View Full Version : Self Carriage/Rideability potential of young horse
Aug. 9, 2009, 09:41 PM
for those than have done a lot of work with youngsters.... what are indicators you look for when trying a youngster that is say very green and/or maybe has time under saddle but perhaps in another discipline(racing, hunter, etc)... that said horse will have an easy time working in self carriage, will willingly take weight behind, and will be the kind of horse that will enjoy working in a dressage "frame".... also, how can you evaluate a good workmanlike temperament that will love to work but have enough spunk to make it fun :)
i guess my question is: how do you evaluate a youngster for potential for dressage/collection ..... and how can you tell what kind of rideability /work ethic a horse will have when they are either very green and or have no dressage training.....
do you evaluate them running free? do you sit on them, and if so what do you look for and what do you ask the horse?
Aug. 9, 2009, 11:09 PM
I think previous training would make it harder to tell what the potential of the horse was, as most previous training is the opposite of what dressage training would be.
But I think that horses that are going to develop a lot of collection and self carriage in the future, feel totally different under saddle from a more ordinary average horse, even from the first few times they are under saddle, especially the canter is very different. It just does not have any trouble balancing with the rider. I think the hind quarter looks different - big like a square box with a really good femur. I've never seen a horse that wound up having really good collection and self carriage, that had poor basic proportions or conformation problems.
I don't think horses really ever change much, I think that they can be improved some but a really super horse feels very different from the beginning.
Aug. 10, 2009, 12:01 AM
I agree w/SLC. But not all previous training is an issue; I can sort thru those things pretty quickly and see what the horse thinks about some basic questions. What it tells you, if nothing else, is - does the horse like to try to figure out what you want? Is the horse naturally listening to your seat/aids?
I have gotten on WP horses and discovered a dressage horse, gotten on hunters and discovered a dressage horse, gotten on trail horses and discovered a dressage horse - and unfortunately I have gotten on "dressage" horses and discovered a horse who really disliked the work...
it's so interesting.
Aug. 10, 2009, 11:31 AM
MBM, I believe that the mind is very important to the work. With my young horse it started with watching the movement, she had the floaty trot, and big walk and canter. I sent my young ones to a western trail lady to break out- she is wonderful and just builds their confidence but doesn't fuss with their faces at all. Based on my mares reaction to everything in the breaking process, she was an easy horse, very smart and willing to please, I think she makes a great dressage prospect. There is no clear cut way to tell if a horse will be able to collect. You work with what you have. One year later we are working on true collection. I find myself constantly refering to the training Pyramid. Starting with rhythm, suppliness, contact, impulsion, straightness all the steps that lead to collection. For a young horse I would say to me rhythm and impulsion are keys to a good foundation. Good luck!
Aug. 10, 2009, 11:50 AM
Put the horse in a round pen and crack the whip hard a couple of times..... You'll see lots of things that are important in a talented youngsters, i. e. quickness to react, quickness of hing legs, uphill tendencies, as well as how quickly the horse recovers from the noise.
In a young horse I look for raw talent not what somebody has managed to teach him for a couple of months.
Aug. 10, 2009, 11:53 AM
There are certain obvious conformation elements, like being built up hill and not having straight hind legs that make collection easier. The horse should stand with his hind under him and not parked out behind him. Additionally, I have found that horses whose gaits are easier to collect share the following traits:
1. How does the horse travel on a downhill slope? If the horse naturally takes weight on his haunches traveling downhill and can stay straight and balanced, he may have more potential to collect. If the horse gets squirrelly and goes sideways when traveling downhill, collection will naturally be more difficult.
2. How does the horse prefer to make a tight turn? If he naturally turns on his haunches ( rather than his forehand) collection may come more easily to him.
3. When you half halt (or slow the horse down) does he bend his hocks and lower his hindquarters naturally? If so, collection may be easier for him.
Aug. 10, 2009, 03:45 PM
Temperament is such a big factor too. My horse has straightish hind legs and collection is not the easiest thing for him physically, but his work ethic, and that he learns movements easily without stressing over them makes up for a lot. We picked him because he has a good canter and a good temperament. We knew that he was pretty level-headed when I went to try him out as a 3 1/2 yo, he'd been ridden less than 20 times, it was November, they only had an outdoor ring which was beside a cornfield, it was dark, it was windy, cats kept popping out of the cornfield, a plastic bag blew out in front of us, and he didn't put a foot wrong. Now, I will say instilling forward in him was a bit of a challenge, though!
None of them are perfect, and he was the best horse we looked at that was in the budget.
I don't know if anyone has any tricks for determining temperament that is suitable for dressage, but I like a horse that is alert and interested without being overly spooky, and that responds quickly to touch without being resentful.
We had one vet (jokingly) say, forget movement when you are picking a dressage horse, if you touch it on the side and it moves over, buy it!
Aug. 12, 2009, 07:55 AM
aside from the obvious-2 ears, 2 eyes, 4 decent legs etc (!) there are few things i made a point of looking for when i was horse shopping.......i was mainly looking at OTTB so i knew the flashy movement wouldnt really be there, but i looked for indicators that the horse would be a nice mover/easy to improve in the future-
*that he was happy to trot/canter on both reins and did not favour one, trying to change back to that direction all the time.
* that when pushed he would extend by pushing off the ground and floating, not getting quicker and scuttling
* and then when he slowed again he came in to suspension for a couple of strides at least,and not just dropped in to a flat trot
* that he made clean changes when changing direction in canter
*that his muscles/body moved as well as his legs-that lovely rippling effect, and not just legs peddling madly under a stiff body
*that he then walked relatively calmly back to the yard and was not a handful after loose schooling
Aug. 12, 2009, 10:36 PM
what indicators? You have a person who knows how to ride/school collection get on the greenie/prospect - and ASK them to do it. Ask for 3-4 half steps, ask them to rock back and take the weight for 3-4 strides. Canter and really half halt them and see what they do - if they rock back then you have your answer. Even a greenie with 3-4 months undersaddle can answer these types of questions from a competent rider. How they respond is the answer. Do they try to shift back but can't? Do the not try to shift back but resist? Do they try to shift back and succeed? (this is the horse I want). No we are not asking them to do this for a whole long side - but 3-4 steps - YES.
Ask them to come up in the frame and see what happens. Do the hind legs go out behind? Does the horse resist? Do they lug forward on you? You can see what I am getting at.
Even in the greenest of the green (and I have bought horses with less than 60 days on them and had several started from scratch) - they have the ability to try to answer this most important and basic question - do they offer to try to collect when you ask them to compress and how easy is it for them?
Aug. 13, 2009, 01:35 AM
Honeylips, with all due respect, I have to disagree.
Canter and really half halt them and see what they do - if they rock back then you have your answer.
Answer: Not always true! It really just depends.
I tried out Tommy Visser's Blue Ocean in Holland back in about 2002 at his stable; B.O. - a horse who is now competing in CDI's at Grand Prix. Back then I was an amateur and went to Holland with a friend who is a professional (competed at The Festival two if not three times). In those days, Blue Ocean reared when my friend rode him and asked him for schooling pirouettes. He was quite green, but she wanted to ask him and push his buttons. Actually, the horse was happy to rear on other occassions, too! Lovely, lovely horse! He was hot and alot of horse and because of the rearing when we asked him to rock back, we passed. His reaction to rocking back was "rocking back and popping wheelies". Well, look at him now . . .
Sorry. Here is the website: http://www.tommievisser.nl/index.php?action=page&id=25
Aug. 13, 2009, 08:10 AM
What's wrong with a wheelie? And how does the fact that this youngster even as Visser said, was frisky and naughy, invalidate what is being said? Answer is that it doesn't. It's a frisky horse, what'dya expect? I'll bet a new pony that when he wasn't standing on his hind legs he still was indiciating a lot of potential for collection or he would have been pulling a wagon at Disney World. Come to think of it, isn't that about the most 'rocking back' a horse can display, rearing?
Aug. 13, 2009, 09:00 AM
If he was a hot hot young horse - then the rearing (or popping up) when really asked to rock back doesn't surprise me. It just mean he was not an ammy horse or suitable for you and your friend. The europeans have a totally different meaning when they say a horse is a bit naughty! The rearing didn't mean anything in regards to future ability other than the horse is very lively and quite able to sit down behind! Now his reactions were one that you guys weren't willing to deal with - but most my european pro friends wouldn't have thought twice about it.