

When you look at all riders doing one time changes, they do this - so why not do it right (in natural balance) from the start?

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Horse F, Day 3

Don't do too much lateral movements in a row (i.e. one after another). Do a little bit, then swap with long and stretched and straight.

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Horse A, Day 3

Push the inner leg down - your heel really down - so that your leg doesn't move back.

Start the half pss from a light shoulder in position.

Once the horse can move its head wherever you want it to be, you don't need to do the action-reaction exercise any more. If he forgets, then you can remind him.

Baroque horses need to stretch a lot. They don't have the strength of a warmblood, so don't do extended trot all the time. Do some extension in a middle position.

With a generous baroque horse, kep your legs in constant contact - the will do the work with no legs, and can get a surprise when you put your legs back on. They are very sensitive.

Walk - canter transition: work on the transition with a bend and long neck.

Only the side that he has trouble bending should be exercised with a lot of bend. The goal is to have the same bend on both sides.

Before you piaffe...

Do something like a renvers on a very small volte. As soon as you use leg, or ask with the whip, he must move the hind quarters.

Don't do piaffe until you can activate both hind legs.

Sit to the outside to start the canter, not to the inside. When children play at 'galloping' around the place, they first put their weight onto the outside leg!

You can use the whip to insist in Renvers etc, but not in piaffe.

The horse needs to be obedient to the outside leg to do the flying change.

If the horse falls in too much in the shoulder in to the right - sit left and put both your hands to the left.

Some exercises for you to practice:

  • Halt
  • Trot shoulder in - piaffe (before coming to a stop!) - trot shoulder in

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Horse I, Day Three

Stop. Rein back without legs. Tap the horse in the shoulder if you need to. Go forward - right now! (with no hands, your calf at the girth, if he doesn't react, use the whip).

If he canters, well - that is ok. At least it is forward. Most important that he goes forward, the control can come later.

In shoulder in, the horse is bent mostly in the neck. The spine and back can't bend like we think that they can.

Therefore, whilst the correct shoulder in angle is the 'correct' shoulder in angle, you can bend the horse more to give him a better idea of the exercise. His hind foot may cross in front of the other. In the correct angle, the feet cross less, but step under more.