During the next phase of training the horse learns to accept the rider’s aids without suffering physical injury or mental stress. The Scales of Training, which outline the correct phases of education necessary to achieve this, are:
The horse should work through his back from the first stage of riding, and this is helped by riding half-halts and transitions into and out of trot, for example.
Basic training sets us on the right track to develop the natural ability of the horse. It is wrong to believe that with a 4-year-old horse one can achieve looseness in one session, rhythm in the next, and then contact, etc. This is simply not the case. The individual elements of training develop side by side and as a trainer one should ensure that they are present whether the horse is destined for dressage, jumping or hacking. Basic training lays the foundation for the future development of the horse while maintaining his trust.
Although the fundamental part of straightness is developed in the second year of training it should have already been a significant part of training in the first year.
We have patiently loosened the young horse, established regularity in his gaits and asked him to go in a regular rhythm. The development of the horse has been improved by his reaction to the forward- and lateral-driving aids and the collecting aids. As training progresses there will be a few issues to resolve along the way, for example further improving looseness to optimize the development of the gaits. In order to ride forwards with true impulsion we must ensure the straightness of the horse. The horse’s hind feet should follow precisely the tracks of his forefeet on both straight and curved lines. A good way to improve straightness, lengthen the steps and improve cadence is to ride on curved lines, especially rounded serpentines.
The following simple loosening exercises are suitable for 3- to 4-year-old horses in the first five to six months of training;
1. As a general rule, about 10 minutes in walk on a loose rein. For safety reasons young horses who have only just started ridden work should only be ridden on a contact, but without flexion at the poll. Horses in whom the four-beat walk is not properly established, those who overbend slightly, or have poll problems, should be worked on a long rein in order to control flexion in the poll area.
2. Rising trot on a circle.
3. Changes of rein in trot – out of the circle, across the short and long diagonals.
4. Frequent transitions between trot and walk.
5. Transitions between trot and canter on a circle (about every one or two circles).
6. Lengthening the stride (on the long side) – maintaining the tempo.
7. Allowing the horse to stretch down and chew the reins out of the rider’s hands in rising trot.
8. One shallow loop on the long side.
9. Three-loop serpentines in rising trot with large, round loops.
10. Leg-yield to the outside (head to the wall).
11. Turns around the forehand.