How to Make the Path from Liberty to Classical Dressage – ForTheHorse

How to Make the Path from Liberty to Classical Dressage

The path from Liberty to Classical Dressage...Liberty is breathtaking, and also Classical Dressage is breathtaking. But there becomes a question about the path from one to the other. 

And the gap between the two is confusing to riders, so much to the point that riders just don't really know why they're doing each one, why it's good for the horse, and also what the transition between the two would be.

My path has been just that, I started out with horses in a major way, studying Liberty and doing a lot of Liberty with my horses, and I absolutely loved it. And now I'm combining all of that knowledge, all of those skills and bringing it to you, so that you are going to have a shorter path than I did, because mine was quite long.

If I can give you this information and help you to have a shorter path, then that's fantastic.

I'm going to actually show you how making the path from Liberty to Classical Dressage, but if you'd like support from us in our program directly (because you can't do this alone), to help you and your horse to understand each other better and get these basics mastered...

 CLICK HERE to discover more about our Program.

Let's start out with some questions that I'd like to consider...

How do we meet our horses?


How do we meet our horses with our minds and with our bodies?

How does your mind meet your horse's mind?


When our minds are meeting together, then there will be a complete willingness from your horse, your horse will want to contribute to what you're doing. He wants to contribute to the conversation that's going on, and your horse will be thinking along with you.

Not only are you asking your horse questions, but your horse will be asked questions back to you, and how would that feel?  When it feels that good, then your horse will search for more, so they will know that that feels good, they will know that you offer that to your horse.

When that is the case, it turns around, and maybe your horse is looking to impress you.

How does your movement meet your horse's mind?


This can be at liberty in hand or riding, it's all the same.

Would you agree that horses are masters of movement, and that their main method of communication is through movement?

So if we can be the best that we can possibly be for our horses, to the best of our capabilities, (probably that's why you're here), then this is a good thing.

 Which of the follow two situations would be more compelling? Which one makes you feel more compelled to be there and respond?

#1.  "If you don't maintain gait and direction, for example, I will reinforce with you with the whip."

versus...

 #2.  "Let's play at Liberty.  If you don't maintain gait and direction, I'm going to be clear with my body, because I've explored how I move. And I know how movement comes through me which you pick up on so readily."

I recently got a question from a student;  

"Is it alright to let my horse change direction at Liberty?"

You're playing at Liberty, and by that I mean, there's no attachment physically, to your horse. There is an invisible connection, though, isn't there?

  • The connection is through energy.
  • The connection is through movement.

And, if you know your pure movement, and how you come through in your movement, then that is going to be far superior for communicating with your horse than if you didn't, or if you hadn't explored that.

So now it depends why your horse is changing direction, the Why is always the best question to ask first.

Horses change direction for several reasons...

#1. Their mind is not with you. 

They're distracted, wanting to be over there with other horses. So, they might be always wanting to change direction and go to that place. 

We observe the horse from ,like we said, first the mind, what is their mind doing? But of course, we need to be calm in our minds, don't we?

How do I take the next step? Depending on where my horse's mind is? If the horse's mind is totally relaxed, and they're with you, and there's no anxiety, no desire to be somewhere else, then that's a totally different approach.

#2.   Their preferred way to move. 

So if they're feeling insecure in that situation, let's say you're in a big open space you're wanting to do Liberty with your horse and your horses feeling insecure, they're going to move in the direction where they feel more comfortable, they're going to keep their eye on you in the direction that they feel most comfortable. 

You can see which is their preferred side, now where do they have blockages in their body? Where are they uncomfortable when they move?

If you put more pressure on, because you're insisting that they keep a certain direction, then you're not observing and evaluating the horse’s movement.

This is the path from Liberty to connect to Classical Dressage. This is the journey where the mind and the movement come together.

So, in Liberty, yes, you need to consider both. It's not just one, even with a young horse, even with a horse just starting out, you need to be able to consider both the mind and the movement.

The question then becomes a misunderstanding.

Misunderstandings create anxiety in our horses.


It's very easy to sort out those misunderstandings. It's not a mystery, it's not hard. It's very easy to sort out those mysteries.

It's just knowing how to approach it. 

And that's what we do in our program...we show you how to approach those misunderstandings that maybe have happened in the past, maybe they're happening now and that's what's keeping you stuck.


Knowing why your horse is changing directions that will help you to answer what you do. If your horse is playing perhaps your horses having fun, you can still observe and evaluate their movement, you've evaluated their mind and you've decided that it's fine for them to change direction and enjoy playing.

I believe that horses are not disrespectful, 99% of the time, horses are not disrespectful it's just a misunderstanding. 

Liberty is a wonderful way to start with your horse and this evaluation process.

  • Helping you to choose
  • Helping you to take your next step with your horse

The path up to Classical Dressage shows you how your horse moves. What's happening in your horse's body, and that helps you to choose what to do next.

So, both are interconnected. Both are very closely knit in how you approach your horse.

The gap between the two is just a misunderstanding.


So the more we can gain knowledge around Liberty AND Classical Dressage (that doesn't have to be Piaffe, etc., etc.) but that's where you can go if you want to, the more skills we will have to help ourselves and our horses to shine to their utmost potential!  Our program will get you on the path!

 CLICK HERE to schedule a call with us and we'll see how we can help you to a successful and fulfilling path with your horse. 

About the Author Chris Adderson

Chris Adderson teaches riders and horses how to move with ease and grace to create astounding results and lifelong relationships of their dreams. She teaches valuable skills and educational strategies to get more results, quicker and faster.

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