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Building a Better Dressage Horse with Stephen Clarke

1. The warm-up is to establish rhythm, balance, and looseness. Use stretching as part of the beginning and end of every ride to ensure the horse remains round in the topline and moving forward into the contact to create the arching spine. As part of the warm-up and cool-down, it is important for horses to have a “sleeping trot,” which is just the horse’s normal, relaxed trot. 2. Check reactions to the aids at the beginning of every ride – going forward, coming back, as well as laterally. It should always be the rider’s choice as to how forward or how collected, and they should be asking for the opposite of what the horse would prefer to do. Within lateral work – for example, shoulder-in going from a collected trot to medium trot and back to collected trot – this forward-and-back must be yours for the asking, or you must…

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