What does the term “Kreuz” mean?

W.A.Z. clarifications

(2.)What does the term “Kreuz” mean?  It is a combination of the seat bones (the ones that get sore if you sit too long on a wooden bench with no cushion), seat muscles, tailbone, and hip bones (the front-top protrusions on each side of  the pelvis; you can find them with your fingers well out to the side of your abdomen and slightly lower than your navel.)
When using the Kreuz to drive the horse forward, the hip bones are tilted slightly up and back so that the tailbone and the seat bones move slightly forward by tucking down and  under.  At the same time, the seat musculature engages (to hold the rider’s trunk erect).
(Without the engagement of the Kreuz to drive the horse forward, the rider can, of course, move the entire pelvis towards the front of the saddle, so that sacroiliac/tailbone and hips do indeed both move forward together.  However, the engagement of the Kreuz as a driving aid consists more of a slight ROTATION of the pelvic structure rather than a unified  move forward.)

“Relaxation:”  How does one recognize when a horse is relaxed?  He goes in walk in 4-beat, in trot in 2-beat and in canter in 3-beat.  The beat of each gait, when the horse is relaxed, is clear and even, not hurried and not dragging.  The tempo is always adjusted to each horse and should not go faster or slower; it should stay steady and unvarying.  The tail moves slightly to the left and right in the rhythm of the gait, indicating freedom from fear and tension and free transmission of energy from the hind legs through the horse’s back muscles.  The ears are carried without tension.  The horse chews trustfully on the bit and foams on both corners of the mouth.  In a relaxed, balanced horse, when the rider performs “uberstreichen” (stroking) with both hands giving the reins forward, the horse’s neck should get slightly longer without changing the tempo and rhythm.  Further indications of relaxation in the horse are when the horse is blowing (soft rhythmical snorting), dropping manure, and in all three gaits as well as in standstill, he is willing to chew the reins out of the rider’s hands, with his neck stretching forward and downward as if he was about to graze.

“Schwung” is the horse’s natural tendency to power away/ run away from perceived danger.  To restrict or eliminate that tendency destroys the horse’s trust in the rider’s ability to keep him safe.  We should never try to suppress it or try to over-control it.  In our training we have to be tactful and develop skills to manage and harness this power.
In dressage we like to be able to request our horses at any time, any place, to do for us anything that he could do our of his own free will in nature.  We want him to be able to express himself with relaxed energy and joy.

In riding, the rider creates “Schwung” through increased driving with “Kreuz” and calves.  The power that is developed this way, is sent forward through the horse’s supple, swinging back and received and controlled by the rider’s soft hands.  (Harsh or too-strong hands disrupt the relaxed transmission of power through the horse’s back.)  The hind legs are thereby encouraged to step more under and carry more weight of both horse and rider, but no longer in the same way as was needed for flight.  Now the horse’s back becomes spring-y and swinging, and helps the horse dance up off the ground with each step.

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Walter Zettl

I believe in dressage as art, and I have practiced that art throughout my professional life.”
-Walter A. Zettl

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