When it comes to training horses, achieving balance, self-carriage, and rhythm are often emphasized as fundamental goals. These aspects play a vital role in dressage, where harmony between horse and rider is the ultimate aim. To delve deeper into these concepts and their significance, we turned to Tiago Albergaria, a highly skilled Portuguese dressage rider, judge, and trainer, to provide valuable insights.
By Therese Alhaug. Photos Therese Alhaug & Lena Saugen
Defining Balance in Dressage Horses
According to Albergaria, balance refers to a horse’s ability, either naturally or with the assistance of the rider, to utilize its biomechanics in maintaining self-carriage. This entails sustaining rhythm and amplitude of steps, while moving forward and remaining collected without compromising frame and harmony of movements. Attaining balance is crucial in unlocking a horse’s maximum potential and capacity, enabling them to progress from basic exercises to high-level maneuvers, and ultimately achieving the highest possible scores in competition.
As in life, harmony is the core essence of riding and dressage, and balance serves as its foundation.
Improving the Horse’s Balance
Albergaria emphasizes that the rider’s seat must be correct and their aids precise to establish effective communication with the horse. It is essential for the horse to respond positively to the rider’s signals and corrections while maintaining a consistent rhythm, suppleness, and relaxation.
“Through the continuous refinement of these fundamental skills, riders can constantly strive for improved balance. As in life, harmony is the core essence of riding and dressage, and balance serves as its foundation,” Tiago says.
Creating Self-Carriage in Horses
The development of clear communication between rider and horse is paramount in establishing self-carriage. Albergaria advises riders to employ correct and precise aids, ensuring the horse remains calm, maintains a pleasant and honest contact, and stays responsive to the rider’s leg aids.
Implementing exercises such as transitions, half-halts, and lateral movements helps progress from longitudinal balance to vertical balance, ultimately resulting in a correct frame and delightful self-carriage. As the horse advances, movements like passage and piaffe can be introduced, tailored to the horse’s individual level and capabilities.
Attaining balance is crucial in unlocking a horse’s maximum potential and capacity, enabling them to progress from basic exercises to high-level maneuvers.
Common Mistakes That Disrupt Balance
Albergaria highlights two primary mistakes riders often make that disturb the balance. Firstly, an incorrect and unbalanced seat significantly affects the aids, rendering the rider unable to effectively correct and assist the horse. Developing a seat that maintains perfect balance is crucial.
Imagining the horse removed from the equation, the rider should still retain a solid position, utilizing the angles between feet-lower leg, lower leg-upper leg, and upper leg-upper body and head to preserve balance.
Secondly, riders may struggle to maintain the independence of their aids, particularly in coordinating the use of reins and legs without interference.
Straightness arises from correct training that follows the principles of rhythm, suppleness, and contact while enhancing the horse’s physical and mental capacity and willingness to move forward.
Improving Straightness in Horses
Straightness arises from correct training that follows the principles of rhythm, suppleness, and contact while enhancing the horse’s physical and mental capacity and willingness to move forward. Lateral movements, such as shoulder-in and haunches-in, aid in controlling both sides of the horse, reinforcing correct straightness. Employing inner lines during training exercises also helps confirm and develop straightness.
Exercises to Shift Weight off the Forehand
To transfer weight from the forehand to the hind-end, Albergaria recommends practicing half-halts, transitions, and lateral movements. These exercises progressively develop the horse’s ability to engage the hindquarters and elevate the forehand. As the horse advances, introducing piaffe and passage exercises tailored to their age and level can further contribute to shifting weight distribution and achieving balance.
In conclusion, Tiago Albergaria’s expertise sheds light on the importance of balance, self-carriage, and rhythm in the world of dressage. By understanding and implementing the principles he shares.
Tiago Albergaria is a highly skilled Portuguese dressage rider, judge, and trainer. Albergaria’s keen eye for detail and comprehensive knowledge of classical dressage principles, together with his ability to assess and guide riders with fairness and precision, has solidified his reputation as a trusted figure within the dressage sphere. Albergaria’s training philosophy revolves around the principles of balance, harmony, and communication. He believes in establishing a solid foundation built on correct seat and precise aids, ensuring a harmonious connection between rider and horse. Tiago Albergaria’s contributions to the dressage world are multifaceted. As a rider, his performances exemplify grace, skill, and precision. As a judge, his discerning eye and insightful critiques elevate the standard of competitions. As a trainer, his dedication to his students’ growth and development paves the way for future generations of accomplished dressage riders.