As a general rule for all of your training sessions, you want to school according to the training scale. You can go to 10 different instructors and ask them their opinion on one subject, and you’ll probably get 12 or 13 different opinions.
But one thing the majority of trainers agree on is the training scale, which is also called the pyramid of training. It’s called this because the base of the pyramid is the widest part, and that’s what you build on.
Remember, a house built on a poor foundation is going to topple when you apply pressure. So you always want to have a good, solid foundation.
The training scale is your formula, not only for training, but also for problem solving. If you’re not familiar with the training scale, the 6 ingredients are listed below.
The 1st and foremost ingredient in the training scale is rhythm. Part of rhythm is tempo which is the speed of the rhythm.
The 2nd ingredient in the training scale is suppleness. Suppleness refers to looseness through the body and in the muscles. When your horse is supple and loose, he is also relaxed mentally.
He should be supple laterally (through his side) as well as longitudinally (over his topline)
The 3rd ingredient in the training scale includes 2 things-contact and connection. In the beginning of training, that’s what you’ll be focusing on: rhythm, suppleness, and contact/connection.
The 4th Ingredient in the Training Scale Is impulsion. Think of impulsion as adding more thrust from behind. There is no impulsion in the walk as your horse needs a period of suspension to show impulsion.
The 5th Ingredient Is straightness. The horse’s body should directly overlap his line of travel with his hind feet following in the tracks of his front feet.
They all lead to the 6th ingredient at the top of the pyramid, which is collection. You can’t get to the top of the pyramid without the 1st 5 Ingredients.
Let’s try a little exercise. Say the 1st 6 letters of the alphabet as fast as you can.
ABCDEF… I’m sure you could do that very quickly.
Now recite the 6 ingredients of the training scale. You should be able to say them just as fast: rhythm, suppleness, contact/connection, impulsion, straightness, and collection.
Knowing the 6 ingredients in the training scale should be is automatic for you as knowing your ABCs.
If it’s not automatic, then you need to practice. When you’re riding, there’s no time to actually think about these things. It has to become autopilot.
Write the 6 ingredients down on several 3X5 cards. Post them on your refrigerator, the visor of your car, or the inside of your tack trunk.
Repeat them over and over again on your drive to the barn. Get them so firmly ingrained in your mind: rhythm, suppleness, contact/connection, impulsion, straightness, collection.
You need to know these ingredients like the back of your hand before you can use the training scale as your guideline for training and problem solving.