The symposium started with the basic training of the young horse. Included in the demonstration: a 4-year-old horse 6 months under saddle and a 6-year-old warmblood.
Conrad stressed the young horses need three things:
How Conrad starts his young horses: A dressage horse is at its peak at 14-16 years old, and pretty much done at 21-22. He starts them at 3, puts them out to pasture, then brings them back at 4. The best work starts at 5. He doesn’t show his horses in the young horses classes at 5 as they aren’t ready.
A horse never makes a mistake on purpose. There is no reason for punishment, except in dangerous situations. Convince the horse by being nice to them. WB’s can be a bit of bullies when they’re young.
In the beginning of the ride, let them move in a big, regular forward trot. Keep the neck long so the horse can come over the back.
American type horses (non WB) can’t necessarily get over the back by going more forward. They go a little crazy, fall on the forehand and begin to run. A WB needs to be ridden into the hand.
A horse is only honest in the neck when he learns to push against the hand (when they give in and push away from the bit). You can ride bigger when the neck is softer. Make horse’s neck round with the inside leg. Turn on forehand works on spine and should make horse softer in neck.
- Leg yield on the wall then turn on forehand (makes horses that are strong in the hand soften). In 5 minutes, the horse will go longer in the neck.
- Trot, stop, turn on forehand, trot in the opposite direction. Horse should give in neck.
- Setup trotting poles on one half of a 20-meter circle. Canter half of the 20-meter circle then trot over poles on the other half of the 20-meter circle. Repeat until horse trots over poles without changing speed or head and neck position.
- Do lots of transitions when warming up. Mouth starts to foam and horse starts moving better. Do both sides. Let him stretch down and come to walk.
- Before trotting, give the horse a warning: Inside leg at girth, flex neck slightly to inside, move haunches out. When he gives in the neck, trot as a reward. Inside flexion makes neck rounder.
- Turn on forehand—softens the neck position.