I hope you’re enjoying reading my blog as much as I’m loving writing it. Today I thought I’d share a training method that my riding instructor is always going on about!!
To succeed in anything you need a plan! The problem is that horses are all so different from each other that it can be difficult to find something that works!! Luckily there’s an approach that works with all horses and is equally applicable to dressage, show jumping, eventing, or just enjoying your time in the saddle to the best of your ability.
This approach is called the scales of training!!!
The scales of training provide logical steps to get any horse to go better. This systematic approach is often shown in a pyramid diagram (like the picture above!) and can help you understand where to start with improving your horse’s way of going. Though each scale is a prerequisite for the next, it’s not a rigid format of training but flexible instead. Advanced horses and riders should continue to work on improving the lower scales, alongside developing the top ones.
There are six scales of training but forwardness is needed before these can be worked on.
Forwardness means your horse is taking you willingly and freely. He/she must be listening to your aids and understand what you want him/her to do.
The scales are rhythm, suppleness, contact, impulsion, straightness, and collection!
Rhythm is the regularity and evenness of the horse’s hoof-falls in all three paces.
Suppleness is the horse’s flexibility and how easy he/she finds it to bend in any given direction. For this the horse must be both physically and mentally relaxed.
Contact is the horse’s acceptance of the bit. The horse should carry him/herself and not lean on the bit or be heavy in the rider’s hands. It is necessary that the reins are neither too long nor too short if contact is to be achieved.
Impulsion is the energy the horse moves forwards with, NOT the speed!
Straightness is how straight the horse’s body is, with the hind hooves following the track of the fore hooves. A horse can be considered straight on a turn or circle if there is a uniform bend throughout his/her body.
Collection is the ultimate goal of all classical training! It is when the horse steps under with his/her hindquarters and carries his/her weight on the hindquarters rather than the forehand. The horse’s forehand is lightened and hindquarters engaged, making for a pretty amazing ride!!!
The scales of training can be thought of as a plan to build a house! Without the foundation of rhythm to support the walls, the chimney of collection can’t be added. We have the Germans to credit for the development of this training method that really does work!!
Good luck trying out the scales of training!!!
Horse Daydreamer xxx