Transformational Dressage

How much in-hand training do you do with your horse?

Transformational Dressage, as I understand it’s called? or straightness training or In-hand training… All of the above techniques, (when dealing with green horse or a Grand-Prix horse for that matter) emphasize that if you want the best out of your horse, and the most out of his training, beginning your initial workouts on the ground is the best way to start.

It’s about building a foundation. Preparing them for work. It doesn’t matter what discipline the horse goes on to undertake. Applying In-hand training in the onset will leave your horse with the building blocks of sound mind, flexibility in its body and care for itself and you as its rider.

So where to start?

Let’s begin with tack. Some like to use a Cavesson, or bridle along with a dressage whip. But there are those in the business that don’t like to work in the bridle for the reason below.

I am often asked why I recommend using a cavesson rather than work from the bridle. In my experience, I have found that working from the middle of the nose helps establish correct flexion and bend through the body of the horse. In addition, in insensitive or novice hands, working from the bit can create problems with incorrect flexions and instill fear or resistance in the horse who is worried about his mouth. - Manolo Mendez

It’s important to keep the horse calm and accepting.
There are 3 basic exercises when working in hand

1. Circle
On the circle, the horse learns to bend to both sides, in a forward-down position with a hind leg that steps under.

2. Shoulders-in
With shoulders in, the weight of the horse is placed in front of the direction of movement of the inside hind leg, making it carry more weight.

3. Haunches-in
With haunches-in, the weight of the horse is placed in front of the direction of movement of the outside hind leg, making it carry more weight.

There are 9 lessons in total. But for the novice these 3 are a good place to begin. I would also like to advise that you attempt these exercises with the assistance of a trainer. Just as these exercises can provide an advantage for your horse… introduced incorrectly and you could innocently spoil your potential results.

Below are video links to get you started. What you want to look for in your horse is softness in the body and correct posture. You want the continued willingness of the horse in order to encourage balance.

Work in hand videos

What benefits has work in hand training done for your horse?!
–Tell us about it TBL minds want to know!

Further Reading: