What Do Horseback Riders Need To Know?
The Horse’s Training Tree Turns 100; Celebrated with Publication of a Training Tree for Riders
First published in the 1912 Heeresdienstvorschrift (or HDV), the German military guide by General von Redwitz and Colonel von Heydebreck, the Training Tree is best know in dressage circles, but was designed for use with all horses regardless of specialty. The tree acts as a guide for trainers as they work through various levels of performance. “If the horse is not rhythmic, forward, straight, and softly accepting the rider’s communication through the bit, his training cannot be considered correct no matter what movements he can execute.”
The fact that the training tree has stood the test of time and is still in use 100 years later is testament to it’s importance. Now ARIA certified riding instructor Amanda Berges (Dempsey) has written Training Tree for Riders with the goal of providing a similar guide for progression in riding ability. The ultimate goal of training riders for any discipline, English or Western, is to enable them to perform with complete relaxation, suppleness, and flexibility. If a rider is not balanced, supple, fully aware of the movement of the horse and able to respond appropriately, their training cannot be considered correct no matter the performance.
The goal of the rider’s Training Tree is to produce the kind of horse and rider team that is universally accepted as being beautiful to see: graceful, fluid, balanced, and performing tasks with lightness and ease. Most instruction focuses on tasks. The rider training tree focuses on the qualities of relaxation, balance, rhythm, fitness, suppleness, feel and finally influence (ability to influence the horse at any gait and during any movement). These qualities form a solid basis for all equestrian disciplines. “But don’t be fooled,” writes Berges, [the training tree] “is of utmost importance for the advanced student as well. Horses and riders can give the illusion of being trained to a fairly advanced level, when in reality important components are missing or insufficient.” The solution is to go back to whatever step was missed in that individual’s education. The Training Tree helps to define that step.
Whether you are a rider seeking to improve your skills or an instructor looking for ways to help your students improve their riding, the philosophy and exercises in the Training Tree for Riders by Amanda Bergeswill help you to develop (yourself or your students) into the kind of rider who makes it look easy! What do riders need to know? What pre-requisites need to be in place in order for them to learn it? How can these skills be most effectively taught and confirmed? This book provides the answers! It will be released by Alpine Publications in May 2012 and available at booksellers or direct from the publisher at http://www.alpinepub.com/horse_books.html.