But can't you see, Dré, that my beautiful foreleg is disappearing because of all the collected work you are forcing on me?
You are right Lucy, I have noticed that you have a very nice front leg, especially when I let you trot in your own way. If I were to compete with you in the young horse classes at the moment, I know that we wouldn't be score so high. Many judges and the connoisseur public are fascinated by that high and far-swinging front leg. I'm no different, Lucy, but I would like your beautiful front leg to come from a carrying and supple hind leg. No, no, I'm not going to ram the extended trot down your throat like crazy. Video's of such extende trots are crawling on social media. Such horses are usually put into flight mode by cracking whips, knowing that excited horses show imposiing behaviour and therefore take off firmly. Horses that are chased around in like this during their young years learn to show a lot of propulsion from the hindquarters, which after so many becomes an automatism. Most of these show animals will have hard time in their later training to perform collected exercises such as piaffe and pirouettes. This is logical, because the development of the muscles necessary for collection (abdominal muscles, Psoas, and a series of other muscles of which I do not know the names) has never been payed attention for.
So yes, Lucy, your beautiful front leg will have to emerge later under my guidance, but from a carrying hind leg and with elevation. And we are going to start to work an this?
Attention to the active hind leg
Nature has endowed you less with a talent for collection, and yes, we will have to work on this a bit more together. Oh, thats right, you can show quite a bit of protest when I ask about the start of collection, just think of the transitions between the different gaits, on which we have already spent a lot of time on. We have also spent a lot of time on the lateral movements, in order to get 'one' specific hind leg (the inside hind leg of course) to work towards your centre of gravity. And I have to admit that we already master these lateral movements well, both the work in hand and mounted. But from now on, I wish to get those 'both' hind legs under it and of course we will now also teach you that on the straight lines as well, because in curved lines and lateral movements there is always one hind leg that is activated more than the other.
Choosing in hand or mounted
Since you easily express your displeasure to me during the mounted collected work, we will use the work in hand first. Yes, for my convenience we do that in walk, I do not have the necessary abilities to trot around next to you. Standing next to you allows me to take full advantage of my well-developed visual preferred representational system and pay close attention to your hindquarters engagement and to the elevation of your neck. Yes Lucy, protesting doesn't help, keep your head up and hind legs underneath you, there is no other way. Nice to see that when the dressage whip touches you, in the place where my calf normally lies, you immediately pull your equilateral hind leg forward. I have learned you over the past few months that this touch is followed by a higher intensity tap on your hindleg, if you don't respond immediately, and I can now use that to get to collection.
Going backwards also improves the collection
But I'm not afraid to let you go backwards down the entire long side, Lucy. Biomechanics teaches us that you need to bring both hind legs more forward in order to be able to drag your mass back with your hind legs. Yes, your front legs only support most of your weight during the tipping point and have little added value in the locomotion process. Clearly a good gymnastics exercice to stimulate the muscles of your hind legs and back to collection. And yes, backwards I also guide you deep into the corner, so far that your hind hoofs no longer can go back. I will also keep your head and neck up through half-halts, otherwise part of the intended result would be lost. In this engaged hindquarters position I Will have to stop you in the corner for a few minutes, this is called static work and is also good for the development of the intended muscles that should lead to collection.
Combining 'in hand' and 'mounted'
After finishing this 20 minutes intensive ground work, we immediately try to do the same thing mounted work. Of coursev some protest has to be eliminated first, because with a rider weighing a little to heavyily on your back, everything is a bit more difficult to perform. No Lucy, I don't plan on taking some 'slender you' course to lose weight drastically. But I will help develop your body and mind develop to be able to make this increased effort, because apart from riding, Beacause I also want to keep some other pleasure in live beside riding. Nothing wrong with that, at least in my opinion.
Developing variuos types of trot
But also in the collected trot I whish to see the same exercise from you Lucy. And by collected trot I mean a very short and active trot, yes with small impulsive steps, as the Iberian horses show very easily. This collected trot will also cole in handy later when learning the piaffe. And no, I do not whish to see a slow trot appearing with big steps now, this is for later when we are working towards the cadenced trot.
As you notice, Lucy, I intend to put a lot of work before you can call yourself a real dressage horse.