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Justmyluck
Dec. 15, 2010, 08:21 PM
So I went to a clinic and we worked on pony being round for the first time ever. Pony had some trouble but figured it out at the end. Well today was our second ride since the clinic and he has got the walk with bend and his back up down I barely have any contact maintaining it with my seat.

So today we worked on our trot. Its taken what seems like forever for me to get him to maintain a rhythmic steady trot. So today I half halt and he literally tucks his nose and plows around on the forehand. We walk ask for trot again half halt and its nose to chest again. If I let go of the reins completely he comes back up but still plows around on the forehand then I'll gather my reins back up and down comes his head again. This is seriously the 3rd ride since I've started even asking for any contact.

Should I go back to just getting him to maintain steady rhythm? Pony is smart like super smart, so I can see his mind going ohh I know what she wants and then trying to do it. So he has essentially made up his mind on the matter. I however do not want him even close to where he thinks he should go.

Any ideas?

Fantastic
Dec. 16, 2010, 09:33 AM
I think he is telling you, "too much, too soon, Mom!".

Depending upon the conformation and age of the horse, you cannot expect a him to suddenly be strong enough to carry himself over his back from here on out. What is his age (I am guessing young?), training, and how long have you been together? What has your experience been with other horses, training, and contact?


Should I go back to just getting him to maintain steady rhythm?

YES!! You are spot on here! :) Good thinking!

Let's look at the training scale/pyramid. The bottom rungs are:
1) Rhythm and regularity
2) Relaxation
3) THEN Contact

You mentioned that it takes him forever to establish a steady rhythm. This makes sense as to why you do not have proper contact. Without rhythm and regularity first, followed by relaxation, you cannot expect to have correct contact. The ingredients have to be in the right order to get the right results.


So today I half halt and he literally tucks his nose and plows around on the forehand.

That does not sound like a H/H. Here, he is saying, "Too loud! Too much halt, not enough half" ie: release me! Your contact sounds a bit too strong here. You can apply a H/H, and still have the horse maintain upward balance. Try to make sure you are riding the horse uphill (not looking down, colapsing your body downward/forward) through H/H and downwards transitions.

A half halt is QUICK = squeeze/close aids and immediate release. It is way too strong and long of a HALT if he has time to tuck his nose and plow to the forhand. The aids and the supsequent release there of need to be be quicker than the horse (when horse as much as thinks about responding, rider gives immediate release as a reward = then the horse learns the right answer). When he does this, make sure the contact is inviting forward, and then gently squeeze him forward. BUT: you must release!


If I let go of the reins completely he comes back up but still plows around on the forehand then I'll gather my reins back up and down comes his head again.

Do not let go of the reins. Contact should be consistant, inviting, and giving forward. NOT taking. NOT throwing away. What your are descibing here is the start of riding a horse from front to back (incorrect), not back to front (Correct!), and over the back.

Hope this is helpful! You are very much on the right track in thinking you need to go back to the basics! :yes:

Cheers!

Justmyluck
Dec. 16, 2010, 10:46 AM
Hes 6 a cob and has been under saddle for over 6 months.

Then the next thing is I am the queen of too little contact, I flat out refuse to get in ones mouth. I'm often told that my half halts are too silent. And I hate rushing training with a passion.

Which I guess now that I'm asking for some he's taken by surprise. When I'm talking about a rhythmic trot I'm talking on a fairly loose rein and just rating it with my seat with a slight touch of the outside to say hey. Because all we've been doing is hacking everywhere.

I've also made a mistake I'm not trying to get collection so much as I'm trying to get him using himself better. He likes his head fairly level but he doesn't use himself to push off. Down and round would be a good explanation as to what we are trying to achieve. So but adding in the contact I'm essentially trying to complete the circuit between leg seat and hands.

Your right is could be to much for him but not from a physical stand point but from a more mental one but as a six year old I do think he is ready for a more purpose driven approach to riding.

http://i369.photobucket.com/albums/oo133/ghoofs/down-2.jpg

Here is what we achieved with the clinician, and all I'm trying to replicate by ourselves. Here in this photo I did release a tad to much hence the elbows and hands. Just to show down and round and using ones self is all I'm asking.

mickeydoodle
Dec. 16, 2010, 03:19 PM
It is not asking too much at all. He is using the ducking as an evasion. I would not give up the contact- that just shows him he can hide from it and get away with it. I would use a quick "upward" half-halt and push him on forward every time he tries to duck. (the upward half halt is a quick chuck up toward the ceiling and push him forward at the same time) He must not learn that when he hides from the contact you give it up and let him loaf along. 6 years old is plenty old, he should be on contact and on the bit without arguing at this age.

netg
Dec. 16, 2010, 03:51 PM
Keep in mind if you are "very light" in contact, your attempts at contact may well be quite abrupt to him, even if you are trying to stay gentle. Often times a "light" contact is more severe than a more solid contact because it's not continuous. So the horse gets loose rein/pull/loose rein/pull depending on how you're moving, the horse's head, etc. A gentle steady contact with following hand keeps the communication constant.

Reflecting solely upon my own riding and problems when I say it, my guess is that the problem is in your ability/lack of ability to keep steady contact.

mp
Dec. 16, 2010, 03:52 PM
6 years old is plenty old, he should be on contact and on the bit without arguing at this age.



When does reaching a certain age determine whether a horse has the fitness/musculature/conformation to perform a task? This horse has been under saddle for 6 months and this is only the third ride in which the OP has even asked for contact.

OP, have you tried walk/trot/walk transitions? Start with 5 walk steps/5 trot and work up to 1 walk/5 trot. Just be sure you're thinking "forward" into the down transitions and the up transitions are quick and crisp. Then increase the trot steps until you've got him going forward nicely into your hand, but always try to transition to the walk BEFORE he curls up.

Because it sounds to me like you've got the idea of what you want, and you're ready. But your horse can't quite do it yet. And he's still sorting it all out.

naturalequus
Dec. 16, 2010, 03:56 PM
Fantastic had it spot-on.

From here: http://www.artofriding.com/articles/trainingscale.html

"3- Contact: When the horse is accepting the rider’s hands, seat, and legs, it is said that he is offering good contact. Many people mistake contact for the horse being on the bit. That is not necessarily true and denotes riding with the hands alone. A horse moving under a rider is in contact with his seat, legs, and hands. Good contact is when the horse accepts and responds to seat and leg aids while maintaining a round outline with a mouth that is relaxed and accepting the bit. You can point out good contact when the horse’s back is raised, his quarters engaged, his poll the highest point, his jaw relaxed, and his nose a hint in front of the vertical (That is also a sign of good riding and training)."

The horse is simply accepting of contact and as they maintain a round outline with a mouth that is relaxed and accepting, they start to pick up the bit as a natural course of progression.

And here: http://www.classicaldressage.co.uk/Training_Scales/training_scales.html

"Contact is the soft, steady connection between the rider's hand and the horse's mouth. The horse should go rhythmically forward from the rider's driving aids and "seek" a contact with the rider's hand, thus "going onto" the contact. A correct, steady contact allows the horse to find its balance under the rider and find a rhythm in each of the gaits. The poll should always be the highest point of the neck, except when the horse is being ridden forwards and downwards. The contact should never be achieved through a backward action of the hands; it should result from the correctly delivered forward thrust of the hind legs. The horse should go forward confidently onto the contact in response to the rider's driving aids."

The HORSE seeks the contact as a natural progression once relaxation, rhythm, and suppleness are achieved. It is achieved by the FORWARD THRUST OF THE HIND LEGS, NOT by the rider's hand.

And here: http://www.suite101.com/content/the-dressage-training-scale-a173217

"Contact is the term used to describe a horse and rider who are well-connected from hind end to bit, coming through the horse’s back and rider’s body. A horse on the contact is easily visible due to the rounded-up appearance of his back just behind the saddle pad, which suggests he is rounding his back and stepping well underneath himself, and has an arch to his neck with his face on the vertical. The rider feels as if she has an arched bow under her, ready to spring. A horse, not the rider, should take the contact. Contact is part of the “familiarization and habituation” group and the “development of pushing power” group."

Contact is NOT established by the rider. It is established by the horse as a RESULT of the horse learning to track up and balance itself and work from behind. This goes for the entire Training Scale - the horse establishes, the rider guides and refines. The horse develops push from behind, starts reaching further beneath itself, and starts rounding the back. As the body rounds into collection, the head and neck falls into place - in front of the vertical, and the horse picks up contact. Prior to that point, the horse is accepting of contact but is not actually on the bit. The hands are only meant to be guiding, not pulling or establishing anything. They guide only.

How to encourage the horse to work efficiently and thus pick up contact? Exercises. Inside leg to outside hand, spiralling circles, transitions, changes in pace within a gait, lateral work, hillwork, work over poles, etc etc. 101 Dressage Exercises, Progressive Schooling Exercises for Dressage & Jumping (Islay Auty). Progressive exercises that encourage the horse to work from behind, such as circles and lateral work, force the horse to have to step beneath itself to balance itself. As such, they develop strength and the know-how to progress and collect further with the progression of the exercises. Eventually they develop the strength for their poll to be the highest point. Then the rider, who simply guides, can refine where fit with seat, hand, and legs. In the mean time, the rider's hands are soft and guiding (ie. outside rein, light contact, etc), legs are supportive and guiding (ie. inside leg, supportive contact, etc). Everything falls into place and harmoniously progresses from there.


ETA: the comment about his age actually disturbs me. It shouldn't be about his age nor about arguing - dressage is about harmony; it is not about whether or not he argues about contact. It is your job as a rider to develop him in such a way that he doesn't argue about contact, because it is his idea. As a 6yo, he is where he is. He shouldn't be any further advanced nor less advanced. He is where he is due to his rider and due to his own experiences - age is not a factor.

Justmyluck
Dec. 16, 2010, 04:19 PM
Umm did anyone care to look at the picture I posted?

mp
Dec. 16, 2010, 04:38 PM
Umm, yes. I did. Cute horse/pony.

But from a single photo, I really can't tell you more than I did. He might be a little on the downhill side, which would make going "round" more difficult to begin with. Hence my comment about age not having much to do with what a horse should be able to do at age 6.

netg
Dec. 16, 2010, 04:39 PM
Umm did anyone care to look at the picture I posted?

As it wasn't in motion, just a snapshot in a second of time, it didn't give much information except that the horse appeared to be on the forehand.

GraceLikeRain
Dec. 16, 2010, 04:44 PM
The picture you posted shows a green but happy and relaxed horse starting to seek out contact.

You mentioned that you ride with a soft contact but that he is trying to duck behind the bit and I have two separate thoughts

1. Sometimes in an attempt to be soft and quiet you can end up with bouncy or inconsistent contact. If this is the case it is likely very subtle but since the idea of contact is so new to him he is confused and curling behind because he isn't 100% sure what you want.

2. Personally I am a light hand/light leg rider and I always have to remember to add more leg. At first he is going to need more support from your legs to encourage him to drive from his backend and seek your hand. When my mare curls behind the bit even though my hands are soft and stable I know it is because I an not using enough leg.

In general (before you started working on accepting contact) know does he react to your leg? With a more forward thinking horse you can get away with less leg when you are hacking around but you need to add more once you start asking him to stretch.

countrygal
Dec. 16, 2010, 05:06 PM
I prefer to call contact connection. To me contact seems front to back, where as connection feels like a more back to front principle. Just my opinion...

One thing I've learned on my horse (who also thinks ducking is neat) is that too little connection is just as big of a fault as too much connection. If you ride the horse so lightly that there is no connection, then you have just that- nothing. Dressage is about lightness and harmony but a big part of base of the training pyramid is connection. Without connection we can't expect to acheive anything higher- impulsion, straightness or collection.

Here's what I do when my horse ducks- I soften my inside hand to let him through (but not dropping the rein loose) and give him a strong leg aid to push him forward into my outside rein. If I drop the connection I've given him nothing to seek so I use a strong forward aid to ride his haunches under and encourage him to reach back into the bridle. As he makes his way back onto the vertical I'll either soften my arm forward or lengthen my reins to maintain that freshly established connection.

It's a hard principle to understand and I think it's all too easy to get into the front to back mindset when talking about connection and contact. Realize that since your horse is green it may take him some time to put it all together and have the strength to work over his back like you're asking. Be patient and remember to ride back to front every single step and you'll find yourself on the way :). Best of luck!

naturalequus
Dec. 16, 2010, 05:17 PM
Umm did anyone care to look at the picture I posted?

Yup. Like mp and netg said though, you cannot tell much from one photo, particularly from the angle of the photo taken.

Very nice horse though he appears to be travelling downhill. He appears soft and relaxed however and progressing nicely. That said, I don't care where his head is at if his body is not in the right position. The head falls into position as the body does.

InsideLeg2OutsideRein
Dec. 16, 2010, 05:26 PM
The approach to horse I was taking lessons on that ran downhill on the forehand was to gently raise one hand at a time to put the horse back where it belonged. This was a trained horse though that did it as an evasion and welcome gift to her new rider... ;).

Fantastic
Dec. 16, 2010, 05:44 PM
Thanks, naturalequus! :)

That comment that was made about age was irrelevant to dressage! Dressage and harmony have no time frame. Dressage is patient, kind, and not forceful.


Umm did anyone care to look at the picture I posted?

Yes, I did. The first thing I noticed is that the horse is very much on the forehand and going downhill. No offense, but you are also riding him that way (looking down, elbows are straight, forward and no longer at your sides). Is the saddle too wide? It looks too low in front, which will pitch the rider forward. Are the stirrups too long?

This is a longitudinally built horse. He can only reach to wear his nose is pointing. If his nose is pointed down and out, he will also be down, and out. Personally, I'd want to see this horse going much more up and open, with the energy coming from behind. Over his back, not on the front.

Do you know how to long line? I would definately put this horse in the long lines - teach him to carry himself in balance without a rider. With the long lines, you have an outside rein, can flex him to the inside with the inside rein, and can drive him forward with the whip. You'd be amazed at what a few weeks of long lining can do for a horse! I mean amazed! :winkgrin:

netg
Dec. 16, 2010, 05:51 PM
Hopefully when I said the horse looked on its forehand that didn't read as if intended as an insult. Based upon what you said about stage of training, it is somewhat expected and not at all surprising.

It's hard to tell from your posts if you're expecting too much, but as someone who has gone through the light contact/isn't as gentle as I think stages, I'm guessing your contact isn't as kind and forgiving as you think.

I also agree about pushing power. I have some pics from last week I took of my horse (I'm not the one riding, in other words, so please no rider critique) who came with a BTV problem. He's an OTTB, and kept the tendency to curl many get on the track for the next 5 years. A lot of riding forward and teaching him he could uncurl, starting on a loose rein and gradually picking up contact, has gotten him mostly over it. Others here will say to always keep contact, but in his case he had never used any muscles it takes to uncurl, and just getting him to carry himself was a big deal and he had to reshape himself as he changed muscles. Even now, you can see a tendency to break at the 3rd vertebrae in him, and correspondingly too much muscle being used.

I'm posting this so you can see what we're talking about with the horse's body and balance affecting where the head is. My horse has a VERY light mouth and only accepts light contact... or none.
First picture, he didn't want to accept contact. He curled btv, and fell on his forehand.
http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5121/5252156085_65d745521b.jpg

Two minutes later, without any concern over his head, but with forward requested, his head was where we wanted.
http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5284/5252161151_65d5074a32.jpg

I really like these as an example of how head position reflects movement, because you can see he's travelling butt high in the first, but his hips are clearly lower in the second.

Now, he's 8, and has many more years under saddle. He *should* look a lot more advanced than your pony (but should also look more advanced than he is... we're far behind where we should be!), but it shows the feel and idea behind what you're trying to get with that contact.

Again, though - I give it a 98% chance you're a large part of the issue even while you think you're being gentle... because I went through that. I was lucky to have wonderfully worded comments from a judge plus video which made the things my trainer and the clinician I ride with regularly click in my head to start fixing my problems.

Fantastic
Dec. 16, 2010, 06:17 PM
Netg - thanks so much for sharing those examples! That is a lovely illustration with the before downhill, and the after correction to uphill! Nice! :yes:

Inconsistent rider contact - throwing away contact, taking hand, pulling the horse's head down - all leads to a very confused and incorrectly ridden horse. We've talked about the throwing away the contact and having a taking hand, but what about pulling down? Some riders want to pull down the horses head by lowering their hands into the neck, and breaking the straight elbow-to-bit line (putting rider in downhill stance). Sometimes they will actually break their wrists forward, and will tip their thumbs forward, instead of having the thumbs on top. You cannot force the horse's head down. This is riding front to back.

This pulling down is very harsh on the horses mouth, not to mention ineffective. It creates resistant horses, too.

But it is not about the head: you don't ride the head. It's about the hind end, and the back. Netg's pictures nicely illustrate what happens when you get the hind end going.

Justmyluck
Dec. 16, 2010, 07:06 PM
I understand where ya'll are going but at this point I need to figure out how to get him from ducking way down. I need some sort of contact on the reins to half halt and he immediately ducks. If I ride with more leg I still need to use half halts and he ducks way down. I dont want to ride him with his head between his knees. This is the question I was asking. In the two rides since the clinic he now ducks. That is what I'm asking about not about when to seek contact, where he should be on the training scale or anything like that.

The picture shows him slowly stretching down, which is a huge achievement and what we have been striving for. We achieved it but now he wishes to take it further. No doubt part of it is me but now I need to figure out how to get him to stop diving so deep.

Thank you to those that have given suggestions as to get him to come up again. I appreciate it.

Fantastic
Dec. 16, 2010, 07:16 PM
If the rider sends the wrong message, the horse can only react to whatever instructions are given, be it right or wrong in the riders perception. Rider asks a question, horse answers it. If the rider does not get the right answer, it is rider error, not horse error. The rider needs to ask the question in a more concise way.

When the riders contact and other aids aren't right, the horse can either go above the contact, or duck behind the contact. Or, he can give some other response. You are sending a message and he is therefore sending you a message right back. If it is not the answer you are looking for, then ask another way.

The pics from the clinic show pulling of the head down. This is punishing. First he was above and resistant. Now he is ducking. He is saying ouch to both actions. If your hand is giving forward, he will not be diving. Diving comes from too much restriction.

It still sounds like your H/H's are nqr. They are not all about the hand. It should be a split second of a squeeze of the hand, closing of the legs = not enough so that the horse ducks and splats on his front. You want to give a hint, a thought; not loudness to the horse.

With all of the problems that you are having with trying to figure out what correct contact is, I would definately not recommend you yanking the horses head up. This confusion will only lead to more problems for both of you.

Is there an experienced horse that you can get a lesson on, so you can feel good contact?

dwblover
Dec. 16, 2010, 07:25 PM
I think everyone is a bit confused by your question. I *think* you are saying you taught your horse to stretch and now he wants to go around on his forehand and pull downward when you don't want him to? If that is correct, then here is my advice:

First I will say there is nothing wrong with letting him stretch all the way out and down at the beginning of your rides. Give him a few minutes to enjoy a real stretch like he wants to, sniff the dirt if he chooses. BUT his engine must be going and be sure that his nose goes OUT and not just down! In the pic he appears to be travelling along quite slowly. Turn his hind legs on the minute you get into the saddle. Not chasing, but working! Then when the warm-up is over do not worry about the contact. Picking up a heavy contact at that point will start the tug of war with him wanting to continue stretching and you trying to get him back up. So keep a loose contact and start doing VERY brisk and VERY immediate trot-walk-trot transitions.

As you do them promptly you will start to feel his hind end pushing and coming under, like an airplane at take-off. That is when you can pick up a light contact. You must turn the engine on first, then get the connection. Once his engine is on his forehand will automatically lighten and then you will be able to get the light and steady connection you seek. IMO ducking behind the vertical is a sign that the engine is not engaged. Once the engine is truly engaged his poll will naturally fall where you want it.

naturalequus
Dec. 16, 2010, 07:29 PM
I've got several OTTB's with the tendency to duck and honestly, it is the reason I posted what I did.

I took them off contact completely, worked on a solid foundation whereby they started working from behind, then slowly picked up light contact and kept that consistent - no half-halts (not for the purpose of collection anyways). With progressive schooling they initiate contact. At that point I can then use half-halts to refine but generally, I do not care where the head is at (unless it is btv of course, but that does not happen). Once they are working back-to-front but have a moment of forgetfullness, at that time I can add a touch of inside leg to outside rein, maybe a very soft half-halt/sponge on the inside, and they boom go back to work. My primary aid however is to drive with the inside leg (into that outside rein that is always simply supportive and guiding) - thereby creating impulsion and drive from behind, and hence the reason the head then comes back down but in front of the vertical and the horse picks up the bit.

I posted what I did because it is the DRIVE FROM BEHIND that is important, not the half-halt. If you half-halt without the push from behind, he is going to come under and curl. If you initiate the drive and then support and guide with light contact at the front, he will come back onto the bit.

HOWEVER, the above is done (according to how I train) only when the horse is already learnt how to carry itself and is already progressed to the point of being on the bit, when I am asking for a little more and refining what I already have. Otherwise, you work your way up from the bottom of the Training Scale (hence its mention). When the horse becomes relaxed and rhythmic, they start to stretch down like you pointed out your boy does. Stretching down is good - it enables a loose back and to build topline. The horse uses it to carry the rider and it represents the start of collection. When my main boy did it, I simply maintained light contact (no half-halt) and we continued our exercises, maybe added a little inside leg to the outside hand. The stretching progressed to his increasingly working beneath himself with that round topline, which meant his poll came up with the progression (within minutes)

I mentioned the Training Scale because you have to have its foundation and you cannot be the one to establish the contact, as you seem to be attempting to do (which is causing the ducking in the first place). Instead, work on his drive from behind and put him through progressive exercises that teach him to balance and USE that drive, THEN you can mould it with a half-halt if you'd like (IME consistent light contact works well initially, as I previously mentioned).

If it's a momentary duck, you can add impulsion via your seat and legs (outside leg to inside rein) and the poll will also come up. However if this is a continuous problem, I would look at your foundation.

Granted I am no dressage expert, but I feel you are missing the point I and others were trying to make. *shrug*

Justmyluck
Dec. 16, 2010, 07:55 PM
I ride other horses all the time in lessons and just to school. I know what proper contact is also I am not pulling his head down in that photo notice the slight droop in the reins? I know what seeking contact is. It hasn't been me who has been riding for 6 months its the horse. I know I have faults, I know what to do when the horse is behind the vertical. Its not working with said pony. Hes going deeper.

I appreciate the attempts at help. I'll ask the clinician and my instructor, Was hoping for something to bridge into our lesson. That is all.

Fantastic
Dec. 17, 2010, 12:20 AM
Oh I see. But you came here because you didn't know what proper contact is, right? So this is now really confusing. You've said you: throw away contact, "half halt" (term used loosely) horse until head is to chest, and pics show a rider pulling the head down? From what you have told us about how you ride this horse, this just doesn't sound like the knowledge of proper contact - sorry.

I am not talking about that picture. Study the pictures from the clinic. There is a lot of really good information there and answers as to what is going on if you study the pics. The elbow should be bent at the riders sides, carrying the hands, straight line from elbow to horses mouth. Ride the horse upward, not towards the ground. Not a broken line, with hands placed on neck trying to pull head down.

When the rider doesn't give a horse a good place to go, the horse can't go to the good place the rider *hopes* it will go.

mg
Dec. 17, 2010, 12:48 AM
I have similar issues with my TB pony. When he starts to get too heavy, I push my hands forward slightly and push him on with my legs in an attempt to get him moving up and forward again. But I was having the same issue as you--he was dropping LOWER when I did this! This has been very frustrating.

But tonight I had a bit of a break-thru! I discovered that my pony responds REALLY well to quick, light leg aids. For some reason, the stronger leg aid to get him moving forward just wasn't working for him. I worked a LOT on circles with a similar methodology as naturalequus as far as giving away the contact completely. I focused on bending him around the circle with very light leg aids. He very quickly learned that he needed to balance himself according to my leg aids and I could feel him straighten, soften, and start to seek out contact (in an appropriate manner). If he started to lean on my hands again, I went back to a similar sort of exercise.

I realize it's not technically "correct" to completely throw away the contact, but I found with mine that sometimes he'll seek it in an incorrect and heavy manner if I keep a contact when trying to push him on. My horse is further along in his training than yours, but I'm working through fixing bad training (it stinks when you learn enough to realize all your foundation in dressage was, well, wrong!).

Maybe this could help you some? Good luck and report back to us with any discoveries!

mbm
Dec. 17, 2010, 01:02 AM
to get the pony from curling you can do upwards transitions - they must come up for that. if you are walking as for a canter trans.

you can also do 1/4 turns..... so if you are cantering you would make a square.

if you do this every time the horse ducks too low they will learn to come up. this is what i did with a mare of mine. no more ducking overbendng etc. :)

mg
Dec. 17, 2010, 01:17 AM
to get the pony from curling you can do upwards transitions - they must come up for that. if you are walking as for a canter trans.

you can also do 1/4 turns..... so if you are cantering you would make a square.

if you do this every time the horse ducks too low they will learn to come up. this is what i did with a mare of mine. no more ducking overbendng etc. :)

These are all suggestions which also work well with my ducking pony. I just need to make sure to not get too heavy with my contact when doing lots of transitions. Squaring off circles helps a lot with getting them to rock back on their haunches (again, if done with a correct contact). On a similar note, practicing walk pirouettes helps to get my pony thinking about balancing back on his haunches and lightening up his front end.

fish
Dec. 17, 2010, 08:22 AM
I looked at the picture and think there's no way you can get your mount to take contact until/unless you correct your own position/seat. As others have suggested, contact is established by pushing the horse forward/upward from behind so s/he reaches forward, seeking contact/balance with the bit so the 2 of you can be in harmony. This cannot happen until/unless, you can maintain forward, upward and straight balance yourself. From head to toe, you are not doing that in this picture: your head is dropped down and to the right, your core/ shoulders are likewise collapsed so you cannot carry your hands properly, because your torso/head are not balance, their weight fails to reach your seat in a way that can achieve proper communication with your horse through his back... and so things continue down through ineffective hips, legs.... If you can get yourself some good lunge line instruction so you can focus on these things in yourself-- and maybe also go to the gym to work on your own core-- I am pretty sure you would find your horse's ability to find and maintain contact dramatically improved-- especially if he can also spend some time with a trainer skilled in long-lining and lungeing young horses so they can find their balance, using the bit/bridle as a real "aid," without the additional complication/burden of carrying a rider.

As George Morris has , IMO very appropriately, pointed out, acquiring "good hands"/ the ability to ride a horse on contact which is actually more constructive than destructive to the horses' carriage and physique, demands a great deal of work, skill, training--- i.e., the rider, like the horse, needs to be brought up to a "2nd level" of sorts in which s/he learns to bring his/her balance over his/her own butt!! Unless the rider learns to do this, attempts to get the horse "on the bit" are much more likely to encourage him/her to lean/go even more on the forehand than shift weight to the rear. As Morris also says, there are 3 kinds of rider hands: good, bad and no. Riding with no hands (or stirrups either) is usually a necessary step to developing good ones-- and greatly preferable to trying to force contact on a horse with bad ones.

It took me decades to learn this myself. Warn't easy: pretty darned humbling in fact, but my horses amply repay me for the effort!

exvet
Dec. 17, 2010, 08:27 AM
Honestly I don't think there has been enough information to really understand exactly what is going on to be of much help. We're more or less imagining that we know what is being described. A video and/or pictures in succession would go a long way to get valid advice. Not that what has been suggested isn't good advice it's just not clear that it will apply in this case.

If I remember correctly and as you already stated here your welsh cob cross has been working under saddle regularly for approximately 6 months. I think there were posts in the past with you describing a cob cross that was rushing at times, unbalanced and demonstrating a lot of the "green" issues often seen with a horse trying to figure out how to use themselves and comply with the requests being made. What you are describing now sounds like it may be a very typical part of the process that I see with my welsh cobs who are young, green and still unbalanced. I think it's a lack of strength issue with the hind end and because you're trying to push him into the contact and get him to stretch down and round your guy is losing balance.

As I try to get mine to use the hind end more at such a stage I have found them to want to curl (even when that wasn't an issue before) for a period of time. Transitions do help a lot, both up and down being very careful to use your seat in the downward and with very steady but receiving hands. I also find that leg yields both on the straight away and on the circle helps to re-establish contact into the outside rein. I can even and often do not have anything in the inside rein which seems at that stage to make them happy and I'm OK as long as I have good contact into the outside rein. I do a lot of hill work, especially at this stage to again build up the hind end. Once they get strong enough and they realize where my hands are and that they are steady and receiving they will start steadily stepping into and remaining in the contact. I will, particularly with my stallion and not all that long ago, lift one hand or the other if he dives and evades and ignores my bump with the leg (which is what I always try first) then go right back to hands in front of and above the pommel. This reinforces the idea that I expect him to be up and moving into the hand. I have dealt with this on almost all of mine but it has always been a very transient issue because not only do I establish the idea of moving off my leg and a bump or sqeeze with my leg means to step into the contact but that I'm not going to "hold" them there (I will drop them if they start to lean) and that they are to go up and open developing strength, again in the hind end, carrying themselves, before they are to stretch and follow the hand down forward.

As for working on squares and doing turn on the haunches and walk pirouettes, I find those exercises all very helpful and useful but usually on a welsh cob that is a little further a long and one that is supple. I'm going to guess and you may be offended by this that if your guy is still trying to find his balance that he isn't as supple as he should be either. Leg yields done correctly and frequent changes of direction on large circles should help this and gradually you can work into the other exercises, again as the hind end gets stronger. The other aspect of what you're likely dealing with as one often does when there are strength issues is making sure your horse is absolutely straight and not crooked. Balance can't really properly develop if you're not mindful of whether or not your horse can and does travel straight and true. I will say that regardless of whether I'm right or wrong, if you don't focus on the hind end you're going to have a freight train on your hands which is what welsh cobs and their crosses are very adept at if one is not careful. Of course I'm just an amateur rider, owner, breeder so take my advice with a grain of salt.

ETA: I think there is a lot of wisdom with what Fish is saying too.

Justmyluck
Dec. 17, 2010, 09:22 AM
Thank you to the two replies. As far as the leaning forward this is the 4th ride in this saddle its brand new and my old saddle threw me way far forward. I've come WAY back since riding in this saddle but old habits die hard and I have been taking lunge lessons. To work on my seat. I am my own worst critic when it comes to my seat. I know that needs working on.

My trained did suggest going back to the square exercise we had been working on that one of you mentioned. I have a lesson today and we are going to work on this issue

We were working on giving and releasing, and yes I got yelled at for releasing way to much. In no terms am I pulling his damned head down so you can stop about that one I could pull his head down if I tried. Next yes pony is on the forehand because I haven't ask him to come off of it yet his 6 months of training have been confidence building and trail rides. I've only just started asking him to step through, picture shows a marked improvement in his carriage. The picture was only introduced to demonstrate that I'm not asking for the contact and collection that you think I am. I'm only asking that he uses himself more and more. I'm slow intervals. I know what a half halt is I'm not an idiot and I'm not new to dressage. I don't appreciate being talked to like a invalid child. Your comments would be much better received if you didn't start out with insults and assumptions.

Justmyluck
Dec. 17, 2010, 09:31 AM
I think everyone is a bit confused by your question. I *think* you are saying you taught your horse to stretch and now he wants to go around on his forehand and pull downward when you don't want him to? If that is correct, then here is my advice:

First I will say there is nothing wrong with letting him stretch all the way out and down at the beginning of your rides. Give him a few minutes to enjoy a real stretch like he wants to, sniff the dirt if he chooses. BUT his engine must be going and be sure that his nose goes OUT and not just down! In the pic he appears to be travelling along quite slowly. Turn his hind legs on the minute you get into the saddle. Not chasing, but working! Then when the warm-up is over do not worry about the contact. Picking up a heavy contact at that point will start the tug of war with him wanting to continue stretching and you trying to get him back up. So keep a loose contact and start doing VERY brisk and VERY immediate trot-walk-trot transitions.

As you do them promptly you will start to feel his hind end pushing and coming under, like an airplane at take-off. That is when you can pick up a light contact. You must turn the engine on first, then get the connection. Once his engine is on his forehand will automatically lighten and then you will be able to get the light and steady connection you seek. IMO ducking behind the vertical is a sign that the engine is not engaged. Once the engine is truly engaged his poll will naturally fall where you want it.

I missed this post before but this is exactly what I'm trying to get at. So when asking for this more impulsion and hes pulling down to I maintain what I have in my hands or release him? Which is what I tried to initially ask. Thank you!

dwblover
Dec. 17, 2010, 10:25 AM
Glad you saw it, I figured that was what you were getting at. My answer is to release what you have in your hands. Start these transitions with no contact and get his engine revving. The more prompt the departs the lighter his forehand will become. Keep going until you actually feel his shoulder lift in front of you and the hind end will actually feel low underneath you. THAT is the moment to pick up the contact and resume your light half-halts. BUT be sure to keep that uphill feeling you had during all of the half-halts. Keep doing the driving transitions to maintain that light contact and each ride he will be able to hold it longer and longer.

beckzert
Dec. 17, 2010, 10:44 AM
Can I just say that this pony is super cute?! That said he is looking a bit downhill...

What I would do in this situation is definitely go back to the basics...establish a good rhythm, but also make sure that the pony goes forward off your leg. Forward meaning taking larger steps behind, not increasing the tempo. When problems with the hind legs are fixed, often connection and falling on the face problems are also. But you have to keep a little something in the reins and sit tall with a long neck and a holding posture for this to be effective.

We learn something with every horse we ride. With my new horse I am learning something similar to what I think you will learn from this one: knowing when to progress and when to back off. It's true that some horses are doing PSG at six, but that is clearly not for this pony. Don't mistake resistance or weakness for him not being ready to move on.

Good luck!

countrygal
Dec. 17, 2010, 11:38 AM
I think everyone has offered advice based on the information presented and personal experience. No one has been condesending or rude. It's o.k. if you don't agree with the advice, but try to not take it personally. We all come from different backgrounds of training and experience and have dealt with horses with similar (or not-so-similar) issues. Also, be careful blaming an error on the horse- that's a slippery slope.

As I said earlier in the thread, to me this is an issue of purely back to front connection lacking. If the horse is ridden back to front he can't and won't fall behind the vertical. I experience a similar issue with my horse and it it always fixed by re-calibrating my back to front connection.

Short of seeing a video or seeing you ride in person I think your best advice if you're not happy with the information shared here will come from your trainer who can see every step and hopefully find a good solution to the problem you're having. Best of luck!

Fillabeana
Dec. 17, 2010, 12:15 PM
I agree with countrygal. The pony is missing consistency because he is not being consistently ridden back to front. Contact is not the issue.

Justmyluck
Dec. 17, 2010, 12:19 PM
Thanks DWB I appreciate it.

I'm not at all blaming my pony. He is one that in his mind figures something out and then goes I GOT IT! and becomes all proud of himself and I'm like well no you dont. Its not his fault because I obviously didn't catch it before that happened.

Also no one but one single person was getting rude. Everything else I have read and appreciate. I'm just trying to come up with some new tools to put in my little box.

rprincess73
Dec. 17, 2010, 03:33 PM
"Justmyluck" is an amazing rider. What she has done with her pony is nothing short of amazing in such a brief time. I have learned a great deal from her...both in riding and equine maintenance. She is a determined, well read, smart young lady that dedicates her time, knowledge and ability to make her pony the best he can be.

Happy Friday:)

mbm
Dec. 17, 2010, 05:18 PM
I missed this post before but this is exactly what I'm trying to get at. So when asking for this more impulsion and hes pulling down to I maintain what I have in my hands or release him? Which is what I tried to initially ask. Thank you!

i would not release as he comes too low.... this will *reward* him for doing so and also set into motion a very bad habit - ie randomly releasing the contact :)

if this were me, if i was trying to activate the hind end and the pony came against my hand, i would half halt, go on a circle, leg yield - change direction -1/4 turns, transitions, lots of things to do but do not release. if you do your job correctly he will come up and lighten himself. this is what you want.