In passage, the horse has a tendency to "harden" a bit. You absolutely must keep the horse supple. Therefore, we must find different exercises within the passage to preserve suppleness in the horse's back.
First exercise is to have a light, relaxed horse with his poll a bit low and to see if the horse comes back to you. Not asking anything special, just to come back and stay supple. From there, at the trot, I modify and ask my horse to trot differently, to come up, engage his hind and then, passage. It's a lively passage, forward.
Very important to try and do this on a circle because the horse always stays more closed (collected) in a circle than in a straight line. Once everything is there, then you can go straight. You want a horse that is completely straight (symmetric) , that holds the rhythm.
1:22 Now what I am looking for is for him to lower his neck and let go of his back. Very good. I ask for less pressure and more relaxation. Voila.
1:30 Change hand. I am careful that the horse stays between both legs. Very good.
1:50 Now another exercise in passage, either on the circle or on the straightaway and work the head to the wall in order to mobilize the haunches and to keep both hind legs active. And it's also a suppling exercise.
2:10 Same. I am asking for a very relaxed passage and will work the flexion a bit. I don't forget to ride with both my legs. I work the flexion and then haunches in. He's accepting this very well. I make sure to keep the horse on both reins. That's fundamental. The horse must keep his balance. I keep my back back and I ride with both legs. Horse keeps his suspension and I ask a little more on the long side. The horse stays very supple. I lift him up, I close both my legs and send him forward a bit in order to maintain active hind legs.
It's essential to not do this too long. You must walk a lot between exercises, ask for something, then walk again, ask something else and then walk to be sure to maintain the suppleness of the horse.
A friend told me I was delusional. I almost fell off my unicorn.
I can give you a rough translation. apologies, I haven't spoken it in years so i may get some of it messed up or mixed :0)
He says that you need different exercises within the passage to keep the back soft and lifted. his first exercise is to make sure that the half halt actually works and that his horse comes back when he asks. He then asks for different levels (and heights) of the trot, with the passage being slow and then with more impulsion to keep the hind end moving. He keeps the horse on a circle because they remain more closed on a circle than a staight line - so you end up having to work harder to keep the horse symetrical and straight, but once they get it that way, its much easier on the straight line.
He then asks the horse to sit back more on his hind end, but keeps the energy so that he stays balanced between both legs (hency the change in direction in the passage, to show that the horse is balanced)
next exercise can be done on a circle or straight line, and you want the the flexion to the inside with the haunches slightly in. (travers) It's a suppling exercise. He keeps a firm contact with both reins and encourages the horse to step over slightly while still being relaxed. He keeps him between both legs, asks for a bit more suspension and then asks for a bit more angle on the straight side. He then allows the horse to go more forward to conserve the hind end, and that it is essentual to keep this exercise to a minimum to avoid doing this exercise long, with lots of walking and praise in between.
In my opinion, a horse is the animal to have. 1300 pounds of raw muscle, power, grace, and sweat between your legs - it's something you just can't get from a pet hamster.
Thanks for the translation! This is timely for me because I have more difficulty keeping the passage on a curved line. My horse reverts to half steps. I'm going to keep studying this - thanks for sharing!
I'm no expert, but I always thought that that's what a passage should look like-- plenty of "air" for both front and hind feet, and a horse who could do any move (bending or lateral work) in the passage that you'd also ask for in the trot.
I'm relieved that his explanations made sense to me. Executing all that training, of course, is another thing. But how refreshing to see all the fundamental stuff "still be there" when a rider is working on an upper level movement. Too many folks I have see teach the passage as a "trick" and always with the horse straight.