Dressage Mantras

I've spoken about mantras before. Every ride I have I choose a few things to focus on and keep them repeating over and over in my head so that I'm constantly checking on them. These mantras will change day to day depending on what we need at that time. They also slowly evolve over time as I confirm some things enough that I don't need to think about them as much, and introduce new concepts. This page is mostly for me to add new mantras and pieces of dressage wisdom that I want to remember, but if you find any of these useful or have any suggested additions, please comment.

My Position Mantras

Sit back
Push against seat back
Lengthen the front of my body
Put my shoulders out (stops me from either hunching shoulders or arching back)
Look up
Close hands
Knees in, feel the block (toes forward)
Round lower back (don't arch it)
Legs there (resting lightly against Kachina's sides)
Knee down while posting
Stirrup back on ball of foot
Push stirrup back
Hold leg steady

Riding and Aid Mantras

Quality inside bend - with soft consistent bend in neck
Let go of outside rein
Push with hands like with a shopping cart, think forward
Carry hands, don't pull
Inside bend, then inside leg into outside rein
Soft elbows (maintain elbow-hand-bit line and control connection with elbows)

Dressage Wisdom

(Note: I will include attribution where I can remember the source, but I don't take credit for any of the quotes.)

"Hot horses have to learn to be ridden with your legs on. Lazy horses have to learn to be ridden with your legs off." - Charlotte Dujardin

"I have come to realize--and I really wish I had known this earlier--that a connection doesn't build from something; it builds from nothing. Yes, you read that right. The best connection starts from nothing but an independent relaxed seat and the quiet, neutral absence of aids. I have learned over the years that the best riders are successful largely because they have honed the ability to do nothing--to sit immobile and centered, at ease and in neutral. To be neutral in your body means being connected to your horse without inadvertently giving him any unnecessary information, just an elastic feel from your body through the reins to your horse's mouth." - Yvonne Barteau (Dressage Today article)

"It's not kind to the horse to ride with an open hand. If your hand is open, the only change you can make is to close it. Ride with a closed hand." (paraphrased)

"The ribcage of the horse will swing away from your inside leg at the same time that the inside hind lifts up, use this to figure out timing of when to apply aids. During a leg yield, use inside leg as the rib cage swings away from your leg to get the horse to move over. To make a walk bigger, alternate legs and apply each leg as you feel the ribcage swing away from it" (paraphrased)

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