Use and dose of aids by Edward Gal

If you cannot read this video on your mobile trough the blog, you can find it on youtube Lydieka channel.

During the International Dressage CDIW of Equitalyon at the end of October, 2013, I’ve filmed several riders in close-up to show the different uses of the seat and legs in particular.

I’ve chosen to dedicate a whole article to the uses of aids by Edward Gal, as he is the one who best illustrates what I’m learning at the Bartels academy. 

Unfortunately, the images quality is blurred and unstable because I used a small camera, and I lost a lot of stability by using the zoom and, more of it, I didn’t have any leg.


The subject here has two meanings.

 1 – To show and explain the Dutch method as it’s taught in the Bartels academy for example.

2 – To provoke a thought that could question the way we think we see.


1 – Those who work with me are used to it, to ride using the principles of the Bartels academy requires reflection and concentration. Indeed, nothing, no aid at all should be apply involuntary, as a reflex, or without choosing precisely the dose.

This method is a global system that few people resume sometimes only  at one attitude, whereas it’s a whole consistent thing, independent of the whole range of different attitudes that one can have by diversifying one’s horse’s work.

It’s a system that takes into account the psychological functioning of the horse (my rider uses one aid once at the time, so I can easily understand this stimulus and as soon as I give the right answer the rider stops the pressure), as well as the biomechanical functioning (the horse moves freely into the framework given by his rider, he isn’t hold or obstructed and can express himself physically as long as he stays between the 2 aids).


So the most important guiding principles are :

- Only use one aid at the time, hands without legs, legs without hands …

- Progressiveness of the aids, first use the smaller request and then harden the aid if the horse doesn’t answer it.

- Timing, stop immediately by the aid as soon as the horse obeys, that’s the key to make him learn that it was the correct answer, the horse doesn’t learn during the pressure but when this one stops.

- Consequence, to use substantial aids, meaning that if one aid requests something the horse has to give an answer or it will reduce his attention to stimulus and so his keenness to aids. No hands to stop moving forward and no legs to stop slowing down.

- Awareness, the rider should be aware at every single moment of the use of his body not to show any skewness or involuntary requests or pressures.


All of this is magnificently shown by Edward Gal in this video.


2 – Thought … When I first started to teach, a long time ago J I had learned a method, the one taught at Saumur, I was self-confident, my mind was very clear and very set and I had no doubt. Whatever was different for what I thought was visually correct was wrong, without a doubt. I had very easily a wrong opinion of all the riders who didn’t ride as I used to teach and disapproved every other methods.

And then, the more I was trained, the more I doubted, the more I see the many possible solutions, the more I see how much it would silly to lock myself in a unique idea, people have so many things to teach and learn.

Here is a really easy example.

About the rider’s position, for so many years, I had a precise point of reference and very good feelings with this position. “No fold in clothes from the plexus to the hips going thru the navel”. It meant that the rider has to strengthen his back, opens his shoulders, clears the sternum … I arrived in the Netherlands … and My God ! Fantastic feelings by doing exactly the opposite. Rounded shoulders, arched back, stomach hollowed …

If I had met Edward Gal on a training field when I started, with his unusual position, I would have probably thought that he was having a bad position. I wouldn’t have try to understand why.

Now, I don’t want to train the riders all in the same way. I can use the traditional position of Saumur, as well as the one from the Netherlands and teach one or the other according to what’s needed by the couple at this precise moment. I can sense the need of them both.

I think that it’s useful to collect a lot of tools, different ways of doing things, it allows a diversity of solutions. One needs to seek for what is useful and efficient in every method.

For that matter, it’s really something I like when I go to the Netherlands. They always change, they are not frozen, they learn from everything they see, from every riders they look at, every judges comments, and they improve their teaching and their knowledge from training to training.




Translation : Cathy Paul