WA Classical Dressage






Anatomy of Dressage

Schusdziarra, Heinrich

Excerpt of the Translation
by Cynthia F. Hodges, JD, LLM, MA


Riding as a sport has become ever more popular over the last few years. The number of riding organizations has increased, as has the number of their members. To the same degree, the number of participants at horse shows is also growing, and young riders’ interest in dressage also seems to be increasing. Through the organizations, they receive instruction, and those who are especially interested have the appropriate books at home, so that they can supplement the exercises they learn in the lesson with theory.

He who has worked hard in the riding lesson, but who has not been able to accomplish the desired exercises either to his or to his trainer’s satisfaction, later ponders the lack of success of the desired exercises. At home, he looks to the riding manuals, by Müseler, for example, which he does definitely not do for the first time. Once in a while, he will concentrate on individual parts to figure out why one required exercise or another was so difficult. With new resolve, he goes to the next lesson, but success in dressage does not happen that quickly.

Is it possible that Müseler’s riding manual is not enough? There are others. Let us look at what Podhajsky has to say. In addition, there are Wätjen, Bürger, Steinbrecht and others. These great dressage riders and instructors have written good books. In most of them, however, there is more about training the horse than training the rider. Even after intense study of the sections about training the rider, the practical question remains, “How do you do it?” How do you, for example, halt the horse or brace the small of your back? What do you have to do, and how do you do it?

The rider will not find a satisfactory answer to these questions in the riding manuals. We do not in any way wish to write a new riding manual. Better riders and instructors with great riding ability and rich practical experience are called upon to take on that task. The attempt is being made here to supplement the available riding manuals, to make them more understandable through the approach of anatomical function. The movements and how the muscles are used to perform them will be explained in order to answer the previous question, “How do you do that?”
To that end, we must impart knowledge about the anatomy, because without it, an explanation of the appropriate use of the individual limbs, and an explanation of the movements associated with them, is not possible. Without it, it is not possible to talk about appropriate instruction and training methods. The student will not understand the instructions without an understanding of anatomy. He will not be in the position to perform specific movements at will or to judge the correctness of his performance.

It is, therefore, necessary to place a certain amount of descriptive anatomy at the beginning of our book. It was difficult for us to decide how comprehensive that should be. The more detailed and more in depth we describe the anatomy, the more difficult our book would be for those who have no medical or anatomical training. Because we have to assume that most riders and readers are laypeople, we have kept the anatomical descriptions limited to that which is necessary to explain the movements made during riding. From the anatomical perspective, we will be able to discuss the individual requirements of the riding instruction.
Although our book is at times critical, nothing derogatory is intended towards the riding manuals or about the riding instructors mentioned.


Schusdziarra, Heinrich:
Gymnasium des Reiters / Heinrich Schusdziarra;
Volker Schusdziarra. – 1st edition – Berlin, Hamburg: Parey, 1978

Heinrich Schusdziarra, Anatomy of Dressage, Half-Halt Press, 2004 (Translated by Cynthia F. Hodges, JD, LLM, MA)

Translations on classical dressage:

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