Such excitement! I had written my Foreword... For AUSTRIAN ART OF RIDING ... (one of three) good friend Charles de Kunffy, being another... and I had seen a proof.

But - there's nothing quite like opening a brand new book based on a subject close to your heart, and knowing it's now out there! My good friend, the erudite Werner Poscharnigg has written a beautifully illustrated and researched book, which was badly needed. Names which I'd heard of but knew next to nothing about are all there; methods for the training of horses in all the countries that were part of the great Austro-Hungarian Empire spring to life . The good, the bad and the ugly training methods are discussed in detail. What is interesting, is this: even the harshest masters of the period, even before Classical Riding was revived... understood about the cessation of the aid ( ie the giving of the hand, and of the leg) in the training of the horse. That's a principle not sufficiently adhered to by today 's teachers or today's riders, but that's just one tiny aspect of this book.

If you want to understand more about the Art of Equitation and it's effect right across the civilised world, go - buy this superb book. It's on

12111950_1081660901859024_5300203932755390224_n                   12079635_1081665801858534_3040825058610097267_n

British Dressage and The Lusitano Breed Society of Great Britain have recently launched a special Championship exclusive to registered pure and partbred horses. This is a great opportunity to compete like for like under Rules, and promises to be well supported.  The Championship is being sponsored by Premium Medical Protection.

It will be open to pure and part bred Lusitanos registered with the LBSGB and competing at Prelim, Novice, Elementary or Medium. It is hoped that higher levels will be added in coming years. Riders must be BD Members & LBSGB members to Compete.

To qualify for the championship, two scores of 60% or above, achieved this year in regular Affiliated BD, or Team Quest competitions at the level the rider aims to qualify for, are required. Qualifying Scores must be sent to Karen Beaumont The cut off date for qualification is September 30th.

The Prelim is open to riders and horses who are associate members of BD - which is free of charge - and who are eligible to compete at this level under BD rules. Above that level, non BD members can compete on class tickets - BD will provide two free class tickets for anyone who is not a full BD member, who would like to attempt to qualify for a place in the championship final.

Combinations can compete and qualify at different levels, but can only compete in two classes at the final.

The final will be held at Keysoe on November 7th 2015.

Prize Money will be awarded to Winners at each level.
1st Place £50
2nd Place £25
3rd Place £25

Get your entries in now

The Classical Riding Club is opposed to Rollkur, we do not condone it in any form which is reflected in our Dressage Judging System.

Rollkur - contrary to what many riders think - is not a suppling process other than to "rubberise" the horse's neck. This practice is considered very harmful by all the great Master Trainers of the last 2 centuries. It causes blockages to occur between the horse's back and his shoulders, so that the energy from the hindlegs will not be carried "through". This would explain the lack of engagement that we see in many competition horses today, where the front legs have a very stilted, exaggerated action and the hindlegs do not match them.

What is Rollkur?

Rollkur is just a name for what most trainers, like myself, used to call severe overbending.  Briefly, the outward visible signs are:
Horse's head behind the vertical
Neck shortened
Poll no longer the highest point
Crest high
Horse unable to see where he is going
Some of the ill-effects of such unnatural posture are:
Damage to ligaments between the wither and the base of the neck
Hollowing (under saddle) of horse's back
Tightening and tension in scalenius muscles of neck
Restriction of air flow through nostrils
Other various rebound effects, e.g. clamping of horse's jaw, mental stress, swishing tail, blocking through spinal processes...
... All of which combine to give an appearance of a tight, 'stuffy' horse which does not flow throughout his body.

The alternative to Rollkur to supple the horse CORRECTLY is to work the horse on a long-rein with soft, yielding hands first in walk, later as the horse gets stronger, in trot and in canter. The importance of the rider's leg acting at the girth to support the horse's back is vital, throughout this process.

Until we can promote a better philosophy of riding - based on biomechanical truths - incorrect procedures like the Rollkur and all the other travesties - will continue to degrade Dressage as a Discipline.

The "Blue Tongue World Cup" video on You Tube this week is therefore very much a symptom of all that is wrong about Dressage Training today. People are bypassing the old, proven methods where the rider trains at the horse's own pace (as promoted by The Spanish Riding School of Vienna) and are now using abusive shortcut methods in order to win over the judges.

What does this say about judging today?
What does it say about crowd pleasing?
What does it say about the education of riders?

CRC has often been accused of living in the past or being fuddy-duddy. Sylvia Loch has been accused of being an "old curmudgeon"! Isn't that better than being actively cruel and ruining the lives of hundreds of horses?
People need to be educated as to what is pure and correct (i.e. classical) if dressage is to remain a reputable discipline. We don't pretend to know all the answers but we have made a start and implore you to offer your support.

Please add your signature to the petition to request the FEI ban Hyperflexion in the Competition.

About 20 or so years ago a fashion crept in for putting horses in drawreins with the idea that they would come onto the bit more easily and so produce a 'better outline'.  We saw this happening not only in dressage circles but also in jumping and eventing yards and even some riding schools.

Those of us who were able to work horses correctly and gradually, thereby achieving a softer, 'rounder' way of going, railed against these methods arguing that unless the rider was very skilled, more harm could be done than good.  We also pointed out that a skilled rider should not need such artificial aids and that introducing them too early - especially with the young horse - could lead to muscle wastage between the wither and the base of the neck with real trauma and lasting damage done to the ligaments particularly that of the trapezius.

Between 1992 and 1994 I ran a Petition to gather signatures against the use of Drawreins for competition horses.  This was before the age of the Internet and sadly, we never really got the momentum or the number of supporters we had hoped to achieve, although I kept writing articles and books to demonstrate my concerns.  Now, although drawreins are still used all over the world and in all spheres of riding, things have worsened.  Today we are seeing dressage judges rewarding horses that are clearly overbent and thus ignoring their own rules, i.e. the FEI Dressage Rules and Principles.  Riders will school for hours and hours, not necessarily in drawreins but with such an unyielding contact that the horse is equally constricted and 'tied in' (as he would in tight drawreins) to the extent that he becomes no more than a slave in bondage.

Whilst there are many veterinarians and other experts out there who warn against the effect of Overbending and Rollkur there is as yet no real will for change.  We lack at top level, the recognition of the harm that these methods do from those who govern equestrian sport.  As long as the horse performs, most authorities seem unwilling to acknowledge the horse could be working in real pain.  Yet surely, common sense and observation of how the horse moves naturally, should tell us to abandon these practices? If in any doubt as to the chain effect of forced posture - try this.

Try jogging, dancing or jumping (as in dressage and showjumping) with your chin pulled in towards your chest.  You may still be able to jog, dance and jump, but the pain over your neck and back will be excruciating.  The longer you do it, the worse it will get.  If you are still in doubt, now try carrying a weight on your back at the same time. The difference is you can scream.  The horse cannot!

BHS Release Further Statement.
"As the debate over the use of hyperflexion as a training technique continues, The British Horse Society's policy may be stated as follows:
The British Horse Society strongly recommends that all riders training horses on the flat and over fences should adhere to the official instruction handbook of the German National Equestrian Federation. Whilst we appreciate that horses are as individual as humans, and that some may require corrective schooling, the BHS's stand on hyperflexion (by which we mean the extreme flexion of the horse's head and neck beyond normal limits) remains clear: it is an unacceptable method of training horses by any rider for any length of time.

We recognise that the scientific evidence is conflicting, and likely to remain so as each party seeks determinedly to prove its case. For this reason we doubt that science will ever provide a single, clear, unambiguous and unarguable answer. It therefore falls to humans to do what the horses cannot, namely to follow the precautionary principle: as nature provides no evidence of horses choosing to move in hyperflexion for an extended period of time; and as hyperflexion can create tension in the horse's neck and back which has no justifying necessity; and as the horse in hyperflexion is, by definition, unable fully to use its neck; and as the psychological consequences of such treatment remain latent (perhaps in an analogous position with horses which are whipped aggressively but which can still pass a five star vetting), we should take all appropriate steps to discourage the use of this training technique, for the horse's sake."

Letter to Horse and Hound

The following letter from Sylvia was published in Horse and Hound, Thursday 18th February 2010.

It was heartening to read the FEI Statement concerning the discreditation of Rollkur as a so-called 'training technique' this week.  Gerd Heuschmann, the German vet has consistently put across the harsh reality for horses of this punishing way of schooling, as have organisations like The Classical Riding Club who were the first in this country to petition against extreme over-bending back in the early 1990s.  The point is a good horseman or woman has no need for these artificial methods.  Breaking down the horse's neck muscles in the more extreme cases, may give the rider more control but when the horse cannot see further than his front feet, it most certainly becomes a welfare issue.  No wonder Gerd was able to draw on over 41,000 signatures to say 'enough is enough!'
The stance of the British Horse Society on the subject was admirable.  As reported under your News column, the psychological consequences of rollkur are undeniable and it is very much hoped that British Dressage will now encourage our judges to mark in favour of horses who are not 'tied in' in any form of test.  At prelim and novice levels, it would be good to see young horses allowed to adopt a more natural position of the head and neck without being marked down, and at more advanced levels, the FEI rule of poll the highest point and lightness of the forehand, must be more strictly adhered to.  Flashy, incorrect paces may wow the crowds, but surely the horse's wellbeing and state of mind comes first?
Sylvia Loch, Eden Hall, KELSO, Roxburghshire, TD5 7QD

As a result of the "Blue Tongue" Epona clip we have sent the following letter to the FEI

The Classical Riding Club is aware of the enormous outpouring of public outrage prompted by the Epona (You Tube) film clip of a top competition dressage horse being worked in Rollkur before a competition event. Scenes like these and the suffering of dressage horses could so easily be avoided for the future with the right checks and controls in place.

I would refer the FEI to my courteous Letter to the Princess Haya, President of the FEI sent in August 2009.
Enclosed with this letter was a copy of 'Making a Difference' - Dressage Rules and Guidelines' (published by The Classical Riding Club  in l998) in which ideas are offered which could revolutionise the present system of judge training and marking. Ideas borrowed and implemented from this publication would go a long way to assist in upholding the FEI Object and General Principles of Dressage, which have been too easily ignored or overlooked in the past few years.
It was further suggested that dialogue with the Classical Riding Club and other interested international parties might lead to a state...
where as quoted from my letter '...we would swiftly remove those practices which have led to stressful training, robotlike performance and of course the need for methods like the rollkur, etc' which are bringing the sport into disrepute.

In view of the present crisis of training, the Epona clip being just one example of some of the training travesties that exist at this time, we now ask for a response to our friendly and peaceful endeavours to assist in these matters.
The future integrity of the discipline depends upon openess and dialogue with all concerned. Please may we expect a reply?

Yours faithfully
Sylvia Loch Director of The Classical Riding Club


Reply received from FEI:

Dear Ms Loch,
Thank you very much for your email.
The FEI is aware of the video filmed by at the FEI World Cup TM Dressage qualifier at Odense (DEN) and posted on YouTube. FEI’s main concern has always been and will always be the welfare of the horse. We are taking the issues raised in the video and in the comments made by members of the public on social media very seriously and have opened a full investigation. The conclusions of this investigation will be made public in due course.
Kind regards,
Malina Gueorguiev
Communications Manager
Fédération Equestre Internationale
Avenue Rumine 37 NEW
1005 Lausanne Switzerland t +41 21 310 47 54 m +41 78 750 61 33 f +41 21 310 47 60

Open Letter as of December 18th, 2009


- German National Equestrian Federation (FN)
- German National Horse Judges Association

To whom it may concern:

More than two years have passed since I sent my last letter to you. I have neither received a reply nor have I gotten the feeling that you have actually looked into and dealt with all those questions that – it seems to me – have become really urgent and important by now. Decades ago, you chose or, for that matter, started tolerating a way of schooling and training horses that values spectacular performances higher than established principles in order to fill stadiums, achieve higher TV ratings and enthuse the masses. This movement periodically reaches new climaxes every other year.

Looking at the economical side of the horse industry only, you might very well see a considerable increase, i.e. success.

Looking at current events though with YOUR teachings and ethical principles in mind, which every organization or club directly or indirectly imposes on itself by ways of its regulations, you are facing an incredible defeat.

Do you actually still care about the horses themselves as formulated in most of your rules and regulations? I cannot shake the impression that horses have become mere extras such as bikes to the Tour de France and that the actual goals are fame and money.

I understand that no one likes to question themselves and to admit mistakes that might have been made. However, you cannot honestly believe that those people, who are still tuning in and applauding, will continue to do so once they realize that most of what is happening is make-belief at the expense of the horse. The sentiment is about to change! The regulations of the FEI describe a well-trained horse as a “happy athlete”, they speak of looseness and impulsion generated in the hindquarters. Reading this, my only reaction was: How stupid do you think we are? Is there any other sport in the world where doing the exact opposite of what the regulations prescribe is generally tolerated? Exactly these rules are still valid, are they not? From a historical perspective, they have been tested over centuries and approved. You award a horse a score high enough to break the world record that does not fulfill any of your own criteria. You are looking for flexible and systematically trained “back movers”, yet

you make “leg movers” superstars, that are shown in a skillful and technically accomplished way.

For reasons of credibility, however, the Germans have been enforcing a very offensive and transparent anti-doping policy. We are working hard on doping regulations, but forget to ask ourselves what the reasons for the increasing number of doping incidents are. In this context, should we not be asking why so much treatment in the area of orthopedic and psychopharmacological issues is necessary in the first place? Is it not the case that a horse trained and presented according to the principles of classical teachings (regulations of FEI and FN) – a horse that moves cadenced and balanced, shows self-carriage, looseness and whose back muscles are flexible – requires considerably less medical attention than a “leg mover” full of negative tension?

Classical teachings equal actively practiced animal protection!

How do you suggest veterinary doctors are supposed to react when, shortly before a show, “sports equipment” worth millions of dollars suddenly “breaks”? Would you as a rider, owner or trainer, who is directly involved, not be tempted to fix it? Which role does the veterinary profession play in all of this? On the one hand, a vet has an obligation towards the owner (and the horse?) and receives great questionable honor if his efforts to fix the damage pay off without being picked up on during doping tests. On the other hand, this vet will always exist in some gray area of legality since only these kinds of actions show that you are a good vet, who can join the conversations at the top of the “food chain”.

Why are so many institutions and educated people concerned about damage control and the treatment of symptoms?

Riding as a sport on such a high level is also about culture and art. It is supposed to create role models instead of questionable superstars.

If doping regulations were as clear as they are said to be and if we did not want any medical intervention, why do people require team veterinarians to be taken to shows? In case of emergency, a vet carefully chosen by the event’s organizer may just as well tend to the horse – and besides, almost everyone knows how to hold a hose pipe to cool down a horse or its legs. What do we expect from a “personal” vet during such an event?

Have you ever thought about the condition that ends most of the promising careers in dressage?

More and more often, dressage horses, which were showered with glory only a day ago, vanish from the main stage. Only in rare cases can a downfall be predicted because of massive swelling above the fetlocks. Most of the damage to the suspensory ligament is caused in the

respective fetlock, invisible from the outside. Usually, lame excuses are being used even though it should be obvious to every horseman – no matter if he is involved in auctions or in the show circuit – that an increase in negative tension causes an increase in this type of injuries!

Even in world championships for young horses, forelegs flung about in a showy and flashy way receive the highest scores! These kinds of movements originate from tense back muscles rather than from active hindquarters.

There is no way that only “leg movers” should win and that we should simply approve of the extremely high drop-out rate with regard to “show movers”!

Another issue related to the problem discussed here is the fact that real collection does not exist anymore. It is biomechanically impossible for a horse with tense back muscles to flex or bend its haunches. Nowadays, horses that we assume to be flexing their haunches really only are pushed together and were trained to fling up their legs.

Attempts to explain uncontrollable psychological tension in high-performance horses by means of their lineage and bloodline are plain ridiculous. As every experienced rider knows, negative physical tension always causes psychological agitation and stress. When a horse is skittish and hard to control, this is usually not its own fault or its own doing!

A correctly trained horse is calm and has strong nerves because it is relaxed (especially with regard to its muscles) and trusts its rider.

There will always be misunderstandings with regard to classical teachings – we are merely humans after all. However, such systematic aberrations are incomprehensible and unacceptable to me!

Moreover, there will never be “new” or revised teachings of how to ride and train a horse. Horses have always been horses and will always be. The psychological and physiological concept, which is the basis of classical teachings, will always remain valid. There is no doubt that there will always be well schooled “back movers” with a flexible back and relaxed muscles displaying movements that are balanced and natural (i.e., not artificial or showy). It also goes without saying that there will always be “leg movers”, pushed together by impatient and insensitive riders. In my opinion though, it is high time that the people responsible for defining and implementing the rules of our sport finally remember what they decided on and start putting it into practice. How is it possible that our distinguished and professionally competent national trainer repeatedly recommends the renunciation of the training scale as the only way to be successful? The balancing act between theoretical commitment and practical implementation that has been practiced over the last decades is starting to hurt badly –

especially the horses. I only see one way out of this calamity: consequently and unequivocally following and practicing the core principles as defined in the Principles of Riding (as published by FNverlag, Germany, or Kenilworth Press, UK, for the English translation)! Let us once again adhere to our rules and regulations!

About 50 years ago, Dr. Gustav Rauh said that it was a judge’s honorable task to distinguish a “leg mover” from a “back mover”. A “leg mover” should never be considered for high rankings even if his performance was technically perfect. Only “back movers” could be in the rankings – the quality of technique was only judged after making sure that a horse really was a “back mover”.

How are riders at grass-roots level supposed to interpret world record-high scores for “leg movers”? Do you honestly believe that you can continue to fool the public in this way? Where is this journey supposed to go? Where is this ride headed?

Yours sincerely,

Gerd Heuschmann

Veterinarian and author (Finger in der Wunde [Tug of War], Stimmen der Pferde, Mein Pferd hat die Nase vorn!)

Roly Owers Esq CEO
World Horse Welfare
Anne Colvin House Ada Cole Avenue Snetterton,
Norfolk NR16 2LR

Friday 4th December 2009

Dear Roly

It has been some time since we were in correspondence, but I am always very mindful of the wonderful work you all do at World Horse Welfare.

You may have noticed some interaction from The Classical Riding Club over the Rollkur issue, although we have strenuously tried not to become either militant or over-emotional about it. Please see our official statement on the BHS Website. As a matter of fact CRC has spoken about the use of draw-reins and other gadgets which “fix” the horse’s head into position for the past 15 years…so Rollkur is nothing new to us, except by name.

I note the FEI are very much looking for scientific reasons to empower them to speak out against this practice. To my mind, this would be very hard to prove but it has always been the aim of CRC to re-educate judges in the principles of Classical Dressage which is already well defined in the FEI Rules.

Since I have been lecturing and writing on this subject for over 2 decades, I wonder if it would be constructive for WHW to invite a public debate on the subject? This would show open mindedness and a real attempt to bring other viewpoints to bear. I have just returned from a lecture tour of Canada and the USA, where with slides and a projector, I was able to demonstrate the pros and cons of a forced head and neck position in the sport horse – backed up with biomechanical data. This went down very well, particularly at the State University of Michigan and I would be happy to do a similar lecture with questions and answers on behalf of the WHW at a venue of your choice.

Please feel free to give me a ring any morning on 07977 926156 to discuss this and any other ideas which might appeal to you and your Committee. As you may recall, Bunny Maitland-Carew lives just up the road from us at Mellerstain and I am sure he would endorse such a move.

Kind Regards

Sylvia Loch

BHS Chairman writes to Princess Haya
BHS Chairman Patrick Print FBHS has written to FEI President, HRH Princess Haya, to demand an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the apparent distress of Patrick Kittel's horse at Odense earlier this month, and into the ethics of rollkur more generally.

HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein
Federation Equestre Internationale
Avenue Mon-Repos 24
PO Box 157
1005 Lausanne

29th October 2009

Your Royal Highness,

You cannot be unaware of the disquiet – not to say anger – which has arisen following the depiction on Epona TV of Patrik Kittel’s horse in apparent distress as it competed in Odense on 18th October.

As you are doubtless aware, in terms both of membership and breadth of interest, The British Horse Society (BHS) is the largest single equestrian organisation in the UK. Our examinations system, and the training and education which underpin it, have earned for the Society international recognition. No less important is our work to promote the highest standards of equine welfare, which suffuses every facet of our work. I am pleased to report that our commitment to equine welfare is shared by all our colleagues within the British Equestrian Federation, although on this occasion I am writing solely on behalf of the BHS.

Let me acknowledge straight away that no representative of the BHS was present in Denmark to witness the horse’s apparent distress, nor do we have the benefit of a contemporaneous veterinary report. Moreover, we do not for one minute suggest that Patrik Kittel at any time sought to treat his horse other than with proper care and respect. Nevertheless, in matters of equine welfare, the precautionary principle must always apply: if, despite the absence of conclusive proof, the wellbeing of a horse is called into question, there will exist a strong moral obligation on the FEI to respond immediately. In our view, the concerns so widely expressed are reasonable and therefore deserving of an urgent two-part investigation: first, an inquiry into the treatment of this particular horse on this particular occasion; and, second, a broader inquiry into the ethics and consequences of hyperflexion. In this second aspect The British Horse Society stands ready to assist the FEI in any way it can.

Please note that we pass no comment on the aesthetics of seeing a competition horse contorted in a way it never appears to choose for itself when in its natural state. Our concern is only to speak out when we believe that the welfare of horses demands it.

Yours sincerely,

Patrick Print FBHS

Chairman, The British Horse Society


from The Classical Riding Club – Independent Partner to the BHS

The Classical Riding Club (CRC) backs the British Horse Society’s response to the current Rollkur debate wholeheartedly. Patrick Print has spoken out for all caring horse owners from all disciplines in his persuasive, measured letter and it is to be hoped that the FEI will respond with some positive move towards future action.

In sympathy with the BHS, the CRC has been promoting a more humane system of training the dressage horse and indeed all horses for many years. It has taken pains through its website, newsletters and thousands of articles (all published on line) to speak out against any schooling method which places the horse in an unnatural posture and denies him sufficient freedom through the head and neck.

For this reason CRC devised its own Dressage Judging System back in l998 with the publication of a booklet Making A Difference. In this, alternative ideas as to how to mark tests (BD, Riding Club, CRC etc) are offered and our distinctive marksheets (again, all available on line) can be downloaded to be used with any test from Prelim level upward.

With this innovative system of marking, judges would have no alternative than to mark down horses that worked in a forced or unnatural outline thus contradicting the FEI’s own rules and principles. For example, we have 4 sections under the Rider Marks alone, so over-use of the rein is immediately condemned, as are horses that are over-bent, shortened through the neck, and not generally poll-high.

The Classical Riding Club literature strongly condemns horses that are forced into a shape and implores riders to work at their horse’s own pace with the understanding that the concept of ‘on the bit’ is only valid when the horse is sufficiently mature and elastic behind to move into a more collected outline.

Our own petition for change within the FEI system has elicited a courteous response, but clearly it will take some very big shifts in attitude within the dressage discipline itself to settle the disquiet that is presently being felt globally on the thorny subject of rollkur.

Recently in a number of lessons I've taken, I've noticed the same attitude seeming to prevail. The higher up the training scale the rider goes, the more they are likely to find fault. Not with themselves, I hasten to say - but with their horse!  Although I dislike generalisations, it does seem the less qualified or more amateur the rider, the happier they tend to be with their horse and what he tries to give them.  In both cases there will be many imperfections in the work in general and nearly always corrections to be made; it's how people go about these that makes all the difference.

Faults may be major or minor... but often it is the almost perfect horse that lacks the sparkle and joie de vivre that one might expect at this level. Instead, I frequently see a notable coldness in the horse's eye - a sure sign of rejection, even dejection. Then I look at the rider and find the same coldness... ie No smile on their face, no softening of the eye ... Just a steely determination to do better which if they only let go, might very well happen!

I am not suggesting that riders should go around grinning from ear to ear and I am the first to know that concentration often conceals our innermost feelings, but the eye dies not lie. I would go so far as to say the horses with the saddest, coldest eyes often carry a rider who is clearly not content with them and the work and there exists a constant feeling of blame.

This attitude helps no one. I always remember the old adage that Nuno Oliveira often used (although I think it originated at Saumur) in his teaching ...'Praise often - be content with little.'

Content means to acknowledge what you have, what's been offered and to be happy with it. It doesn't mean that you may not necessarily want more... In the fullness of time. What it does signify is that you are happy in the moment, whatever that timeframe may be.

'Content' should also mean that you don't instantly want more! In riding this should result in constant small gestures to express that state of mind ... Soft eyes (one of the late Sally Swift's great sayings) ... a relaxed jaw - how can the horse relax his if ours is tense? ... A calm demeanour, a grateful heart.  Once we learn to acknowledge every effort the horse makes which can take so many forms, I can assure you the horse will perform better and better. Things can really turn around when instead of being anxious - reluctant to try anything that might result in disapproval - he is given praise and confidence. Only then, will he be more at the ready spontaneously to offer!

In the learning of new skills, new movements for example, all attempts, all offerings should be encouraged and rewarded. There has to be a starting point for everything, so naturally nothing will be perfect at the beginning... But that is the way of all things both for humans and animals. And without that first fumbling attempt - and a word if reassurance, we cannot progress.  I am horrified when I see a horse worked relentlessly without the appearance of reward. Reward can be totally imperceptible but a skilled observer will take note. A momentary softening of the rein (descente de main), the 'dropping' of the legs (descente de jambes), a quiet word of praise, a secret caress.  None of these need be obtrusive but they mean everything to the horse - he knows his rider is in tune with him and it encourages him to offer more and to try again. And gradually, with patience, time and praise, everything looks more harmonious, more accomplished and easier.

As a teacher and trainer, I love it when I see a smile on the rider's face... I love it even more when I see the horse is smiling too. Try it!