Kyra Kyrklund: 20 Doctrines From the Dressage Queen

She is five-time Olympic champion, trainer for the famous rider Cathrine Dufour and one of the most recognized dressage riders in the world. Here you have 20 doctrines from Kyra Kyrklund from a lecture in Kentucky Horse Park. 

Source: Dressage Today


1. A good rider lives on the small number of good steps and he builds on them. He forgets about the bad things. Inexperienced riders think mostly about the bad things, Kyra explained. 

2. There are many roads to the top of the mountain, but the view is the same from the top. 

3. “The relationship between a rider and a horse is somewhat like a marriage. You have to find the type of horse that you connect with. For example, I prefer energetic horse.” 

4. Keep the good things good and do not nag about the bad things but do not ignore them either. 

5. When you have had a good ride, be sure to find time to write down some notes about how it felt. Often after you have won, everyone wants to have a champagne and there’s no time to remember how it felt. When you do poorly, no one wants to come talk to you and there is plenty of time to reflect upon how it felt. 


6. Through transitions a horse finds the balance.  

7. A horse has a memory shorter than a dog—which might be three seconds. You must reward immediately. 

8. When you train at home, do one thing at a time—pirouette one day and half pass another, so you have time to do each thing with quality. You might choose canter work on one day and trot work on another. 

9. Never work a horse until he is sour – especially young horses in the arena. 

10. A horse only works for 45 minutes. He can carry us for that 45 minutes. 

11. If I do not have control in walk I will not get it in trot or canter either. 

12. Every time the rider uses a hand or a leg aid, the horse must respond. Even a bad response is better than no response at all. 


13. In a proper pirouette, there is no suspension, and it is bound to be four beat. 

14. Even a foal can do one-tempi changes. 

15. Do not bother with shoulder-in or any other movements if you are not able to influence the length of the horse’s steps. There is no hope in hell until you can. 

16. At shows, we see many poor pirouettes in Fourth Level and Prix St. Georges. The collection in pirouette must be as great as it is in piaffe. For that reason, I teach the piaffe first (even though the pirouette appears much earlier in the tests.) 

17. Work on the more difficult things on a basic level so the horse feels that he has succeeded. 


18. In training you have to be very honest. You cannot lie to your horse or your trainer or the dressage judges. If you only can do something one out of 10 times at home, then you know you have to be lucky at the show—and we know we are not always that lucky. 

19. There are two ways of riding. At home you have to be very aware of your problems, but you cannot be too picky at the show. 

20. Many horses and riders get stuck at Prix St. Georges. You can still carry a horse around in Prix St. Georges, but when you start Intermediaire II and Grand Prix, the horse must carry himself. 

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