Coach Michael Lausiger on a good ride

Cavallo: Mr. Laußegger, be honest: What is a good horseback riding for you?

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CAVALO interview with Michael Laußegger
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Michael Lausiger: You have to distinguish – is it good for the horse or good for the rider? The horse should show what I envision as a rider. And “good” is the standard when a horse feels good.

How to do it, for example in competition?

We have only limited influence on this, it’s always a matter of trust. It’s important to prove it, that’s also part of a good ride. Horses are very good at setting moods. For example, if it is very calm in their area, for example in a gym around the yard, the horses become unstable. On the other hand, an equal noise level tells the horse that it does not pay attention to all the details, and can present itself more relaxed.

Does it also depend on the number of viewers?

The horse doesn’t distinguish between 2,000 and 10,000 people watching – but it just gets in the mood all over, whether it’s tense or relaxed. This affects the behavior of his presentation. It is like people: one makes oneself important, the other apart.

What does this have to do with good leadership?

When applying, it depends on the horse’s self-confidence. And here comes the role of the rider: what did he do so that his horse could appear confident? As with raising children: it should always be about raising independent and confident people.

But horses are not humans.

But they also react more sensitively to environmental influences, and their perception is very specific. I always have to keep that in mind. For example, they recognize their passengers by certain sounds, such as the sound of a car engine or the sound of it. Optics, on the other hand, do not play such a big role.

They also notice the mood of their passenger, and they can literally smell the resentment. There is a difference whether I gently pat my horse on the neck or leave the stable angrily – for whatever reason. In the latter case, I can’t start the next day cheerfully, so make up for the weather first. If you argue with your partner, you can’t pretend the next morning that nothing happened.

So it depends on the handling in general and the quality of my education, training, how and if my horse is able to handle difficult situations?

I agree. Everyone who rides a horse first perceives the situation for himself and then focuses on the outside: how I appear to others. It is in our nature. Since none of us feel lonely, we depend on the reflection of our surroundings on us. This is usually done by affirmation or refusal. So I have to deal with my partner’s horse and not treat him as a slave.

It’s like a personal relationship, it’s a mutual discovery, you pass the balls to each other.

Very few jockeys train their horses from scratch.

That’s right: but if I don’t train my horse myself, then I can benefit from training the horse – but every rider has to find his way with his horse, no one will take you.

Partnership at eye level as they say…?

Of course I can subdue my horse and tell him: You must do this and that and you must not act differently. This happens, for example, on Western riding, because it is purposeful. The horse must be submissive and not have an opinion of its own – eg when I get off: it must stand still, even if you are 100 meters away.

However, this is always a matter of the discipline involved: when cutting, the horse must be independent and think with it in order to prevent the cattle from escaping. As a rider, I don’t do anything, so the horse is running autonomously.

Rider and horse teaming up – this just seems like an abstraction.

Equestrian sport has always been about presenting the horse – and letting it be presented in the right place. This is based on mutual listening, which results in some lightness. A harmonious partnership can develop without effort. If a person is self-confident enough to realize this, then this is a good basis for a good relationship. And if you can talk about it, you’re already on the right track.

So, does it take a great ego of chivalry and a human to ride a horse well?

at all! If you feel a little insecure, how would you like to pass on self-confidence to your horse? This always includes a certain dominance, which ensures the predictability of the partner horse and thus provides a certain security. You cannot develop self-confidence in any other way.

It is always important to filter the talents that a horse has: does he jump on his own, does he dare to participate in a path? Is she eager and willing? The viewer can also benefit from it, as it gives a harmonious picture. However, you wouldn’t expect an Icelander to jump – he’s really good at Tolten and can impress there.

To what extent does the nature of the horse play a role? How far is it predestined to ride at all?

The goal of classic riding is to restore the horse’s natural movements. An example of turning: If I run and the horse turns suddenly, for example because he is afraid, and I am handling him, the horse can easily perform this movement.

This is not an equestrian yet! It only becomes so during training, when I am teaching a horse to turn its backside while galloping, i.e. the ability to recall movement in a targeted manner.

Difficult lesson. At what level does a good ride begin?

First of all, it has nothing to do with the performance category. Execution is always the result of good preparation. You can already see it in the children: one of them pampers his horse when he needs to move on. The other waits to see what comes from the horse, so he is more confident in his execution. Basically, it’s also a matter of attitude, how I engage in the movement of the horse and not work against the horse. “Challenge your horse, but don’t overwhelm it,” as the saying goes.

However, let’s start with the higher performance categories: Why is Olympic champion Jessica von Prideaux-Werendl a good runner?

Because the general picture of the rider and the horse shows no disturbance in the clear form, a harmonious couple dance. The average person might see this as being aesthetically beautiful. We always want to see the unusual. It’s like a writer: error-free main and subordinate clauses are not enough for good literature. Referees look for mistakes and highlight here.

Why did Bredow-Werndl defeat her teacher Isabel Wirth at the last Olympics? Is she the best racer?

I think there are several reasons for that. Bredow-Werndl is now a comprehensive work of art in rhetoric, facial expressions, and gestures. This is marketing. Your career is also strategically planned and highly goal-oriented. There is also a will to succeed and a positive attitude. With each new performance level, she changed trainers and horses. This then leads to the harmony described above.

for example?

See the series of changes. Bredow-Werndl is always looking forward, not down. This gives the horse safety because the rider also appears to be safe. Thus, these changes have jumped well, the hind limbs have enough space.

Is that different with Isabel Wirth?

Yes now. You control the changes by looking at the horse’s shoulder. As a result, she no longer sits upright, her upper body twists, and the horse loses safety. As a result, bills of exchange become wobbly. But the perfect chain change is straight forward, forward jumping. These are the kinds of bugs that can creep up over time. Isabel Wirth has so far been front and center as a passenger. In such a situation, it is, of course, difficult to find a coach who will then order the necessary corrections. The next step will be to accept and implement these corrections. Independent and self-taught rider and coach inherits a strong personality. These people often find it difficult to accept appropriate help.

What is the impact of performance pressure? The Olympics is not a country tournament.

It could definitely become a problem. I know riders who have lost their ease of play through competitive sport, which is expressed, among other things, in a lack of harmony with the horse. The lessons may have all been properly absorbed, but there is still a lack of proper ease.

Michael Lusiger (59) Learned horsemanship from scratch at the Spanish Riding School under Dean Kurt Albrecht. He teaches high school at home and abroad and trains horses. His farm is located near Vienna in Streifing, Austria. More information at: (

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