Schooling Exercises in-hand


Working towards suppleness and confidence


Oliver Hilberger







Neither the author, the publisher nor any others involved directly or indirectly in the creation of this book can accept any liability for accidents or damage of any kind that may occur as a result of practising the exercises detailed here.

In this book, riders are shown not wearing riding hats. Readers should always ensure that the appropriate safety equipment is worn: sturdy footwear and gloves when undertaking in-hand work, and when riding, a riding hat to the relevant recommended safety standard, riding boots or shoes, gloves and if necessary a body protector.




Copyright © 2011 Cadmos Publishing Limited, Richmond, UK

Copyright of original edition © 2008 Cadmos Verlag GmbH, Schwarzenbek, Germany

Design and setting OF THE PRINT EDITION: Ravenstein + Partner, Verden.

Photography and Drawings: Pamela Sladky

Translation: Claire Williams

Copy-editor: Christopher Long

E-Book conversion:


All rights reserved: No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or utilized in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher.


British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data


A catalogue record of this book is available from the British Library.


ISBN 978-3-86127-964-8


eISBN 978-0-85788-684-2







The history books first record of in-hand work is in the sixteenthth century. Antoine de Pluvinel introduced work in pillars to the repertoire of training methods for horses. Work in hand continued to develop until the beginning of the twentieth century, when it reached its peak with François Baucher.

Subsequently the demands of the cavalry suppressed virtually all in-hand work to the point of extinction. It was only in the centres of equitation such as the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, the Cadre Noir in France, and the Andalucian School of Equestrian Art in Spain, where in-hand work was continued and to this day has a permanent role in the training of horses.

The pressure to perform and common conventions often portrayed in-hand work in a poor light. It has been dismissed as a fallback for those who can’t ride; a horse seems to be recognised as such only when it has a saddle on its back. The fact is, however, that no horse is born with a rider on its back, and no person is born as a perfect rider. For this reason alone, in-hand work offers a valuable alternative and extension to riding.

It is true that the repertoire of classical equitation offers many different exercises and movements; however, for the majority of riders these are not accessible, or are attainable only after many years of training. In addition there are some horses that can’t be ridden at all, or only to a limited extent due to illness or advancing age, yet still need to be worked carefully. Conventional lungeing reaches its limits very quickly, whilst working a horse in-hand can build up certain individual muscles in a targeted manner and so contributes significantly to a quick recovery or a longer healthy life.

And an additional point: winter poses certain hard challenges for riders trying to continue working horses under saddle. The ground is often covered in snow or frozen solid, and not everyone has an indoor school at their disposal. And even when conditions outside are good, many riders fall into a monotonous work pattern with their horses which at some stage ends up in a lack of motivation or enjoyment when schooling or hacking out. In all of these cases, in-hand work offers a sensible solution.

Regardless of one’s riding ability, the exercises in this book offer anyone a practical approach to flexing and supplying a horse, preparing him for more advanced movements. In-hand work offers not only an alternative to, but an extension of riding.



The horse trained in-hand will also be smooth and supple to ride.


Transforming your horse


The average leisure rider normally has only one horse. Her own horse! She invests a lot of time and money in her hobby and is above all emotionally tied to it. It is therefore sensible to give quite a bit of thought to keeping the four-legged friend healthy. Working in-hand can make a considerable contribution to this. Very often you think you know your own horse with all his strengths, weaknesses and characteristics – in short with his own character, that makes every horse so unique. If you start to train your horse using in-hand work, he will very quickly develop – not only physically, but mentally. Lazy horses will become more active, tense horses will become calmer, and above all his self-confidence will grow.

Alongside your horse, you will be astonished at the transformation, for he will contribute more and more to the work being asked of him, with ever-growing suppleness and flexibility. The horse needs to be given the chance to develop himself to the full within a broader framework. Even very low-ranking horses can blossom and develop their own sense of pride.

If you have the opportunity to improve your own horse’s quality of life, use it. In-hand work offers this chance.



Even lower-ranking horses can reach unexpected heights, thanks to in-hand training.


Each horse is different


No one horse moves exactly like another – for this reason it is pointless to expect your horse to imitate exactly the movements of the horses illustrated in this book. This book is structured in such a way that you will be able to follow each phase in the training step by step, so that you can get the same idea across to your horse. Despite this, there will be differences. You must try and set your own priorities, so that repeating an exercise for one horse is incredibly important, for another not. It is a particular challenge to recognise these nuances and use them for your own horse – thus success becomes all the more significant.