What is the difference between a four-year-old horse and a horse that is being trained on Grand Prix-level?
Actually, the biggest difference has to do with the balance of both horses.
The rider with the Grand Prix horse has the balance of his horse under control.
That implies that the horse brings more weight from his front end to his hindquarters. The weight of the horse is divided more equally over his four legs.
However, the young horse has by nature more weight on his front end.
That’s his natural preferred posture. His natural balance.
Even though it’s the preferred posture of a young horse, that doesn’t mean they aren’t capable of bringing more weight to the hind legs.
You’ve probably seen that before when a horse canters towards the fence and just when you’re about to think he can’t stop anymore, he stops while his hind legs take over a large part of the weight of his body.
A young horse has by nature more weight on his front end. That’s his natural preferred posture. His natural balance.
But we want to achieve the same result when riding.
We want to bring more weight to the hind legs on our signals. And not that we have to make a sliding stop in front of a fence.
In the whole training process you’re constantly trying to control the balance of the horse.
Rien van der Schaft explains in the video below about the three phases of balance every rider has to go through.