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Art of Equitation

Various articles about education of horses and riders

Different horses, different solutions

Horse training from the ground Posted on 2018-01-28 19:25

Now, while working with George, I remembered this article I wrote some years ago:

It’s very interesting to realize the nuances in the work while using the same method on different types of horses.

The horse in the previous article had difficulties to relax the topline and would easily become tense in the whole body. As a consequence he would become very short and deep as soon as I would hold the reins taking us into a situation that I’m sure is familiar to many: if i would release the reins to allow him to come out of that bad position he would stretch the neck and just run; if I would hold the reins in an attempt to control the rhythm he would get into a deeper and deeper position.This work on the longe helped him tremendously to understand that it is possible to stretch without running. I believe that problems like these are bigger the less the horses are aware of how to use their own body. This “running” happened due to his inability to adjust his balance to the change of position (the lengthening of the neck caused him to shift even more weight to the forehand thus increasing the movement forward as a way to recover balance) and through this longe work, without my weight or aids to interfere even more with his already poor body control, he got the chance to find out how to gradually increase the profile while simultaneously keeping the centre of gravity more behind. Now, I must say, I think the key word is “gradually”! Only so can the horse understand what is happening and adapt to this new position and balance! In many cases the horse will try to go directly to a low position but I find that highly counter productive. At first it may seem to the rider as if the horse “really understood the lesson” but it’s extremely difficult for a horse to come out from such an uncomfortable position as the one with the short and deep neck directly into a correct long and low position. The stretching of the neck causes a big change in the body’s weight distribution which the horse is not prepared to compensate for. That will make the horse feel uncomfortable in that position, causing him to avoid getting into it. It’s a better solution to initially teach the horse to stretch only forward (while trying to keep the same rhythm), not down, since it will be more natural for the horse to keep a good balance and not to place so much weight on the forehand. That makes it easier for the horse to maintain a constant rhythm, allowing the rider to have a soft contact without the need to use the reins as a break, which, in its turn, gives the horse confidence to continue stretching in a manner he finds comfortable.

George’s case is different: he becomes very long against the hand and, as soon as he has the chance (that doesn’t necessarily mean I release) he will completely stretch the whole neck downwards, leaving him with the nose very close to the ground.

This becomes an issue especially in the canter which becomes extremely downhill.

Needless to say this is a bad stretching… This happens both in longing (with or without side reins) and while ridden (with short or long reins) due to lack of “body awareness” and strength in the back. Obviously working him in a low position to strengthen the back was not an option, so I did the opposite: I worked him in a higher frame that, even if far from the one I strive for, allows him to work, get stronger and gradually more balanced.

Unlike the horse in the article I try to have George gradually rounder instead of long since he is already too stretched by himself thus becoming very strong in the hand.

I use MANY transitions between all gaits to teach him to handle the different levels of energy and movement. The canter (especially the first step) is a particularly good moment to ask him to raise the front by pushing from behind.

In a first stage I want to see him long and being able to maintain both that position and the rhythm;

-second stage is to keep the rhythm while changing position (lowering the front);

-third stage is to keep the position while changing rhythm;

-final stage is to change whatever I want without it becoming a chaos 🙂

It becomes obvious that, the stronger and more balanced the horse is, the less he will lower the neck in such an extreme way.

To achieve this goal I do a mixture of different types of work , both to make sure it doesn’t become boring and also to avoid overworking the same points in the body. The work in hand is an amazing help in this stage by allowing us to keep a closer contact with the horse and, therefore, activating the hind quarters much more. Here is the key to the stabilization of the front, teaching the horse to transport the energy that comes from the hindquarters through the whole topline, causing him to raise the front instead of “diving” down.

Next topic will be about the work by hand, above you see a short sequence that illustrates what happens in terms of balance while working around the handler.

“Hästens ganasch är som ett filter”

Articles about Paulo Posted on 2014-10-20 11:44

Paulo Bastos- när dressyr möter WE

Articles about Paulo Posted on 2014-10-20 11:43

Working Equitation

Articles about Paulo Posted on 2012-11-14 11:05

Relaxed horse is easy to ride

Articles about Paulo Posted on 2011-03-09 05:52

Article in Kokkola.Nyt! 28 Feb 2008

Paulo Bastos- en portugis i Sörmland

Articles about Paulo Posted on 2011-02-27 22:35

Stallmagasinet Nr5 2006:

Kraftfulle Zulu-A blev årets lusitano

Articles about Paulo Posted on 2011-02-27 22:27

Tidningen Ridsport, 2010 Nr20, Yvonne Perkins:

Portugisiska Pärlor

Articles about Paulo Posted on 2011-02-27 21:41

Svenska Guider- Häst; 2009, årgång 4. Text: Therese Bornfalk Berglund

“<…>Lite pirrig och väldigt förväntansfull följer jag med Rosie ner i stallet. In kommer sedan Qualito och jag blir ännu mer nervös. Han är ju väldigt högutbildad och var en av de hästar som var med i EM i Working Equitation. Så fort jag kommer upp i sadeln släpper dock min nervositet, men jag inser snabbt att detta är något helt annat än vad jag är van vid. Qualito är så otroligt känslig och lyssnar nästan uteslutande på skänklar och vikthjälper. Jag kände mig ganska vilsen och Paulo måste ha skrattat gott åt mig i smyg.

-Du måste slappna av. Det syns att hästen du brukar rida har bråttom för att hela ditt kroppsspråk säger stopp, instruerar han leende. Hästen kan det här, du måste lära dig att lita på honom. Han kommer inte sticka med dig.

Paulo har så klart rätt. När jag slappnar av lite kan vi prova en massa saker. Jag får rida i samlad galopp på en volt på hellång tygel, vi gör flera galoppombyten på varje diagonal, via piaffar och vi avslutar med att prova på spansk skritt. Det var helt otroligt. Rosie sa tidigare till mig att de vill att det ska vara något speciellt att rida gårdens hästar, att man ska kunna göra saker som man kanske inte kan göra med sin egen. Och visst var det så. Svea, som jag rider till vardags, är en jättefin häst, men den här nivån kommer hon inte riktigt upp i.

Paulo var en jättebra instruktör och han gav mig tipsen med leende vilket gjorde att det inte kändes lika nervöst. Han frågade mig lite om hästen jag rider hemma och vilken nivå jag själv är på och sedan utgick vi därifrån. En otrolig upplevelse var det i alla fall och hans tips bär jag med mig även när jag rider hemma.”

Working Equitation

Articles about Paulo Posted on 2011-02-27 21:13

Article in Tunne Hevonen magazine (Finland), 2011-01-15

Work on longe with side reins

Horse training from the ground Posted on 2010-08-14 21:45

Many riders underestimate working horses on a longe as a training method. This method is a great way of training the same principles that we use while riding with the advantage of doing it without the extra difficulties that are our weight, balance, seat etc. while working on the longe we can teach the horse to stretch, to collect, activate the hind legs, raise the back, work in different bendings and straighten up crooked horses. Here are some examples of these exercises that are so important to be able to have a straight, strong and elastic horse.


Single bridle

Longe with or without cavesson

Side reins

Longing girth or light saddle

Longing whip

Working with cavesson is good in the beginning to give the horses the confidence to stretch the topline, trying to find a light contact with the side reins without interference of the longe directly in the horse’s mouth. Work with the longe on the bit is indicated for the horses that are already confident and secure, that accept small corrections from the longe without shortening the topline, particularly the neck. Different methods of attaching the longe to the bit will be described in a separate article.

To be able to have a strong and relaxed topline, we need to stretch it as often as possible. Therefore, while working on the longe, it is a perfect opportunity to do it in an easier way for the horse since it doesn’t have to deal with the change of balance and extra weight on the back that the presence of our body implies. For this purpose we can use the help of the side reins that allow us to teach the horse to seek for a pleasant contact in his mouth. To do so the side reins must have a length of around 20cm more than the length of the horse’s neck (this length varies from horse to horse depending on conformation, concentration while working, past experiences…). By positioning them like this we teach the horse that when we encourage him to move forward he has the possibility to do it by stretching his body seeking for the contact with the long side reins resulting in long and elastic steps, instead of shortening the body and moving forward with short and fast steps resultant from a contracted topline due to the use of short side reins as commonly seen.

Good stretching of the topline…

..with active hind legs and elastic steps.

Very clear raising of the back during voluntary collection.

It is also very common to see horses working with the side reins positioned very high. Usually the goal to do so is to stabilize the horse in the desired position with a closed head-neck angle at all times. The problem is that this “desired position” depends on a very delicate group of conditions that must be put together in order for the horse to be able to do it correctly (rhythm, balance, strength, action of the hind legs, lowering of the hips). By forcing the horse into this position you are doing nothing more that making him uncomfortable and, consequently, teaching him to search for ways how to avoid that position. By positioning the side reins as shown in the photos, we achieve a voluntary collection from the horse (coming from a relaxed topline) that will encourage the lowering of the hips and natural rising of the forehand by a simple impulse forward with very little change in the head-neck angle. Because the horse is used to working with a free forehand, this action-reaction moments will be natural and pleasant: impulse forward by the “rider”- lowering of the hips and raising of the front to move forward from the horse.

Raising of the forehand by lowering the hips.

During extentions the horse slightly stretches his profile…

…but keeps almost the same head-neck angle.

When well performed, the horse will feel comfortable in this position and it will become natural for him to work in this way. Even after removing the side reins he will assume this position by his own initiative.