1. Ride under supervision
When riders enter the Spanish Riding School they have to give up riding outside of their SRS training. Every rider is trained under the watchful eye of someone who’s already risen up the ranks to become Head Rider. While we can’t all be so fortunate to have a lesson every time we get on a horse, regular lessons, and riding with someone knowledgeable around might actually help you progress faster and nip those bad habits in the bud.
2. Put the horse at the heart of your training
The Spanish Riding School let the horse gauge the pace of training. They have certain stages of training dressage, from forward school up to high school, but the horse is always given the time he needs to learn. Andreas says: “Take time but don’t waste time” Be patient, and let the horse decide the pace of your training.
3. Read your horse
“If you can read horses’ body language and think like them, that’s one of the biggest attributes of a good rider” says Andreas. He says it’s something that grows by just being around horses. In the Spanish Riding School, riders aren’t allowed to be just riders. They must know all the stable management and horsemanship that goes with caring for horses. Only once they know that can they progress onto riding the horses. Are you a perceptive rider?
4. Take a lunge lesson
The most important thing to the Spanish Riding School is the rider’s seat. “If you can’t sit correctly,” says Andreas, “you will never be able to ride correctly.” The students spend two to four years on the lunge, and while this isn’t realistic for the everyday horse owner, taking an occasional lunge lesson can really help you improve your riding. Improving your seat will help to improve the communication between you and your horse, which is always beneficial – especially in dressage.
5. Ask for help
Coming up through the stages in the Spanish Riding School is character building. Once the rider graduates to Assistant Rider, he must train a horse from unbroken up to Grand Prix. It’s always supervised but the rider can work on his own in the school, while the other riders are working. The riders must learn to come and ask for help from the Chief Riders. Andreas says: “He can’t think, ‘I’m the best’ he must think, ‘I am talented but I’m not really finished with my learning and studying’.”