Current Book Study Report: Uta Graf’s Effortless Dressage Program: (Order your book today- it is a gem. This book aligns well with the work I do with my trainer, Bronze, Silver, and Gold USDF medalist Dr. Susan Schneider. It also aligns well with Beth Baumert’s book, “When Two Spines Align.” I will be attending her tow-day riding clinic with GVDS in June.)
The book is not written in chapters but divided into sections and subsections. Our book study group has completed the Preface and is working on SECTION I: EFFORTLESS- BUT HOW? Part II
Preface gives an overview of the book and why riding should never be work.
Part 1 of section I “The Independent Horse” gives many examples of the need for balance, straightness, activity(forward), & connection. Uta outlines many exercises and strategies to develop these qualities, plus strategies for teaching your horse to be independent.
- ride on the 2nd track
- practice “stretchy-chewy” in trot and canter
- stop the exercise as soon as the quality is lost; reestablish supple & forward from the circle
- practice leg yield & shoulder in in stair-step pattern- every 5 meters switch from lateral to straight ahead the full length of the arena
- test often to make sure the horse is doing the work/take away the driving aids; drive with very light pulses
- ride in “stretch” position in all gaits with weight on hind end, long neck & open through throat latch
- continually monitor rider position
- monitor horse position on curved lines- neither shoulder or hind end should fall off the line
- ride frequent transitions between and within gaits
- ride should fore every corner
- ride shoulder fore and shoulder in on the center line, straighten for a few strides, and change rein. Hind end must stay on the center line.
- walk warm up- focus on activity of horse/no rushing and following by rider/leave the horse alone
- pulse aid lightly; immediately relax leg when horse responds. If horse does not respond, increase aid, then test with a light aid. Light aid should produce a surge forward.
- expect transitions to be prompt- train through practicing transitions often skipping a gait and within a gait
- train outside the arena; use hills
- always incorporate variety
- practice überstreichen in trot and canter
- develop feel- know how it feels when poll is in the highest position; how pushing/carrying power feels. Ride many transitions and tempo changes- focus on feel.
- correct inversion, (when head is down/neck is curled) by riding forward to the hand
In Part 2- “Allow the Horse to Work Under You” she discusses the Circle of Effortless Riding. This is worth the price of the book. Page 36- check it out. She also discusses timing for rider effectiveness, how we can learn from para-equestrian riders who can’t squeeze or spur with strong aids, (less is more), and her 9 Steps to Drinking Coffee (while performing a pirouette.) This last part breaks any movement down to 9 steps to make it effortless using training exercises, the actual aids to perform the movement, & strategies to refine the movement after it is learned.