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The Position (PART III)
The Active Position and the Work of the Position in Canter

By Pierre Beaupère, Professional rider and teacher.

N°6 2013 Sept/Oct.
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I guess you have been working on the exercises of the second part (Part II). I imagine that you won’t thank me for the stiffness and the hours of pain imposed on your body (although I said to do the exercises for only ten minutes a day!) Nevertheless, you are now ready to start working on your position at canter and to set up the foundation of an active position. You will discover how to influence the balance of the horse, to develop and shorten strides and to attain a degree of collection. All this by just using your position. No - not a joke...

I was honored and lucky enough to have Elisabeth de Walsche as a Mentor. She was a student of the Portuguese Master Nuno Oliveira and she taught me the essential role of how to control the lower back muscles in order to influence balance and collection of the horse. Sadly, in my opinion it is a shame that we find so little in the equestrian literature about the rider’s back and more importantly how to use it properly. Nuno Oliveira wrote about it frequently in his books and I found the most complete description of the subtleties and nuances in a fantastic book written by Kurd Albrecht Von Ziegner « Elements of Dressage – A guide for training the young horse ».

Pierre Beaupère
Pierre Beaupère
Note here the evolution of the piaffe of this horse. The second picture was taken about 6 months after the first one. It clearly shows how the rider can control the horse with his position and so give the reins (“descente de main”). Also note the evolution of the flexibility (lowering) of the hind quarters and the attitude of the neck – the horse is now independent of any support from the hands. © Personal collection & Céline Brabant

Here are some of exercises that should help you to be conscious of the power of your back that may hopefully open the door to “wonderland” to accomplish a more sensitive and delicate way of riding. These exercises aim to achieve balance and collection with a real lowering of the hindquarters independent of the hands.

Alice in wonderland

First, let’s be really clear - yes - you are about to enter into a fantastic world of delicacy, pleasure and harmony. The beginner (and, sadly, also a lot of advanced and even very advanced riders!) can finally imagine himself riding with a light and soft contact with the mouth of his horse. The show jumper can imagine controlling and rebalancing his horse after a jump without resistance, with softness and suppleness. The dressage rider can finally dream about a superb piaffe where the horse develops the maximum of his possibilities and collection with loose reins. BUT I want to make some points clear…

Canter is a traitor. It makes beginners tense so they get pushed out of the saddle at every stride. For beginners fear goes away quickly but without correcting a bad seat… this is also the case for some very advanced riders. So here’s some advice for everyone

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Article publié le 31-10-2013

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