Words of Wisdom from the Master Egon von Neindorff

When asked what is the most important philisophical consideration for the rider? Egon replies “Modesty and wanting to serve, putting ego aside. The desire to listen to the horse which must come from one’s heart and then must be filled in practice through the feeling of the rider. The ability to co-relate and unify the feelings from the saddle with the philosphy in which we believe. We must be fully aware of the fact that a lifetime is not long enough to come to know all about horsemanship.
Accordingly, it is essential that we stand on the shoulders of the past Masters in order to fully utilize and profit from the experiences. And only because of the past can we now enjoy that harmony–a harmony that the horse understands because the training is founded on its nature. It is only the true gymanastic school that makes beauty possible. These are things that are beyond subjective opinion; they are deeply rooted in the laws of nature. And it is this that keeps the horses sound and healthy to a ripe old age. The knowledgeable horseman sees this in and through the horses, both in the way they go and in the build of the muscle structure. That is what distingushes the real high-school riding from the pretender to the throne.”

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The Shoulder In Boxed

An effective and simple excercise for connecting your horse. After a sufficient warm up, find a place in the arena to carve out a box of 8 strides in shoulder in, turn the forehand to another 8 strides of shoulder in and so on until the box is completed. Take care to time your
aids so the the horse moves around the corner smoothly and relaxed. After one box take working trot around the arena and feel if there is any difference in the quality of the gait. There should be more lift in front and a smooth relaxed swinging trot. Always remember to ride both directions so that your horse remains balanced and even.

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Dancing with your Horse

When riding, think of how a dancer who is about to be lifted must be light on her feet with all the energy in the torso lifting upward. Thus when her partner comes to raise her above his head, she is already helping him by sending her energy in the correct direction. Riders must remember this to allow the horses back to be open and free to move under their seat. Practice feeling the lifted energy in canter and tune into how much easier it is for your horse than when you are collapsed and allowing your weight to sink downward. Alwasys remember the training scale, rhythm, looseness and contact. Your horse can only dance in a relaxed rhythm if the rider is light and balanced.

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Advanced Shoulder In Excercises

Once you have established a proper shoulder in, where the horse’s forehand is brought about half a step inside the track of the outside hind leg, thus the outside shoulder is straight in front of the inside hind leg. The inside hind leg is brought well forward in the direction of the outside foreleg. The horse is flexed and slightly bent in the direction he is moving. The inside hock is engaged, carrying most of the weight due to the diagonal postion of the horse, the lateral bend and the increased collection. First ride a 10 meter circle on the long side, continue up the long side 5 steps in shoulder in and turn onto another 10 meter circle, repeat up the long side. This will help supple your horse and test your timing with the aids and communiction to your horse. Once this is performed seamlessly, track up the long side 5 steps in shoulder in, stop the forward movement with your outside aids and ride the horse straight on the diagonal 5 steps, shoulder in 5 steps, straight 5 steps, halt, rein back 5 steps, immediately into shoulder in 5 steps, straight 5 steps, repeat until you reach the end of the arena. This excercise will become a dance as your horse waits for your aids, starting to collect into piaffe as he becomes more proficient, but ask him to continue moving forward and sideways, staying very light in the bridle. The series is very difficult to ride and for your horse to initially understand, so take your time and try it in walk first. Once you have mastered the excercise in walk try it in trot. Be certain to demand immediate response from your horse in all transitions and slow it down if it becomes confusing. Once mastered, this is an exciting excercise to ride.

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Canter Walk Transitions

The canter walk transition is an important excercise to introduce after your horse is cantering in a relaxed rhythm. The rider should be ale to lengthen and shorten the stride of canter before attempting the transition. Start by cantering a 15 meter circle and as you come to the track, shorten the canter stride with half halts, then ask for a downward transition by sinking both heels and half halting with the outside rein, immediately give the reins and establish a relaxed walk before cantering again. Repeat this until the transition is seamless and smooth. Common problems arise when the rider hangs in the reins in the half halt, or forgets to shorten the stride before asking for the transition. The rider must remain relaxed and balanced in order to have a successful transition. Think about sitting on the hind legs rather than stopping the motion with the hands.

Technique, Timing and Temperament

These are sometimes referred to as the three “T’s” of training. Work on your technique, be clear and precise and always check and correct the riders position to be most effective. The timing of the aids is critical, learn when the feet are leaving the ground so that you apply the aid at the actual moment when it is possible to directly influence the horse. And most important of all, Temperament, that is of the rider, not the horse. The rider must be relaxed, calm and confident. Nothing can be accomplished with force, anger or frustration. Perhaps the rider is working above the horse’s level or ability. When this occurs, go back to walk and relax, do something easy before going back to the movement that resulted in frustration or call it a day and go on a hack. The rider must always be fair to the horse by clearly communicating and do not forget to listen to the horse.


The purpose of transitions are to increase the horse’s obedience, engagement and throughness. The horse must show a clear rhythm before, during and after a transition. The transition should be seamless, prompt but calm and smooth with no intermediate steps of any other gait or pace not asked for in the transition. They should be well-balanced and engaged relative to the level ridden. Transitions are a very important element of the horses training program and should be practiced frequently. Take care that the horse is not rushed or hurried and that the departure is straight. Remember if you are in perfect balance and your horse is obedient to your aids, the transitions will be successful.

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Turn on the Haunches

The purpose of the turn on the haunches is to improve the horse’s obedience to the aids and to improve balance and collection. This movement is introduced at second level when collection becomes important. The proper execution of this movement is the horse’s forehand moves in even, quiet, regular steps around the horse’s inner hind leg while maintaining the rhythm of the walk. The horse is slightly bent in the direction in which he is turning. In the half turn on the haunches, the horse is not required to step with its inside hind leg in the same spot each time it leaves the ground but may move slightly forward. Backing or loss of rhythm are serious faults. Other common faults include the horse getting stuck, lack of energy, the horse is not obedient to the aids, the horse comes above the bit or steps out. Take care to maintain the rhythm and energy for a successful turn on the haunches.

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Impove your Dressage Scores with Geometry

Many students find it very difficult to ride a circle, they create eggs, squares, and other strange configurations in an effort to perform the requisite 20 meter or 10 meter figure in a test. One of the easiest ways to raise your dressage scores it to ride the correct geometry and perform each movement accurately at the specified letter. A simple way to learn the feeling of the correct circles is to draw a 10 and 20 meter circle in your arena with lime. Next, count the strides it takes to ride each quarter and you will determine if you are symmetrical. This is a fun and easy exercise to work on perfecting. Once you know your horses number of strides you can count and know if you are on a perfect circle. The end result will be a more supple, relaxed and balanced horse which will translate into higher scores.

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Travers is a movement used to perfect and manivest the results of the shoulder-in; engagement of the quarters, collection, as well as lateral bend, and suppleness of the quarters. It is the increased engagement of the inside hind leg, which has to bend more to carry the increased weight. The execution is that the horse is slightly bent around the inside leg of the rider. The horse’s outside hind leg passes and crosses in front of the inside leg. the outside foreleg is placed in front of the inside foreleg. The horse is looking in the direction in which he is moving. The rider should feel the increased engagement of the hindquarters, in other words the inside hind leg taking up more weight. The horse should maintain the rhythm and balance without losing impulsion. The most common faults in this movement is too much or too little angle, lack of bend or even counter bent, and loss of rhythm. This is an important movement in the training scale which prepares the horse for half pass and eventually pirouettes.