On Friday evening, Jan Ebeling shared how to structure an effective training session for a dressage horse. While working with two horses and riders, Ebeling discussed how a typical training session would look and how you can apply specific techniques to target your horse's training level.
"The two horses in the session were very different in terms of their age, breed and training level," he said after the clinic. "Both horses were ridden quite correctly, and the second that they started trotting, I know this was going to be a really good session."
When training your dressage horse, Ebeling emphasized the importance of having rhythm, relaxation and contact, or connection, with your horse. "Once you pick up the reins, you want to establish a nice frame and have your horse accepting the bit," he said. "Really, the reins are like a telephone line - if you lose contact, your horse can't hear what you're saying, so you always want to keep a light, smooth connection."
After completing the warm-up, where Ebeling discussed the importance of letting your horse's back warm up and relax, the riders then moved into more advanced tasks. Using a variety of leg yielding exercises and changes to stride length, the riders worked on teaching their horses, while making the task enjoyable. "We always want to keep training sessions like play for the horses," Ebeling explained. "Extending the stride is one way to keep things fresh and playful for them." For any training activity, including changing the stride length, Ebeling emphasized the importance of maintaining the rhythm, relaxation and contact while riding.
"The riders in this session were able to show off their stuff, including lateral work, transitions, lead changes and pirouettes," he said. "They were also able to try some new movements that they don't have experience with. This worked so well, because the riders and the audience learned how to train for these movements, and it was really fun to see."
Ebeling will continue to build on these lessons as he continues with clinics and lectures throughout the weekend.