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Carl Hester's top tips

  • Posted: 20 December 2012

For those who were unable to go to Carl Hester's inspiring session at the British Dressage National Convention at Hartpury, Horse and Hound's Dressage Editor, Alice Collins, tweeted his top tips for dressage training.

Visit Horse and Hound's Twitter page for the full list, but here's a selection of our favourites.

  • If horse is strong, don't go in straight lines, circle and circle until he's not pulling and is balancing himself.
  • It doesn't matter what type of horse you have, you can teach it square halts - they're 'free' marks.
  • Use half transitions to bring a horse back in trot and teach him to wait in balance rather than full half-halt.
  • The trot is the easiest page to change and improve but you need to buy a good walk and a good canter.
  • Horses shouldn't be in box for 23 hrs/day and just ridden - it isn't fair. To keep healthy they must keep moving.
  • If horse isn't even in both reins don't keep pulling the heavy one - work to put the weight in the empty rein.
  • Don't panic if horse makes a mistake in changes, it's repetition repetition until he gets the hang of it.
  • Teach and practice flying changes on lines that aren't in tests, like the R-C line.
  • I use the outside leg not the inside to give aid to canter because that's the aid in the tempi changes later.
  • If you carry a whip just to make your horse go, you shouldn't carry one. They are just for small corrections.
  • Walking for just 2 mins and sitting trot too early on in a session is not future-making for horses.
  • If a horse won't stretch at the beginning of session, work on a contact sooner then stretch when he is ready.
  • Obedience to the hand and leg must start in the warm-up.
  • You should ride about 200 transitions per session - forward and back to make the horse rideable and on the aids.
  • There's never just 1 person at the top; there's always 2, be that a trainer, friend or mentor - or Charlotte.
  • Riders blame saddles when the problem is usually that the horse isn't straight and throws them off to side.
  • Everybody should have to ride quarter lines - they show if the horse is contained in the outside aids.
  • Half-halts are invisible - or should be - that's why they're so hard to explain. It's what works for you.
  • There's no such thing as dressage for eventers and dressage for dressage riders. It's all just dressage.
  • Use lots of forwards and back transitions within the canter to spice up the hindleg.