Classical Dressage Training

classical dressage trainingUtilizing the knowledge of veterinary medicine to aid in prevention of soreness and unsoundness during and throughout the training process, and to prevent resistance, Dr. Babits' expertise and passion lies in the practice of Classical Dressage.

The focus on all training is based on LIGHTNESS, attention to preservation of the horse's spirit and animation therefore producing brilliant athletes.

This is not New Age Dressage, nor is it a guise under which mystical practices produce results. Training is simply based on the time-honored, fast disappearing methods, teachings, and practices of classical riding and academic equitation. For every movement or task the horse is asked, for every response that is achieved, always the question "Why" is asked. In this way, one continues to learn and understand what purposes movements and aids, as well as responses from the horse, have.

The focus of all training is to preserve the spirit of the horse, his desire to perform, and to utilize weight and seat, not hands, to affect balance, rhythm, cadence, suppleness, and ultimately oneness. Horses in training learn to develop their own individual talents, such as piaffe, passage, Spanish Walk, etc. once essential basics are achieved. Work takes into consideration the horse's conformation and abilities so as not to unduly stress the horse and create soreness and resistance.

In Classical Riding, we focus on balance, rhythm and cadence, suppleness, straightness, connection and eventually collection. Elements of collection are begun early on with the In-Hand work to aid in strengthening the horse's muscles. As basics are established, training continues until, if the talents of the horse are such, piaffe, passage, pirouettes, flying changes, lateral work, Spanish Walk and Airs are taught.

Dressage/Classical Riding can benefit any horse in any discipline, so training need not be limited to just dressage horses! We are very adept at extrapolating dressage principles and applying them to help develop and strengthen horses in other disciplines.

classical dressage training and instructionWork In Hand: 
Successful training is enhanced greatly by the very essential work in hand. Dr. Babits stresses this in her training and work. Work in hand is wonderful for keeping a trained horse fit and tuned up, starting a young horse, and rehabilitating injured or older horses. Individual exercise are used such as lateral work, transitions, piaffe, Spanish Walk to further develop the horse. Additionally, work on the long lines is practiced.

Starting Young Horses:
All young horses begin their training with working in hand. They learn basic transitions, roundness, balance, and some collection, along with lateral work as their foundation. Once under saddle work is begun, attention is focused on using the rider's weight and seat to ask the horse for work. Horses are started using a serreta, which is a leather noseband with rings attached. The horse is ridden off of the rider's seat and weight, and only the reins on the nose are used for direction and refinement if necessary. The horse wears a bit and is gradually transferred over time into the bit. This process preserves the sensitivity of the horse's mouth for complete and utter lightness.

Resistance/Behavior Training:
Bessie encounters horses everyday that have developed resistance to their work. She says,  "A "thinking" trainer will always ask "Why" is the horse resisting--is the resistance stemming from discomfort or pain, or is it actually behaviorial?. Our goal in training is to prevent resistances. As an equine veterinarian, I am able to approach a resistance objectively and assess the horse for tightness in muscles, lameness, dental problems, or for other myriad problems that can afflict the horse. I decided on becoming an equine veterinarian so I could objectively make that determination when training horses--is it pain related or behavior stemming from Horse-Human Herd issues? I specialize in working with problem horses--they are not problematic, simply communicating with us if we choose to listen and hear them!"

General Horsemanship:
"Basically, I enjoy helping horses, which means I enjoy helping people help their horses! Because of my diversity in the horse industry, I enjoy working with all types of horses and riders not necessarily in the discipline of dressage or classical riding. General horsemanship, the practice of observing, listening to, and modifying responses from the horse is a great art. I want to be able to help as many horses and riders achieve harmony, lightness, and sensitivity."