One of the books I once bought is ‘The Atletic Horse’ by Horst Becker. The book is about problems in the dressage training and how to prevent them. Way to often the question why these problems occur is ignored. In this book Horst Becker endeavours to find the answers to this question.
Horst Becker demonstrates ways in which a horse’s weakness can be systematically corrected. He also shows effective ways to developing the horse’s strengths. What I love about his methots is that they are systematic, comprehensive and classical, building on the horses strenghts and overcoming weaknesses.
In my time as a rider so far, I have had lots of different instructors. Most of them – even though they don’t mean it like that – are punishing a horse for it’s weaknesses in stead of making the horse feel good about itself so he can develop in a confident way. The first time I read this book I immediately felt like we agreed on training methods.
Horst Becker places particular value on a method of schooling a horse that avoids for force, that builds consistently on an understanding of the horse’s anatomy. He aims for harmony in movement, which in his opinion can only be achieved when the rider proceeds carefully and systematically. In his book he talks about biomechanics, balance before movement, strengthening work on the lunge, training for different types of horses, developing collection, the flying change, the pirouette and perfecting collection.
Horst Becker is a classical dressage rider and trainer. He gives seminars about classical dressage, double lunge and free dressage all over Europe. His speciality is the modern training philosophy in the horse sport. Many different type of riders are searching for his advice. In these clinics and seminars the biomechanical processes in the horse is one of the most important subjects.
Apart from seminars and clinics, Horst Becker is also active in other functions. He is the author of several books, for instance ‘Das Athletische Pferd’, ‘Handbuch der Doppellongenarbeit’ and ‘Paraden richtig reiten: Das Mysterium der Hilfegebung’. As far as I know the only one translated to English and Dutch is the first one. And he made videos where he explaines the training of the horse.
In cooperation with the company Passier & Sohn, Horst Becker developed his own saddles. These saddles are adjusted to the anatomic vieuwpoints of the horse and can be adjusted to each horse individually. Horst Becker also developed a lunging girth and other equipment.
Over the last years Horst Becker developed a training concept including classical dressage, biomechanics, the saddle and preventive healthcare. The psychological and physiological preconditions of the horse are determining the training. Using the strengths of the horse to train his weaknesses. Every horse is unique and so is his training.
For the rider it is important to feel his or her own body and to understand the mental and biophysical processes in the horse are supposted to be strenghtened. The main goal is to reach a togetherness. If a rider is able to ride like this, then he or she is also able to develop and extend an independent training as well as recognize and solve problems.
Horst Becker is a great supporter of the lunge. The double and the groundwork will help to prepare your horse for being ridden. Later on these methods help with teaching the horse sensibilit and learn new exercises. ‘Problem horses’ can be corrected with those means and can be trained properly. One other – one of the most common problems in horses – is missing muscles which can be solved efficiently with ground work.
The first goal of the training that Horst Becker gives in his seminars and clinics is the search for the harmony in motion. ‘Harmony in motion’ stands for loose, round and contant movement, which in his opinoin forms the basic for the development of a powerful and expressive movement. The motion is constructed in such a way that also weak riders are capable of sitting on their horses and, later on, grow together with the horse to the next level.
Horst Becker says that in order to complete exercises contently and with souverenity, you do not dispose power reserves. The task of the rider is to balance him- or herself out, in order to interrupt te horse as little as possible, but to actually motivate and promote the horse. Riding with a consequent leadership without jamming or stressing the horse, since the horse can only learn when it is stressfree.
On top of this all, Horst Backer also checks the equipment within the training, the fitting saddle, the right bit and the way the bridle is buckled are all important preconditions for the wellbeing of the horse and rider.
A big example
During my time as a rider and dressage competitor – oh, it sounds like I am really old if I say it like that – I have seen so many horses that were uptight, stressed and solid. All this time I have been looking for a different way of riding. A more natural way where the horse is understood and respected. Many horse riders and instructers dislike this opinion of mine and say that the horse needs to listend and it is just disobeying because it doesn’t want to do listen. Now, I can finally train horses the way I think is best and it is a pleasure to see internationally respected riders and trainers who think alike! Horst Becker is a big example for me and I look up to him for training his horses with respect and the guidance they need.
Source: Horst Becker – Klassische Dressur