Training A Horse To Dance

A horse that dances to music is an exceptionally rare sight. The natural inclination of equine creatures is to move in time only with their own hooves as they are most comfortable with the repetition of footfall. However, some talented individuals have spent years training horses to dance by tapping into their animalistic instincts and mastering their footwork.

If you’ve ever thought about training a horse, you most likely had two ideas in mind. The first was that it would help you with riding, and the second, it would just be cool to have a horse around. But, like many things as a kid, trainers can seem like expensive objects. This is especially true when you don’t know the difference between dressage and show jumping.

Training a horse to dance is a long and arduous process, but it is well worth it. The benefits are many.

First, you need to choose the right horse for training. You want a horse that is intelligent, but not too intelligent. A very intelligent horse might get bored with training and just walk away from you, which would be very rude of him/her! Make sure your horse has a good attitude towards training by offering lots of treats and praise when they do something right.

When you’re ready to begin training, start by teaching your horse how to walk in a circle around you. Have your trainer hold onto the halter on one side while you hold onto the halter on the other side. Walk slowly and steadily around them so they can keep up with you, until they are comfortable walking in circles around you. Then add some music if needed!

Once your horse is comfortable walking in circles around you while listening to music (or not), it’s time to teach them how to turn left or right at an angle from left foot forward (LF). Start by asking them to turn LF first; if they don’t understand what this means yet then try saying “Whoa!” instead—this will help

A horse is a very intelligent animal. They are capable of learning many things, including how to dance.

It is important to remember that your horse must be in good health before you begin training. If your horse is not healthy, it will be unable to focus on the training and may become ill as a result. If you are unsure whether or not your horse is healthy, consult with your veterinarian.

When training a horse to dance it is important that you do not rush the process or push too hard. You should allow your horse time to learn and grow into his new skills before moving on to more advanced moves. In addition, it is important that while training a horse for dancing you make sure that he feels comfortable with each step before moving on to more advanced moves; if he does not feel comfortable with something then he will not learn it properly and may become frustrated or frightened by what he perceives as an uncomfortable environment in which he does not know what to do next.

The first step when training a horse for dancing should be teaching him how

Training A Horse To Dance

But what does it take to win an Olympic dressage medal? And more importantly… how do you train a horse to dance?

According to international dressage rider Lewis Carrier, “it’s not something you can just do”.

The 24-year-old has been riding horses since he was six and is hoping to compete for Team GB at the 2024 games in Paris.

“Training a horse to do that takes years of experience,” he tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.

“It’s like learning to dance. It’s technique. It’s teaching a horse how to move a certain way and how to use their body in a certain way.”

It’s one of the reasons the athletes competing in dressage can be older than those competing in other non-equestrian sports.

Like Great Britain’s oldest Olympian at the games Carl Hester, who, aged 52, is part of the medal-winning dressage team.

His first Olympics was way back in 1992 in Barcelona.

Team GB's Carl Hester riding En Vogue competes in the Dressage Individual Grand Prix Freestyle Final
Image caption, Experience pays – Carl Hester’s the oldest Olympian at Tokyo 2020 and won a bronze this week

As well as needing years of experience, dressage athletes can also benefit from a bit of Star Wars force, Lewis says.

He likes to imagine dressage like a Jedi power – an invisible force that lets those trained in it control things with their mind.

“It’s so much about feel. It’s so hard as a trainer to teach someone, it’s just something you feel one day and you have it. You have the feel,” he says.

Every movement in dressage is triggered by an aide from the rider, Lewis adds.

“These horses have trained with these riders for such a long time. They know exactly what the rider is asking for when they do it. They have to be moving like Olympians. Nothing can look forced, it has to look harmonious between horse and rider.”


The rules

  • Dressage at the Olympics is made up of three tests: qualifying, team and individual
  • At an Olympic Games, each nation can put forward three teams of three horse and rider combinations
  • Each rider and horse combination takes it in turn to perform a range of movements, scored by seven judges
  • Everyone competes in the qualifying round. The top eight teams (each including three riders) make it to the team final
  • The team final is decided by adding all three scores – giving the top three teams gold, silver and bronze
  • The top 18 riders from the team final then compete in the individual final

Top athletes like Charlotte Dujardin train with several horses, so animals are ready to take over if needed.

Horses can start competing aged eight and normally carry on until they’re 19 or 20, Lewis says.

So do these hard-working horses get their own medals?

Not exactly – but Lewis says if they win they celebrate with lots of sugar cubes and carrots.

International dressage rider Lewis Carrier
Image caption, Lewis says training a horse to dance is a technique

“It’s hard to explain to an animal how good they have done,” he says.

“[But] these horses know the riders so well and they know when they’ve done a good job.”

A rule states that horses have to be part-owned by someone from the nation they’re representing, but according to Lewis the blood lines are mostly Dutch and German-bred – as that’s where dressage is so big.

Bronze medalist Charlotte Dujardin, Carl Hester and Charlotte Fry of Team Great Britain
Image caption, Lottie Fry (right) won a bronze medal with Charlotte Dujardin and Carl Hester

One of the stand out Team GB stars in dressage at this games has been 25-year-old Lottie Fry, who is technically still a junior.

She was the youngest medal-winning rider in the team final – taking home bronze alongside Carl Hester and Charlotte Dujardin – which Lewis says is “massive.”

“For her to be at an Olympic Games at 25 years old, halfway around the world, and to pull off three incredible tests is absolutely huge. You have to have so much calm about you to ride a test like that. It’s really impressive.”

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