Posts Tagged ‘NEDA’


A full house at the 2018 NEDA Fall Symposium featuring Charlotte Dujardin.

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.


Charlotte Dujardin with TSB Managing Editor Rebecca Didier.

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!)

THE GIRL ON THE DANCING HORSE is available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE. CLICK HERE for more information.


“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.”

Read more from Charlotte in her book THE GIRL ON THE DANCING HORSE, available HERE.

Trafalgar Square Books, the leading publisher of equestrian books and DVDs, is a small business based on a farm in rural Vermont.

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"Cavalletti work is invaluable for all riders and every horse, no matter what stage they are at," say Ingrid and Reiner Klimke in their influential book CAVALLETTI.

“Cavalletti work is invaluable for all riders and every horse, no matter what stage they are at,” say Ingrid and Reiner Klimke in their influential book CAVALLETTI.


We’ve all seen them, and most of us have ridden over or through them at one time or another. Whatever your discipline, cavalletti–poles made from wood or synthetic material and raised off the ground at varying heights—are “invaluable for all riders and every horse, no matter what stage they are at,” write Ingrid Klimke and her father the late Dr. Reiner Klimke in the international bestseller CAVALLETTI.


Here are 8 reasons why we all should use cavalletti, whether preparing our horses for jumping, the dressage ring, ranch work, or pleasure and trail riding:

1  Cavalletti work develops strength in particular muscles by asking the horse to move in a specific and controlled way. For example, the horse becomes more sure-footed as a result of lifting his feet high to go over the cavalletti, and then placing them back on the ground between the poles.

2  Cavalletti allow more demands to be made on the horse’s legs without compromising the quality of the gaits, namely walk, trot, and canter.

3  They are useful for loosening muscles and relieving stiffness. For example, riding a horse over cavalletti with his neck lowered and stretching forward and downward will help specific back muscles to contract and relax, effectvely loosening any tightness and helping the horse find or regain his natural rhythm.

They improve fitness: Slowly increasing the amount and difficulty of the work over cavalletti increases the efficiency of the horse’s heart and lungs.

Cavalletti help a young or green horse learn to balance with a rider on his back, and they will improve his confidence, particularly in preparation for being ridden over uneven ground.

6  They enable the rider to gain an understanding of the horse’s psyche and how to bring out the best in him: Does he remain calm or become excited as you approach cavalletti or change the pattern or height of the poles? By altering cavalletti exercises, the rider can begin to learn how to control a particular horse’s reactions to certain scenarios.

7  Strategic use of cavalletti can improve the quality of the horse’s walk and trot, the rhythm and regularity of his movement, and build impulsion and cadence over time.

8  Perhaps most importantly: Training with cavalletti adds interest and challenge to your horse’s training session. “Monotony prevents learning,” write the Klimkes. Keep your time with your horse enjoyable for you both!


CAVALLETTI is available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.





Ingrid Klimke is headlining the 2014 NEDA Fall Symposium at Apple Knoll Farm in Millis, Massachusetts, November 1 & 2. CLICK HERE for more information or to register.

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Arthur with his daughter Caroline.

Arthur with his daughter Caroline.

When your horse is slow or reluctant to respond promptly to your leg aid, he’s not “in front of the leg.” We all know how much work it is to ride a horse that isn’t in front of the leg—it feels like no matter how early you prepare the horse for the upward transition, how much you indicate with your seat or squeeze with your legs, he still shuffles forward on his own schedule or ignores your aids altogether.

In his new book DRESSAGE SOLUTIONS, former First Chief Rider at the renowned Spanish Riding School and international trainer and clinician Arthur Kottas-Heldenberg explains the many causes of this problem. He also gives us clear and easy-to-implement ways to improve the horse’s reaction time and get him solidly in front of the leg.


Cause: The horse may not understand what is being asked of him, therefore is hesitant and lacks confidence, making him slow to react. Consider whether the aids are being applied correctly and with good timing.

Solution: If the rider’s lower leg swings around, the horse will feel it accidentally bumping his sides in different places. He thinks this is an aid, responds forward, but the rider pulls on the reins, not realizing he was the cause of it. This confuses the horse so that in future he does not know whether to respond to the leg in case it leads to another pull on his mouth. In this example the solution clearly lies with the rider and he must work on his seat position in the saddle to improve the stability of his lower leg. This could include work on the lunge without stirrups and ensuring that the lower back is supple so that a deep seat can be maintained at all paces.


Cause: Strong hands can be the root of the problem. Again the rider needs help with his seat, trying to improve his balance so that he does not use the reins to keep himself in the saddle. Only a rider who can remain in balance independent of the reins and stirrups for support can achieve good hands. Behind the leg can also be a tack issue—ask yourself, “Is the bit too strong for my horse?”

Solution: The horse may have a sensitive mouth and be afraid of going forward if the bit is severe and the rider’s hands are not subtle. An experienced trainer can advise whether a milder bit would be more suitable and encourage the horse to relax and go more freely forward from the leg aids. Our aim should be that our horses go happily in a simple snaffle bit with a cavesson noseband, or a correctly fitted drop or flash noseband if he opens his mouth. Later the double bridle can be introduced, but only when the horse is accepting the snaffle correctly and the rider has achieved a level of sophistication in his riding skills. The double or full bridle should never be used as strong brakes, or to manipulate the head and neck carriage into an arched position. When our horse has been trained to a level where all the work can be achieved harmoniously in the snaffle bridle, then the double can be used to add refinement to the aids.


Cause: A lazy or phlegmatic horse may be slow to react to our leg aids.

Solution: We can sensitize this horse to our legs by making many transitions, both between the gaits and within them. By doing this we focus the horse’s mind, and the frequency of the transitions will bring him onto our aids and can also make the hind legs active. If he is dull to our leg aids, kicking his sides is likely to cause resentment and further deaden his responses. Keep the legs light and, if he ignores the aid, tap him with the schooling whip by your inside leg. It is important to time this with the leg aid so that the horse associates leg and whip as meaning the same thing. This way we can teach the horse to respond to light touches from the legs. If the horse is feeling sluggish, then we can raise his adrenalin levels with some canter work. After warming up, try some canter in a light seat. Encourage him to make some tempo changes, whilst maintaining control and balance. The priority is to activate our horse, as it is his energy we channel when we put him on the bit, and without controlled energy we have nothing.


Cause: Some horses can become stale and lethargic if their routine never varies. For them we can vary the day-to-day work program.

Solution: Include some hacking in the country once or twice a week. Use some small cavalletti. This can be fun for the horse and sharpen his responses to our aids. It is also a good way to gymnasticize the horse, so that we achieve one of our aims in a different way than usual. Take your horse to different arenas occasionally. A different environment may make the dull horse brighter and easier to ride. Some horses thrive when they are worked in company and this may help improve his responses to the aids.


Cause: If the horse is young or physically weak, fatigue can slow his reactions to our legs.

Solution: Consider changing the work program to shorter sessions so that you can finish while he is still fresh and enjoying his work. If possible, ride twice a day but for shorter periods so that he can recover his energy in between. Continuing to work a tired horse is a mistake and can lead to evasions. Review the horse’s diet, to ensure he is fed a balanced regime that provides all the carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals he needs to perform his work. If you are not sure, then seek the advice of an equine nutritionist.


Both the new DRESSAGE SOLUTIONS and its predecessor KOTTAS ON DRESSAGE are available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is FREE.



Need help from Arthur Kottas in person? Riders and auditors can now sign up for his June 2014 clinic at Windhorse Dressage Farm in Sherborn, Massachusetts, and Bear Spot Farm in Acton, Massachusetts.



Tuesday, June 24, Wednesday June 25, and Thursday, June 26

Windhorse Dressage Farm

34 Great Rock Road, Sherborn, MA 01770


Friday, June 27, Saturday, June 28, and Sunday, June 29

Bear Spot Farm

276 Pope Rd, Acton, MA 01720


The cost per ride is $290 per lesson. Riders and grooms are welcome to audit all day for free.

The cost to audit is $30 per day ($15 per day for current NEDA members). Rider spots are assigned on a first come, first served basis. Contact Irene Greenberg with questions at either 603-770-0939 or irene.e.greenberg@gmail.com.


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TSB author Arthur Kottas is a unique individual, equally well versed in both the classical and competitive sides of dressage. Kottas joined the Spanish Riding School at the age of 16 and achieved the top position of First Chief Rider in 1994, eventually retiring in 2003. He is also a recognized dressage judge and has trained and ridden competitively since childhood.

Kottas is known to be a fantastic teacher—knowledgeable, open, and accessible. His recent book KOTTAS ON DRESSAGE has received rave reviews—check them out!

“The best [book] to be written this century.” —British Horse


“Kottas-Heldenberg’s years of training experience shine through in his book. It’s organized extremely clearly, making it an excellent reference guide that you can refer back to without much page-flipping . . .Timeless dressage lessons for both horse and rider.” —Horsemen’s Yankee Pedlar


“There are various reasons why I loved this book, but a main one is its extraordinary clarity, in part a result of that organization. . . . If for some reason I was forced to abandon my considerable dog-eared dressage library and was allowed to take with me only a single book, this one would be it.” —Dressage Today

KOTTAS ON DRESSAGE is available from the TSB online bookstore, where shipping in the US is always FREE.

Click here to read Arthur Kottas’ thoughts on measuring degrees of collection on Equisearch.com.

Arthur Kottas is teaching clinics in two New England locations next week: October 16, 17 & 18 at Capstone Farm in Madbury, New Hampshire, and October 18, 19 & 20 at Bear Spot Farm in Acton, Massachusetts. Auditors are welcome (the audit fee is $20 per day for current NEDA members and $30 per day for non-members) and there are a few openings for riders. If interested, contact Irene Greenberg at 603-770-0939 or irene.e.greenberg@gmail.com.
Unable to attend a Kottas clinic? Read this great piece by Kottas about measuring degrees of collection on Equisearch.com, and don’t forget to get his book KOTTAS ON DRESSAGE.


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