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Scales of Training

The Scales of Training

The six scales of training are the building blocks of your riding, each build on the other, they work together to achieve progression through the levels of dressage. They become the foundation for every movement at any level. 

1. Rhythm

Rhythm is a regular strong repeated pattern of movement. For dressage it is term used for the sequence of foot falls and beats in the pace (walk 4x, trot 2x and canter 3x).

Tempo describes the speed of those beats.

Being able to ride the correct tempo and rhythm that suit your horse will help you and your horse to find a great balance.

3. Connection

This is where two things interact to have a sense of reaction and support.

In dressage you are trying to bring the hind end forwards to connect it to an elastic contact. 

Try thinking of a single harmonious unit between horse and you.

5. Straightness

Straightness is the position of the horses body. Ideally the hind feet track into the hoof prints of the front feet. Straightness has been found to help horses balance equally on each leg.

This will also requires the horse to be even into both reins and to bend equally left and right. 

All horses have an easier side to bend towards. It's our job to work on this and help keep them straight.

Rider Position 

Rider position isn't part of the six recognised scales, but for me its key to getting them all right.

In any equine discipline, having the correct rider position is crucial to finding balance with your horse. This affects everything you do together. 

Being balanced in the saddle makes your aids clearer and allows your horse to move in the best way with you.

As anyone who rides knows; finding and keeping your balance on a living, breathing, moving animal is an enormous challenge. 

2. Suppleness

This is the quality of being able to bend easily in any direction. 

Teaching the horse to accept the influence of the riders aids (your leg, body and contact) with elasticity, allowing you to bend him laterally as well as lengthening and shortening the frame will unlock softness at all levels. 

4. Impulsion

Impulsion is the movement of a horse when it's going forward with controlled power. Its important to know this is not speed and can often get confused for such. 

It may help to think that the engine is in the horses hind legs and you are revving it up then lowering it again. Riding with this mindset can help you use the horses power in its hindquarters effectively. 

6. Collection

Collection is achieved and improved by the use of your seat and legs into the bridle. It is a transfer of weight from the front legs to the hind legs.

The use of transitions is a key component to strengthening the muscles of your horse.

When asking for collection it's important not to slow the steps but to shorten and quicken them. 

When done right it will make a visible difference to the way of going and feel of your horse. 

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