How do horses dance

Charro Riding: Cruelty Behind The "Dancing"

Ulysses was so severely abused by his previous owners that the shelter was going to euthanize him.

Ulysses is one of our Hanaeleh Horse Ambassadors and we point to him as one of several examples of the the horses we’ve rescued who have been abused and suffered in “Charro” riding. Ulysses came to Hanaeleh from the Riverside Animal Shelter, where he had been picked up as a stray, wandering around the riverbed, starving to death.

Ulysses had cuts and scars across his legs, back, chest, neck, and face; there was not one part of him that was not either hurt or had a scar from being hurt in the past.  His front legs show multiple bowed tendons as well as scarring from being hit repeatedly with a blunt object. He still, three years later, has scars across his hips, back and flank. His eyesight is minimal, and, unfortunately, he is neurological as well, which is a result of the Charro training method, not a natural condition.

Please donate to help us save more horses from Charro abusers (no amount is too small).

What is a Charro?

A Charro is a Mexican cowboy, and the discipline today is rooted in the concept of needing a horse to move large groups of cattle. Today, however, the riders practice in an arena and there are rarely cows involved. The saddle is a throwback to the saddles used when roping and herding cattle and are often quite heavy with large pommels. They are now decorated with silver and can often be quite colorful. Unfortunately, there is a great deal of abuse in Charro riding.

In California we often see the result of horses who have been “charroed” or put through the abuses that are quite common to the discipline.

NOTE: At Hanaeleh, our credo is to keep all equine abuse information palatable without whitewashing. We want you to have all the facts and the following descriptions may cause uneasiness or upset.

Charro Riding is Horse Abuse

Ulysses was cut up and scarred across his face and entire body when he came to Hanaeleh.

In Charro riding, the horse is made to “dance,” or prance about while the rider sits comfortably on his back. The horse is agitated while “dancing,” and often downright terrified.

To train the horses to “dance” (which is often a bastardization of a piaffe or passage), the horses are cross-tied and stand on wooden planks. They are cross-tied so they cannot move forward, and as one person stands behind the horse with a whip, two other individuals stand at the horse’s front, alternately hitting the horse’s legs with a stick or a whip. The horse quickly learns to pick his feet up instead of being hurt. These continual beatings are most likely how Ulysses got to be so scarred across his legs and back today.

Very much like the Tennessee Walking Horses who are trained for saddleseat, the Charros attach chains to the horse’s legs in an attempt to make the horses throw their legs out in an unnatural manner. The visual effect is that the horse is “dancing” and is more dramatic. The reality, however, is that the horse is terrified of being hurt by the chain smashing against his legs.

Charro “Dancing” in Action

Below is a short video that shows horses being trained in the Charro method of dancing. Please note that Hanaeleh did not create this video, but it gives you an idea of the abuse that Ulysses and other Charro horses go through (there are several typos in the video, but please look past that to see the message itself):

Charro Cruel Practice of Tying Horse’s Head for Hours

Charros don’t like a lot of head and neck action from their horses; they want the feet to be moving, but not the head and neck. In order to prevent the horse from flailing about and trying to escape the rider’s spurs, the Charro will tie the horse’s head up very high (often to the roof of the stall), or tie the horse’s head to his chest in an attempt to fatigue the neck. The horse’s neck muscles are so tight and exhausted that the horse is unable to fight his rider.

Charro Riding is Why Ulysses is Neurological

Our vet surmises that there are several pinched nerves throughout his neck that have caused his neurological issues. Unfortunately we did not get to Ulysses in time to repair the damage that these riders did to him, and his neurological issues cannot be reversed to the point where he would be considered “normal.” Instead, we try to massage his neck area and give him high doses of supplements like Vitamin E that help improve circulation.

Horse “Tripping” (Charro Riding’s Heinous Sibling)

Charros, like American cowboys, will also rope horses and throw them to the ground for sport or to try to prove their dominance over the horse. This is also known as tripping. This causes an extreme amount of damage to the horse’s legs and joints, sometimes causing permanent damage.  We have worked with other individuals who have rescued a pony or smaller horse only to discover that their horse was both physically and emotionally traumatized from being used for tripping or trained by Charros. The horse ends up experiencing a complete mental breakdown or is so scared that he is unsafe to be ridden.

Nevada was severely traumatized by the Charros who owned him, then left him to starve to death.

Not all Charro Riders Adhere to These Abusive Practices

Indeed, there are likely many who are kind and take their time in training their horses. Unfortunately, we see the result of the abuse. We see the horse who was taken to auction after the Charros hurt the horse so badly that he will never be safe for riding again.

We see an amazing horse like Ulysses deal with the aftermath of the abuse that he suffered, and know that if it were not for our intervention, that he would be dead. He would have been euthanized, not because he was a bad horse, and not because he had any physical issues to begin with, but because people deliberately set out to hurt him because they either did not know how to train him humanely, or just didn’t care to do so.

Hanaeleh urges that instead of defending the entire group of Charro riders, those who do not resort to abusive practices will call out those who do! They will help prevent more horses like Ulysses from being tortured in an undisguised attempt to show off.

Please click the DONATE button below so we can spread this message further and save more horses!

Hanaeleh is a 501(c)(3) (Tax ID 20-3255341) Nonprofit horse rescue operating in Southern California since 2004 and every penny donated goes to the horses.

We are 100% volunteer-run and we’re a Verified Rescue with Global Federation of Animal Sanctuaries.

We rescue all breeds and ages of horses, and after we rehabilitate them, we work to find them new loving homes. When horses are not adoptable due to severe neglect or abuse, we provide sanctuary for them to live out their days knowing they’ll always be loved and cared for.

Dressage: How to make a horse dance

  • Published

Image source, Lewis Carrier

Image caption,

Lewis Carrier says dressage isn't something "you can just do"

By Sam Gruet

Newsbeat reporter

For some, Olympic dressage is that sport where an athlete sits on a horse and makes it dance. For others, it's a lifetime of training and dedication.

That's the case for Charlotte Dujardin - this week she became Great Britain's most decorated female Olympian, winning bronze in the individual dressage event at Tokyo 2020.

But what does it take to win an Olympic dressage medal? And more importantly... how do you train a horse to dance?

According to international dressage rider Lewis Carrier, "it's not something you can just do".

The 24-year-old has been riding horses since he was six and is hoping to compete for Team GB at the 2024 games in Paris.

"Training a horse to do that takes years of experience," he tells Radio 1 Newsbeat.

"It's like learning to dance. It's technique. It's teaching a horse how to move a certain way and how to use their body in a certain way."

  • Dujardin bronze sets British record
  • Adam Peaty: How to think like an Olympic champion
  • I beat an Olympian... when I was younger

It's one of the reasons the athletes competing in dressage can be older than those competing in other non-equestrian sports.

Like Great Britain's oldest Olympian at the games Carl Hester, who, aged 52, is part of the medal-winning dressage team.

His first Olympics was way back in 1992 in Barcelona.

Image source, Getty Images

Image caption,

Experience pays - Carl Hester's the oldest Olympian at Tokyo 2020 and won a bronze this week

As well as needing years of experience, dressage athletes can also benefit from a bit of Star Wars force, Lewis says.

He likes to imagine dressage like a Jedi power - an invisible force that lets those trained in it control things with their mind.

"It's so much about feel. It's so hard as a trainer to teach someone, it's just something you feel one day and you have it. You have the feel," he says.

Every movement in dressage is triggered by an aide from the rider, Lewis adds.

"These horses have trained with these riders for such a long time. They know exactly what the rider is asking for when they do it. They have to be moving like Olympians. Nothing can look forced, it has to look harmonious between horse and rider."

The rules

  • Dressage at the Olympics is made up of three tests: qualifying, team and individual
  • At an Olympic Games, each nation can put forward three teams of three horse and rider combinations
  • Each rider and horse combination takes it in turn to perform a range of movements, scored by seven judges
  • Everyone competes in the qualifying round. The top eight teams (each including three riders) make it to the team final
  • The team final is decided by adding all three scores - giving the top three teams gold, silver and bronze
  • The top 18 riders from the team final then compete in the individual final

Top athletes like Charlotte Dujardin train with several horses, so animals are ready to take over if needed.

Horses can start competing aged eight and normally carry on until they're 19 or 20, Lewis says.

So do these hard-working horses get their own medals?

Not exactly - but Lewis says if they win they celebrate with lots of sugar cubes and carrots.

Image source, Łukasz Kowalski

Image caption,

Lewis says training a horse to dance is a technique

"It's hard to explain to an animal how good they have done," he says.

"[But] these horses know the riders so well and they know when they've done a good job."

A rule states that horses have to be part-owned by someone from the nation they're representing, but according to Lewis the blood lines are mostly Dutch and German-bred - as that's where dressage is so big.

Image source, Getty Images

Image caption,

Lottie Fry (right) won a bronze medal with Charlotte Dujardin and Carl Hester

One of the stand out Team GB stars in dressage at this games has been 25-year-old Lottie Fry, who is technically still a junior.

She was the youngest medal-winning rider in the team final - taking home bronze alongside Carl Hester and Charlotte Dujardin - which Lewis says is "massive. "

"For her to be at an Olympic Games at 25 years old, halfway around the world, and to pull off three incredible tests is absolutely huge. You have to have so much calm about you to ride a test like that. It's really impressive."

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Listen to Newsbeat live at 12:45 and 17:45 weekdays - or listen back here.

How are dancing horses trained? | Noti Horses

During festivities and equestrian events, you can't help but stop to watch the dancing horses. The trust that animals have in their trainers, the respect that both often show each other. This is a real spectacle that everyone should see at least once in a lifetime.

But how do you teach a horse to dance? What does it take to make her dance? If you want to teach a friend how to move to the rhythm of the music, don't stop reading.


  • 1 What is piaffe?
  • 2 How are dancing horses formed?
  • 3 Dancing horses of Spain

What is piaffe?

To teach a horse to dance, the first thing to do is to find out what a piaffe is. Also. This movement is similar to the trot of a horse moving over a point. . Based on years of training, the horse naturally lowers the hips, transfers weight to the hindquarters, and raises the right side to follow the music. This way they can compete in the best piaffe competitions in the world.

But this does not mean that only some horses can dance. In fact, anyone can learn the piaffe by learning a trick that must always end with the animal prize . Similarly, respect and patience are key to making the horse feel eager to learn and not afraid of possible reprisals. We must never forget that they are animals, that they have feelings and therefore deserve our respect.

How are dancing horses formed?

As soon as this is known, it's time to get to work, or rather, sit on our horse 🙂. So we will follow this step by step:

  1. The first thing we will do is take him for a walk . Short walk. The point is not to tire him, but to relax him a little. It is known that it is much easier to work with a calm animal than with a nervous one. The first will pay attention to us; the other chooses not to.
  2. Then, We will fit it and pull out . We will move his shoulders and hips and ask him to raise and lower his head. We will do this several times, giving you a few seconds of rest between exercise and exercise.
    In the event that he does not do this, or if it is difficult for him to do so, instead of asking him so much, we can ask him to stand up and just shake his head; then we put him down and then ask him again to stand up and move his hips. Thus, if you ask him one thing at a time, he will probably have a much easier time learning what we are teaching him.
  3. Now put a halter on the horse and tie a rope . In the beginning, a simple halter and leash will do; later we can use the bridle and saddle to connect one side of the rein to the right side of the horse. To make it easier for us, we can use both side reins, which we will connect from the loin ring to the circumference of the same side about 23 cm below the back of the animal. We will tie his tail with an elastic band so that he does not interfere with us.
  4. After that, stop the horse so that the wall or fence is on the right. We will put it on the left side . With the help of a dressage whip, we must reach his hind legs. We touch the left hind leg until it stands up, and then we offer it a prize. Repeat the same with the right hind leg.
  5. Next, we put on a bridle or saddle, as well as side reins. We will ask you to move left, right, left and reward you with . The answer should be fast, but the same, if we see that it costs you, we will come back and slow down. It's not about making the horse perfect: perfection doesn't exist. It's about teaching him something while trying to have fun, and he won't do it if we ask him for more than he is capable of doing at the moment.
  6. Finally, what we will do is touch his front legs . If you are nervous, we will let you lower your head or lower yourself; so calm down. On the contrary, if we see him animated, we will lift him up to make him feel proud. If he behaves well and, above all, takes a step like a dance, we will give him the prize he deserves and let him rest.

Lessons should last about ten minutes. , no longer needed. Don't let your horse feel frustrated as it will lose interest in learning to dance. In addition, I insist, we must be very patient. It may be weeks before we see an animal learning this.

Spain's Dancing Horses

In Spain we are very fortunate to be able to enjoy a show of dancing horses. These animals are the real stars of many festivals and events, especially in Andalusia. , for example, the Festival of Horses, which is celebrated in Jerez, or in my city of Ses Salines (Mallorca) during the festival of San Bartomeu (end of August).

With Spanish music and costumes typical of the eighteenth century, dancing horses and their riders dance their wonderful equestrian ballet using dressage and cowgirl techniques, hooks, handwork and carousels.

Did you know how dancing horses were trained? Do you dare to teach a friend to move to the rhythm of the music? 🙂

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Dancing horse - beauty and grace itself

Agree, the most graceful and magnificent animal is a horse. She never ceases to amaze us with her intelligence, intelligence, speed and, of course, beauty. A dancing horse evokes a number of positive feelings: tenderness, delight, admiration, a smile.

The most famous horse in history that danced

William Shakespeare in one of his works "Love's Labour's Lost" mentioned the dancing horse, and the animal even had a name that has survived to this day - Morocco. This horse was very famous in Great Britain in 1591. He gained his popularity thanks to the ability to do various tricks, which he was taught by the owner - William Banks.

Morocco was bay in color and easy to train. Soon he already knew how to count coins with a blow of hooves, to bow, but most of all his dances caused delight, both on two and on four legs. The mob even attributed psychic abilities to the animal, as it moved its hooves in response to questions that were asked of it.

But the dancing horse almost cost the owner his life, because he was sentenced to death for witchcraft and dealing with the devil. Only one more skill saved - the horse knelt before the cross, which proved that it was not connected with Satan. He was pardoned and lived to the respectable 20 years. At that time, few horses reached that age.

Horse dancing with bulls

Another unique, world-famous dancing horse is Merlin. She entered the top ten most expensive horses in the world, and all thanks to her dancing with bulls during a bullfight. For more than five years she performed in the arena, when other horses could not stand even five fights.

As if playing, with the help of a lateral canter and a lateral trot, Merlin escapes from the sharp horns of the bull. Those who watched this game said: "Great, how the horse dances, how it moves!" Indeed, her dance is simply a unique spectacle.

With the rider on her back, gracefully and beautifully, she constantly avoids the blow of the horns, while the rider inflicts serious injuries on the bull with the help of a pike.

Dance styles

In fact, the horse dances to any kind of music. Gracefully moving her slender legs, stamping her hooves to the beat, on two or four legs, moving her neck to the play of music, with a developing mane . .. But her lezginka and dance to oriental music are especially beautiful. Maybe this is due to the beauty of the Arabian horses, who absorbed this music with their mother's milk, or maybe just oriental people respect horses more and spend time training them.

Today there are even competitions among horses, where the beauty of the dance is judged. And there you can see the dance both to classical music and to rap. Only one thing is invariable - the beauty and grace of movements, and music is only a background.

Interactive toy

Of course, a live horse can delight any child, but it is impossible to settle him in an apartment. And here the interactive toy "Dancing Horse" comes to the rescue. A funny plush animal can both sing and dance, moving to the beat, easily involving the child in this process. Now it won't be boring.

The child can imitate the dancing movements of the horse or invent their own. There is simply no time to be bored. It is enough to press the button in the left foot, and the dance will begin, cheerful and groovy.

Learn more