Relational Riding™ Academy Logo


Above the Bit: evasion in which the horse raises it head so the mouth is above the riders hands. Makes the back hollow and disengages the hind legs.

Against the Hand: Horse lays too heavily on the bit, or pulls into the riders hand. Horse may not come above the bit.

Aids: what the rider does to communicate with the horse.
Natural Aids: the legs, seat, and hand, also the voice.
Auxilixary aids, artificial aids: whip, spur.

Behind the bit: when the front plane of the horses face is behind the vertical, and the horse has dropped the contact with the riders hand. The horse is behind the leg, lacking forwardness, and generally balanced onto its forehand.

Behind the leg: When more of the horse is balanced behind the rider and the horses balance is on the forehand. Horse response to the activity of the riders leg may be sluggish.

Behind the vertical: Head position in which the horses eye is above and in front of the nostril. Horse may or may not be behind the bit as well, and can be against the hand at the same it is behind the vertical.

Bending: term used to describe the curve or shape of the horses spine while tracking on curved lines.

Cadence: the rhythm in which the feet strike the ground, or the sequence of the footfalls

Canter: three beat gait between the trot and the gallop in which the feet strike the ground 1) carrying hind leg 2) diagonal pair 3) leading front leg, on either side

Change of lead through the trot: simple change of canter lead that uses 3-5 steps of the trot between the sequences of canter

Change of rein: change direction, turn around and go the other way. May be performed across the diagonal, through the circle, or with a half turn.

Circle: figure of varying size of 6, 10, 15, or 20 meters in diameter. The circle touches the track at only four points, called tangent points, and is smooth and round, with the horse evenly bent from poll to tail.

Collection: Relative position of the horses longitudinal structure, characterized by a lowering of the croup, and raising of the head and neck. Strides will be shorter, rounder, and cover less ground, but must stay relaxed, and free of tension throughout. Piaffe is the highest form of collection asked for in competitive dressage.

Collective Marks: scores given at the end of the dressage test that give the judge the chance to evaluate the horses basic gaits, the quality of the training, and the position and effectiveness of the rider.

Contact: The holding of the horse's mouth in the riders hand. The horse should stretch forward into the rein, and seek the gentle, steady feel of the riders hand through the rein.

Crookedness: when the front feet and the hind feet are not tracking straight, or when the alignment of the horses body parts or spine is not straight.

1) the diagonal pair of legs of the horse.
2) In the arena, the line that connects opposite corners: MXK and FXH
3) in the rising trot, the descriptive term that is used to tell which shoulder the rider must try to rise with

Disunited: When the horse canters on one lead in the front, and the opposite lead in the back. Sometimes called "crossfiring" which is actually when the horse forges into the diagonal front hoof at the trot.

Engagement: Activation of the haunches, characterized by a relative lowering of the croup, increased bending of the ALL the joints of the hind leg, and stepping further under the body.

Error of the course: when the rider makes a mistake in the execution of the movements in a test through omission of or incorrect performance of the required movement. The judge will ring the bell or blow the whistle to stop the test, then tell the rider from where to restart the test movement sequence. Errors are penalized as follows 1) 2 pt deduction, 2) 4 pt deduction, 3) 8 pt deduction, and 4) elimination. If eliminated, the rider may complete the test, but is eliminated from the competition.

Error of the test: when the rider rides the movement, but not exactly as prescribed in the test. ie. performs the movement at posting trot instead of sitting. Theses errors are penalized at the judges discretion, if it is noticed, as if it were an "error of the course".

Evasion: when the horse willfully refuses in any way to do as the rider has asked.

Extension: maximum expression of the length available in the horses gaits. The horse covers as much ground as it can without hurrying, rushing, or losing balance and elasticity.

Figure 8: movement that has two opposing circles touching in the middle. Horse should be straight for one stride before the change of direction.

Flexibility: describes lateral (side to side) and longitudinal (back to front) bending of the horses body.

1) bending of the horses joints, specifically softness and yielding of the poll
2) lateral bending

Forging: the horse strikes the front shoe or heel with the hind foot as it comes forward in motion. Can be caused by weakness, poor shoeing technique, balance on the forehand, bad (sloppy) footing, or tiredness.

Frame: the outline of the horse, determined by carriage and degree of training.

Freedom of movement: The ability of the horse to work in relaxation, showing suppleness, looseness in the joints, and the desire to go forward lightly, and in balance.

Half-halt: a coordinated application of the riders aids that results in a rebalancing of the horse more onto the hind legs, or in a slowing of the tempo.

Halt: cessation of forward movement. The horse should stop without resistance to the bit, and step easily into a relaxed, square, balanced position, poised to regain forward motion.

Hollow: the topline of the horse is inverted, that is in a downward curvature. The horse looks "swaybacked" and generally works with the neck raised, head up, back down, and haunches trailing out behind.

Impulsion: refers to the quality of movement throughout the horses body, and is characterized by increased bending in the joints, active, balance strides that "bounce", while the horse stays relaxed and freely forward.

Inside: the side of the horse the is shortened in the curving of the body, or the side of the horse the is NOT on the wall of the arena.

Leg Yield: basic lateral exercise in which the horse begins to move on 2 tracks away from the riders leg.
Helps develop balance, obedience to the leg aids, adduction in the movement of the hind leg, and suppleness in the shoulders. See accompanying diagram.

Lengthening: Increase in the stride length at any of the three basic gaits. Characterized by increased activity, specifically "thrust", of the hind legs

Lightness: ease with which the horse moves over the ground. Horse should give the general impression of being "light on its feet". Also describes the quality of the contact with the horses mouth.

Medium walk: a walk of working pace; see Gaits

On the Aids: horse is prompt in its responses to the riders aids, moves willingly into each change of movement, and gives the appearance of doing of its own accord, that which the rider requests.

On the Bit: descriptive term that is used when the horse is carrying itself properly throughout the body. Characterized by a filling of the topline, graceful arching of the horse's neck into the rein, balanced, regular strides taken in suppleness and relaxation. Has little to do with the weight of the horse in the riders hand, and requires some degree of self carriage from the horse.

Outside: the elongated side of the horse in bending, or the side of the horse next to the wall of the arena.

Overbending: when the neck is too round and the horses face has come behind the vertical.

Rhythm: the steadiness of the cadence, or steadiness of the beat of the footfalls.

Salute: courtesy to the judge at the entrance of the dressage test. In the halt, while facing the judge at C, the rider takes both reins in the left hand, drops the right hand to the thigh, and nods at the judge. Upon receiving a response from the judge, the rider takes up the reins, and proceeds with the test.

Self-carriage: the horse moves with freedom and balance, working into a light contact.

Submission: the ease and willingness of the horse to work softly and without resistance to the riders hand, and to perform the movements free of evasion or tension.

Suppleness: the absence of tension, accompanied by looseness in the muscles and joints of the horse, that allow the horse to perform with fluid grace and power.

Suspension: the phase of the trot or canter when the horse has no feet touching the ground.

Tempo: the rate at which the feet strike the ground.

Tracking-up, overstepping: term that describes the hind foot reaching forward and into or in advance of, the print of the front foot. Used as a meter to determine the level of engagement of the hindquarters that is present.

Transition: The change from one gait to another, or the change of quality within a gait. Downward: decreases speed or changes the gait to a lower one; Upward: increases the gait to lengthen, or move up to the next gait.

Uneven: irregularity of the cadence.

Unlevel: when one part of the stride is heavier or lighter that the others. May be caused by lameness.

Volte: a circle of 6 meters in diameter.

Copyright © 2009 by Relational Riding™, All Rights Reserved