Dressage Clinics


Body awareness and improving posture, seat and effect of aids

The clinics by Mariette van den Berg focuses on the biomechanics and rider’s seat, posture and relaxation.  Classical and balanced riding principles will be applied to increase body awareness and  improve the independent seat.

A balanced  and elastic seat will allow free use of your body and ultimately making the horse more balanced and supple in the movement and responsive to the aids.

Aims & goal of the clinic

Use techniques & principles that  will:
  • Increase knowledge about biomechanics of rider and horse
  • Increase body awareness and improve the independent seat of the rider.
  • Improve balance and elastic seat allowing free use of your body  and enhance the effect of aids
  • Make the horse more balanced and supple in the movements

Biomechanics of rider & horse

Biomechanics is the study of the structure and function of biological systems by means of the methods of mechanics.  The knowledge of equine and rider biomechanics turns horse training and riding teaching into a completely logical process. The back to basics clinic and workshop will highlight some of the biomechanical difficulties the horse encounters when carrying a rider and will give suggestions to riders how to recognize these difficulties and how to overcome them.       

Classical Principles

In classical terms, the correct seat is first and foremost a functional seat, a seat that allows the rider to influence the horse effectively, because it is balanced, straight, and supple. The outward form of this seat follows its function, i.e. the demands of balance and straightness dictate where the hands, legs, hips, and shoulders are at any given point in time.

“The rider’s posture determines his safety and comfort on his horse, as well as the precise effects of his hand and leg aids, and finally the horse’s balance, position and gait.” (Theodor Heinze, Deutsche Reitkunstschule, 1889).”

Learning theory in Equitation

Learning theory explains positive and negative reinforcement and how they work in establishing habitual responses to light, clear signals. (Note that “positive” and “negative” when applied to reinforcement are not value judgements, as in “good” or “bad”, but arithmetical descriptions of whether the behaviour is reinforced by having something added or something taken away, e.g., pressure. For example, when the horse responds to a turn signal and the rein pressure is immediately released, negative reinforcement has been applied.)

It is critical in the training context that the horse’s responses are correctly reinforced and that the animal is not subjected to continuous or relentless pressure. Prompt and correct reinforcement makes it more likely that the horse will respond in the same way in future. Learning theory explains how classical conditioning and habituation can be correctly used in horse-training.

Centered Riding

Is a method of riding and riding instruction that is based on the idea of having the rider seated in the most effective position. It combines elements of martial arts, yoga, and Tai chi chuan with knowledge of horsemanship to create a system where the rider is centered and balanced in the saddle. Originally developed by the late Sally Swift.

Riding From The Inside Out

Riding from the Inside Out is a complete guide to posture for riders. It provides a series of riding-specific exercises and posture cues developed by an innovative physiotherapist that will retrain your body. It will also help you to think about your riding in a whole new way, one that is guaranteed to make you the better, more natural rider you want to be.


“While attending last March the Foundation Clinic from Mariette van den Berg I got even more awareness of my upper body position. Being a “slumper”, I have to ingrain into my mind a nice erect uplifted frame, which is still suttle. Mariette taught me a lot about half halts,  awareness of where I place my seatbones and using the stomach muscles. I tend to collapse into my right side and Mariette helped me so very much to get the awareness, that for a proper half halt all the body parts have to be correct aligned and be available. Mariette is a very good teacher, who can explain complex biomechnics in a simple way. I do look very much forward for the next lesson, when Mariette is coming back to Far North Queensland.”
~ Viola

I have recently attended one of mariette’s clinics. I ride a young horse that has been started under saddle by myself and I was a bit stuck on how to go on with her. At mariette’s clinic I learned how to breathe properly while I am riding and I became more aware of my position. I didn’t realize how tense I was and how this affected my horses movement. On day two we really focused on riding in a correct position while staying relaxed in the saddle. The difference was amazing.  I found mariette easy to understand and it’s great that I now have new things to work with at home. My motivation has also increased 10 fold. I now plan to compete in dressage with my beautiful talented horse whom I was holding back from her potential before mariette’s clinic.
~ Joelle

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