The aids come from the centre of the body and this explains how to influence the horse with your body. Disciplined movement is essential to attain a sense of awareness of the mind/body connection to teach the rider to use the smaller muscles close to the joints instead of the larger muscles. The larger muscles are used in an all-or-nothing fashion, while the smaller muscles move the bones with more refinement. The body will be more sensitive, enabling the rider to react to the forces created by the horse through evasions, loss of balance, and so on. Size and excessive muscle power do not necessarily correct a problem. The secret behind strong riding skills lies in postural strength and the ability to maintain your postural form. Postural strength brings power to coordination, balance and postural reflexes.
This is the stuff good riding is all about. The rider has to be able to show the horse by example. He should not lean when the horse tries to lean. He should not break the rhythm when it breaks or changes the tempo. Riding is the art of making yourself into a good load for the horse to carry you comfortably. The horse might try displacing you, shifting you, putting you where he wants you. If you give in, giving up your postural strength, your horse will direct you instead of you directing him. The unstable space between the ribs and the pelvis is a potential place for a postural fault that can weaken a rider’s influence on the horse because it comprises his posture. If the rider can’t consistently aim the sitting bones (pelvic) in such a way as to shape the horses back, then the horse will shape the rider and he will be a passenger. The key to postural strength lies in developing awareness of your whole body. Riders should understand first how supple a horse needs to be before asking for big movements and high levels of impulsion. Pay more attention to suppleness instead. When the horse goes supple with rhythm and gradually more impulsion without losing rhythm, you still we be able to sit and direct the horse reliably. In dressage the aids come from the centre of the body.
Josef Thauer (519) 298-4144