View Full Version : Another young horse training question

Aug. 8, 2009, 07:33 PM
I live in the middle of nowhere, but there are a few of us that ride. For the last 10 years it's been mainly eventing, and that's been my background with a strong emphasis on dressage. I then switched entirely to dressage but am now bringing along a four year old and would like to do some cross training to keep us both fresh and happy.

The problem is there is one coach - and she just came along recently - who is a hunter coach. Today she informed me that I have been focussing too much on forward for my four year old and that she has far too much energy. She knows I want to take her as high as I can in dressage (if I ever get out of BFE I know she could do Grand Prix) Her thought is that I should just "hunter" train her for the winter to get her... - I don't even know what she said I kind of lost interest at that point. The coach said the mare's mind wasn't ready for the kind of work I'm giving her. This is a VERY level-headed mare. I feel blessed to have her.

What are your thoughts about bringing along a young horse? I just had a dressage coach up for a clinic two weeks ago and we were moving right along. I've been winning at training level (not a heck of a lot of competition, but some) with remarks like bring her up in front and more forward. I think I'm doing okay with her. But now I find I'm second guessing. My gut tells me to just not jump her until I can relocate. I do have plans to go where there are more coaches, it's just this recession that's throwing a monkey wrench in my plans.

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Aug. 8, 2009, 08:15 PM
Forward is good!

Each horse is different, obviously, and some that are very easy can be tempting to do too much with, as in push them too hard. But you know the horse, and you have some dressage test comments to go with for the horse you had that day. I'd just take it with a grain of salt. A four year old can do lots of things as long as you still keep them relaxed, happy and enjoying their work.

That said, I don't think I'd do too much 'up in front' without frequent stretching, and alternating the type of work you do, like one day "up" from lateral movements and/or lengthening/shortening within the gaits and the next more forward or hacking/jumping.

Edited to include the training scale! A forward RYTHM and Relaxation, not running or pulling the horse into your hands. . . .

Have fun!! If you find that trainer clashes with what you feel with certainty is correct for the horse you want to have, just try to let it go when she says stuff. Like, "Oh, I see what you mean. Maybe I'll try it sometime."


Aug. 8, 2009, 08:36 PM
It's really impossible to say without seeing it.

Sometimes people run a horse off its feet, and it gets off balance and starts falling on its face.

If you try to do it with a very long rein and your horse's head in the dirt, all he's going to do is fall on his face.

Other times, going forward makes the back swing and the hind legs really get strong and carry the horse really well.

If you have the right rein length (not too long, not too short) and you supple your horse enough as well as have it go forward into a contact, you're going to do great.

But...how do you take a hunter trainer's opinion over that of a dressage clinician(supposedly this was a decent clinician who's trained horses up the levels or you wouldn't have gone to see him/her) when upper level dressage is what you're aimed for?

Just curious....where's the logic?

A hunter is supposed to flow along with a low head and neck, relaxed, fluid with a pleasure contact that is particular to hunters...a dressage horse is supposed to be mowing down all small creatures in his path, with blood in his eye and glee in his heart, and taking you with him.

The progress up the levels demands a very, very different sort of training than what your hunter trainer is going to have done. It just isn't the same. At all.

When you work with some one really good who knows how to go up the levels, they have you and your young horse going like your butt is on fire and you're trying desperately to leave it behind. And they're right, and they know what they're doing.

Aug. 8, 2009, 09:25 PM
Every young horse is different and yet there are many things that are pretty much alike. That said, the best barometer of your methods and level of work for this young horse is her attitude and how relaxed and happy she is during the work and when you are done. Young horses are usually not particularly forward at the start, so it is a good thing to encourage the forward so they can find a rhythm and become consistent. Listening to your horse is a good way to decide if she is ready for the work you are doing. It's also a good idea to not work too long or every day -- spend some time relaxing and hacking or trail riding as well --it will promote the relaxation you also want to keep. Good luck!

Aug. 13, 2009, 03:00 AM
Thanks for the discussion - I do feel better about my decision to not ride with this particular coach and continue with my mowing down of small creatures. This young mare is not falling on her face and she seems quite happy. And to be honest the thought of doing strictly hunter riding all winter makes me feel very uninspired.

Aug. 13, 2009, 07:24 AM
since your situation is forcing you to dothe home study thing. What I did when I was in that situation...bought all the videos I could find and bought a cheap TV player that I kept in the tack room I watched videos as I cleaned tack. I bought books. Is there someone that can come and video YOU a couple times a month?

Aug. 13, 2009, 02:16 PM
As others have said, it's hard to evaluate w/o seeing the horse. My words of wisdom to you . . . never take forward away, this is a part of her personality you want to culivate.

Aug. 13, 2009, 04:48 PM
Forward is good. Impulsion is better. Hunters don't know dittly-squat about true dressage (unless they are weird and do know something about dressage) and it sounds like hunter-coach is merely trying to get another client. Hunter does not improve a horses dressage; asking a horse for a quiet trot on a loopy rein is nice and all, but definitely does not do any good to training a horse to eventually have a powerful, uphill trot in a correct frame. In fact, I am sure it would confuse the horse more - going from not being asked much to being asked to be a dressage horse :eek: it fries their brains.

My advice to you is to keep your forward going movements, putting as much emphasis on suppleness, rhythm, balance and impulsion until your horse is an 'old hat' at it. Basically keep consistent, because consistency is good :D

Aug. 13, 2009, 06:16 PM
I'm not going to do the rah rah rah thing for homeschool. I think people need instructors, and they need an eye on the ground. And I think it's good to make an extra effort to get that as often as possible. I think it should be someone good that's relevant to your goals.