Does your horse listen to what you're asking and respond willingly and appropriately, or do you feel as if you're begging for every stride? ("Come on, come on, just a little bit more, just a teeny, tiny bit more.")
Do you sometimes fall into HIS bad rhythm or way of going, where you accept a short, choppy stride instead of asking him to go freely forward and move through his back?
Does it often feel as if the two of you are riding separate rides, him going around on his own and you just sitting there, a passenger?
Well, I've got news for you: You are NOT a passenger! Getting more from your horse is a simple matter of keeping communication open and increasing "reactivity."
Watch a video of me demonstrating my "ask-tell-ask" exercise riding my Danish Warmblood gelding Come On III.
Shawna Harding began riding at age three when she was given her first horse. Young adulthood led her to Germany, where for eight years she lived, mastered the language and trained with such dressage luminaries as Dr. Reiner Klimke, Juergen Koschel and Anna Merveldt, eventually earning the coveted German Riding License, Class 2, and a spot on the Southern Germany Regional Dressage Team. In the late '90s, Harding returned to the States and today calls Aiken, S.C., home. Based at Black Forest Equestrian Center, she teaches many students at all levels, including eventers. In 2008 Harding and her 17.2-hand Danish Warmblood gelding, Come On III, finished third overall in the National Intermediaire I Dressage Championships at the Collecting Gaits Farm/USEF Dressage Festival of Champions in California.
To read more about Shawna's exercises for increasing reactivity, see "Get More From Your Horse by Doing Less" in the March 2009 issue of Practical Horseman magazine.