Whatever level you ride at, the foundations are the same. International rider and trainer, Louisa Hill, explains what they are and how to improve each step of the way.
All dressage is built on the six scales of training that you often hear about but what are they and what do they actually mean? And, more importantly, how do you teach or improve them?
The six building blocks in the training scale are interdependent and it’s important to achieve each stage before moving on to the next. They are not, however, a checklist of success. The lower rungs should always be revisited to ensure progress is genuine and that your horse is fulfilling all the earlier requirements.
The first three blocks, rhythm, suppleness and contact make up the first phase, where your horse is encouraged to rediscover his natural balance when carrying a rider. The second phase is made up of impulsion and straightness and is when your horse develops the thrust from his hindquarters. Collection is the third and final phase and this is where your horse develops the carrying power of his hind legs.
The blocks are all connected, so if you are missing one of the early blocks you won’t be able to truly develop another in a later stage. Likewise, if, while riding, you think to work on the elements of rhythm, balance and straightness, you should find yourself achieving suppleness, impulsion and collection as a matter of course.