Maribeth Dunlap Dressage

Dressage Coddiwomple Blog

DressageTerminology

Posted on January 1, 2010 at 11:45 AM

Dressage Terminology

Compiled By Maribeth Dunlap

January 2010


Above The Bit – When the horse avoids contact by putting its muzzle forwards and upwards. The back is usually dropped and there is loss of engagement of the hindquarters.


Activity – Refers to the activity, energy, vigor and liveliness of the hind legs.


Against The Bit – When the horse avoids a soft contact by becoming stiff and unyielding in the neck, poll and jaw. The horse’s outline may appear correct but there is usually a lack of throughness and engagement.


Anlehnung (Contact) - A German term used to describe the soft, steady connection between the rider's hand and the horse's mouth. A correct, steady contact allows the horse to find its balance under the rider and find a rhythm in each gait. Contact must never be obtained by pulling back with the reins. It must result from the correct development of the pushing powers of the horse. The discreetly driving aids of the rider cause the horse to step into the hands with confidence as the skilled rider receives that energy and directs it.


Appui - A French term used to describe the feeling of the contact or connection experienced by the rider through the rein as the horse accepts the bit. This acceptance may vary from light to heavy. A constant, light appui has been the preference favored by horsemen of all times and nationalities.


Arret - arête - A French term which means halt. Balance – This refers to the lateral and longitudinal distribution of weight of the horse upon is front and hind legs.


Bascule -

1. the round arc a horse's body creates as it jumps over a fence. The back comes up and the neck stretches forward, down and over the obstacle.

2. when one end of a device is counterbalanced by the other. The use of the neck seeking forward and over a fence counter balanced the other end as in the walk and canter, the use of the neck balances the other end in order to move correctly and in balance.


Beat – A footfall within a gait of the horse that strikes the ground that

1) can determine the regularity of the gait, i.e. walk =4 beats, trot = 2 beats, canter = 3 beats,

2) can refer to the musicality and the matching of the beat (footfalls) to the timing of a piece of music.


Behind The Bit, Behind The aids, Behind the Leg – When the horse retracts or backs away/behind the contact by putting its muzzle behind the vertical. The back is usually dropped and there is loss of engagement of the hindquarters while the horse does not truly accept contact with the bit.


Bend – This refers to the lateral bend (left & right) of the horse through his entire body, from the poll to the tail.


Cadence —The hind legs must "swing through" and engage well underneath the horse. The moment of suspension is more clearly defined and there is a marked accent of the beat due to increased elasticity and expression of the gait.


Clarity – Marked, clear distinction between the footfalls of a particular gait.


Collection (Versammlung) - When a horse is working in collection the quarters take more of the load. The haunches (hip and stifle joints) are flexing more and the hind legs step more under the horse's center of balance. This lightens the forehand and allows greater freedom of movement. The strides become shorter without losing energy and activity. The horse looks and feels more "uphill." In the trot as well as in the canter, the impulsion needs to be fully maintained, rendering these gaits more expressive and cadenced. The horse's anatomy is such that it carries most of his own weight on the forehand. This situation is adversely effected by the rider's position directly behind the shoulders. Therefore, it is also in the interest of soundness and safety of the footfalls if the hindquarters are induced to carry more of the weight. Consequently, it is advantageous for every horse to go in a certain measure of collection.


Confidence – This refers to the horses boldness and self-assurance with which he performs, how he reacts to training, and to the trust in the partnership with his rider.


Connection – This refers to the quality of contact and to the ease in which the horse performs in harmony with the rider. A good connection is one that is not stiff or constrained, the horse yields to the aids of the rider and there is harmony between horse and rider.


Contact (Anlehnung) - A soft, steady connection between the rider's hand and the horse's mouth. A correct, steady contact allows the horse to find its balance under the rider and find a rhythm in each gait. Contact must never be obtained by pulling back with the reins. It must result from the correct development of the pushing powers of the horse. The discreetly driving aids of the rider cause the horse to step into the hands with confidence as the skilled rider receives that energy and directs it.


Correctness – Refers to the many different training aspects of the horse, how the exercises are performed, and used to describe their results.


Crookedness – This refers to misalignment in the horse’s body from poll to tail.


Demi-Arret - (half halt) French term meaning to lighten a horse or to lift up the head with a vibrating, lifting hand, quickly dropping and returning to a soft and neutral contact. This is done without pulling upwards or backwards. It is a slight wrist action in small upward vibrations usually almost invisible to the on-looker.


Descente de main et des jambes - French phrase to mean the yielding of the hand and the legs, while the horse remains in the same flexion, cadence and rhythm in the movement being executed.


Durchlaessigkeit - A German term used to describe the supple, elastic, unblocked, connected state of the horse's musculature that permits an unrestricted flow of energy from back to front and front to back, which allows the aids/influences to freely go through to all parts of the horse (e.g., the rein aids go through and reach and influence the hind legs). Synonymous with the word Throughness or throughlettingness.


Ecuyer - A 17th/18th century French term used to denote a recognized Master of equitation. This term is still used at Saumur today.


Elasticity – Refers to the balance and suppleness of the horse’s muscles and to the springiness of its footfalls.


Elevation —Relative elevation is relative to the horse's ability to collect at any particular stage of his training according to his conformation. Refers to the raising of the head, neck and withers due to the lowering and engagement of the hind legs.


Engagement – Increased flexion of the joints of the hind legs while distributing more weight on the hindquarters thus lightening the front end.


Evasion – Avoiding an exercise without active disobedience.


Flexion – Refers to the lateral and longitudinal articulation of the joint at the poll of the horse. One can have flexion without bend, but there is no bend without flexion.


Frame – This refers to the longer and shorter outline, which results from extension or collection.


Gait – This refers to the three paces of the horse, i.e. walk, trot, and canter.


Geraderichten (Straightness) - A German term to describe in a straight horse the pushing powers work directly towards the horse's center of balance. The forehand is in line with its hindquarters allowing the horse's longitudinal axis to follow the straight or curved line of the track. The rider's restraining aids will then pass through the horse correctly, via the horse's mouth, the poll, the neck, and the back through to the quarters and influence both hind legs equally.


Half Halt - Prepares and alerts the horse for a change, re-balances, lightens the forehand, engages the hindquarters.


Impulsion (Schwung) - The energy created by the hind legs transmitted into the gaits and into every aspect of the forward movement. Impulsion is the result of the correct influence of the rider, utilizing the natural gaits of the horse and combining them with relaxation, and the development of the horse's pushing power and throughness.


Inside – This refers to

1) the side of the horse that is toward the center of the ring or circle.

2) the hollow side of the horse that is bent or flexed independent of the ring or circle of the horse.


Irregular – This refers to an impure, uneven gait of the horse.


Lateral – Side to side, as in flexion, bend, suppleness and aids.


Losgelassenheit (Relaxation) - A German term used to describe when the horse is willing to stretch his neck forward and down in all three gaits (allowing the horse to chew the reins out of the rider's hands). A relaxed horse moves with a swinging back and in a natural, regular rhythm without hurrying. The horse accepts the driving aids and allows a supple rider to sit comfortably.


Manege - A French term used to denote an arena, ring or area where horses are schooled or dressed.


Marching – This refers to the purposeful and marked accentuation of the steps of the walk.


On The Aids – This refers to the horse that is responsive and light to the aids.


On The Bit – This refers to the horse that accepts and yields to the contact with the bit.


Outline – This refers to the posture and profile of the horse.


Outside – This refers to

1) the side of the horse that is toward the outside of the ring or circle.

2) the concave side of the horse that is bent or flexed independent of the ring or circle of the horse.


Over bent – This refers to the lateral bend in the horse’s neck, mainly occurring at the base of the neck causing a lack of uniformity in the bend of the whole horse from tail to poll.


Over flexed – This refers to the longitudinal flexion of the horse at the poll resulting in being behind the vertical.


Poll – The occipital crest or the highest point of the horse’s skull.


Position

1) The lateral flexion at the poll; position right or position left.

2) The rider’s position.


Purity – The correctness of the order and timing of the footfalls of a horse’s gait.


Resistance – This refers to the physical opposition by the horse against the rider.


Rhythm (Takt) - The regularity and the purity of the steps or strides in each gait, covering equal distance and of equal duration. The metronomic "beat" of the horse's footfalls. It should not vary.


Rhythm and Regularity —Rhythm and regularity have to be maintained on straight lines, in all bending and/or lateral work, and during transitions. If an exercise or a movement is not regular it cannot be rated good. A training exercise is non-productive if it causes irregularity.


Relaxation (Losgelassenheit) - Relaxation has been achieved when the horse is willing to stretch his neck forward and down in all three gaits (allowing the horse to chew the reins out of the rider's hands). A relaxed horse moves with a swinging back and in a natural, regular rhythm without hurrying. The horse accepts the driving aids and allows a supple rider to sit comfortably.


Roundness – This refers to the longitudinal roundness of the horse’s top line giving the impression of the horse being round like a ball with the energy flowing from the hind legs up over the back to the neck and poll and the recycling itself back again.


Schwung (Impulsion) - A German term used to describe the power of the hindquarters that carries the horse forward and its transmission over the back.


Scope – This refers to the reach and roundness of a movement.


Self-Carriage – This refers to when the horse carries itself in balance and harmony with the rider without taking or needing any support from the rider’s hand.


Straightness (Geraderichten) - In a straight horse the pushing powers work directly towards the horse's center of balance. The forehand is in line with its hindquarters allowing the horse's longitudinal axis to follow the straight or curved line of the track. The rider's restraining aids will then pass through the horse correctly, via the horse's mouth, the poll, the neck, and the back through to the quarters and influence both hind legs equally.


Submission -The horse's willingness to conform to directions from the rider.


Suppleness - The horse's body is free of tension. He looks dimensional with clear muscular definition.


Takt (Rhythm) - A German term used to describe the rhythm and tempo of the gaits of the horse.


Tempo - The rate of repetition of the rhythm. Ideally, it appears easy and without tension.


Terra Terra - An air which was considered the basis for the airs above the ground, but which is no longer recognized in dressage today. The movement is a very cadenced, elevated canter in two-time.


Throughness—The supple, elastic, unblocked, connected state of the horse's musculature that permits an unrestricted flow of energy from back to front and front to back, which allows the aids/influences to freely go through to all parts of the horse (e.g., the rein aids go through and reach and influence the hind legs). Synonymous with the German term "Durchlaessigkeit," or "throughlettingness."


Tilting – This refers to an evasion when the horse tilts or cocks his head in which one ear is lower than the other.


Top Line – This refers to the longitudinal outline of the horse, from his poll, over his back, and ending at his tail.


Uberstreichen - A German term to describe the brief release of the contact, wherein the rider in one clear motion extends the hand(s) forward along the crest of the horse’s neck, and then rides for several strides without contact. Its purpose is to demonstrate that even with loose rein(s), the horse maintains its carriage, balance, pace, and tempo.


Versammlung (Collection) - A German term used to describe when a horse is working in collection the quarters take more of the load. The haunches (hip and stifle joints) are flexing more and the hind legs step more under the horse's center of balance. This lightens the forehand and allows greater freedom of movement. The strides become shorter without losing energy and activity. The horse looks and feels more "uphill." In the trot as well as in the canter, the impulsion needs to be fully maintained, rendering these gaits more expressive and cadenced.

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