As a well-trained classical dressage rider, I am proud to say I have been trained by Ms Ruth Emery (trained by Franz Mairinger) for 6 years, and the phenomenal Mr Warrick Cozens (trained by Alois Podhajsky) for 23 years, and have been astonished to find over the last few years how easily we can communicate with old horses and dramatically improve the quality of their dressage within minutes.
Horses who have had problems for years can rapidly make a huge improvement once the confusing element of the training is removed. Recently I have ridden client’s horses who have rock-like mouths, no ability to bend or flex correctly, zero engagement, who spook and rush, and yet within 1 to 5 twenty minute rides they become changed animals who are calm, soft in the mouth and back, supple, relaxed and consequently more engaged.
Remember, no matter what your opinion of people like Philippe Karl and Alexander Nevzorov, we must always ask ourselves if can we train with softer and more gentle methods.
Philippe Karl uses very soft rein aids on simple bits, and the lightest leg aids to achieve very respectable Grand Prix level dressage results. Nevzorov trains horses to impressive Haute Ecole high school levels with no equipment or rider on the horse at all!
Even if there are features of the final result you do not like from these two admirable and courageous men, just remember the quality of what they have achieved with such gentle and soft teachings. We should always strive to look for ways to communicate with the horse so they understand and achieve what we want with the least amount of pressure or stress. If you can train a horse to do new manoeuvres without the horse raising a sweat, then your communication with the animal is a success.