Classical dressage is the training of the horse and comes from the French word
“dressur” which means to train.   Classical dressage has been around for
hundreds of years and is the technically correct way to train a horse.  The object
of dressage is the harmonious development of the mental and physical aspects
of the horse.   Classical dressage creates athletic horses that are relaxed,
balanced, supple and confident in their work.

One of the key elements of classical dressage is that the horse’s head is
positioned on the vertical which means that the horse is on the bit and accepting
the bit.  The only position or frame of the horse’s body that produces muscular,
supple, strong horses is when the nose is on the vertical.  The horse learns to
use its core muscles, lift its back and develop powerful haunches.  The horse’s
energy is created in the hind legs and channeled through its body into the rider’s
soft hands that maintain an elastic contact to the bit.   One of the great riding
masters, Herbert Rehbein, was quoted as saying he “rides with tranquilizers in his
hands”.   When a horse is classically and harmoniously trained, the horse’s
muscles are able to lengthen, become supple and ultimately strengthen.  Muscle
physiology requires that muscles be relaxed, stretched and strengthened without
tension or overflexion.   This also means that there is no room for mental tension
in the horse in order to develop supple muscles.  

Classical dressage dates back to 400 B.C. when the Greek statesman,
Xenophon, wrote a book on the art of riding.  His book contained precise
explanations and insights into the feelings of the horse.  His training was based
on intuition and kind treatment – a policy that sadly, was not always followed by
riding masters in later years.  This attitude of kindness is best stated in his own
words … “Anything forced and misunderstood can never be beautiful.”  Classical
dressage is the only way to preserve the beautiful nature and spirit of the horse.
My training philosophy is based on respect and
understanding of the horse's nature.  I have a passion
for classical dressage and I believe that training of both
horse and rider should be done in harmony bringing
out the best in both athletes.  My coaching emphasizes
correct dressage techniques and improving the bond
between horse and rider.

I have studied natural horsemanship and equine
behaviour to offer students a better understanding of
the nature of their horses.  Ground work is a necessary
component for building a relationship of trust and
respect with horses and improves the quality and
progress of the horse's dressage training.

I am a firm believer that horses have a great deal to
teach us as well, if we take the time to listen. Training
horses is a lifelong journey for me and one of deep
gratitude for the magnificence of the horse.
Debra with the charismatic Half-Arab,
(Trained to Third/Fourth Level)
Photo by Terry Ekdahl
Debra with the Hanoverian, Prince of Tides
(Trained to Third/Fourth Level)
Photo by Clint Butler, Wraij Photography
(613) 818-1870