This is the story of my quest to train my three Dales Ponies for classical dressage, primarily by using Alexandra Kurland's clicker training methods, with a touch of others such as Philippe Karl and Anja Beran thrown in. I turned to clicker training because I had come up against some issues that I didn't know how to fix and because I wanted to inspire them to become enthusiatic partners. Bella and Jack are all my own work and have never been ridden by anyone else.

Bella, Grace and Jack

Bella aged 6

Bella aged 6

Treat Delivery

Jack aged 7


Wednesday, 12 November 2008

On her ‘Three–Flip–Three: Lateral Flexions’ DVD Alexandra Kurland talks about teaching lateral (Baucher type) flexions and says the following;

“When I was learning how to teach horses lateral flexions we used to bash and crash our way through them and it wasn’t much fun for the horses. I was willing to go along with it and teach lateral flexions to my horses, even if the methods were a bit crude….because of what they created for the horses. The lateral flexions enabled us to take the horses into the most exquisite balance which was not only fun to ride and beautiful to watch, but also helped to create soundness in the horses and it felt good to them. They loved the way their bodies moved so, although the process of getting there was not much fun for the horses, the end result was something they really loved.

Now, with the clicker, the process is one which they really, really enjoy."

My own take on this is that, because the flexions are broken down into small, gradual stages, all carefully explained, it is also possible for anyone to teach them safely and successfully, just from following the book and DVDs.

Alexandra Kurland has been photograhed for an exhibition by 'The Literary Horse' because they describe her as a 'significant horse person of our time'. I don't think that is any overstatement.

I think that I've worked out how this works now. If you click on comments at the bottom of the latest post, I think that we should all be able to read any comments and converse on there, if you would like to. I would love it if we could! If you try to and can't, please email me and I'll try to work out why.


  1. Hi Helen, Great posts as always, good thing no one can see you from the road in the school otherwise you might have to worry about the men in white coats!!

  2. Superb photo. Are they the three different horses LOL, they look identical ^-^

    Interesting about the flexions.
    I think my money will come into AK's DVD LOL!

  3. Thank you Driving Tom and I'm keeping the gates locked just in case!!!

    They are indeed Muriel. The first is Bella but I want to get another as she's usually much more round than that now, even when lengthening, the second is Grace and the third is Jack.

  4. I'm listening I'm listening honest I am ! Perhaps I should say reading , but no matter Thanks for sharing Helen. Love the photos of your three, must agree they do all look the same.Perhaps this is indeed the proof of success as Grace has only been with you five minutes & her progress is phenomenal.Did try the imaginary reins , but sadly not totally successful. Though did have success asking him to lift the front which with large fronted boy is ace !

  5. I did try the imaginary reins.. It WORKED! I will write it up in my blog.

    I had a big grin on my face, thanking you Helen ^-^

  6. Muriel, that's fantastic! Can't wait to read about it!

    maryka (these user names are very confusing - got you down to one of two possible people), actually it may be a compliment to you that it didn't work because I have found that Grace is by far the most responsive to invisible reins when ridden, and I think that may be because previous riders have tried to hold her in an outline with the reins. Bella and Jack have never been ridden like that and seem comfortable with contact with the bit, and I wonder if Grace is more grateful and eager to be given a chance to avoid the bit being used.

    The horse Muriel is riding is (for those who can't read her blog) terrified of his mouth, because of the rough riding of previous riders, so that would go along with my theory.

    Very interesting feedback - thank you all so much for your comments - I love reading them!


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I am a clicker training addict and there is no cure - thank goodness!!!