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Maria is by far the most knowledgeable and skilled human instructor and horse trainer I have ever had the pleasure to work with. Her ethics and professionalism as well as her advocacy for our equine partners are top notch. I highly recommend her.Karen Davis

French Classical Dressage is characterized by lightness (“légèreté”).  Whether you're riding or you're watching a horse and rider, there is an over-all feeling of fluid energy and 'ease'.

The lightness comes from the way a rider uses pressure in their aids.  Horses actually learn more from the timing of when pressure goes away, than they do from when pressure is applied. They will remember what they did to cause the pressure to go away and put effort into doing that thing.  A horse who feels like they have control over 'If, When, and How Much' pressure they feel from a rider's aids becomes willing to have soft conversations with their rider through touch, energy, posture, and balance.  Those are very different aids from the driving, confining, and controlling aids of modern competition dressage.

Training Goals for Every Horse

  • Building relaxation and understanding by developing a trusting partnership with the horse via a rich common language.
  • Straightening the natural crookedness in their bodies to create balance and healthy movement.
  • Creating impulsion by inspiring the horse to be generous and responsive with his energy.
  • Developing the horse's gymnastic ability so that he carries the weight of his rider more athletically and toward his haunches.
  • "The Ideal"- Bringing the horse, who is now carrying a rider, back to its natural state of movement with as little interference or effort as possible.

Training Progression

Training Progression1. The Classical Naturally Training Progression starts with the horse and rider RELATIONSHIP & FOUNDATION TRAINING.

2. Then the elements of RELAXATION, BALANCE & IMPULSION are carefully developed before they are combined as we start exploring the other elements on the traditional training scale. 

3. It's true that there is a logical order that LIGHTNESS, FLIEXIBILITY, MOBILITY, and COLLECTION first appear in a horse's training.  But they don't develop in a linear or stacked order.  They feed off of and improve each other over and over again throughout a horse's training.

Bitless Dressage

Bitless SilverStarBlack lgAre you a bitless rider studying dressage?

In traditional circles that can be challenging!  However, there are many tools for communication besides metal bits, and the European classical schools have ridden and trained in cavessons for centuries. 

Classical correctness is not only possible to achieve without a bit... I believe all training should be able to pass the test of "balance and communication without force".  Adding bitless riding to your dressage training is a great way to test the quality of your connection and communication.

Bitless dressage riders are welcome here! 

"Training a horse is above all feeling and trying,

according to what you feel, to help the horse and not to force him."

~ Nuno Oliveira