Expert advice from Olympic dressage gold medallist Anky van Grunsven on how to improving your horse’s concentration

“I believe the horse should go forwards of its own accord and continue to work at the speed you have set, until it receives an signal from the hand to slow it down or the leg to speed it up.

“I use the leg aid to get the horse going, and I am careful not to hold on to the rein at that crucial point.

“I never have my leg on in a downward transition, unless the horse slows down too much. If this happens I do not complete the downward transition and just send the horse go forwards.

“I use lots of “half” transitions. For example, while trotting along,I ask the horse to walk and, just before he does, ask him to trot on. This makes the horse concentrate.

“Similarly, I practise an exercise where I go down the centre line and pretend to halt at X. I don’t halt, as I want the horse to wait for the aid and not anticipate the halt during the test.

“I always ask the horse to do the opposite of what he wants to do. I make him go faster if he is naturally slow and, if he wants to run, then I make him wait, slowing him down, then relaxing myhands again.

ANKY’S TOP TIP

Keep an open mind. I always go to watch other people give clinics to pick up tips and ideas. I was brought up to learn from everybody. Not everything works for everyone, but you may learn something new.

  • See this week’s Horse & Hound (7 February 2002) for the third part of the magazine’s exclusive dressage series with Anky, or click here to subscribe.
  • Click here for advice from Anky on improving your riding position.
  • Click here toread Dane Rawlins’ top tips for riding a dressage test.