View Full Version : Atlas (Saddlebred) Ride A Test Day, Training 2 & 4 videos

Mar. 6, 2010, 08:41 PM
Many of you responded to my previous threads about Atlas from his first forays into the dressage ring last year. He did pretty well considering I was riding about once per week and having a lesson only every other week!

Thread 1 (http://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/showthread.php?t=210699&highlight=Atlas), Thread 2 (http://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/showthread.php?t=215117&highlight=Atlas), Thread 3 (http://www.chronofhorse.com/forum/showthread.php?t=221534&highlight=Atlas)

He had the opportunity to have a little more consistent work this winter and we're going to a show at the end of March. The barn had a Ride A Test day that was supposed to be a clinic with a judge....but the judge went AWOL and hasn't been heard from for two weeks! We (the riders and the trainer/instructor) kept the day booked and did the tests anyway, with our trainer attempting to provide more critical and picky feedback than usual ;)

Atlas and I did T2 and T4, the tests we'll be doing at the show at the end of the month. His walk is still pretty crummy, and his stretchy circle leaves MUCH (much much much) to be desired, but he IS more consistently taking contact and his canter has progressed incredibly. This horse couldn't even go around the end of the arena without "motorcycling" to keep his balance before.

Please don't pick him apart too badly :D He's just had 8 weeks of work. You'll also see him making sure his extreme annoyance at working twice in one day was noted (there were about 3 hours between rides) - see his little "I'm so pissed!" hop at the first canter transition in T4. Duly noted, Atlas. Now get over it already - it's not like I'm asking you to run a Pony Express route!!!

Training 2 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NTa8GJ5ieEA)
Training 4 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zaVw95KOFEQ)

Mar. 6, 2010, 09:29 PM
Two of my dressage horses have been arabs or arab crosses so I can relate with the more sensative breeds :)

Im glad you have seen progress.

My first piece of advice is that NO MATTER how quiet your hands LOOK, any itsy bitsy tension in them while riding a horse like that is shown in his head and neck. Either he falls behind the verticle, or tosses or tenses and so on. The hands have to be quiet quiet quiet and soft, forgiving, still, elastic, focus on this until you think you are going to lose your mind lol.

Another thing that helped me, was a longer, softer, more balanced position. I would sit back further from the shoulder, growing long long long and quiet using my aids once and ingit. With a sensative horse they are BEHIND the leg sometimes even when they are running off of their feet.

I would try circles, large to small, and then back again with different speeds into a soft quiet hand while you are also tall long and quiet.

My horse, like yours, isnt the widest thing in the barn, so I have to HELP him balance. I cant do this by being active, but the opposite.

You said he motorbiked before now? Yes thats exactly what one of mine did, as he was narrow and not heavy built. You have to make it EASY for him with your seat.

Well that is what I see and congrats on a beautiful willing horse:)

Mar. 6, 2010, 09:52 PM
He is heart warmingly adorable. His halt in the first video had me giggling. He looks like lots of fun.

Mar. 6, 2010, 10:01 PM
What a pretty pair you two are. I think you should slow it down. I know that is not easy. I think maybe going from slow to fast will help teach him to sit back and to go from collected (compressed) to extended (lengthened). Also, please put on a helmet.:) very talented and competent riders take spills and get hurt. Be smart! You're too cute a pair to get hurt! :winkgrin:

Mar. 6, 2010, 10:03 PM
I think you reins are too short. Your horse's constant fussing with his head and curling behind the bit are his ways of telling you that he has nowhere to go and needs more length in his neck. Lengthen your reins and allow him to reach out for the contact.

Mar. 6, 2010, 10:33 PM
I am not a strictly dressage person, but I think that you guys have improved quite a bit since last summer! He is really adorable and I hope that you have a great time at that show.

Completely unrelated, but I have severe indoor arena envy. How nice it must be to have a facility like that!;)

Mar. 7, 2010, 01:35 PM
Thanks for the feedback!

Contact and rein length....it's been an ongoing process. We're trying to inch him out little by little, because if you give him more rein, it just flops :( Inch by inch, though, we see a difference and it's a veeeery slow process! He would prefer to go around with his chin on his narrow little chest! Thanks for the comments on that and be sure we're continuing to work on it. I also get more tense when riding a test vs just riding in my lesson. Even though this wasn't a show, it was a "test", and I tensed up accordingly. I'm considering Valium for the show :eek:

Gayla, last summer we got advice from this BB (and another) to slow our tempo. I looked back on our test sheet from last year and the feedback I got from judges were comments "nice active trot" and "nice trot work". They seemed to like the tempo of his strides, and he received a couple "8" marks for trot elements. Two judges asked for a longer stride with the same tempo/activity. How can we improve that?

Helmets...there are plenty of other threads for that. Please, not here.

Mar. 7, 2010, 03:00 PM
He's so cute! My trainer has had me do a TON of long and low stretching work with my ASB and he's developing a nice, long, fluid stride because of it. He loves to stretch now and anytime there's any tension we go right back to stretching and he relaxes pretty quickly. I'm not qualified to give any other advice :) You guys are a nice pair!!

Mar. 7, 2010, 04:24 PM
He's so cute! My trainer has had me do a TON of long and low stretching work with my ASB and he's developing a nice, long, fluid stride because of it. He loves to stretch now and anytime there's any tension we go right back to stretching and he relaxes pretty quickly. I'm not qualified to give any other advice :) You guys are a nice pair!!

I'm all ears....what did you do (that worked...or didn't) to get him to want to stretch?

Mar. 7, 2010, 06:43 PM
Ok, I'll try to explain the process we used..it's really a much easier thing to show ;) Maybe I'll take some video this week..I've been meaning to anyway. Be forewarned..this is a long, slow process because it takes a while for the horse to build up the correct muscles and flexibility to be able to really stretch at faster gaits. My horse just turned five, we've been working on this for almost two years, and he's just now starting to be able to stretch at the canter online, and maintain it at the trot with a rider. Seeing him stretch at the canter is really cool BTW! I'm sure with other breeds it might take less time, but he was used to going around like a Llama for the first three years of his life.
We first started on the ground on the longe with a dressage whip. He should already know the whip means to yield the hindquarters/forequarters. Send him out on a small-ish circle at the walk. You want to walk with him on the circle so that you can influence his body with the whip. You should be walking along by his ribcage. Have him walk at a nice marching pace, and see if you can notice any stiffness in his body as he goes. If you can't, that's ok, the exercise will loosen him up anyway. Ask for mini-yields of the HQ, or shoulders, or ribs, as he walks. Just slightly, you're not looking for major yields. Play around with moving his different body parts as he walks the circle. Eventually he'll move something that'll feel good to him and his head will drop slightly. When it does, feed him a little line so that he can walk a bigger circle. That's his release, and that's how he knows what you're wanting. Let him go like this for a while, then bring him back in closer to you and play around with it some more. Always give him more line when he lowers his head. Every horse I've seen worked in this way LOVES it! It's like body-work for them, showing them where they can release tension. Work on this till he can maintain a nice march at the walk with his nose close to the ground, then start asking for the same thing at the trot. You'll see his withers and back rise as he reaches down with his neck. He'll play with it a long time at the trot because it's much harder to do with speed, and just takes time to build up the strength, but he will try! Mine would lower his neck for a stride or two, then pop it back up, then put it back down etc. Oh and make sure that you're relaxed and loose while you're doing this! If you're stiff and rigid, he'll pick up on it. It's almost like a dance when you've got it right.
Under saddle, same thing...walk a circle, ask for mini-shoulder in, haunches in, small leg yields, etc. until his head begins to lower, as he does feed him rein. The online work translates very well under saddle.
A friend of mine has an arthritic OTTB and we just started this with him online. Within 10 minutes he went from short, choppy, head-in-the-air trot, to smooth, bouncy, and relaxed. His eye even softened and you could tell it felt good!
If that all makes ANY sense at all, let me know! :) PM me if you're totally confused and I'll try to explain better. It's worked very well for us.