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exhibiting the qualities of an uphill, elevated classical horse. As a result, they are beginning to perform the level of collection that was achieved during classical times. So, how does someone approach the training of a classically built Iberian horse with goals towards competitive dressage?

LUNGE WORK The Iberian horse should be started on the lunge without side reins. Before putting the horse in side reins on the lunge the trainer should look to see that the walk, trot, and canter are in a steady rhythm. In other words, the horse must follow the circle without leaning to the outside or falling to the inside of the circle. At the same time, he must keep a soft and steady tension on the lunge line. When this process becomes effortless for the horse then side reins can be added. A word of caution:

The side reins should never be used to force the horse into a fixed frame. With a compact horse it is easy to set the side reins too short which creates a restriction of movement. The horse needs to maintain the freedom of movement he previously possessed without the use of the side reins. Control should always come through relaxation and physical development. The side reins are adjusted to a length that produces a slight flexion of the poll without changing the horse’s balance downward and putting him onto his forehand. At this point, the trainer should encourage the horse to create a connection of energy which originates from his hind legs, flows through his body, and is softly received in the side reins. The horse will show some tension with the introduction of this new element because it is a different way of working for him; for that reason, the lunge work needs to continue until the horse finds relaxation and connection in this new frame. It is through the strengthening of the hind legs and muscle mass of the haunches that the horse will start to move more into the contact of the side reins with acceptance and lightness. For the Iberian horse, or similar types that have a lot of elevation, it is beneficial to introduce cavalletti work. Working over cavalletti will help

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the horse to understand the manner in which to use his body while generating more power from his hind legs. It is imperative to remove the side reins when working over cavalletti in order to allow the horse to use his back freely. When the horse has reached a level of fitness that allows him to maintain active, balanced movement, without tension on the lunge, then the saddle work should begin.

Example of the proper length of the side reins when used on a young horse. This is Invicto MC, a four year old pure Spanish Andalusian, owned by Meghan Watt of Wilton, NY.

SADDLE WORK When the Andalusian or Lusitano is first ridden, there is always a loss of movement and balance. They may become quick and shorten their stride. This is natural and expected. At this phase of their development, the rider must help the horse to regain their natural movement and balance through an exercise program of walk and trot in straight lines, circles, and changes of direction. It is important for the rider not to force or fix the horse into any particular frame. For example, if the horse has a high set neck, then he should be ridden in that balance, which is more natural for him. If the horse’s neck is set low, then it should not be brought up, except to regain balance and relaxation. The roundness of the neck will occur later when the rider can ride the hind legs of the

horse more under. At that point, the horse will begin to find contact in the rider’s hand and the rider will find the ideal position of the neck which will create relaxation for the horse. When the horse can sustain active movement in the walk and trot without a change in balance and still maintain calmness then it is time to introduce the canter work. Achieving the same goals in the canter as in the walk and trot is the objective. During this early saddle work, and until the horse finds

a level of physical development, there will be periods when he loses his balance and a moment of tension will ensue. When this happens, it is important for the rider not to forcibly control the horse by closing him in between the legs and the hands. It is preferred to use downward transitions to help regain his equilibrium. When balance and relaxation are restored using the downward transi- tions, then the horse can return to the gait in which he was being previously schooled.

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