Biomechanical Riding and Dressage
Web Site
Table of Contents, Credits
by Nancy Nicholson, Ph. D.
Interdisciplinary Studies,
Miami University,
Oxford, Ohio 45056.
Web pages for the
Biomechanical Riding and Dressage Atlas
Available NOW!!!

Other pages: Dingo's Breakfast HOME PAGE
Morgan Dressage Awards
unofficial American Morgan Horse Association links
Classical Equitation and Voltes (images, movies)

Introduction to Biomechanics of Dressage:
This atlas is intended to help riders visualize how their horses work in response to their efforts. I have used a basic computer model for this as well as series of digital video frames or compressed movies.
Please understand that riding should be done with approved safety gear (at least a helmet of correct construction). Any suggestions in these pages assume that you know there is a rational risk to riding. Furthermore, none of these suggested techniques are intended as corrections for spoiled or dangerous horses.

There is technical material provided for those who are interested, but the visual aspect of the images is more important than memorizing names of anatomical parts.

Digrammed images are printouts of a layered model I have created which works from individual bones and muscles much as a horse does. In this important sense they are NOT drawings, because the software computes each frame or position of the human and equine model. Drawings reflect what an artist imagines, and there are NO drawings in this atlas, only photos and model outputs. They are as anatomically correct as I can make them, given resolution of computer screens and model relative sizes. All images are based on videography, photography and standard veterinary dissection/anatomy manuals.

You are invited to develop an "x-ray imagination" so you can solve the questions or problems which always come with riding for improvement. From the point of view of this atlas, problems are just opportunities to learn more and then to celebrate your successes as a comfortable, contented horse and rider.

Riding, meditation and some benefits of relaxation are HERE.

This web site is constructed so that browsers of various capacities may have access to it. As an online atlas, it is heartily illustrated with diagrams and animations. Reduced images of the illustrations are posted for the first page of a topic, and I have limited the size of pages to help reduce loading time. Where appropriate, follow the link in your browser which will lead to a larger version of the illustration.

This site is configured in HYPERTEXT format, meaning that links take you from topic to topic. If a train of ideas or topics interests you, just click on the active link and go! In other words, you need not page through this site as though it were a traditionally bound book. Please respect copyright.

Click on these images BELOW to view at full size.They are a sample of the atlas offerings. Muscles and bones are color coded in order to indicate their roles in the way dressage exercises develop a horse.

ABOVE: Selected muscles of the horse: deep and shallow parts of the "dressage system." ABOVE: Simplified diagram of the elastic ring of the horse and the parts of it that may be directly affected by the aids of seat and leg.

Terms used in dressage are illustrated and discussed. There are suggestions for training regimes. In particular, foundation concepts such as relaxation, straightness, forwardness, "throughness," half halts and tempo are given careful consideration. Basic movements such as bending are given an anatomical basis and transitions are discussed in their natural context of gaits. Gaits and transitions are animated and the principle of diagonal pairs on which DRESSAGE transitions are based is explained with illustrations and frames from digital movies. Techniques for accurate riding of transitions are presented.

Less familiar reference terms such as relative elevation and school walk (pas d'ecole) are also discussed.

The lighter side of dressage is addressed at Attitude Alley with the Gruesone Brothers as guides. Their comments on half halts are here. Their monument to half halts is here. Enjoy.

The relationship of saddling to the comfort and movement is addressed. Bitting is discussed in the context of a horse's conformation and habits.

Technical material is covered in a separate set of sections so that those who are disinclined to read about physics and riding can bypass the physical explanations. All calculations are accompanied by explanatory illustrations. If you want to see how the mechanics of the equine hind leg and the tyrannosaur hind leg are similar, go back and look at the physics. You can decide whether or not a human could outrun a tyrannosaur, if not mounted on a very fast horse.

Ideas which allow us to use math and physics to evaluate straightness, half halts, passage, extensions, suspension and so forth are included in the general discussions in a nontechnical way. For instance, the reason straightness is so important is that horses weigh in the neighborhood of half a ton: any misalignment throws stresses unevenly on limbs. During gaits, the way a horse handles its mass is crucial to soundness. To put it another way, "Gravity is always there for you!"

Mail Bag contacts
Please identify yourself, indicate whether or not you would an answer and provide at least an email address and a name by which you would like to be addressed. If you would like to see an animation of an aspect of dressage, let me know. I will do my best with the software and hardware that I have.

Web site manager and cyberhorsewoman with Ben-Lyn Anchorman:

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