Laura Tomlinson has been riding the exciting nine-year-old stallion Capri Sonne Jr since April last year. Established at small tour level, ‘Cas’ is now training for grand prix competition. Land Rover recently visited Laura at home to see this exciting pair in training and get some expert tips for all riders on how to put in place the building blocks for higher level dressage movements.
Laura Tomlinson’s dressage training tips
1. The key to training dressage horses is to make sure everything is even both ways, so every exercise you do on one rein, you need to also do on the other.
2. Preparation is key to riding a good shoulder-in. It’s important that the rider’s shoulders are parallel with the horse’s shoulders so you are helping to position him.
3. In travers the rider’s shoulders should be parallel to the horse’s going down the track. The rider’s outside leg is back to bring the quarters in. The inside leg is kept softly at the girth to give the horse a pillar to bend his body around.
4. Shoulder-in and travers need to be established and confident before riding half-pass. If you’re having problems in the easier lateral movements, you’re likely to come unstuck in half pass.
5. In half pass sit into the inside stirrup so your weight guides the horse over. The flexion should be to the inside, with the rider’s outside leg back and the inside leg giving the horse a pillar to bend around (similar to the travers).
6. Once the flying changes are established the horse should react to just the outside leg shifting back to signal the change. It’s important the horse remains straight throughout the changes.
7. In the canter pirouette the horse needs a little flexion to the inside and the rider’s shoulders must turn with the horse. This helps to keep the horse in balance, rather than throwing him off balance.
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8. By maintaining the basics and the correct way of going as you move up the levels, it makes progression simpler for the horse.