The Magazine June 2020

The scales of training: Rhythm and balance

Posted 27th April 2020

Nothing can flourish without a strong foundation, least of all your horse’s schooling. Dressage star Michael Eilberg guides us through the first scales of training

Michael Eilberg explaining the scales of training

Due the current situation in the UK with COVID-19 and the added pressures on the NHS, following BHS and BEF advice we strongly recommend that you read our brilliant training advice now, but implement it at a later date when safe to do so #ThankYouNHS

No matter which discipline holds pride of place in your heart, the scales of training are a universal set of building blocks that can be used to progress your horse’s work in a systematic way, allowing you to improve his way of going – for good.

The scales in detail

The first of these building blocks – or the base of the pyramid – is rhythm. This means that before you ask for anything more demanding in your horse’s training, you need to ensure there’s a regular, easy cadence to his movement. Then, you can begin to work on stage two, which is suppleness. Once your horse is both laterally and longitudinally supple, it’s time for step three – contact. The fact that you’re halfway up the pyramid before you even address the feeling through your reins and your horse’s outline is no coincidence.

Exercise: train the transitions


Michael Eilberg's exercise to help with rhythm and balance

Build it:  You’ll need nine poles in total for this exercise, though you’ll start with just one.

Place it between M and B, and allow your horse to walk over it on each rein. He might take an uneven step over it the first time – that’s fine. Stay elastic in your arms so he can lengthen his neck slightly and reapproach the pole. Then, gradually add in more until you have a set of four walk poles.

Next, it’s time to add in trot poles. Place one pole between B and F, and trot over it once or twice on each rein before building up to a line of five. There should be roughly three to five trot strides – that’s 6–8.5m – between the two sets of poles.

Ride it:  Once you’re comfortable walking through the walk poles and trotting through the trot poles, it’s time to put them together. Start in an active, marching walk on the right rein, and ride through your walk poles. Ride one or two strides of walk after the poles and then move up into trot, heading straight to the next set of poles. Don’t rush or fiddle – simply keep your horse between your aids and ask him to move forward positively. Then, change the rein and reapproach the trot poles from the other direction. Ride a downward transition after the poles and walk through the next set.

For more top training advice from Michael Eilberg, pick up a copy of June Horse&Rider on sale 30 April 2020. Get your copy delivered direct to your door with free P&P, here.

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July 2020 Horse&Rider Magazine

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