Rules of Engagement

What exactly is engagement? Your trainer or dressage judge is constantly telling you to engage your horse, what does she mean? Engagement is the increased flexion of the lumbosacral joint and the joints of the hind leg during the weight bearing or support phase of the stride. Thus the croup is lower relative to the forehand, in other words lightening the forehand. Carefully observe the withers of your horse raise as he becomes more engaged. Think of engagement as the “carrying power” rather than the “pushing power” which is a prerequisite for upward thrust or impulsion. There are many excercises to achieve engagement such as shoulder in, leg yield, travers, renvers, and transitions. Experiment with these excercises to achieve a greater degree of engagement and enjoy the benefits of a lighter, more supple horse to ride.