Advanced Dressage

Horse Hero's dressage videos encompass the full range of training from the baby to the Grand Prix horse. Whatever level you ride or complete at, there is something in all our videos for everyone! Even videos with Laura Bechtolsheimer, the Eilbergs, Emile Faurie and other top competitors working their most successful horses, constantly focus on the basics being in place, even though they are performing Grand Prix moves. Sit back and feast yourself on the vast array of inspirational content on Horse Hero, that will not only add momentum to your own training but give you an insight into how the making of top riders!

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Laura & Mistral Hojris have a lesson with Klaus Balkenhol
Here is the finished ‘item’! Laura and her top ride, Olympic partner Mistral Hojris (Alf), have a lesson with Klaus Balkenhol who has come over from Germany to train her. The lesson is translated by Dr Bechtolsheimer, Laura's usual trainer. Alf knows all the moves and he gives what’s asked of him willingly, so Laura doesn’t spend too much time on any one thing. Instead the emphasis is on self-carriage, suppleness, expression and variety. Sit back and enjoy this. Laura and Alf are poetry to watch!

The making of Laura Bechtolsheimer's new Kur!
Laura Bechtolsheimer is making a new Kur for Mistral Hojris (Alf)! She has enlisted the help of Dutch 'dressage to music' master Cees Slings to choreograph and compose a Kur for her Olympic partner Alf, who is not known for his appreciation of music! We see Laura, Cees and Dr B working at home on the project. We eavesdrop on their conversations, watch Alf warm up and get a sneak preview of some of the moves in the new test, which we've set to music of our choosing as the real thing hasn't yet been composed! Once the Kur is performed in public, we'll publish the full item in training but we don't want to steal Laura's thunder!

Gemma Green works on 'Small Tour' moves with Fine Time
Fine Time (Bruno) is Gemma Green's 8 year old Westfalian stallion who has already won at Advanced Medium. We are lucky enough to see the pair working at home preparing some 'Small Tour' moves including flying changes, passage and piaffe. Gemma only asks what Bruno is capable of giving at this stage. She also shows the difference between Bruno's trot during the warm-up and 'proper' work and makes the point that there are no extra marks for being flashy in the collecting ring! Gemma's explanations are crystal clear. This video is packed with useful insights and tips and we challenge you not to be mesmerized by the fabulous Fine Time.

Julie Tew practises 4* test moves with eventer Sir Roselier
Julie uses the softness, evenness in the contact and hind-leg activity she created during the warming up phase with Sir Roselier (in a previous video), to practise moves for the new 4* dressage test that she's performing at Badminton Horse Trials '09. Julie provides a stride-for-stride account of what both horse and rider are doing, which is extraordinarily insightful. She works on advanced moves including half pass, extended trot, counter canter and extended canter to a flying change, plus the tricky new five loop canter serpentine. Julie shows the type of body awareness (her and the horse) and attention to detail that makes her a top rider.

Laura Bechtolsheimer works Andretti with Dr B
Following their Grand Prix success at Lingen '09, Dr B works with Laura and Andretti (Andy) on staying happy, athletic and precise in the run up to Aachen. Dr B explains that Andy has been difficult in the contact and tight in the neck since he came to them over a year ago, so the work they do on the basics is all about allowing the nose forwards a little more, dropping the neck and remaining soft without putting Andy under pressure. The same system is applied to piaffe, passage and canter pirouettes and Laura demonstrates a useful exercise to maintain forward rhythm in the latter. Andy shows off his classy 'royal' breeding at the end of the session!

Anna Ross Davies & the green Grand Prix horse
Pegasus MK is a 12 year old starting at Grand Prix level. He's not a hot horse and needs a little more encouragement than most but Anna says the rule is he has to work as hard as she does! Anna demonstrates the foundations of piaffe, passage and pirouettes but her preparation applies equally to all levels of dressage. She says it's about teaching reactions and making sure the horse is ready for what you want next. In all movements she focuses on the basics which include staying connected and on the hind leg, being straight through transitions, moving forwards and back and maintaining rhythm and flexion. Her sense of humour is delightful!

Early advanced work with Jane Gregory & Soul Sister

Having worked in (in a previous video), Olympic dressage rider Jane Gregory moves up a gear with the 8 year old mare Soul Sister and prepares for advanced work. She begins by ensuring the trot is connected, working on trot-canter transitions and asking for precision in the canter. This is the foundation for the 3 Ps. Shoulder fore is used to set up pirouettes and half pass, and Jane encourages Soul Sister to find the energy of piaffe and make the movement her own idea! Passage is easy as the trot is already elevated. It's fascinating to appreciate the makings of a Grand Prix horse and Jane's insights are invaluable at all levels.


Controlling the power with Dances with Wolves

Dances With Wolves is seven and beginning his advanced work. At over 18 hands, he's a giant! He is also a powerful mover and very bright. Olympic team rider, Jane Gregory, says that teaching him pirouette steps will help to control the enormous power of the canter. His 'sitting ability' is good, so after checking this on a circle, Jane moves into a working pirouette on the diagonal. With canter changes, she only asks for these on a serpentine or from counter canter, to avoid any anticipation. Jane says it's important to balance the pressure of movements with the basics in training at this stage, in order to maintain the horse's relaxation.


Maria & Ferdi Eilberg work on engaging Rockstar's power

Maria Eilberg has been riding Woodlander Rockstar for 3 years. Having won the Medium title at the 2009 National Champs', Rocco, who is now 8, is aiming at Prix St Georges in the coming year. Trainer and father Ferdi works with Maria on getting the balance right between power and engagement in the maturing stallion. Ferdi also explains how a stallion's crest affects the position of the poll. Maria works on straightness in the single canter changes. Ferdi puts emphasis on the need not to over-prepare, but prepare with the right things! He says, "when a horse is in correct balance, it's easy for him to offer the right response".


Hannah Biggs trains suppleness and responses in Weltzin

Dressage rider Hannah Biggs works on suppleness and quickness of reactions with her home-produced, 11 year old stallion Weltzin, in preparation for advanced moves. Having recently stepped up to grand prix Hannah says it's now about absolute precision in all moves. Weltzin is laid back so an instant reaction to her leg is vital, as is maintaining energy at all times. Hannah works in trot and canter on flexion and bend, as well as varying the tempo, so that Weltzin is supple and forwards before moving on to working pirouettes and canter changes. Hannah says, "It is the body, not the hand that is used for half halts." Her explanation of the aids is invaluable.


Michael Eilberg creates a Kur with composer Tom Hunt: Part 1
Up and coming composer Tom Hunt begins work with rising dressage star Mike Eilberg, on an original score for Mike's new Kur. 15 year old Monty (owned by the Bechtolsheimers) is a powerful horse with a big presence. Mike shows Tom footage of Monty's current Kur and talks about what he wants to achieve with the new one. Mike then rides Monty for Tom to highlight his strong points including piaffe, passage, extended canter and changes. They decide on an inspirational or emotional score to maximise transitions and the strong beat of Monty's step. Next, Tom needs to write some musical ideas for Mike to try, while Mike creates a new floor plan.

Michael Eilberg creates a Kur with composer Tom Hunt: Part 2
In Part 2, composer Tom Hunt revisits Mike Eilberg and Monty to see how they have been getting on with his musical ideas for each of the basic gaits. The aim is to establish what Mike likes and what suits Monty in walk, trot and canter so that Tom can develop the theme for variations such as half pass, extensions and changes. Helped by father and trainer Ferdi Eilberg, Mike and Monty test the music out before spending time working on more difficult new moves they are planning to introduce to the floor plan. Mike says, "it's all about calculated risk!" Now Mike and Ferdi must complete the choreography so that Tom can write the entire score. More to follow!

Michael Eilberg creates a Kur with composer Tom Hunt: Part 3
Having tested choreography ideas with some of Tom Hunt's music in Part 2, Mike tells Fiona Price about the challenges he faced in completing the floor-plan for his new Kur. Monty (brother to Laura B's Mistral Hojris) is more lively at a show which created problems in gauging timing at home. After shortening the original freestyle, Mike took Monty to a show environment to run through the test and film the routine for Tom to finalise the music. Mike talks us through the changes he made in the final version, and we get a sneak preview of his test with Tom's music superimposed. Wow! Mike will debut the Kur at the National Champs' 2010.

Laura Bechtolsheimer & Andretti prepare for the Nationals '10
Andretti is currently number two in Britain and Laura's reserve for WEG. Just a few days before the Dressage National Champs' 2010, Laura has a session with world renowned German trainer Klaus Balkenhol. Dr B, Laura's father and regular coach, narrates. The 15 year old TB Andy has matured and made huge improvement in the contact in the two years he has been with Laura, enabling him to show off all of his considerable talent. Dr B says there is not much to do after half an hour as he is good in all moves. Their main job is to keep him happy through variety in his work. (A further video of Andy competing at the Nationals, will follow.)

Laura & Alf prepare for WEG '10 with Klaus Balkenhol
Top British dressage rider Laura Bechtolsheimer has a final training session with Klaus Balkenhol, before the World Equestrian Games '10. Her father and co-trainer Dr B narrates. Fiona Price talks to Klaus and Dr B about Alf's physical and mental preparation for the Games, the long trip to Kentucky and what happens when he arrives. They also explain Alf's routine on the day of the test. As we watch Laura work, Dr B says keeping Alf happy is the main focus. He is so good in all moves that he is worked in short bursts only, with plenty of variety and frequent breaks. Alf's work in this session merits 10s in the transitions, passage and piaffe, according to Klaus!

Laura Bechtolsheimer teaches Kim & Robin the zigzag
Continuing on from the first part of Kim's lesson which focused on collection, top British dressage rider Laura Bechtolsheimer works on trot half pass building up to a zigzag, a new move for Kim and the 8 year old Robin. Rein-back helps to engage the quarters and Laura stresses the importance of an accurate halt. She then asks Kim to ride a more 'grown-up' trot which is active, steps up to the contact and has more cadence and expression. Shoulder-in, followed by a small circle and travers sets Robin up for an impressive half pass. The trick in getting a good change of direction in the zigzag, is to slow things down and carefully manage the bend.

Sam & Diane Thurman-Baker refresh Pascal's Grand Prix work
Having just been to the Junior European Dressage Champs '11 and won the 'style' prize for most harmony between horse and rider, Samantha and trainer Diane remind Pascal of Grand Prix work. The 10 year old Cleveland Bay x Hanovarian is home produced in the Thurman-Baker system which begins with work in-hand. The session starts with transitions, then lateral work and backing up to soften Pascal's back, before progressing to flying changes and finally piaffe and passage, where the emphasis is on power and balance. (18 year old Sam later gets a wild card for Grand Prix at the Nationals where she finished 15th.)

Diane Thurman-Baker trains 13 year old dressage rider Joanna & Apollo
Nine year old Apollo arrived at the Thurman-Bakers as a problem horse. Trainer Diane spent nearly a year working him in hand. Apollo has now progressed to Advanced level dressage and is a GB Junior team prospect for her 13 year old daughter Joanna. They work on the team test and then on more advanced moves, for fun! Diane uses her trademark lateral work on a circle to get Apollo supple and between hand and leg for Joanna. In sitting trot, the emphasis is on building power. Half pass and counter canter help the flying change. Joanna moves on to tempi changes and finally baby piaffe and passage, which they initially learned together in hand.

Eventer Joseph Murphy fine-tunes his dressage with Pammy Hutton
4* eventer, and Irish elite squad member, Joseph Murphy has a lesson on his top horse Electric Cruise with Grand Prix dressage rider Pammy Hutton, at Talland. Aiming to qualify for the London Olympics, Joseph works on fine-tuning his dressage. Pammy encourages Joseph to experiment with what's 'too fast' and 'too slow', in order to find the right tempo. Pammy tells Joseph, "when you lose rythym it's something to do with the timing of your rein aids", so Joseph rides with one hand and the lateral work improves! Pammy helps Joseph with collection after the medium canter and offers advice for staying calm during the changes.

Maria & Ferdi Eilberg teach Rockstar piaffe and passage
After warming up the 9 year old stallion Woodlander Rockstar (in another video), trainer Ferdi Eilberg helps Maria progress Rocky's training on piaffe and passage from the ground, in preparation for Grand Prix work. Ferdi is in charge of the impulsion and uses a whip to touch Rocky's hind quarters to clarify the rhythm of piaffe, while Maria keeps the horse organised and on the aids. In passage, Ferdi helps Rocky to increase the lift with his front legs and Maria makes herself "heavy in the saddle" but keeps the energy moving forwards. Thus they work on both ends of the horse at the same time, making it easy for Rocky to learn.

Pammy and Charlie Hutton train Titanic on early Grand Prix work Pammy and Charlie Hutton train Titanic on early Grand Prix work
Having warmed-up in a previous video, Charlie Hutton (trained by Carl Hester and Pammy) works on early Grand Prix work with the 18hh Titanic. Focusing on the three P's, Charlie asks for half steps which are straight and active. He rides passage in rising trot to help with activity and, gradually, the quality of the steps improve. Pammy says "it's important the horse feels wonderful in piaffe and passage; it's the greatest gift they can give you!" Charlie uses leg yield to prepare for the canter zig-zag and practises changes before performing the movement. Finally, the pair work on pirouettes, keeping control of every step.

Vicki Thompson-Winfield works on collection with Beltoni Vicki Thompson-Winfield works on collection with Beltoni
Following the warm-up with 8 year old stallion Beltoni (in a previous video), Olympian Vicki Thompson-Winfield progresses to advanced exercises in canter. The transition up from walk must come from the positioning of the outside leg aid only. Shoulder-in helps with straightness and Beltoni must remain forwards and connected in the half-pass and flying changes. The main focus is to create smoothness moving out of the collected work. "Being elevated and sitting is easy for him but due to his big movement, going forwards again and covering the ground is difficult", says Vicki. "He needs to work out how to use his tremendous action."

Susanne Miesner helps Lesley & Garuda with piaffe and passage Susanne Miesner helps Lesley & Garuda with piaffe and passage
Having warmed-up and done lateral work (in previous videos), German classical dressage trainer Susanne Miesner asks Lesley Peyton-Gilbert to show her what Garuda can do in piaffe and passage. Susanne stresses the importance of tuning Garuda up with half halts and collection before asking for anything, so Lesley can sit quietly and let him work under her. With some help from Susanne, Garuda's rhythm improves. "The rider is responsible for creating energy and excitement without fear or panic," says Susanne. The first few steps must be good. "At the start of piaffe and passage, rhythm and suppleness are paramount."

Erin Williams trains her GB Junior squad horse Fleurie, with Sonia Baines Erin Williams trains her GB Junior squad horse Fleurie, with Sonia Baines
GB Pony team member Erin Williams works with her Junior team prospect, the talented (and tall) 13 year old Prix St Georges mare Fleurie and trainer, Grand Prix dressage rider Sonia Baines. The session focuses on improving suppleness and keeping the mare infront of the leg. Sonia asks Erin to move 'forwards and back' in trot and canter, throughout the work. It's up to Erin to decide what she wants from each transition eg. more roundness, softness or collection. "The aim is soft, light and gentle aids, even when Fleurie feels lazy", says Sonia. Once the mare is engaged, Erin progresses to working pirouettes, tempi changes and building a bigger trot.

Emile Faurie & Max work on basics after European Champs' gold! Emile Faurie & Max work on basics after European Champs' gold!
European Champs' GB team gold medallist 2011 Emile Faurie, explains the maintenance work his does with Max in between major championships. "Max is incredibly hot, electric and spooky," says Emile "but there are ways and means of dealing with this, and it can be be a plus". Max is not a flashy mover, his expression has come through training and improving strength. "In fact, there are advantages to Max's 'donkey trot in training" says Emile. Exercises to stop Max taking over and transitions to improve the cadence, help with athleticism. Emile also analyses Max's trail-blazing performance at the Europeans Championships!

Sarah Millis trains Privaldi on responiveness in collected work Sarah Millis trains Privaldi on responiveness in collected work
Grand Prix dressage rider Sarah Millis trains the 14 year old Grand Prix horse Privaldi on responsiveness and self-carriage in collected work. Initially, the focus is on tempo control and balance. "When I close the upper thigh, he must wait, let my seat in and step under more," says Sarah. Walk pirouettes and transitions increase the collection leading to piaffe half steps, then piaffe-passage-piaffe transitions. Sarah says "he needs to be relaxed but active and ready, and working off light aids, especially as I am so small". She concludes "I always try to make it easy for Privaldi to keep his balance but he must want to dance underneath me".

Classical dressage with bullfighting origins! Classical dressage with bullfighting origins!
Portuguese classical dressage rider Francisco De Braganca, tells us the eight year old Lusitano stallion Unico has "touched his heart". Unico is super sensitive which Fransisco likes because it has made him very aware of his aids, and requires light riding. Using his hands is like "touching the strings of a guitar," he says. Francisco spent fourteen years as a bullfighter and tells us that horses need a high level of dressage for this. But they have other unusual moves too such as cantering on the spot and also cantering backwards! Francisco explains the aids in all the lateral work, showing great versatility and frequent transitions between moves.

Nikki Crisp prepares Grand Prix mare Pasoa for competition: Part 1 Nikki Crisp prepares Grand Prix mare Pasoa for competition: Part 1
GB dressage rider Nikki Crisp prepares 11 year old Pasoa for her first competition of the season. Starting in a long frame in walk, Nikki ensures 'P' is responsive and has the right amount of energy in her body before asking for trot. "Her conformation means she tends to pull herself along rather than push", says Nikki. "She also holds herself initially, so small flexions left and right help to release the tension and soften her neck". Moving away from Nikki's leg supples P's ribcage and enables her to lift her tummy and engage her back, so the neck can come up. In canter, Nikki works on balancing P from her seat aids. (Part 1 of 3)

Nikki Crisp prepares Grand Prix mare Pasoa for competition: Part 2 Nikki Crisp prepares Grand Prix mare Pasoa for competition: Part 2
Having warmed-up in part 1, Grand Prix dressage rider Nikki Crisp works on balance in the canter with Pasoa. "This is where the wheels can fall of in a test," says Nikki. "Pasoa has a big canter and if she gets tense, she can flatten and go on the forehand." With trainer Erik Theilgaard, Nikki has been worked on bringing the mare more together without pushing her out of balance. "I want to feel I am sitting on one third of the horse, with two thirds infront of the leg and uphill" she adds. Nikki works on collection in the canter but the number one aim is relaxation within that. She asks Pasoa to collect from her seat and stay soft in the neck. (Part 2 of 3)

Nikki Crisp prepares Grand Prix mare Pasoa for competition: Part 3 Nikki Crisp prepares Grand Prix mare Pasoa for competition: Part 3
Having worked on the basics in previous videos, Nikki Crisp focuses on improving Pasoa's piaffe and passage. "P is talented in these movements but a little green, so it's where we can boost our marks", she says. The aim is to increase the height of the steps with the help of someone on the ground. Nikki begins with transitions in rising trot to increase the spring in the step. "P must draw her tummy up and round her back in the downwards transitions," says Nikki. The helper taps the ground to encourage more energy in the piaffe and passage. "It's a balance, as P must remain soft and in good rhythm whilst increasing her power" she adds.

Jane Lavington trains Boston on canter changes Jane Lavington trains Boston on canter changes
Dressage trainer and judge Jane Lavington works on the canter with the 9 year old Advanced Clydesdale Boston Deluxe, before moving on to flying changes. The canter must be uphill, adjustable and in good balance. "Correct canter transitions are the basis of changes" Jane says. "If you wouldn't give yourself at least '7' for a transition, you should do it again." Establishing the counter canter is the next step, as Jane teaches changes from counter-canter on a circle. Later on, she asks for changes at different places in the school. Jane offers insightful explanations for mistakes made and also explains why Boston is barefoot.

Natalie Allen trains dressage stallion Don Cavello at Prix St Georges Natalie Allen trains dressage stallion Don Cavello at Prix St Georges
Dressage rider Natalie Allen trains 13 year old stallion Don Cavello (Donald) at Prix St Georges and includes some baby Grand Prix work. In the warm-up, the emphasis is on canter. Starting in a low, soft outline, Natalie works on balance and increasing the bounce. Natalie uses her body posture to help with straightness. Riding on a square with a pirouette feel on the corners ensures Donald keeps his inside shoulder up and encourages him to sit and wait in preparation for the half pass. Donald's owner Tony helps from the ground to keep the legs quick and regular in piaffe and passage, which also creates a more expressive trot.

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