Spanish step and bow - the basics of circus horses

High School Riding - this is the name that has a number of different graceful and beautiful horse movements. It implies the continuation and development of normal driving, but more difficult and assiduous. This is a separate type of horse riding, which requires a full understanding of man and horse, as well as long training sessions. Today it is the basis of the equestrian circus and includes various artificial elements, such as the Spanish step and the bow. We will take a closer look at how to teach a horse the Spanish step and bow.


The dressage of a horse is a real art and all its elements are very spectacular. They are not used in competitions, but are used in circus training and national schools. Spanish step or the so-called school is the main element of high school riding. This is an artificial gait, in which the horse alternately raises and pulls the front legs almost to a horizontal position. At the same time, it is important that they descend smoothly without bending the joints, while the rear ones move in the usual manner.

Interesting! Something similar to the Spanish step can be found in nature. This movement is usually used by stallions when they want to demonstrate their strength. They also gracefully raise their front legs.

It is very important for a dressage horse to immediately properly teach how to perform this element. And not only because it is the basis for other elements of the riding school (lynx, passage, balance, piaffe). The fact is that the school step develops muscles very well. This is especially true of the shoulder girdle and chest muscles. Knowing how to make this element, the horse will be able to move gracefully on other gaits.

Despite the fact that this element is the basis of the classic dressage, it is not included in the sports dressage today. This is due to the fact that the school step and the lynx are artificial gaits, which contradicts the basic principle of the sports dressage.

Ways of learning

Making the animal raise its legs is not difficult. The difficulty is to teach them to properly lower to the ground. This is the whole essence of the Spanish step.

  1. You need to start training on foot. To do this, you need to be at the left shoulder, and to the right of the animal to put a barrier (wall).
  2. Then you need to try to lift and turn the horse's head to the right so that its weight smoothly passes to the right leg.
  3. After that, very gently with the end of the whip, you need to start touching it on the front left leg. It is important to find a sensitive point from the elbow to the headstock.
  4. At first, the animal is terribly surprised and does not understand what they want from it. It wants to somehow get away from the irritant, but on the right is a barrier, and on the left is a man. It will be able to lay back, but in this case the whip will need to be pressed against the cinch, from which the horse will move forward again. Only after all unsuccessful attempts, the animal will raise its leg, and it will immediately need to be praised.

After several days of training, the horse, sensing the approach of the whip to the leg, will raise it itself. As soon as she begins to understand well and lift her left leg, it is worth starting the exercises with the right. It is important to be content with the slightest signs of animal obedience, praise and encourage diligence. Do not get carried away with the whip too, so as not to cause excitement of the mount.

To achieve that the horse raises and pulls the leg up to shoulder level should be gradually. Similarly, you need to force them to lower, without bending the knee joints. To do this, after raising the leg, you need to use the snaffle bit to feed the animal as far as possible. After the horse begins to properly make the steps "in hand", you can go to training in the saddle.

We study the crunch

In addition to the traditional elements of higher education, there are also artificial or circus elements. This could include such a thing as a crunch. This is an exercise that consists in deep bowing of a horse with straight legs extended. It looks as if the animal is sodden. This is not a difficult exercise, as the horses themselves often do this after lying on their side for a long time.

Today there are two types of crunch: anterior or thoracic and posterior. When performing the front horse bends in the lower back, lowers its head and stretches it between the front legs. This exercise develops and trains the pectoral muscles, lower back and shoulder girdle. With the rear crane, the animal remains motionless in the front, but it moves it forward and down the croup. Hind legs remain in place, but slightly stretched.

How to do?

Crunch in its essence is very similar to the usual bow, and therefore learns on the same principle. To do this, do not even have to be a skillful coach. Crunch and bow can teach any healthy horse. This will require a little patience and goodies.

  1. Take in hand a treat. This may be sugar, a slice of bagel, carrot.
  2. Then let the animal know that you have something tasty, but you need to earn it.
  3. Then gently lower the hand down. The horse should lower its head behind your hand.
  4. Then gradually move your hand to the front legs, causing the animal to sink even lower.
  5. In the desire to get a snack, the animal will bend in the lower back, straighten the legs and make a front crunch.
  6. Be sure to give this horse a treat and praise it.
  7. Practice the exercise "in hand" and riding in the saddle, helping additionally with occasion and stack (a special whip with a rope at the end).

How to teach to make a bow?

The question of how to train an animal to bow, worries not only equestrian professionals and trainers in the circus, but also ordinary amateurs. This is a very beautiful and entertaining trick. The bow is still the same crutch, only one leg remains straight, and the second one bends at the knee. The horse should stand on its front knee. You can learn to bow on any leg.

  1. We take a treat and begin to lower it, as if starting for the feet of an animal. It is important, as soon as the horse starts to fall down and pull down the croup, take one leg and bend it.
  2. Smoothly turn your head down so that the horse is lowered and give a treat.
  3. Gradually increase the time of holding the legs, which will cause the animal to bend even more in the lower back.
  4. Gradually, the horse himself will understand what he needs to do to get a snack.
  5. Do not forget to add a voice command when performing an exercise, for example, "an". This will help the horse to remember the movement faster.
  6. After a time, self-flexing of the leg will need to be replaced with a stack quenching, that is, with a whip stimulus. A dainty to give only after the execution of the command.



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