courses. Our own Grand Prix stallion, JP Zorro, is rid- den by his trainer Cedar Potts without a bridle while performing Grand Prix movements at horse fairs sur- rounded by strange horses, thanks to elements of train- ing that are outside the current training scale: total self- carriage without physical contact, complete trust in his rider, adaptability to unknown surroundings. Although the training scale comes from the mili-

tary tradition, it does not reflect the full scope of the training cavalry horses were exposed to. Horse training must be based on common sense and insure first the safety of the rider by immediately developing the obe- dience of the horse and his understanding of the job he has to perform. Albert Decarpentry, a cavalry general, revered author of Academic Equitation and co-author of the 1920 FEI dressage rulebook, insisted that the future dressage horse must first be able to walk calmly down busy streets in company of a cavalry squadron, not kick others and go boldly cross-country. Training scales and guidelines provided by national

and international federations, though well-founded, are often taken literally by dressage neophytes who are long on Olympic hopes and short on practical ex- perience. This sometimes results in training dead-ends. It would be really helpful (and maybe lifesaving) to

I believe a WHEEL as a better way to illustrate the ap- proach to training since progression requires equal support from all the wheel spokes. If one weakens, we must address it as best we can before proceeding. I am

horses and riders if these guidelines made a strong point on the absolute necessity to start (or restart) the horse’s education with some solid ground work: liberty, work-in-hand, desensitization, obstacle courses, edu- cated lunging, etc. This would help trainers bridge the gap between classical dressage, natural horsemanship, and the learning theory that emerged from operant conditioning (using rewards and aversive to shape be- havior through its consequences). Currently, the ma- jority of natural horsemanship trainers do not use the concept of contact in their riding, while the majority of dressage riders do not know any form of work-in-hand, have a very limited comprehension of lunging and may never have heard of operant conditioning. These ideas, while not in the training scale, would prevent many ac- cidents to horses and riders and avoid the abuse of horses who lack basic behavioral education. The training scale defines important goals and ap-

pears to insist on their order of priority, but that or- der varies between animals with their own talents and weaknesses that need to be understood. Because rid- ers’ abilities differ in many ways, everybody’s chosen techniques are personal. On the other hand, training principles are universal and must not be confused with goals or methods. Fundamental goals of training that

not alone when it comes to an individualized training approach. Two five-star FEI judges made important re- marks about the training pyramid at the recent USDF Convention:

“Although collection is considered the pinnacle of

the pyramid, it cannot be achieved without all of the other elements.” —Gary Rockwell.

“All of the components of the pyramid of training—

rhythm, suppleness, contact, impulsion, straightness, and collection—go hand in hand. When you ride, you are ‘swimming’ back and forth from one to the other.” —Lilo Fore

Isabell Werth was interviewed after the 2018 World

Equestrian Games by and said, “I think it is very important as a rider not to stand and say this is the right way—each horse has his own key, his own personality, his individual way of moving, his individual character. I really try to find with each horse

Wheel of Training Copyright 2019 JPG the best way.”

Warmbloods Today 69

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