Manolo Mendez Dressage

Developing the Basics and Understanding Straightness Better

by Manolo Mendez Specialist of in-hand and Classical Equitation with writer Caroline Larrouilh

This article originally appeared in Issue 10 of Baroque Magazine (May-June 20213, pg. 66)

Article Excerpt: Developing the Basics and Understanding Straightness Better

The more our horse understands his work and is confident in his ability to deliver what is asked the more expressive and elegant he becomes. The horse needs to be able to understand each aid, each request, each exercise that he is asked to perform, in a very simple way.

It is the rider’s responsibility to ensure that the horse is prepared properly before introducing a new request, the next exercise. This means not only that the horse develops fitness, strength, flexibility and balance to physically do the work but that mentally he is settled, calm and confident. Instead of having a set of rigid expectations based on the horse age, breed, pedigree and the rider’s goals and 
ambition, the rider should train the horse they have in front of them in an unhurried and uncomplicated manner.

What working routines work better for your horse? What do his muscles look like, feel like before and after work? How does his conformation help him do his job or make it more difficult? How long does it take him to warm up? What are his favorite exercises and what does he find more difficult? What is his confidence level? Is he bold or shy? Trusting or anxious? What does he have difficulties understanding?

By knowing his horse’s preferences, a rider can customize the training and becomes more effective than if he applied the same exact program daily (and to every horse).

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