Thursday, January 30, 2014

Wisdom from Denny Emerson

If you're on Facebook and you don't follow this guy, you should. His post this morning was too good to pass up:

"ENGAGEMENT" The act of stepping under, planting, and lifting", and how it is related to connection:

In the first picture, Essie is allowing Veloz to trot along with little to no connection, because if you "connected" a 100 mile trail horse, back to front, and asked him to engage his hocks for miles, you would swiftly do him in from sheer exhaustion.

In the photos of Mr Watjen, he is creating push from behind into a carefully monitored constraint with his hands and body position to encourage the horse to step more under (engage) and LIFT, rather than simply PUSH, which is what Veloz is doing.

"Negotiated driving aids into negotiated restraining aids to create the engagement which leads eventually to greater lift, which in turn leads eventually to creating the strength required for some degree of "self carriage".

Correct, systematic dressage work is akin to human athletes working on weight machines at the gym, to build strength, power, and greater athletic ability.

You can't build lifting strength by pulling back on the reins. You can't build lifting strength by driving from behind into no contact. You can't build lifting strength by driving from behind into hard, rigid constraint with the hands against the bit.

You use "negotiated driving aids into negotiated restraining aids", basically half halt after half halt, and let the "magic" of time do its job of building lifting power.

All our good American dressage riders learned this concept "with their mother`s milk", so to speak. This knowledge is starting to trickle down into the other disciplines, into some more than into others. LEARN IT if you aspire to improve your riding skills.


  1. Thanks. I don't do Facebook so I wouldn't have seen this.

    Like the pictures. I noticed that there was no Rollkur going on just a nice vertical head. Guess riders took the time to train properly back then.

  2. Interesting, we were discussing last night that we think Rio wants to be an English horse.