Scales of training

24. February 2021 / Guide / 2 Minutes
Scales of training
The scales of training are guidelines designed by the FN, which illustrate the successive phases in the training of a young horse. They include the most important framework conditions for the correct schooling of the horse.


In the scales of training, specialist knowledge about the nature of the horse and training theory are combined and form the core of classical riding theory. Horse training is based on these principles and is thus a guideline for everyday training, whether for jumping, dressage, western or cross-country.


The balance and the throughness of the horse are the overriding goals. The consecutive phases interact with each other and can develop in parallel with constant training.

Horse training scale infographic

The six phases of the classical scales of training

  1. Rhythm: The regularity of the gaits and movements. The goal is the even and rhythmic footing of the horse. While walking, the horse moves in a four-beat rhythm. When trotting in two beat and when cantering in three beat.
  2. Suppleness: The even contraction and relaxation of the horse's muscles, which influences the rhythm of the horse.
  3. Contact: The soft, sustained connection between the rider's hand and the horse's mouth, which can be achieved as soon as the horse is released. As a result, the horse follows the reins. Never force the horse into the desired position by using too strong a hand.
  4. Impulsion: The transmission of the energetic impulse from the hindquarters to the overall forward movement of the horse. The impulsion appears in gaits with a floating phase, the trot and the canter.
  5. Straightness: The balancing of the natural crookedness of each horse so that it can be positioned and turned well on both hands. A straight horse steps with its hind hoof into the impression left by the front hoof and not past it on the outside.
  6. Collection: Stepping under with the hindquarters under the centre of gravity. As a result, the back arches up, the horse raises the withers, the neck and poll arch up and the horse's head comes closer to vertical. Since collection promotes balance and throughness in the horse, a certain amount makes sense for any horse. Of course, a horse in high dressage is capable of a much higher level of collection than a leisure horse, but the positive effects of this should not be disregarded.
Horse extended trot

Through continuous work in connection with ground and obedience training, the desired throughness and balance of the horse are continually developed. The result is an obedient and healthy horse.

Important tips and exercises along the scales of training:

  1. Rhythm:
    • Pay attention to basic pace
    • Uniform driving
    • Giving soft and sensitive rein aids
    • Walk smoothly with the horse's movements
    • Keeping the horse in contact
  2. Suppleness:
    • Medium stride on long reins
    • Trot work at a light trot on curved lines, as well as riding many hand changes, transitions and changes of pace.
  3. Contact:
    • Relaxation of the jaw muscles
    • Relaxation of the jaw muscles
    • Improving the posture for a seat independent of the reins
    • Increased riding of side gaits or thigh turnings
    • If necessary: Exercises from the ground
  4. Impulsion:
    • Increased driving
    • Change of pace
    • Flexible rider's hand
  5. Straightness:
    • Riding increased transitions, serpentines, side gaits and hand changes.
  6. Collection:
    • Riding whole parades while trotting
    • Backing up
    • Trotting from a standing start
    • Walk- canter transitions
    • Riding turns

Note: As the points of the training scale merge into each other, they cannot be clearly separated. This can be seen in the overlapping of the three main phases and in the partially very similar exercises, such as increasing and decreasing the size of the circle (in riding/lunging), which has a positive effect on the horse's impulsion and contact.

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