Inspiring Classical Dressage with Nuno Oliveira Schooling the Walk

"I concentrate mainly on exercising his mind and his memory, in such a way that I achieve what I want: so that it is the horse’s mind which I work the most: the mind of the rider must work perpetually as well, in order to detect all kinds of opportunities to arrive at his goal, without letting any movement pass unnoticed, nor any opportunity unused."
~ Antoine Pluvinel

I take this quote to heart with every horse I ride. There comes a point when the training is more about mastering the horse's mind, his anticipation, his mood, and his willingness to learn than it is about the physical work. I love this video of Nuno Oliveira working with a Lipizzan, keeping the work interesting even at the walk. Alternating between moving the haunches, moving the shoulders and staying alert to all the aids. Notice the soft reins and very calm demeanor of Nuno, you can tell he is totally in the moment with the horse.

More Quotes from Nuno

(taken from vol. 3, "Notizen zum Unterricht von Nuno Oliveira" 1998, a compilation of notes that several of his students took after lessons and conversations with him.)

"Proceed so that the horse finds himself willingly into the exercise, and not by force."

"Make it a habit to praise when the horse yields."

"I don't want riders who work physically hard. Work by thinking."

"The hand should be a filter, not a plug or an open faucet."

"Don't lose sight of the fact that hip and legs drive the horse forward and the hands merely channel this power by gentle rein aids."

"Putting the horse on the bit means:
feeling that the poll flexes,
the back rises,
the haunches become active."