TSB was, along with hundreds of others, lucky enough to attend the New England Dressage Association Fall Symposium, hosted by Mount Holyoke Equestrian Center in South Hadley, Massachusetts. Despite beginning in the rain and ending in the cold, it was a beautifully organized event. Hats off to those who planned and ran the operations, decorated the facility with fabulous flair, and ensured everyone there a positive and immensely educational experience.
We were thrilled to be able to bring Charlotte’s autobiography THE GIRL ON THE DANCING HORSE to North America early in 2018, following its major release in her home country across the pond. Charlotte graciously signed hundreds of books for appreciative fans over the weekend in South Hadley, and the thrilled recipients of photos and autographs spilled out of the indoor at the end of each day.
Of most value, though, was Charlotte’s insight when it came to riding and training, and all in the audience—whatever our age, ability, or riding level—had something to gain from watching the lessons each day. We collected 20 of our favorite quotes from the pages of notes we took to share here.
And yes, she really did mention transitions that many times (it was actually many, many more!)
“Does it mean you will ‘make it’ if your horse is big or small or long or short? No, none of that should really matter.”
“Every transition you ride should be a good one, because this is your foundation.”
“Every person is able and capable, whatever horse you ride, of riding good transitions. It is just about being willing to work on it.”
“For young horses, 20 minutes of work is enough. This is hard for one-horse riders because you feel you should do more.”
“Learn to love your right rein as much as you love the left one.”
“We get so ‘precious,’ we are overthinking ‘doing’ dressage, we end up too busy, when all you need to do is get the horse to think forward.”
“How many transitions should you ride in a session? Hundreds.”
“Don’t override. Let your horse make a mistake, then correct it.”
“People say so many things and make dressage so complicated, but it really isn’t. Half-halt and the horse should come back. Touch with the leg and he should GO. It is black and white.”
“It’s not difficult to make good transitions; all it is is discipline.”
“Hot horses need your legs on and easy horses need your legs off, and it is terribly difficult to do.”
“I tend to go for horses that look really basic and normal, but when I get on, I get that feeling…”
“There are four kinds of canter. Why do we get stuck in one kind? We’d rather feel safe.”
“Can I bend it, can I stretch it, can I straighten it, can I collect it? That’s a supple horse.”
“Training never just goes up. It goes up and down continuously.”
“The best stretch you get from the horse is at the end of the session.”
“That’s what we call slap the rider, pat the horse.”
“A good horse has to be able to do two things: sit and push.”
“People are so quick to want to teach the tricks, and then simple things, like cantering the centerline to a square halt can’t be done correctly.”
“The tricks are the easy part. The basics are the things that bite you in the bum all the way out.”
Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and DVDs, is a small business based on a farm in rural Vermont.