Lots of trainers talk about how they’re “all about the horse,” but the reality is rarely in accordance with the promise.  At the highest levels of the sport, it becomes harder and harder to put the horse’s needs first, as the demands on the horse increase along with the rider’s ambition.

Nonetheless, for Tina Konyot, the second highest ranking dressage rider in the US, the horse does come first.  I wrote about it in an earlier post.  She made the point again last weekend, in one of her clinics at the Equine Affaire, saying “keeping him [the horse] happy and comfortable through the levels of his training is the most important thing.”

That’s why Article 401 of the FEI (object and general principles of dressage) is so important, regardless of whether we are riding at the FEI level or getting our first leg up.

The debate rages over the extent to which this Article is adhered to in today’s judging, but the fact remains that what is written sets the standard.  It is a good standard.  It is one we should aspire to and adhere to, regardless of our discipline, our achievements or our dreams.

It is worth reading the Article (or re-reading it).  It doesn’t take long and it may just inspire your best ride ever.  It’s full of great stuff.  And it’s right here.  If you’re having a second cup of coffee, or a free block of time, Articles 401 through 418 are here, too.

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