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Reportage: lessons from the senior rider of the Spanish Riding School

Creating harmony and expressiveness.

Not every day riders have the opportunity to gain first-hand knowledge of the teaching methods transmitted from generation to generation by the masters of the Spanish Riding School. My report was the result of the presence in the lessons of Andreas Hausberger, the senior rider of the School. The internship for the riders under his leadership was organized at the Pasmore Stables stable in Whitehall, Virginia.

After joining the Spanish Riding School of Vienna in 1984, Andreas was named Rider in 1993 and Chief Rider in 2007. Here he is in a 2001 performance in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Andreas performs at a show in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

During each 45-minute individual training session, Andreas, following the unified structure of the lesson, drew the riders’ attention to details that increase their self-confidence.

Classes were structured as follows:

Riders independently warmed horses outside the arena.
After the invitation to the arena, they demonstrated drill and training trot, moved in circles, serpentines and worked on the wall, while Andreas focused on the quality of the lynx and the rider’s landing. As soon as these “components” satisfied him …
the riders made trot changes through 20-meter circles. When their horses became balanced and attentive …
the riders proceeded at a gallop. And again Andreas sought quality both in gait and in riders.
Then the riders performed menki at a gallop. Andreas asked them to demonstrate the correct half-supports and the ability to maintain the right pace.
During a short break, riders were asked to let the horses stretch out, “ask the snaffle down and forward.”
After the break, work followed on a collected lynx in a training landing or on a collected gallop, which was focused on developing the quality of lateral movements, developing a clearer collection, persistent expressiveness, a clearer rhythm and greater harmony.
At each lesson the horses worked in their hands. On the first day – after work under the saddle, on the second and third – before. The goal was to improve connectivity and encourage horses to carry themselves.
As part of the proposed training structure, Andreas helped riders to overcome a variety of difficulties – from pinching the horse’s body with his knee to maintaining his own body in the necessary tone and elasticity in order to correct the horse’s inward bending during the shoulder exercise inward.

Correct fit while riding

In the early stages of training, Andreas corrected landing errors, both significant and not so, including:

1. Capture of the horse’s knees and hips

One of the riders, who was at a relatively low level of training, did not understand that she was holding her horse with her knees and hips and this prevented the horse from moving smoothly and maintaining a clear rhythm. To help her loosen her leg, Andreas forced her to tear her knees up from the saddle (the shankels remained at the sides of the horse). When the rider returned to her old habit, he again reminded her to loosen her knee. The difference in her horse’s movements was easily noticed when they started working on trot transitions on the 20-meter circle: if the horsewoman pinched the horse with her knees, there were problems maintaining the middle trot, and the collected lynx became shaking, the horse looked caught. When the horsewoman worked, holding the shankel as if “they are lying with the back on the sides of the horse,” the horse’s movements became smoother and more elegant.

2. Holding the seat deep in the saddle

She also horsewoman several years ago moved from show jumping to dressage. She tried her best to sit deep in the saddle. As a result, her horse regularly “pulled” her from the correct position. The solution was found and carried out in two stages:

Stage 1. The horsewoman focused on inducing the horse to yield in the neck. To do this, she held the upper arm near the body, and this was carried out due to the work of the shoulders, and not the muscles of the hands. At the same time, she encouraged her horse to continue to do the same work with the same activity throughout the lesson. As the balance between contact and energy improved, the horse began to give way in the neck. Andreas then asked the rider to raise the arch of her neck a little higher, which could be done by sitting deeper in the saddle. The result was further softening in the horse’s neck, which ceased to rest against the rider’s hands.

Stage 2. As soon as the horse became easier in the hands, the rider threw the stirrups and concentrated on maintaining the established position of the horse’s neck on a 20-meter circle. When she had to prevent her horse from lowering her neck too low, her landing became deeper and deeper. Towards the end of the lesson, she without multiple stirrups performed multiple gallop transitions – training trot and medium trot – collected trot. On the second day, she also worked without stirrups, but from the very beginning of the lesson, and the horse did not pull her. The horsewoman’s landing has become more durable and reliable.

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