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Top Exercises for Self-Carriage

Self-carriage is the aim of every dressage rider, on every horse. Developing the ability of the horse to maintain his own rhythm, tempo, stride length, outline, and rein and leg contact is the fundamental goal of dressage training. We turned to Vancouver-based grand prix rider and trainer Wendy Christoff of Delta, BC, for advice on improving self-carriage from training level through to the FEI levels. “Put simply, self-carriage is the horse’s ability to support himself,” Christoff explains. “Physically it means he has weight on all four legs in balance in whatever the movement is (including halt) and has an even contact on the reins without pulling or dropping the bit, or falling against one of the rider’s legs. Mentally it means the horse has confidence in his ability to hold and maintain this balance to execute whatever movement is requested. “Self-carriage is essential for the harmony and balance of the…

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