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Training Gems from Melonie Kessler


      Rhythm - Relaxation - Acceptance of the bit are the basics and built upon that is Straightness - Impulsion - Collection. Connection leads to Collection. Seat & Leg create energy & the Hand contains it.

      All dressage is is finding the hole & repairing it thru the correct use of the aids.

      Crooked horses are avoiding engagement.

      Your wrists have to be like the rubber donuts on side reins.

      To release inside rein, give the rein to his ear.

      Each hand has a different job. Inside rein keeps bend & flexion, Outside rein adjusts bend.

      You have to feel one rein is dominant & one rein is passive.

      Outside rein should be dominant.

      Inside rein is poison. (don't overuse it). Imagine someone cuts off the inside rein.

      Inside rein supples & bends, outside rein supports. You have to be a brain surgeon to supple, not a football player.

      The inside rein is the bending rein, flexing rein, & giving rein. So, if your horse is tense & blocked, soften the inside rein to give the horse an open door. The first thing you must train yourself to do is to give when there is tension.

      Use stretch circle to diffuse the tension.

      Riding is isometrics. You have to increase & decrease pressure without moving.

      On Stretch Circle, don't widen hands.

      Horse must be able to stretch in order to collect.

      To sit on the inside seat bone, lift the outside butt cheek.

      If you improve the connection, you improve the movement.

      Its your responsibility to sit quietly.

      You're looking for lateral suppleness, not lateral stiffness.

      Hands should be as wide as horse's mouth.

      Hands should be in front of the saddle, and the only place they can go is forward.

      Horses have a "hole" in the Left side of their back. Its our job to develop the Left side, so horse can load both hind legs evenly.

      USDF Rider tests are good tests to practice instead of regular Training-2nd level tests.

      Tighten thighs before the half halt.

      Step on outside stirrup before downward transition.

      Imagine a glass of wine on each of your shoulders in order to sit up. Imagine a marble on top of horse's poll & ride so it doesn't fall off.

      If horse has lateral tendency in walk, you need to loosen the back. Turn on haunches loosens the horse's back.

      Is he in self-carriage? Or is he in your hand?

      Training & First Levels focuses on creating energy, 2nd Level & above guides it.

      Ride the opposite of what you have. If horse is fast, ride slow. Don't ride in "gray zone". Either the horse is in an uphill frame or horse is stretching.

      If you use indirect rein, you block the shoulder. Not much use for inside indirect rein in dressage.

      We don't want to dominate the horse, he should be submissive, not subservient. Pat or reward your horse when he is better, not just when he is good.

      For 20 meter circle, think of a face of a clock and always look 15 minutes ahead. So ride to 4 points on a circle. Touch B & E with outside stirrup.

      Half Halts are just like a phone call - if nobody answers, ask again.

      When you shorten the reins, it shouldn't interrupt the rhythm.

      When you shorten the reins, push with your seat.

      Conrad Schumacher says "If you control the neck, you control the horse".

      The Trot builds suppleness, the canter builds strength.

      The flash (on the bridle) is not a bad thing, it holds the bit in place.

      Use your aids to create stretch over the Topline.

      Look for muscle in neck under mane to bulge, then you know horse is pushing to the contact.

      Your hands ride the front legs & your legs ride the hind legs.

      The poll must always be the highest point, except for in the Free Walk, and Stretch Circle.

      Horses don't reason, they react.

      In canter & walk sweep the saddle with your seat front to back, not side to side.

      Turn toes in & weight on inner thighs

      Move leg back from hip, not knee.

      Less is more. When everything goes wrong its probably because you have too much (too strong aids).

      Rider legs ride horse's back legs, hands rides front legs & seat connects the two.

      Always pick up outside rein first.

      Be proactive - don't wait until the mistake happens - by then its too late to fix it. Feel it before it happens & change it.

      When picking up the reins imagine you are doing it in a big pool of water.

      Handle reins so very gently, softly. Move the bit gently in the mouth - that creates saliva like oil for the car.

      Remember to give outside rein a little on turns & circles. Outside rein should not be the same as when you are on the long side.

      Make the horse straight, they are not calm when they are crooked.

      Shoulder in - always straighten before corner but not before circle.

      When riding a lengthening point your hands toward letter & go!

      Half pass - horse's legs cross, poll highest point, fluid. Rider outside rein against neck, step to inside.

      Give reins periodically. Helps to keep horse supple. Just slightly for a few strides & then back.

      Once the elbows go straight the rider goes back. Keep bend in elbows.

      Engagement is the loading phase of the hind legs.

      Don't try to make it a 10 - go for a 7.1

      Butterfly feet. Flutter your butterfly feet.

      Have a helium balloon attached to your inside hand, a lead brick on your outside hand.

      Don't ride your horse like he has a chainsaw in his mouth

      The outside rein is the rein on the outside!

      Cadence is air under the horse's feet

      Transitions are what get your horse forward

      Arms move the neck of the horse, hands move the bit