From The Black Tack by Kim Cox January 1, 2020

Dressage training will gymnasticise your horse, making him stronger, improving his balance and obedience to the aids. Dressage itself is the foundation of all equestrian disciplines and is the highest expression of horse training.

Think about the rhythm and regularity of your horse’s stride. Imagine how easy it is to ride a course when the canter is “in front of your leg” and you have a supple, meaningful contact.  Your horse is now between your leg and hand. You are now riding your horse using the first three levels of the “Training Scale”. Through Dressage, you have achieved rhythm, suppleness and contact.

Rushing fences is an interruption of the natural rhythm; your horse runs, falls on the forehand and is off balance.  Horses rush if they’re tense and there is lack of relaxation and suppleness. When horses run on the forehand, they also run through the contact.

So the first three steps of the training scale are either nonexistent or inconsistent.

Further Dressage training develops straightness, (think- lateral balance) the fourth stage in the Training Scale.

Straightness (and correct bend) means the horse pushes forward equally with both hind legs. This thrust impacts the impulsion and carrying capacity of the hind legs through bending of the haunches (collection).

Dressage allows you to determine which part of your flat training needs attention. The Training Scale or Pyramid of Training is a diagnostic tool to help riders fix the most broken part of, or move on to the next level of enhancing the competition experience.

Future articles will feature some Dressage based suggestions to help ride between the fences.