Dressage is simply training the horse to develop its body so that it can move its body with fluidity, power and joy.
It is a foundation that is used to train a young horse so that it is prepared for disciplines like showjumping, advanced dressage, eventing, mounted archery, working equitation etc.
The dressage starts with gentling the horse from the ground and then continuing the work riding the horse, which can be supported by further more refined groundwork.
We gentle (or retrain) our horses in 7 steps. The horse learns and shows, through it natural reflexes, how to organize its "chain of conditioned equitation reflexes". The attitude, body language, correct use of voice and gestures by the trainer determine the success of the future relationship and interaction between horse and rider when they work together. Only at the final and seventh stage is the horse mounted and the ground commands are passed on to the rider.
We follow the concepts of the German Training Scale. This way we teach our students to have a solid equestrian knowledge base that will help them to ride in harmony with the horse in any discipline.
Learning to ride is a process which has various phases, which mirror the learning curve of the horse. The first objective is for the rider to aim for an independent seat. Without being able to keep your balance while the horse is moving, it is not possible to ride in favor of the horse.
To get there a pupil needs to know how to relax on a horse's back, as a tense rider causes the horse to be tense and a vicious circle is created. Once relaxed, the rider needs to train his/her balance in the three gaits of the horse. This balance needs to come from the centre of the body (psoas, iliopsoas and rectus abdominis muscles). Once relaxation and balance have been obtained, this needs to be followed by something which for some is the most difficult : feeling and following the movement of the horse:
With an independent seat, we can communicate with the horse through seat aids (subtle changes in weight to maintain or change the balance of the horse), leg aids (to stimulate the horse to go forward and to step under with the hind legs) and rein aids (to help control the shoulders of the horse). Aids like whip and spurs are for further refinement (not for punishment).
In order to ride light and in favor of the horse, the rider needs to learn how to coordinate the aids. Once the rider is good at this coordination and feeling and interpreting the horse's reactions, he/she can subtly influence the way the horse moves. To the outside observer it appears that horse and rider are in harmony and they appear as one, a centaur.
We also encourage our pupils to deepen their knowledge and understanding by reading books and articles and watching good riders and training videos. Instituto Homo-Caballus has a comprehensive library, videos and a facebook page to support this.
The Desempenho Equestrian School offers three levels of courses
When you contact us we will ask you about your equestrian experience, your interests and goals and will then indicate the best course for you or suggest a tailor made package.We will also send your details of the course.
We also organize clinics with guest instructors.
Our pupils have the opportunity to join our Equestrian Team and participate in Competitons at State and National Level.