I get very passionate about my work and one of the first lessons that I learned as a trainer is that sadly not everyone shares the same intent as I do about the horse and what can be achieved. They often wonder why I want to train horses that they believe are only ever going to be a mere Riding Club horse.
My answer to that question will always remain the same. Every horse is entitled to have his best interests at the very core of everything we do. Every horse deserves a good basic training and that training should be the same whether he has athletic ability or not. No horse should be discarded or disregarded because he does not possess top class competition potential. We do not completely disregard our friends simply because we think they have no talent. A trained horse is a safe healthy and happy horse. Dressage riding is concerned with working with the horse to form a partnership.
There is an old saying - "He who controls the hindleg will control the whole horse", but between the rider and the hindleg there are many movable parts. To achieve control over a moving object you need to be able to control each of the individual parts. sometimes this is what seems to be so daunting to certain people as it can seem very complex and difficult, like trying a three dimensional jigsaw. It does not have to be as tricky as you think, although it does require the mentality that was talked about in the previous article. To obtain this result at whatever level you are at I use the 'Chain of Control', or in other words how to link all of the jigsaw together to achieve the end result. Therefore the chain of control is the link between the riders thoughts and the hindleg
1. The riders mentality.
2. The correct riding seat and aids.
3. The shoulders, arms, wrists and hands.
4. The rein contact.
5. Submission in the jaw.
6. Flexion and give in the poll joint.
7. Suppleness through the topline of the horse.
8. Connection of the joints through the hindleg.
As you can see from the diagram, there is a constant flow or link from the riders thoughts to the horses hindleg. This forms a two way path so that the hind legs create energy that comes forward along this path and the rider can use this energy through half halts to increase the collection. A good rider allows this almost circular flow to happen and creates an improved harmony with the horse as well as giving that impression of soft power as opposed to the harsh, dominant style so often seen today.