FOUNDATION TRAINING - INITIAL LÉGÈRETÉ
Three important basics - for the horse. The fundamental elements to begin all lessons.
This is your number one priority. Without it nothing productive can really happen. How do I know if a horse is relaxed?
The eyes first tell the story... of peace, fear, tension, anxiety, energy, excitement, sadness or joy. The ears, of course and their movement and direction. The posture, height and tension in the neck and back, the tail movement. The breathing, nostrils and position and contraction or softness of the lips, and of course the jaw. Relaxation in the mouth and jaw is the first thing we can feel through the reins.
After relaxation, the horse's balance is key to all that we want to achieve in any form of equitation. What is there to do without balance? Very little really. Well there is little joy when we don't have the right balance for the task. Without longitudinal balance there is a braced jaw, or sucking back behind the vertical, leaning on the forehand, or running and pulling, and no concept of lightness or collection. Without lateral balance, there is falling in or falling out, and no chance of straightness or rhythm.
The will to go - to respond to light aids in a willing and cooperative manner. This is impulsion - the impulse to push off and move actively with expressive energy and reactivity to the slightest leg aids.
Horses were made to run. Its in their nature as a sensitive reactive flight animal. Its what they were designed to do best - to escape fast from the threat of predators and dangers in the wild.
Without impulsion or reactivity to leg aids - gymnastic development is extremely difficult and no joy.