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What Is Lightness?

In Equestrian Arts, riding with lightness is the absolute goal. Dressage is intended to pursue that goal. Tension, resistance, pain, dullness, heaviness in body mind and spirit all go against the number one goal of lightness.


The goal of dressage is lightness.





What is lightness? In order to convince a horse to carry itself and the rider 'lightly', it requires teaching the horse to step under itself. This is not achieved primarily by rider position. Lightness is achieved by teaching the horse to 'step under'. The horse needs the language. Needs to understand what you want. Riding with perfect position is not going to teach a horse to step under. However, having a balanced position helps to communicate the aids, once a horse 'knows them', and make sure that no pressure or resistance is felt. But the aids come first. A horse does not really think too much of 'carrying itself lightly' on its own ~ out in the herd. Horses are mostly on the forehand. The moves are there, but they don't use them much ~ or have any understanding of how this can benefit them in terms of gaining strength or elasticity. They use these expressions when they communicate their 'pride' and 'show off'. That is one reason why the personality of the horse needs to be absolutely cared for, because that is the expression behind the lightness; that is the 'deep well' the trainer needs to tap. Programs that focus too much on mechanics, too much robust work and too repetitive exercises will lose the horse's desire and pride and lose expression. Horses get bored, tired and dull. Even worse ~ discouraged. Horses get discouraged when they cannot understand the connection between the rider's 'ask' and the 'try'. They worry that they did not 'get it right' They lose focus. They stop trying. They stop taking pride in their effort. Lightness is not about having a 'perfect picture' ~ it is about communication. Lightness can be achieved in any tack. The horse is deeply aware of the language being used to communicate. The horse's response is imperceptibly connected to the rider's ask ~ almost instantaneous. And the thrill of this conversation is felt simultaneously between rider and the horse ~ together in a chemistry of energy. Lise


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