On Day 3, we listened to a presentation by Elizabeth Albescu – a veterinary specialist who also worked with Anja Beran on the ‘Training the Eye” DVD. Elizabeth talked about the head and neck position. There is just so much to learn and understand! I’ve included a link to a video about the DVD – it’s well worth buying a copy.
After lunch, we enjoyed a presentation showing the Haflinger in dressage. This was presented by both Anja Beran and Kathrin Roida. The aim of this is to demonstrate that classical dressage is for every horse breed and can have such great benefits! Photo by Maresa Mader.
I think this is so important. We always associate any type of dressage with warmbloods, but, like the previous year, we saw what a variety of breeds can do – whether you have a heavy horse, quarter horse, pony – or anything in between – it’s really about good exercises to benefit any horse.
With balance and strength, any horse can be happier and healthier. Of course the rider needs to work on themselves, and several times over the course of the week, Anja stressed the importance of weight of the rider – particularly when first starting with a horse. Not only weight – an awareness of how you are sitting – what muscles are you using – or not using? What are your hands doing – your legs – your head…etc. etc.
So yes, there is a lot to it – but after witnessing these presentations, it’s certainly worth putting the effort in. Apart from health, it creates a safer experience for both horse and rider. And of course, hoof care and a balanced diet are essential.
This leads to Day 4. We listened to a talk by Veronika Brod with Vera Munderloh about the upright sitting position. I’m going to quote from Anja Beran’s page directly:
The rider´s position with Veronika Brod
Co-author of Anja Beran´s book DER DRESSRUSITZ manages her own dance studio and deals with the topic riding seat for many years. Originally Vroni Brod cared for Anja Beran as a physiotherapist and dance instructor. In the course of this collaboration they developed a physiotherapy driven concept which is specific to the requirements of riders. The rider´s seat bears a central meaning for Anja Beran when you want to communicate by finest aids with your horse and accompany it smoothly in its course of movements. Not for nothing the trainer dedicated a whole book to this topic and demands there: “It should be our goal to have a horse that is dependent on our seat and independent of our hand!” (Anja Beran, DER DRESSRUSITZ, page 93; THE DRESSAGE SEAT, page 69)
In her lecture Vroni Brod reveals physiological connections and conveys practical instructions, how the riders can work on their individual weaknesses and consequently improve their seat. Because THE gymnastics for riders is not existent: a productive practice program is always geared to the individual requirements and should lead to the ideal manifested by Anja Beran: “When body language works, everything looks easy.” (Anja Beran, DER DRESSRUSITZ, page 73; THE DRESSAGE SEAT, page 49)
Below are some photos of Caeli having a lesson in the correct position.
We also watched Anja and Vera demonstrate ways to piaffe and passage.
I’m looking at the notes I made. I’ve written:
Both Piaffe and Passage help the horse to move in balance. Piaffe is the movement of the horse on the spot where the hooves rise and fall as at a trot but without moving forward. It is a natural sequence of movement and has a high gymnastic effect.
Anja talked about how each individual horse may need a different approach. It is not something that is finished overnight. It can take many years to develop a good piaffe but is very much worth it to develop a good back and balance.
She also demonstrated the Spanish walk. Once again this is a very good exercise for the horse, – and again may take years to develop. Photos by Maresa Mader.
I’ve really enjoyed learning about why these exercises are important – it’s really nothing to do with looking fancy – but of course the result is a beautifully balanced horse which looks great!
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