Come along with Thomas and Shana Ritter and Catherine McCrum for a 10-week Roadmap to fine aids.
The biomechanics-based roadmap that helps you cover the core foundations of timing, application, and combination of the aids in 10 weeks, without feeling lost, overwhelmed, or in over your head.
Harmony. Balance. Connection. Flow.
It’s what all riders strive for in their riding. It is exactly THIS that brought most of us to riding in the first place…. to achieve this state of synergy WITH the horse.
So if it is that universal of a goal, why is it that so many riders struggle with it?
Why do YOU struggle to get that connection?
In fact, maybe it feels like the complete opposite.
Maybe you feel like you’re TRYING to do all the things right but something just feels OFF...
Maybe you feel like the horse is doing his thing, you’re doing you’re thing, but the two of you are hardly together... (or not together at all!)
Maybe it feels like the two of you are making music...
(but it’s two completely separate songs!)
Why??? What is going on here?
(And what can you DO about it?)
The more you TRY to force the harmony (hahaha the irony of those words, right?) the WORSE it goes. But... what is missing?
You feel like the more you try to sit “correctly”, the worse you actually ride! What gives?!
Struggling with half-halts that don’t go “through”
Rhythm, swinging back, and relaxation feel like a fantasy
Collection and lightness elude you...
The Half Pass that never happens...
Driving aids that seem to get completely lost in space...
Attempts at extended trot feels like shouting into the abyss...
In fact, every aid feels like it completely gets lost in space...
And the training gets nowhere fast...
Is THAT what you set out to do? Let’s back up 10 steps.
In order for the aids to be clear and make sense to the horse, they need to be unambiguous.
That means they need to be precisely executed and not applied Willy-Nilly all over the place.
Half-halts need to happen at a precise moment because there is only one small window of opportunity when the horse is ABLE to respond appropriately to it.
Applied at any other moment, the horse either has to ignore it or he may TRY to comply, incurring damage to his hocks because they’re not designed to take the weight of a half-halt at any other point.
Likewise, driving aids have a precise window of opportunity.
Whether you want to encourage the hind leg to come further forward under the center of gravity (giving you better engagement and activity), you want the hind leg to step forward and over such as in a lateral movement, or you want the hind leg to push more (giving you power, bigger gaits, and extensions) when and how you apply the aid makes ALL the difference between an aid that the horse can understand and respond to - and - an aid that gets ignored or swallowed up.
Giving your aids at a precise time matters! Timing matters!
But how the heck do you determine when this “right time” is?
Is this all arbitrary? Who made these “rules” and how does the horse know these rules without having read the book?
Luckily, this “timing” is not something you have to teach to the horse.
Nor is it difficult for the horse to understand or do
Because it is based on biomechanics.
In fact, because it is based on the horse’s biomechanics - i.e. how the horse’s body moves in space and time, accommodates the forces and gravity, and how each part of the horse's body inter-relates with every other part - it is completely intuitive and natural for the horse.
There is nothing artificial that the horse needs to learn about the timing.
…It’s all on the RIDER to learn.
But most trainers and riding instructors don’t teach this. They don’t take the time to explain these fundamental details, or even worse, they don’t understand them either - perpetuating a culture of ignorance and disregard for horse and student.
The onus is on riders (ahem YOU) to say NO to upholding this outdated and disposable mindset.
Our horses are our partners, so we want to do everything we can to be fair to them, communicate clearly with them, and give aids that work with their body’s motion rather than against it, keeping the horse sounder and happier for years longer.
Taking the time to study the horse’s footfalls…
…And learning HOW to observe and feel the movement of the horse so you can FEEL the footfalls of the horse.
This pays off exponentially in the long run.
In fact, it is one of those situations where taking the time to get this right SAVES you time later.
…And it makes EVERY THING you do easier and more worthwhile.
What you NEED is a detailed program that breaks it down into step-by-step understanding without all the “over-your-head-word-salad” Mumbo Jumbo that only makes you feel like this is not possible to understand.
And that is EXACTLY what we have created!
When learning to ride and train your horse, there is always MORE to learn beneath the surface. What looks simple and easy from the outside is not always so self-evident once you try to do it yourself. When this happens, it is easy to get frustrated and assume there is something wrong with YOU when, in fact, the only thing "wrong" is that you do not yet have all the information you need to do the job right. Once you know better, you can ride better.
"TOTA" is the TOTAL 10-week Roadmap that guides you through a deep understanding of the entire orchestra of the aids. It covers the most important aspects of your seat and aids with the horse and helps you fine-tune and trouble-shoot your communication, which naturally facilitates greater harmony and connection.
After training and teaching thousands of riders, we see distinct patterns in the riders that excel and those who constantly struggle and never progress.
Typically riders that can do the following, are able to simultaneously establish a healthy rapport with the horse AND progress up the levels…
✓ These are riders who understand the footfalls patterns of the horse in each gait, as well as the biomechanics of how the horse uses his body and how each body part interacts with every other body part.
✓ These are riders who are clear on their ethics and values with their horse. They vow to communicate fairly, and they hold themselves to that standard, always expecting of themselves before expecting of the horse. This requires being able to be absolutely clear and concise with the aids because our aids are how we communicate with the horse while riding. It is only FAIR to the horse to make sure the aids are correctly timed and applied.
✓ These are riders who have a clear framework for understanding how their aids work within the biomechanics of the horse. This way they do not contradict themselves, upsetting or confusing their horse. This also opens the door to refined upper-level communication. Without this framework, there is no upper-level training with the horse.
So how could we help our students learn this crucial information, in a way that is fun and works with whatever other training work they are doing with their horse? How could we deliver the nuts-and-bolts "what, why, and how" and help riders through the entire process so that they are supported and encouraged along the way?
THAT'S WHAT WE SET OUT TO DO WITH "TOTA"!
Wait. A tiny bit about who we are...
We are Thomas and Shana Ritter. Thomas is German and Shana is American, now based in Portugal on our farm of mostly Lusitanos (also a few Lipizzans + one seriously awesome pony for our daughter) by the ocean. Together we run a program of online courses and programs which educate riders how to train their horses themselves, in accordance with classical principles and biomechanics. Thomas is an International Clinician and author of two books and countless articles in many publications. Shana is a USDF Bronze and Silver Medalist. We have studied with Karl Mikolka, Egon von Neidorff, Arthur Kottas, Charles de Kunffy, Hubert Rohrer, Dorothee Baumann-Pellny, and Thomas Faltejsek. Together we create and orchestrate the Artistic Dressage program helping riders all over the world to have better, happier relationships with their horses through correct, gymnastics and a thoughtful, heart-centered approach.
Catherine McCrum is an accredited Feldenkrais practitioner and has been teaching sport, fitness and movement since 1986, first a ski instructor/coach and then as a Personal Trainer. She is also a Gestalt psychotherapist with a particular interest in working with developing awareness of how her clients embody their emotional and psychological patterns. Catherine assists in most of the Artistic Dressage Program courses by providing riders with Feldenkrais-based lessons to improve their body awareness, coordination, balance, and suppleness.
Charlotte Rhonwen Zetterberg is an accredited Feldenkrais practitioner and riding instructor. She is also a hypnotherapist, a reflex integration therapist, and a mindfulness instructor. Charlotte is the author of the book, FeldenRide: An Introduction to Feldenkrais for Riders. Charlotte assists Catherine McCrum with Feldenkrais in the Ritter courses.
In this course Charlotte recorded some unique audios for you to use while riding to help you tune into the horse's footfalls and movement. You won't want to miss them
A 10-week Roadmap to…
Dissolve roadblocks and build healthy communication and aids with the horse
Because timing matters, your horse matters, and your relationship with your horse matters.
This makes ALL THE DIFFERENCE for EVERYTHING you do with your horse.
How It Works:
BIOMECHANICS-FOCUSED INSTRUCTION BASED ON CLASSICAL PRINCIPLES
We have broken it all down into sections categorized by function and we’re going to go through it ALL bit by bit. Each section will build upon the skills gained in the previous sections, so you and your horse systematically develop finer understanding and communication together through the 10 weeks. Each module will contain pre-recorded videos and downloadable PDFs. (value €2000)
AT-HOME FELDENKRAIS LESSONS YOU CAN DO ON YOUR SCHEDULE
Not only are we going to help you fill in all the theoretical missing pieces, but we are going to give you tools to learn how to relax, connect with, and FEEL your horse. Feldenkrais is the perfect tool to help you, as a rider, develop your body awareness, feel, balance, and coordination. (value €1000)
RIDER IMAGERY LESSONS
When you have the right image in your mind's eye of what you are aiming to achieve, you are much more likely to actually obtain it. We have compiled seven imagery lessons (one for each topic) that can help bring these concepts to life in your mind. Then you can carry these images in your mind as you ride. For visual learners, this is the missing piece between theory and application. (value €1000)
FELDENRIDE AUDIO LESSONS YOU CAN DO IN THE SADDLE
These short simple lessons are the key to FINALLY learning to FEEL the FOOTFALLS and to understand where your horse's legs are. Tune into your horse and be amazed. It's simple and beautiful. (value €1000)
BI-WEEKLY GROUP COACHING Q&A SESSIONS
Every 2 weeks, you can attend the live Q&A session with Thomas to get all your questions answered. You can ask your question beforehand by submitting to the Google Doc, or ask live right there in the session chat. All sessions are recorded and downloadable. 10 total sessions. You will get access to a Google Calendar that syncs with your calendar. This makes it easy to find the info for the upcoming sessions when you need them, and you are less likely to forget them! (value €2000)
EXCLUSIVE AUDIO PODCAST
You will get access to an exclusive TOTA members-only podcast where you can listen to every TOTA course training from any place, at any time. Listen on the horse, in the car, while walking the dog, or while doing barn chores. (value €1000)
A SCHEDULE BUILT FOR SUCCESS
After over five years of teaching online courses, we have learned a thing or two about what online learning requires in order for students to have success. Students thrive best when they have ample time to digest each module of content before moving on to the next. Also absolutely vital are regularly scheduled times for "catch-up" and integration. We have spaced this course out so that you will have two full weeks purely for catch-up and integration. You can do it! (value priceless)
BONUS FEATURE JUST ADDED!
TL;DR FEATURE FOR EACH MODULE
TL;DR (stands for “Too Long; Didn’t Read”). Basically, think of these as your Cliff Notes. For every video training and PDF, we will pull out the most relevant, vital info and pull it into a “Cheat Sheet” summary. This way, if you don’t have time to watch the video, aren’t sure if this video will contain what you are looking for, or are looking for something specific you can head straight to the TL;DR post in each module and get the Cliff Notes version. (value priceless)
BONUS FEATURE JUST ADDED!
TIMESTAMPS FOR EACH VIDEO
New for this course, we are adding Timestamps for every video in the course. These timestamps will document where you can skip to in each video if you want something specific. Such a huge time saver! (value priceless)
Feeling the Legs and Footfalls of the Horse
We start with the foundation. Before you can do anything at all, you need to be able to feel and understand the legs and footfalls of the horse. We will spend the first weeks getting this down solid through observation and exercises. You will learn what to look for and HOW to interpret what you feel and see.
Then in Module 2 we get into the most important of the aids - “Forward”, because if you don’t have forward you have nothing at all. So many riders struggle with being able to get their horse to go forward. They get stuck in the trap of nagging their horse. Both horse and rider end up expending too much energy fighting with each other. We will help you clear through all of this baggage. You will learn how to eliminate your unproductive driving aids so that your horse pays attention to your aids. You will learn how to give precise, perfectly timed aids that are effortless, easy, and effective.
Stop/Slow Down Aids
Once forward is established, we can turn our attention to the stopping and slowing down aids. In other words, the ubiquitous Half-Halt. How many riders actually do not know how to effectively give a half-halt? Do you know that there is more than one kind of half-halt? Did you know you can, depending upon your timing and application, direct your half-halt into one leg or the other? You will learn everything you ever wanted to know about half-halts, and probably more that you didn’t even know was possible. You will learn how to give skilful, intelligent half-halts that get precisely the job done without any negative side effects, such as bringing the horse behind the aids, causing the horse unsoundness, or making the horse crooked.
Next up are the turning aids. You need to turn left and right, RIGHT? And you want to do this effortlessly and precisely, without contortions, frustrations, or outright confusion. We will explain it all in fine detail: how your seat and weight are as integral as your reins and legs. How all of these work together in a symphony of the aids to create exactly the precise turn you want at any given moment. You will learn how to turn your pelvis with ease, without obstruction and to coordinate your weight, rein, and leg aids so that your horse understand unequivocally exactly what you want (and so he is able to comply happily).
Bending is so integral to the training of the horse, so we then dive into the aids required to achieve correct bend. It involves the reins but it doesn’t ONLY involve the reins. The symphony of the aids is as needed with the bend as with turning and you will learn how to coordinate all of these aids together to achieve effortless bend with your horse.
Sidestepping is one of the 6 basic movements that should be introduced relatively early on in the horses training. We break it down and lay it out so you can build each element of your sidestepping aids clearly, concisely, and harmoniously. The exact timing of the sidestepping aids dictates whether the horse is able to comply with your request or not.
Aids for Lateral Movements
Let’s have a look at improving those lateral movements: leg yield, shoulder-in, haunches-in, half pass, renvers, counter shoulder-in, turn on the forehand, turn on the haunches, and pirouettes. Executing the lateral movements well requires a careful orchestration of the aids. There are lots of tips in this module to troubleshoot your lateral work and improve the crossing you are looking for.
Connecting and Combining Aids
Last but definitely not least, we need to talk about how to combine and connect these aids. We will spend the final few weeks bringing it all together into a sophisticated, respectful conversation with the horse. You will learn how you can make all of your aids and connection with the horse much more effective and meaningful through careful combinations of the aids.
Aids for the Reinback
You will get FULL access to this LIVE Bonus Masterclass including a live Q&A session to get ALL your questions answered about the aids for the reinback. We will even watch footage of the reinback together so you can see it happening and understand it visually before you go and ride it on your horse. With access to the recording too, you can watch it as many times as you like, pausing whenever you need or replaying the portions that are particularly helpful for you.
If you've ever been the type to say...
“I wish someone could just give me a roadmap of exactly HOW to use my seat and aids so I could be confident in how I am communicating with my horse, I would take it!”
(97% of our beta testers said they would recommend this course to a friend
So we asked them what they would say. Here are a few examples...
“TOTA really brought my horses and me into rhythm. When my feel and timing of my aids improved all three of my horses seemed to understand the language and we were finally having a conversation during our rides. This transformed my horses both physically and emotionally they are more relaxed in the pasture and in the arena. It's a beautiful thing thank you so much to Thomas and Shana and their team of experts for giving me the tools and information to make my horse dreams come true!" - Barbara Farino
“We all go through periods where we feel frustrated and seek to get a better experience from our horse's reaction to the moving and bending aids. I've become aware over time that it's not just about applying leg/spur pressure and rein aids although often that's all it seems is available to rely on. The danger is of course that I end up with a dull horse and my own frustration. I have learned through the TOTA course that there is a very specific time in the horse's movement when it's best to give the aid so that you set your horse up to have the best chance to react. He is not simply a slave to the aids, but he is able to be master of his body and give you as the rider the experience of his ability to move and react and place his feet where you want them to go. That means that you time your aids, individually or in combination, so that they are applied at the optimum moment of movement in all gaits. The result is a lightly well-timed aid that can result in a light well-timed response. The Timing of the Aids course explains exactly how to feel your horse's movement and how to time the best moment to apply your chosen aid which will help you show your horse how he can realise his full movement potential.” - Bella Collins
“The course is very into detail, not only the blabla you can read everywhere. you get a lot of new aspects and aha-moments, although I have been attending riding lessons, a lot of important details were not said there, but in the TOTA course. Very informative. Good structure. Interesting videos and good presented.” - Franziska Ledergerber
“I have loved this timing of the aids class. It taught me to feel. So many instructors say you have to develop 'feel', but do not give any clues as to what to be looking for. Thomas, though, patiently describes how to feel the movement of every part of the body, for example, the right shoulder lifting up, and how that 'feels' in your thigh, your seat, and in your rein. Module 8 was transformative for me as it refined my rein aids to be able to sense, and to deliver, sensitive messages to/from each leg." - Melissa Burtt Smith
“This course is answering many of the questions that I have asked but never had answered by trainers. I still have very much to learn but this is a beginning “ - Terrie Millard
“This course covers so much detail that you will need to stop and think, I never thought I would ever be aware of when to ask a certain leg to step quicker or flex a certain leg and although I need more practice I can !!!” - Heather Parnham-Wilson
"These courses address detail of riding instruction not even considered traditionally. They provide bridges between what you think you know over waters to cross you didn't even know existed & you'll be able to do so at your own pace having lifetime access to complete and review. Without a doubt you'll learn things you did not realise were missing from your riding education” - Karen Veronneau
“Yes, it is pricey-but worth it. The time the Ritters and Team have put into this course is exceptional. Details, details, details...Facebook input is incredible. You have LIFETIME access to this course and you have options to opt into future runs on the courses. I find that repeating the courses really helps to plant and grow the seed to improve my communication with my horse. Now let us not forget the Feldenkrais, it was spot on for this course.” - Sue Schmitz
“Whether for scores or equestrian art, this course will pave the way for you to step into your best riding self. It clarifies misunderstandings you didn't know you have, it fills in the blanks you didn't know existed, and it explains HOW to ask your horse to do the thing you want him to do in a way that makes sense to him, rounds him and feels great to him. I recommend this course to any rider, no matter the discipline, that would like to become educated, confident and considerate to her horse.” - Heather Beachum
“This is a very complete course that is appropriate for beginners to advanced riders. The information is detailed and complete. It is presented in a manner that is easy to understand and apply.” - Mary Downs
"From the very first module—where we are given many different possible ways to feel the footfalls of the horse—I knew this course would be transformational." - Susan Heald
Answers to your Questions.... (FAQ)
What level is this course for?
What if I am not a Dressage Rider or my horse is not a Dressage Horse?
I am not sure that I have time for a course right now.
What is the content release schedule?
What is the Q&A Schedule?
What timezone are the Q&As in? What if I can't attend live?
Will there be a German version of this course?
Will learning the footfalls of the horse be covered and in which module?
What if I have questions in the course? What if I need feedback on my videos so I can know if I am doing it right?
I am nervous to share my questions or videos with others
The one and only 100% Organic, 100% Horse-Centered Approach to Learn Effortless Riding and Easy Communication with your Horse
A 10-week Natural, Biomechanics-based Framework to eliminate all the communication interference and instill a happy, harmonious relationship based on respectful dialogue and thoughtful aids with your horse.
need help or have questions? email [email protected]