German Grand Prix dressage rider and trainer Uta Gräf has made a name for herself in international dressage circles, not only for her cheerful nature and wild hair, but also for her beautifully ridden, content, satisfied horses.
Now Gräf lets us in on all her training secrets in her new book UTA GRÄF’S EFFORTLESS DRESSAGE PROGRAM. She shares her schooling exercises, as well as the techniques she uses to incorporate groundwork, long-lining, trail riding, creative play, bombproofing, and turnout in her training plans. In the excerpt below, Gräf breaks down 9 quick tips for achieving better flexion and bend in your horse—first the “classical” way, and then her own helpful ideas to add to the mix that adds up to success.
9 Tips for Better Flexion and Bend
The Classical Way
⇒ Develop the horse’s foundation and improve straightness through lateral movements: leg-yield, shoulder-fore, shoulder-in, and travers.
⇒ Ride on curved lines: serpentines, spiral-ins and spiral-outs, voltes, figure eights.
⇒ Ride corners carefully, especially in counter-canter, taking care that the “jump” of the canter isn’t lost.
⇒ For lateral movements, carry the flexion and bend out of the corner or the volte and keep it without having to adjust it.
⇒ End a lateral movement as soon as you lose flexion and bend: Ride voltes or serpentines to get it back; then start again.
⇒ Ride shoulder-in or leg-yield when you are losing the quality of flexion and bend; then start over again.
And, Give This a Try
⇒ Ride around cones or jump standards (voltes, figure eights, or serpentines).
⇒ Ride squares away from the wall: half-pass alternating with leg-yield. Reduce the square as you ride leg-yield; enlarge the square with half-pass. When the horse responds well to the leg, ride with flexion and bend into the half-pass. Don’t lose flexion and bend as you get to the wall or the half-pass doesn’t actually get finished. It’s better to end the diagonal with a leg-yield or ride the second track in renvers. The horse must still cross his legs well without “bogging down” the half-pass.
⇒ Alternate riding a steep or shallow half-pass.
UTA GRÄF’S EFFORTLESS DRESSAGE PROGRAM is available now from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.
CLICK HERE to download a free chapter.
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