It is important that participants in our programs recognize the differences between classical and competitive dressage. Classical dressage is an artistic discipline that focuses on improving the balance and agility of the horse so that he is more capable of carrying the weight of a rider without doing long term damage to his body. It is a biomechanically correct practice of developing a riding horse that can provide a strong foundation for all equestrian disciplines.
Our practice teaches the horse balance himself correctly both laterally and longitudinally so that his core and hindquarters can carry most of the weight of the rider. The horse must be given as much time as he needs to develop gradually so tension in his muscles and joints can be avoided at all costs. This has nothing to do with restricting head and neck of the horse which is unfortunately, but truthfully, a primary focus of modern competitive dressage.
The primary objective of classical schooling to develop "collection" (a frequently misused term in the horse world). Collection is the physical state that a horse achieves when he shifts his weight to his hindquarters in a way that allows him to push upwards with his hind legs. This is the state that a horse often obtains naturally when he is at play or in flight mode. Collection is the ideal physical positioning of a horse's body when he is carrying a rider. it protected his back from the weight of the rider and increasing his strength and agility exponentially.