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 Traditional Dressage / articles

"To the Passive Hands"

Egon Von Neindorff.

The Art of Classical Horsemanship, published by CADMOS


"Let us remember that initially, we allowed the young horse to retain a head and neck position in which it could move as evenly and quietly as possible.

At the same time, the horse searched for support in the side reins while moving on the lunge line.

The rider allowed the horse for to search for this support.

If at the end of the schooling session the horse became lazier regardless of the rider increased driving aids, then under certain circumstances the riding whip could be used gently as an additional incentive.

Automatically, the pressure in the rider's hand increased as the horse searches for contact but it is necessary that the rider gives the horse the opportunity to respond in this manner.

When the rider's elastic and slightly restraining hand, combined with judicious use of the driving aids, causes the horse to search for contact and the rider maintains a gentle connection to the horse's mouth we have a correct understanding of the "passive hands".

At this stage, the procedure of using strong rein aids to relieve the pressure in the rider's hands would be just as faulty as yielding too much in the direction of the mouth.

The amount of thrust and impulsion that is being propelled forward by the horse's hindquarters is received by the rider's hands similar to a permeable filter.

And so, keeping the idea in mind, von Troschke, the author of the "riding instructions" written in 1882 and a Cavalry General, quoted a wise and time-proven adage:

"the first victory over the horse is won with the passive hands".

The horse's development of strength and hindquarter thrust as well as a freely forward swinging hindleg, will be greatly disturbed if the rider attempts to maneuver its head and neck into a cramped lowered position by active overuse of his hands. Using this method, the hindleg on the horse's stiff side is encouraged to move further forward while the leg on the horse's more flexible side remains further behind. Now the horse steps unevenly and even more crookedly.

Only the rider's quiet and steady hand combined with the forward driving aids from both legs will equally encourage the haunches and the poll into simultaneously increased flexion.

As previously explained, the rider's driving leg aids prompt the horse to step forward and assume rein contact.

And here this former key sentence is valid:

"ride your horse forward and keep it straight!"

End of quote...