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Pierre Beaupère

He has the crazy and ambitious project to go around the world with his two horses to meet the greatest riders and trainers with ethical and respectful methods. Pierre Beaupère believes and repeats that nothing is impossible when we want to live, learn and dream. Professional rider and dressage teacher, Pierre has developed through these years the thesis that horses are a drive to become more human.

Hi Kim,

Thank you for your question!

In my opinion, there is almost never a moment when you can say "Ok, I move to the next step".

I see the evolution of my horses more as a constant "work in progress". It means I constantly try new things when I feel my horse is mentally and physically relaxed. And that I know that the first trials will not be very good and even sometimes quite messy!

But after every trial, it gives me more clues about what to work on, what should be improved, and I keep moving in the direction I want to go.

To be a little bit more specific about your question, there a still some "check points" that I want the horse to integrate before I try something new.

For example, I will not try the travers and half-passes before having the feeling that my horse understands well the response he has to give to my inside leg.

The important thing to remember is that the rider should know well enough what are the prerequisites for each exercises. In other words: what do I need to master in order to be able to execute this particular exercise?

For example, if I want to start the canter pirouette, I know that there are some pieces that I need to master independently before trying to put all the pieces of the puzzle together. I should be able to canter almost on the spot, I should master the walk pirouettes, I should have good canter half-passes. Then I can try to combine all these elements in order to try a canter pirouette.

But anyway, it is still the same idea, I keep improving all the basics until the next step comes almost naturally.

And if I try something and my horse shows me it is too difficult or he gets tense, then I know it is a bit too much for him at that moment, and I should come back to a better preparation. And when I feel he is ready, I try again and adjust, depending on his reaction.

Like everything with horses, we should always keep listening to them, and paying attention to the signals they give us...

I hope this answers your question!

Pierre.

Hi Scott,

Thank you for your question!

It is actually a tricky question, because it depends a lot on what was your preparation with the horse!

The more you prepared from the ground, the more he learned to yield but also to accept the pressure and can make the difference between the light pressure we want him to keep to have a contact on the reins and the pressure he should yield to, the safer and more interesting it will be to ride him directly without the bit.

But I must confess that I'm neither a pro- nor a anti-bit. In my opinion, horses should be ridden with or without bit and (!) really accept very well both.

I personally prefer to start directly with the bit, and of course I also prepare them for that. In my experience it gives me more precision to interact with the horse and allows me to use lighter aids but also to have a better feeling about the signals the horse gives me. It also seems to me that it is easier for the horse to understand my signals and to start immediately to improve his balance without misunderstanding.

I also think (but it is only a personal feeling) that with the bit I can have a deeper access to his physical relaxation.

I like to ride them bitless as a way to check if the work I'm doing with the bit is good enough, because if I can only rely on the bit it means that there is a problem in my approach and the responsiveness and acceptance of my horse.

I hope it is clear and that it answers your question!

Pierre.

Hi Lauren,

Thank you for your question!

It is very difficult to answer this question because it depends a lot on the horse I'm riding!

But if I have to choose a particular exercise, I would say the transitions, especially the trot-walk and the trot-canter transitions.

Both are great to improve their balance and also their responsiveness. But they also help horses to understand quickly to respond to very light aids, and also to find the best way to use their body. These transitions also help the horse to integrate immediately the basics that they will need for the rest of their life, no matter their future discipline.

Otherwise, I really like to have young horses a little bit too fast in the trot in the early stage of their training. From my experience, it helps them to understand immediately how to think forward. When they are used to give all their heart in the forward motion, it is very easy to slow them down to create a good swinging gait but keeping them with the will to go. And you will never have to push them to go forward, just to let them go, which is super confortable to ride!

Of course, I want them to keep a cool mind when I do that.

I also pay a lot of attention on the natural crookedness from the start because it is so important and, in my opinion, it is the cause of 90% of the behavioural and/or physical problems we might face later on.

I hope this answers your question!

Pierre.

Great! I'm very happy to know that!

Hi Jessica,

Thank you for your question!

1) For the leg yielding, your inside leg should be slightly backward, your body should move in the direction you want to go (but you have to stay center in the saddle, it is more your energy that should go in the direction you want to go), and your hands should be as quite as possible. The worst would be to move your hands to the outside (it happens when the horse doesn't react enough to your inside leg). You should feel the will to move your hands slightly to the inside.

It is not completely true but I like to explain that your inside leg should move the whole body of the horse to the side and your outside rein controls the shoulders.

If the horse move too much to the side and not enough forward, you use your outside leg as if you wanted to go straight forward, it usually helps to avoid the horse falling sideways.

If the horse moves too much forward and not enough sideways, sit a little bit deeper in the saddle and imagine you want to go backward.

2) For the shoulder in, the main difference is that the whole body of the horse should be bent around your inside leg like a banana. Again, it is not completely true because some parts of the horse's body cannot bend, but if you keep that image in your mind it will work better. So here your inside leg should be at the girth. And your hands should come slightly to the inside. The outside leg control the hind legs if the horse gives too much angle.

Do not hesitate to keep your outside leg in front if you feel that the shoulders don't really comme inside. Usually trainers say that your outside leg should be to the back but in my opinion this is only true if you have too much angle. If you have a problem with the shoulders, use your outside leg in front to support the action of the outside rein.

Don't forget that the name says it well: it is shoulder in and not haunches out. So don't push the hind legs outside, really feel that you bring the shoulders inside.

And if you feel that the horse stays stuck to the wall, you can open a little bit more the inside rein, it usually helps, but don't forget to bring it back to its normal position as soon as the positioning of the horse's body is good.

3) For the half-passes, inside leg in front to control the bending and the shoulders, outside leg backward to push the hind legs. Contact (control is better) on the outside rein and inside rein supporting the inside leg to get the bending.

This is the very short version because it usually take a lot of pages to explain well!

Think about these exercises like this:

- Leg yielding is to teach the horse to move sideways without getting crooked. For them it is easier in the beginning to get crooked than to cross their legs. It is also a good exercise to get them looser in their body.

- Shoulder in teach them to bend around your inside leg and to look for the control of the outside rein. It improves balance and make them stronger and more collected.

- Half-passes already need a certain degree of collection, and improve the respect to the inside leg. You must have a good response to the inside leg before you try half-passes.

About how to start, it depends a lot on the natural tendency of the horse.

I like to start with counter shoulder in with inexperienced riders and horses (so shoulder in facing the wall) because the wall will help to control the forward motion. Then both the rider and the horse can concentrate on moving sideways without dealing with the tendency of the horse to rush forward to avoid the effort. This way, you avoid the rider pulling on the reins and the horse to go against the rider's aids.

After that, I like to start leg yielding in walk. I start on a center line, stop the horse, and ask him to do one or two steps in leg yielding then stop and reward if it was good.

These exercise helps both the rider and the horse to understand quickly the importance of the outside rein to control the forward motion.

Of course, if I see that the horse wants to move too much to the side, I will take a longer diagonale and will not ask the horse to stop. Instead, I will ask a few steps sideways then move forward on a straight line parallel to the center line.

When leg yieldings are good enough, I will try the shoulder in, usually from a volt so I already have the bending. The shoulder in is the first step of a volt that continues along the long side.

I hope this is clear as a starting point! If you want more informations on these exercises, I recommend that you read "Dressage with Kyra" from Kyra Kirklund where it is very well explained.

Pierre.

Hi K,

Thank you for your question!

I get that question a lot and I always have troubles to answer!

I think dressage is made for the horses, and not the horse for dressage. So in my opinion, dressage is there to help the horses to find the best balance when they have to move with a rider on their back. With that said, I believe that all the horses that are ridden should do some dressage, at least the minimum to have a good posture, a good balance and a good locomotion. If we think at dressage this way, it is good for all the horses, even (and especially!) if they don't have a great conformation.

But to be a little more specific about your question, I would say that it depends a lot on what are your goals with your horse.

Clearly, if you want to win the World Cup, you will need a horse with very good basic gaits because in competition it is very important in our days.

In my opinion, if you want to touch the difficult exercises and the advanced collection, the breed is actually less important than the temper, the strength, the conformation and the way the horse uses his body. I don't care about the breed but these characteristics are very important to me when I look for a great dressage horse.

Finally, I think that today we tend to forget that before anything else, it is about Love. About being fascinated and inspired when you look at your horse. About creating a true relationship and companionship with him. We must feel deep in our heart and stomach that this horse is our soulmate, no matter the breed, the abilities of the quality of the gaits.

I have seen many of these horses that were chosen only because they could bring medals and ribbons to their owner. And it is terrible to see how both the horse and the rider were sad. For the horse, it is usually a life of suffering, without the love and recognition they need so much. And for the riders, no matter how successful they are, it is like they feel deep inside that they are missing something, that they are missing to point. Because even if I'm a dressage rider, I believe that before anything else it is about choosing the horse that will make us grow, evolve, question ourselves. And it is about the relationship we create with them. Dressage, then, is only a tool to get there, much more than a destination in itself...

I hope this answers your question!

Pierre.

It was a pleasure! I hope it helped!

Hi Daniela,

Thank you for your question!

If the horse already knows the piaffe then the easiest way is usually to ask them to gently move forward from the piaffe into the passage.

A few things are important:

1) you should have the feeling that the horse does the piaffe "by himself". So you shouldn't need to push, kick, whip, scream or cry to have your piaffe with enough energy and regularity.

2) when you will ask your horse to start moving forward, it should be done only with your seat. The feeling is almost like having your own body moving 10 cm forward (sorry for the centimeters, I let you Google it if you need the inches!) before the horse comes with you. It is not about leaning forward, you should really have that feeling that your whole body goes forward. You want to be in the passage before the horse, it will invite him to follow you without loosing his collection or the rhythm of the piaffe. But be very invisible with that, you just want your horse to feel the invitation, not the make these ugly movements with your belly!

3) Do not look for expression in the beginning. Of course we dream about these huge, super expressive passages, but in the beginning you want the horse to understand the idea, the suspension. Expression comes last. What you need first is that the horse doesn't loose the rhythm and the mental and physical relaxation.

4) Don't move left and right with you seat. It is ugly and very inefficient. But you will probably do it anyway, because we all do that at some point...

5) Think that it is like an extend trot but what the horse will loose in his forward motion, he will use it for suspension. What he looses forward, he uses upward. What he looses in speed, he uses in suspension.

6) If the horse doesn't find the rhythm when you ask to passage coming from the piaffe, try for a while to keep a little bit more contact with your legs during the piaffe, and keep that steady pressure when you want to enter in the passage. With some horses, it makes miracles. It helps them to keep the rhythm but also to stay round and to understand how to jump and have suspension. Of course, that doesn't mean to press him like a citrus, just to have a little bit more contact than usual already during the piaffe, 5 or 6 steps before entering in the passage.

I really hope this will help!

Pierre.