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How to Ride with Rhythm & Tempo

A common misunderstanding of the difference between rhythm and tempo often results in horses being ridden more quickly, but not more correctly. Alison Banbury, an Equestrian Canada certified dressage judge, grand prix rider and owner of Hill Haven Farm in Hillsburgh, Ontario, sees this issue crop up frequently in both the show ring and the lessons she teaches. “Each horse offers to travel in its own rhythm, but often the regularity of that movement changes, affecting the tempo or speed of that rhythm,” Banbury says. “It’s up to the rider to help the horse learn how to maintain the regular rhythm of each gait (four-beat walk, two-beat trot, and three beats at canter) at a tempo that is comfortable for the horse. “For example, a horse that tends to break into trot from the canter should not be chased at speed to prevent the breaking. Doing so creates an unbalanced…

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