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How can I help a horse to relax and to not rush the whole dressage test? She will refuse to bend and trys to canter every 5 steps.

How can I help a horse to relax and to not rush the whole dressage test? She will refuse to bend and trys to canter every 5 steps.
Hi Alyssa,

The first thing is to try to relax yourself. A horse will pick up on your tension even if you aren’t aware of it. Try to sing to yourself under your breath it forces you to breathe and your voice will help reassure your horse.

Remember to give a half halt every few strides and think about riding at a half tempo for a few tests to encourage er to slow time. It’s very important to expose a tense horse to the show environment as much as possible to make it less intimidating for them. The more comfortable they are in the arena the easier she will find it. Also remember to give the horse a lot of positive reinforcement in the ring. To help with the bending you can use lateral work like shoulder fore and leg yield to reinforce the aids off the inside leg, if you think about riding your circles or corners in shoulder fore and exaggerate it it will help establish the correct bend even if the horse is tense. It’s important to support the horse with your leg but give them space with your hand so they don’t feel trapped or have added tension.

I hope some of this helps!
Hey! Make sure you are relaxed throughout the whole test. Most horses tend to do that when they feel like you are nervous which will get them nervous too. Don’t pull too much like I said pull gradually to slow your horse down. Make sure he doesn’t have too much pressure in his mouth, this usually gets the horse to try and fight the bit which makes them react this way.