Any time you pick up the reins on a horse and ask him to step up from behind, you are creating power….the question is do you have enough controls to regulate that power and make it do what your test or course requires?
Power is a great thing to have on a horse, however power without the correct amount of control turns into a power struggle out of control between horse and rider. You only want to create as much power from behind as you have the skill to control in front. Without those skills you most likely will put your horse onto front wheel drive with him wanting to push through the bridle. That in turn usually leads to more bit and something like a draw rein to give the rider more control. Unfortunately the rider might experience some short term control, but in the long run it will not solve the problem of getting the horse off front wheel pull onto hind end push.
To get your horse soft and supple and the power under control you need to be able to bend the horse through the shoulders, which will ask him to step underneath himself on the inside and stretch the outside of the bend. If that is done properly on both sides it will allow the horse to swing evenly through the hips and the shoulder creating push from behind which will elevate the withers and soften the pole, and in turn will make his mouth soft and supple.
With that in place you should be able to add power from behind and have your horse stay soft and relaxed and the stride under control. It will help you with extensions, collections, powering off the ground at a jump, staying balanced on the landing side, or any movement your dressage test demands.
It takes a lot of knowledge, feel, focus and determination to control a stride. Be proactive; manage the stride before it gets out of control; versus reactive, trying to pick up the pieces once you lost control. Start by practicing it in the walk and trot which are more manageable than the canter. Once you and your horse understand the concept and can make it work in the trot, work on it in the canter on a circle, then add some straight lines and connect them to more turns.
Remember if it falls apart in the canter, go back to the trot and practice it some more, if the trot is not working out go back to the walk. Work with your horse not against your horse, he will love you for it!
Copyright2015 Juliana Zunde