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good balance and fluidity, you can gradually begin to open his gaits and lengthen his frame. For some horses this balance develops quickly in a matter of months, whereas other horses are slower to develop and can require years. When the horse has found balance and relaxation


While visiting Tina and Bruno, Juan Rubio Martinez, a senior rider from the Royal Andalusian School in Jerez, works a Lusitano stallion that Bruno trained. “Espirito” performs an extended trot.


It is also critical not to block the forward willingness of the horse in an effort to gain control of him. The rider should always control the horse through relaxation and light contact. Another important point to consider is that the rider should never activate the horse beyond what the horse can physically handle. This is a mistake often made while schooling Iberians to achieve big, expressive, and forward-looking movement. If the horse is pushed beyond his ability to step under and engage his hindquarters, it will cause him to lose his balance, throw himself into the rider’s hands, and get tense and quicken his paces. Under these conditions the impulsion and carrying power of the horse is compromised. From the start of the saddle work, a classical horse being prepared for competitive dressage needs to find a longer frame and length of stride. This must be accomplished without losing his natural qualities that will be employed later for the collected work, namely the ability to step under and come back on his haunches, and the ability to collect himself easily while remaining supple. Very often riders try to achieve this “opening of the frame and gaits” by forcibly driving the horse into the hand and thereby creating a strong contact. This is not ideal for an Iberian since the horse will learn to move forward by bracing and supporting his balance in the rider’s hands, instead of using his hind legs to correctly push up and through to carry himself forward. The rider initially needs to patiently spend time strengthening the horse’s basic gaits of walk, trot, and canter in order to lengthen his topline. Once the horse can perform all his transitions in and out of the basic gaits with


at the walk, trot, and canter and can maintain these basic gaits with a light support of the rider, then it is time to begin the lateral movements. The lateral movements such as leg yielding, shoulder- in, and haunches-in were developed to supple and further strengthen and increase flexibility. These movements allow the horse to become more round through their topline. Only when the horse has found enough lateral flexibility and has developed enough muscle to maintain their bending, while at the same time performing the lateral movements with ease, can we start to think of asking for more activity from the hind legs. Before asking for the lengthening of stride, it is crucial that the rider is able


to feel the hind legs of the horse stepping more under their weight, while still maintaining relaxation through the horse’s body. The rider can begin the medium and extended trot


and canter when the horse can lengthen the frame and keep his body supple. In cases where the horse wants to brace against the rider by quickening his tempo when asked to lengthen his gaits, the rider should try to activate the hind legs and lengthen the stride through the lateral movements. For example, if the rider asks for a medium trot across the diagonal, and the horse tries to quicken and brace, the rider should immediately ask the horse to yield to the leg laterally until he feels that the horse


Bruno riding Tejo, a twelve year old Lusitano stallion, demonstrating an engaged, uphill, relaxed piaffe.


Warmbloods Today 63


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