Tough Lessons from Hans Biss

After my busy weekends away this month, it was a relief to stay at the barn this weekend! I rode with Hans Biss from Germany for 4 days this past week. I ride with Hans on a regular basis and–like all long term relationships–there is a bit of love/hate at times. When the horses hear his voice they all seem perkier and more on the ball. I sometimes wish he didn’t communicate with them as well; they seem to pay more attention to him than me at times. How they know what he wants as he sits outside of the arena is beyond me! I would say that he is a true horseman.

Since, Hans won’t be back until the fall, I spoke with him for a few minutes at the end to discuss my homework. In addition, I took away some key points this weekend. (They will likely sound familiar to those of you I teach. Even the teachers hear the same thing.)

Hans Biss with Winterfair

Key Points
1) The moment that you feel the horse fall in think about inside support.
2) Remember that the outside leg drives the horse.
3) Think about the horse’s inside leg being more active. Create jump!
4) Inside hindquarter stepping more under the body with the outside hindquarter stepping forward. If you do not have this and the outside hindquarter falls out then he no longer carries.
5) When cantering, repeat the canter depart by the idea of half halt to obtain a nice collected canter.
6) Little shoulder-in in front of corners, yield into the corner then impulsion out.
7)  Do not lose self carriage in the turn.  Move into the contact and carrying.
8)  Hold the horse out on the circle line by bending.
9) From a lower neck you pick the horse up and move him forward.
10) Forward upward to the rein. Little backward to the speed. Open the frame in half halt.

Most of all, Winterfair and I need to work on collection but as he said “little steps and do not rush.” Can’t we all take that small statement to heart in so many parts of our life? Hans is exacting, demanding and doesn’t let anything pass him by. This, at times, is very hard to absorb. Knowing he has the horse’s best interest at heart is what I always try to keep in mind. I like to think he is my personal George Morris of dressage. Remember: it is much easier to fix something in someone else’s riding than our own.

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