“Descente de main et descente de jambe”: relaxing of the hands and relaxing of the legs. Part 2, the legs
Posted By Iris on April 23, 2010
Baucher said “make yourself understood and let it happen”. Ask and then let the horse do it without you interfering anymore.
What we see a lot in ‘modern’ dressage is the legs, always the legs… “The horse needs to be forward, so give leg”… “On the circle the horse needs to bend, so give leg”… And of course, the spur, because if the horse does not listen to the leg, he needs that extra little help… Ever asked yourself WHY the horse does not listen to the leg anymore??
When you give a lot of leg, after a while it does not mean anything anymore to the horse. A horse knows how to walk; you don’t have to push him. Better yet: if you keep pushing him, you let him know, you are not so convinced he will walk without you constant pushing… And as I explained in my other articles about ‘doubt’, as soon as you doubt, they horse is less inclined to see you as a good leader and in turn will not listen very well anymore.
Classical Dressage is a dance, you move together with the horse as one. Dominique Barbier says this very well: “When you dance with a partner (human) you don’t keep poking him in the ribs to make him dance”. You ask your partner if he wants to dance, and then you lead him.
What does this mean for the legs? For now just keep this in mind: NO LEGS!
Ok ok, it does not mean that Classical Dressage doesn’t use legs at all, they do, but NOT in the way you might think, and certainly not like the think with ‘modern’ dressage. If you start with Classical Dressage, better just leave the legs alone. When you get better and better, you will find out yourself when to use the legs, because it comes natural. As long as you still ask yourself “when do I use legs?” leave them alone!
I can lift a tip of the veil if you want, but promise me that you will immediately forget it after you finish this article..! The legs are basically only used as reinforcement and ‘support’ (support is meant VERY light here). But this should all happen in unity with your body, it ALL comes from the hips and torso. The whole body moves as one, and with the horse. So do not use a leg on its own.
The reason we don’t do this is because as soon as you use a leg on its own, this will tense up your hip and the rest of your body, and the whole unity of your body, and so also that of you and the horse AND of the horses’ body, is lost… So the whole intention of the Classical Dressage is lost.