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Our Principles and Priorities

Watch this Video: Karen Rohlf explains the purpose of dressage training in 4 minutes 11 seconds.

Dressage Naturally Principles

Our methods are based on communication and understanding instead of fear or force.


Principle 1:
The basics of dressage are FOR the horse and should feel good to the horse.

Principle 2:
Everything comes from and returns to relaxation.

Principle 3:
Mental, Emotional, and Physical development are equal doorways to our goal.

Principle 4:
Precision arrives out of the possibilities that play creates.

Principle 5:
Dressage can only be as good as the Partnership, Communication, Biomechanics, and Riding Skills combined.

Dressage Naturally Priorities

Priority 1: Our responsibility to the horse.

They didn’t ask for any of this. We need to make sure they have an enriched life that provides their most natural needs for Freedom, Forage, and Friends. Professionals need to be role models for the best horse care.

Priority 2: The Happy Athlete Training Scale.

Do what you need to do to keep yourself and your horses happy.

From there, you will have an easier time finding harmony together.

When you are in harmony, you will be better able to communicate. When you can communicate, you can better explain exercises and techniques, especially techniques for improving biomechanics. Healthy biomechanics will allow you to gymnastically develop your horse through the art of dressage (and move into your discipline of choice).

This may sound obvious, but there are many people who spend a lot of time doing dressage and very little time being happy! In DN we flip the script so you and your horse can be happy right away and enjoy the process of learning dressage.

Priority 3: A never-ending quest for self-awareness and personal development so we can be the best humans we can be for our horses.

It is impossible for me to separate personal development from the process of being a horseman. Horses read intention and body-language. When our intentions and body-language aren’t in alignment, horses get confused or scared. The human habits of judgment, self-criticism, and holding on to emotions and tension create disharmony within ourselves and between us and our horses.

We need to free ourselves of habits and ways of thinking that take us out of the present moment and keep us from being clear communicators. Clarity comes from a message traveling through a mind free of judgment, a body free of brace, and a heart that is open. I believe we owe it to our horses to arrive to them already in this state. Horses make us happy but they shouldn’t have to.

Enjoy this very serious video comparing the biomechanics of a happy vs unhappy athlete: