Don’t be concerned about controlling the horse with the reins. When you are establishing “forward” in the horse, the only rein you usually need is an opening rein. Remember you will be riding circles (page 79, Forward: Riding with Eloise King) for the most part when you start your mounted work or you will be using the arena wall or fence (page 82) as a soft aid. You should not need an outside rein in the initial stages of training or retraining the horse.
Some people say that you need to support the outside shoulder with that outside rein. Losing that outside shoulder generally comes about when you do not have forward established in the horse and/or are over-aiding him. Go back to your basics; forward, check your position, etc., until the horse is strong and supple enough that the outside rein is no longer a blocking aid (which will pop that outside shoulder) and becomes the soft aid that it should be.
If you ever feel that you have lost control of the horse, go back to your circle. Twist your shoulders in the direction you want to turn, use an opening rein to that side and step into the inside stirrup. Stay balanced on top of the horse and relax (especially your legs). Breathe and you will soon be enjoying the ride.
Forward Riding by Eloise King
I have only heard of Nuno Oliveira through various other sources and have always been very taken by his training ideas and theory. Not training with force but with feel is something that is an uncommon sight nowadays. Luckily though, we can still see and learn these lessons through people like Sylvia and Eloise, but it is still mostly an uncommon sight even though it was second nature to the great Masters almost half a century ago.
Having happy horses working with you is far more productive for both parties than forcing the animal to perform under duress and while reading this book I found that this was the undercurrent of the entire book – i.e. happy equals harmonious. By the second page, I found myself nodding in agreement to the training ideas and classical statements – “Observe your horse, let him train your eye and feel.”
The book is very sympathetic towards the horse and its behavior and its individual achievements. Conversely, it relies on the reader to be sensitive enough to recognize the progress of the horse and this subtle moment can sometimes be missed even by the more competent person.
I was taught using the well-established ‘training scales’ where collection is the last and highest achievement and rhythm and balance are first established and used as a foundation. The same classical ideas can be seen throughout this very enlightening read. Starting slowly and doing it correctly from the beginning saves time later – no matter how easy it is to cut corners and thereby introduce mistakes. I feel this book does make the effort to start with the reader from the very beginning of training right up to riding half pass etc. in a very constructive way.
When I teach, I have been told my sessions are like ‘painting by numbers’. By keeping it simple, I found this book imparts information in a similar way, like an easy to follow instruction guide.
The time has come to openly admit that there is a split about dressage in this country. I have been telling my students for years that there are two kinds of dressage: artistic and competitive.
On my last three trips to Europe, I have looked at all the art I could find that included a horse. I saw all the movements of dressage in etchings, paintings, tapestries, statues, and books. I now feel that artistic and classical dressage are one and the same.
In classical art, one sees horses on loose reins, but with complete collection and self-carriage. The hind quarters are always strong and well-developed. The horses show strong backs. The saddles are placed well back on the horse, often with a crupper. The word that always came to my mind as I looked was “balance.” Horse and rider are in balance.
Whether you are looking at a horse carrying a knight-in-armor in a battle scene on a large, almost draft animal, or a lovely little Arabian with a draped, light rider, you see the same balance. This is the same balance seen whenever you see horses truly working. Examples are the Western cutting horse, the horse of an avid foxhunter who is out all day three days a week, etc. A working horse is always allowed freedom and develops his strength and carriage without force. A cowboy cannot grip, force and hold a horse together eight hours a day. A knight-in-armor had to be balanced: he could not ride any other way in his cumbersome attire. If the horse were not also in balance, he would lose his knight.
Balance comes to a horse through freedom and exercise. It does not come through force, holding and pushing. A rider does not have to be strong. Some of the loveliest moments I have ever seen were created by a beautiful, delicate lady in a side saddle. A horse must become lighter and more responsive each day in his training. In the end, a small child should be able to Passage, Piaffer and flying change. Then you have classical, artistic dressage. A beautiful horse.
This profound article was written and published by Eloise King in 1977.
Whether you are starting from scratch or have a horse that needs to be fixed; whether you are a novice or experienced rider, the easy step-by-step instructions with illustrations and pictures in “Forward: Riding with Eloise King” make it easy to get the most out of your horse.
Dynamic and sensitive rider, Eloise King, takes you through all the important points of what works to get a truly athletic horse for: Dressage, Hunter/Jumpers, Eventing, Western Pleasure, Pleasure Riding, Reining, Barrel Racing, Pole Bending, and most any other equine discipline. FORWARD will help you avoid problems in training, get past points where you just seem stuck, and offers many practical methods to get the best from your horse.
This book covers:
Lunging—Not just any lunging, but lunging that builds a strong horse with tons of impulsion.
Work-In-Hand—Many exercises are presented that make your horse more supple, athletic and attentive to your aids.
Mounted Work—How to help your horse do his best and give you a great ride.
Eloise King brings the knowledge of 60+ years of working with just about any horse related challenge you could run into. Eloise has worked with and trained many top riders and trainers. Now in her 70’s she is still riding, training, giving clinics, and learning more all the time from her main teacher, the horse.