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Eklecktika
Jan. 11, 2011, 06:38 PM
Winter horsel moves forward off my leg quite nicely (we're still very green), but always gives the impression of being 'sucked back' - he's not driving off the rear end. When we DO get 'rear wheel drive' he's brilliant. And we do get it on occasion.

BUT.

He will pass the same object roughly 12,000 times in one evening and on pass 12,001, he spooks at it. 'It' changes regularly. You never know when or if something-anything!-will be spook worthy. Yes, I know, it's sheer naughtiness, but as it's Winter Horse Syndrome+ not enough work, it's pretty much what I have to deal with. He's on straight grass plus oil (EPSM) and I work him as much as I can, so now it's on to brainstorming for ideas to get through without adding in LTD or more.

I need to find a way to get him driving off the rear end-we do transitions, half halts, etc., but sometimes you really need impulsion-and with impulsion comes the stop/drop risk.

So. How do you get YOUR personal dragon/winterhorse in front of your leg? (I have a sneaking suspicion it won't be resolved without a healthy dose of 'wet saddleblankets', which is my first preference, but since the current weather isn't really conducive to such, I'm open to suggestions!)

TIA!

(No, I don't have an instructor. I live in Dressageland BFE-unless I want to drive 3+ hours to Spokane or Boise or TriCities, which isn't an option, and neither is sending him out for training. If I could afford $750+ a month for training, I could drive back and forth to Spokane twice a month and have an instructor:))

InsideLeg2OutsideRein
Jan. 11, 2011, 06:53 PM
Do you have someone who can be your ground person, equipped with a lunge whip? My little one started picking a "spot" on the right lead that was impossible to pass -- until my trainer got behind me with the lunge whip. It was a little exciting for a minute ;) -- but she got past it just fine after that!

Equine Studies
Jan. 11, 2011, 06:54 PM
Not sure of the solution but good luck! My coming four year old is getting the winter off because she's a crazy bronc when turned out in the arena to have fun. She's nuts. Totally spooky in hand about pretty much everything all winter long as well. I know you don't really want the winter off option but I thought I'd let you know I share your pain! I do have another less moronic horse to ride all winter.

kinnip
Jan. 11, 2011, 06:55 PM
My winter horses don't spook much, but they don't focus much either. On days when it's feasible, we go for a gallop. It's helped. In the arena, I just keep it simple and forward, forward, forward. I do little trot work, mostly I do challenging walking for warmup and cool down-- shoulder-in, reinback, walking ground poles or cavaletti, hills; the rest is cantering-- figures if I'm lucky.

netg
Jan. 11, 2011, 06:57 PM
I like to refer to it as above my leg. Forward definitely happens, and any leg leads to more, yet it seems as if the front end loses weight on you.

Is your horse able to get turnout with this weather? With my guy it's even less wet saddle blankets and more getting the sillies out on his own time.

Eklecktika
Jan. 11, 2011, 07:02 PM
I don't. It would be helpful if I did. I assume your trainer just drove your baby forward at the sticky spot?

I might be able to coerce/bribe someone into it, but their eye isn't going to be good at all. hmm...it'd probably cost me a case of beer...but that'd be worth it.

It's a tough situation, I know-I may have to be patient til spring and I can work the starch out of him.:yes:

I need a seat belt. or an oh $h!t handle. (I have a chicken strap on my saddle already, just not the habit of reaching for it)

Eklecktika
Jan. 11, 2011, 07:30 PM
Not sure of the solution but good luck! My coming four year old is getting the winter off because she's a crazy bronc when turned out in the arena to have fun. She's nuts. Totally spooky in hand about pretty much everything all winter long as well. I know you don't really want the winter off option but I thought I'd let you know I share your pain! I do have another less moronic horse to ride all winter.
Maybe we should just get a bottle of wine and commiserate.:lol: I don't have any less moronic ones to ride (LOL at the description!) but maybe I should find one. He's getting to be cucoo inhand as well-I knew the 'winter horse' syndrome was a problem, but maybe I should just quit while I'm ahead and work from the ground.

My winter horses don't spook much, but they don't focus much either. On days when it's feasible, we go for a gallop. It's helped. In the arena, I just keep it simple and forward, forward, forward. I do little trot work, mostly I do challenging walking for warmup and cool down-- shoulder-in, reinback, walking ground poles or cavaletti, hills; the rest is cantering-- figures if I'm lucky. I'm moving where you are. If you can gallop, we're coming.

Maybe I should take him home - 18 inches of snow would be a good workout (and a good cushion for WHEN I come off!)


I like to refer to it as above my leg. Forward definitely happens, and any leg leads to more, yet it seems as if the front end loses weight on you.

Is your horse able to get turnout with this weather? With my guy it's even less wet saddle blankets and more getting the sillies out on his own time.:yes::yes::yes:The 'elevated' front end? Here too! Only...we're still not off the HQ-IDK how that works physiologically!!

Turnout-not really so much-maybe 1/2 hour a day? He's in a stall with a run, so lots of standing around. Not as bad as a stall-only, but little 'play time'.

I'm starting to think I'm fighting a losing battle here...maybe I'll work on getting a few more poles and adding to our cavaletti collection rather than riding.

Oberon13
Jan. 11, 2011, 07:40 PM
I also have one of the "light on the front end" types! She LOVES a fight, so if I add more leg in one of those piss-and-moan moments, she starts bouncing the shoulders up and down. So, I wait very quietly, and once she is forward again, I bump her one time with both legs right behind the girth. If I don't make a big deal out of those sticky moments, we get through them.

We also have a "spot" in the covered arena that is just a wrestling match to get by every single time I ride. If I'm on the ground, it's not an issue. If I'm riding on the buckle, it's not an issue. If I pick up contact, there's a bear living in that corner! So, knowing my horse LOVES to fight, I just don't even go there. On good days (when she's had turnout and isn't a dragon), we can ride there. On bad days, it's not worth the fight...she gets tight, I get tight, we all get tight...and we all know where that leads.

I've surrendered to the idea that winter is just going to be tough. She doesn't get regular turnout in the ice/show...she loses her brain...so, hand-walking, a bit of lunging (as long as she's isn't insane), and the occassional ride. It sucks, though....I have so many plans for us! And, maybe that's MY take home message...the plans don't matter as much as the fun journey to get there. I'm working on learning that...I mean, REALLY learning that.

So, no true answers, really! Just commiserating and letting you know that you're not alone!

sid
Jan. 11, 2011, 07:42 PM
Maybe I'm dense... "winter horse"? What does that mean :confused:

I've never known my horses to have responded differently under saddle in the winter as any other time of year.

Educate me...:)

dwblover
Jan. 11, 2011, 07:52 PM
Some horses are just spooky, lol! My DWB was a major spook. A leaf, a spot of sunshine, a leadrope, whatever. I had his eyes checked about 30 times to see if he was half blind or something. But that is just the way he is programmed. BUT, if I totally committed myself to having him way in front of my leg and truly pushing forward from behind the spooks would decrease by about 95%. One third of the horse underneath me, and two thirds out in front. I also have to be careful with his neck. He needs to have a longer, more open neck frame or he gets claustrophobic. He also needs quiet, quiet hands.

But I sure am thankful for my OTTB, I can ride him in the eye of a hurricane and still not feel out of control. LOVE THAT HORSE!:D

ETA: A horse can be going really, really fast and still be sucked way back behind your leg. That may be why your guy is spooking so much. PROMPT transitions can help get them in front of the leg. Think of making the hind legs quicker while keeping the tempo of the front legs the same.

sid
Jan. 11, 2011, 08:01 PM
What do you all think that is has to do with winter?

Is it because you can't ride as often, thus their training regresses?

I've never seen winter to be a problem for any of my horses...and they are kept mostly outside with run ins, lots of hay, good clean water and the ability to move about freely.

Perhaps it's the confinement that is the problem (management), not the horse itself?

This issue is new to me and I've had many very good dressages horses for many years now with none of the issue you mention during the winter months. Many, many years. No problems like you describe, thus I wonder about your problems being attributed to "winter".

Just thinking.

atr
Jan. 11, 2011, 08:09 PM
I think it is a phenomenon well known to folks like the OP who live in places like Montana--real winter. Really cold, very hard to keep a regular exercise schedule, T/O may be limited, but feed may well be upped because of the cold--and this goes on for months on end. Add to that sliding snow off the roofs of indoor arenas, and life can get really entertaining.

kinnip
Jan. 11, 2011, 08:20 PM
My guys have turnout any time it's not dead nasty weather (like this weekend). I can't ride them as often as I'd like. The ground seems to be either sticky, deep mud or frozen sticky, deep mud these days. I've been riding through windgusts of 25 mph. My TBs and Arab are not in a working frame of mind. Our gallops are not pretty, but I can't imagine going without them, you all have my sympathy!

Petstorejunkie
Jan. 11, 2011, 08:36 PM
Constant change of activity and i'll quote George
shorten your reins
close your fingers
LEG

when you stop over thinking (because you are a dressage rider, and we allll over think it) and drive him forward with purpose, he'll stop creating his own entertainment.

TheHorseProblem
Jan. 11, 2011, 09:05 PM
I think it is a phenomenon well known to folks like the OP who live in places like Montana--real winter. Really cold, very hard to keep a regular exercise schedule, T/O may be limited, but feed may well be upped because of the cold--and this goes on for months on end. Add to that sliding snow off the roofs of indoor arenas, and life can get really entertaining.

We have winter horses in SoCal as well. I know to most of you it's not really winter, but that doesn't seem to inhibit the silliness.

SisterToSoreFoot
Jan. 11, 2011, 11:15 PM
Along with riding my coming 4 year old, I lunge over cavaletti and practice canter transitions on the lunge, I grounddrive at the walk to work on bending and our geometry, I set up small jumps for at liberty sessions, I work in hand on moving away from pressure and on trot halts and backing up...

Plus, I let him loose before I get on so if his long coat is making the saddle feel itchy, he can get a few bucks out. Lots of variety seems to work for us. He is very "up" under saddle, but he puts his energy forward. I attribute that to all the ground work that helps him become sensitive to the aids.

Also, be sure you are not involuntarily gripping (with thighs or hands, etc) when you go by scary stuff or whatever. I've found I really need to get out of my young horse's way, even when he feels really fresh. Defensive riding (worrying about a spook or speed) can often cause a horse to suck back. Not saying that's your issue, but its a common one when you're riding a "dragon!"

Liz Steacie
Jan. 12, 2011, 06:27 AM
If the spooking is random, one thing you can check is in his eyes. Sometimes those little brown nobby things in their eyes break off the edge of the pupil and start floating around in the eye, creating the occasional occlusion of vision. I used to ride a super horse who had a "floater" in his eye, and I suspect that his occasional, random spook was due to something suddenly appearing in his field of vision. Know why it happened somehow made it easier to deal with :-). They can be removed if it's a real problem.

Other than that, my "winter horses" (love the term!) that tend towards the naughty/unfocused get lunged before being ridden, and then get ridden *really* forward. Lots of exercises with changes of direction, change-ups in tempo and size of step, transitions (especially trot-canter-trot). I also ride the youngsters almost always in shoulder-fore.

We have a door in the arena that the cats use to come in and out, so there are often cats leaping through the arena. Add that to "winter horse syndrome", snow coming off the arena, frost patterns on the mirrors (who knew that *those* were so scary!), and the pigeons dancing on the tin roof, and it gets a little crazy sometimes! Just stay centered and keep riding through it all, after a while they get used to things :-). I feel your pain, though! Spring is coming!

LookmaNohands
Jan. 12, 2011, 06:54 AM
OMG my "winter horse" is so far in front of my leg I am practically hanging on to his tail!! Seriously, he is a completely different horse in the winter time. In the summer I can put almost anyone on him and he just pokes along but in the winter time he takes any excuse to go airborne--all 17 hands of him! Oh, and it better not be windy! I think he just really appreciates the good footing in the arena as opposed to the frozen fields.

Oh, and did I mention--on Valentine's Day he will be 20!! :eek:

raff
Jan. 12, 2011, 07:38 AM
I've recently re-re-re-discovered that backing off is not the way to go.My 4 yo had turned into a fire breathing dragon over the past few months. My attitude had been almost to feel he knew better, beautifully bred wonderfully started imported horse that he is. I was afraid to ruin him!
He is infinitely more happy and relaxed now that i've quietly and firmly insisted that every working session he achieves some genuine throughness (to the best of his ability which is quite a lot :lol )
It has taken some resolve, but it's been worth it. I just longed him yesterday (which I do once a week,to have a good look at him) and there were two men cutting down a tree behind the hedge of the arena, then dragging the branches and loading them onto a trailer next to the arena.
Due to insisting on him working at least until he blows, relaxes, and goes forward everytime he works...he coped. We had some moments, but in the end he stretched, stopped holding his breath, and used himself. The sweetest thing is that he looked to me for reassurance, and when things got REALLY too much with noise and falling branches, I brought him in to me and petted him and he went all soft eyed.:)
I do love the youngsters and the relationship you can develop, but i've once again had it reaffirmed that one must stay in charge, and it is doing them NO favors to be over indulgent :)

netg
Jan. 12, 2011, 10:38 AM
What do you all think that is has to do with winter?

Is it because you can't ride as often, thus their training regresses?

I've never seen winter to be a problem for any of my horses...and they are kept mostly outside with run ins, lots of hay, good clean water and the ability to move about freely.

Perhaps it's the confinement that is the problem (management), not the horse itself?

This issue is new to me and I've had many very good dressages horses for many years now with none of the issue you mention during the winter months. Many, many years. No problems like you describe, thus I wonder about your problems being attributed to "winter".

Just thinking.


I think it is a phenomenon well known to folks like the OP who live in places like Montana--real winter. Really cold, very hard to keep a regular exercise schedule, T/O may be limited, but feed may well be upped because of the cold--and this goes on for months on end. Add to that sliding snow off the roofs of indoor arenas, and life can get really entertaining.

This.


However, I'm learning that even in AZ you can have a "winter horse." We've gone from riding in 90-ish degree daylight to 40s in the dark, and it has made a difference with my guy. Not to where it's a problem, just to where I'm enjoying the fact he's not being *lazy* like he is in the summer! Forward and lengthening is easier for me. BUT - I'm able to get him enough turnout to get out the bucks and silliness he needs to get out more now than he did in the hot weather.

SmartAlex
Jan. 12, 2011, 11:30 AM
Maybe I'm dense... "winter horse"? What does that mean :confused:

I've never known my horses to have responded differently under saddle in the winter as any other time of year.

Educate me...:)

Winter Horse is the evil alter-ego that lurks within. It bucks, spooks, snorts, and plays dirty tricks. Winter Horse has the quickness and endurance of 10 horses. If you've never met one, you are very fortunate!

Eklecktika
Jan. 12, 2011, 12:17 PM
I think it is a phenomenon well known to folks like the OP who live in places like Montana--real winter. Really cold, very hard to keep a regular exercise schedule, T/O may be limited, but feed may well be upped because of the cold--and this goes on for months on end. Add to that sliding snow off the roofs of indoor arenas, and life can get really entertaining.

Yep. Pretty sure that winter in N Idaho/WA/MT/etc. is a little different than in the lower longitudes!:lol:

Truthfully, even with full turnout and regular riding, they still get BSC when its truly cold and not just chilly. The term 'kink in the tail' isn't just a colloquialism, it's a real kink. Pretty good signal that your ride will be more exciting than usual.


Constant change of activity and i'll quote George
shorten your reins
close your fingers
LEG

when you stop over thinking (because you are a dressage rider, and we allll over think it) and drive him forward with purpose, he'll stop creating his own entertainment.
Hmmmm...methinks George needs to come my house. He can call me a dumbbell to his heart content, and I'd gladly let him.

...edit...

Also, be sure you are not involuntarily gripping (with thighs or hands, etc) when you go by scary stuff or whatever. I've found I really need to get out of my young horse's way, even when he feels really fresh. Defensive riding (worrying about a spook or speed) can often cause a horse to suck back. Not saying that's your issue, but its a common one when you're riding a "dragon!"

PSJ & STSF win!!:lol:This IS my issue. Not so much the gripping-but definitely defensive. I'd rather have a few good bucks than the uncertainty of 'where's the booger this time around?' and 'how bad will it be?'

I'm going to assume that I've been halfassing it in an attempt to keep him from sweating and out of concern for the stifle issue. Maybe what I consider to be 'with purpose' and 'constant change of activity' and 'LEG' isn't enough. Hmmmm. I'm not used to having a high maintenance horse!:lol:


This means I need a cooler. Off to see what I can find. Thanks for the help guys. I really appreciate the info-the commiseration-AND the kick in the pants to make sure I'm not halfassing it.

Now. Would someone please come to my arena and call me a dumbbell when I (inevitably) start halfassing again?

Vesper Sparrow
Jan. 12, 2011, 12:30 PM
Winter horse kicked in this week for my guy, who is on the lazy side the other three quarters of the year. Amount of riding/turnout/grain hasn't changed.

He's high octane. No need for the whip, thinking about taking off my spurs.

Eklecktika
Jan. 12, 2011, 12:40 PM
Maybe this is when I need to break down and add Sadl-tite to my repertoire?

Any thoughts on that?

netg
Jan. 12, 2011, 01:04 PM
Now. Would someone please come to my arena and call me a dumbbell when I (inevitably) start halfassing again?

I think your horse is doing that for you! :lol:

The ugly side of my winter horse only appears at shows. We spent 4 days away from home this past weekend, and my trainer actually got off and suggested I longe him more one ride because he was so... ahem.... "elevated" in front. With his recent tendency to perform caprioles under saddle, it's really better to attempt to longe it out.

That night I decided I was MAD. So I longed him to get him warmed up, then mounted as close to the very large and nearly warmup arena as I could, trotted in, and cantered immediately. And cantered. And cantered. Some people would have considered it a hand gallop. But as long as I didn't let him counterbend and drop his inside shoulder, I kept control of his body, and any time he tried to suck back behind my leg and start going upward, I just pushed him forward again.

I did the same thing when I rode him the second time that day, and was able to walk toward the end of my ride on a not-tight rein. But our canter work was fabulous...

TrotTrotPumpkn
Jan. 12, 2011, 01:10 PM
What do you all think that is has to do with winter?

Is it because you can't ride as often, thus their training regresses?

I've never seen winter to be a problem for any of my horses...and they are kept mostly outside with run ins, lots of hay, good clean water and the ability to move about freely.

Perhaps it's the confinement that is the problem (management), not the horse itself?

This issue is new to me and I've had many very good dressages horses for many years now with none of the issue you mention during the winter months. Many, many years. No problems like you describe, thus I wonder about your problems being attributed to "winter".

Just thinking.

I have dealt with this (although not currently). Part of our issue is we get feet of snow and then ice and the horses (normally turned out 23x7 in 5 acre paddocks) don't move around (and certainly don't move much over "mincing along" speed) like they do in the summer. It is self-preservation...and unlike grazing the hay doesn't "grow" everywhere.

Unfortunately, they also have more pent-up energy and sometimes it is too cold to ride (our highs were NEGATIVE yesterday). Today it is zero degrees right now--at lunchtime, and that is before you add the vicious windchill. Riding is just not going to happen this week (indoor is not heated).

Of course my guy could care less. He's as laid back as they come (although he did spook last time I had him in the indoor, which was not normal behavior). But I have dealt with winter horse syndrome before with previous horses and you have my sympathy!!

SmartAlex
Jan. 12, 2011, 03:06 PM
Maybe this is when I need to break down and add Sadl-tite to my repertoire?

Any thoughts on that?

Actually, I pulled my stirrups off New Year's day, and my horse has been less nutty. I know it changes my seat, and apparently it makes him happier.

InsideLeg2OutsideRein
Jan. 12, 2011, 04:18 PM
I don't. It would be helpful if I did. I assume your trainer just drove your baby forward at the sticky spot?

I might be able to coerce/bribe someone into it, but their eye isn't going to be good at all. hmm...it'd probably cost me a case of beer...but that'd be worth it.

It's a tough situation, I know-I may have to be patient til spring and I can work the starch out of him.:yes:

I need a seat belt. or an oh $h!t handle. (I have a chicken strap on my saddle already, just not the habit of reaching for it)

Hehe... well, trainer also applied some audible aids (i.e. cracking the whip) which resulted in momentary confusion on the munchkin's part as to what discipline we were going for, but yes, she basically just made sure that proper motivation to go forward was maintained. It also puts some of the horse's attention on the whip, so between the rider and the "usher", there is less potentially scary stuff to focus on.

sid
Jan. 12, 2011, 05:45 PM
I forget about those northern temps and inactivity that can go with them;).

We typically get into at least the mid-30s during the day most of the winter here in Virginia, so we've never lost riding time (having an indoor). I feel lucky!:winkgrin:

Carol Ames
Jan. 12, 2011, 06:18 PM
Have you tried putting Crisco shortening, or hooflex in the hoof before turning out?I've seen that work to keep the ice balls from forming; one of the most successful lessons I ever taught in the winter;

though it was indoors, and at Potomac horse :)center; the ground was still frozen:eek:; in addition, great pieces of ice/ snow slid ever so slowly; darkening the arena when passing over the skylight; then, finally crashing to the ground:eek: and spooking away from the windows any horse looking outside:no:; let their attention wander will they?:lol:
to be continued:winkgrin:

MelantheLLC
Jan. 12, 2011, 07:20 PM
Oddly enough, I have had good luck with just walking on the lunge. And walking. And walking. For 30 minutes minimum. If they break into a trot, they have to come back to the walk. And walk. And walk.

That's it. There's no "getting the bucks out." If they buck, they have to come back to walk. The colder it is, the more this seems to work. I think it just is a rhythmical, simple, clear "DOH," that warms up their bodies while calming their brains. For problem arena areas, I walk traveling circles past the area, over and over, both directions, with lots of straight lines in between. Repeat under saddle if necessary.

On really cold days, or with a lot of sliders, that may be all we do. But if we walk until they are warm and bored, they seem to be very supple and attentive when I finally do get on.

tmlng
Jan. 12, 2011, 07:33 PM
I'm posting this w/out reading the entire thread, so may be redundant......but what works with MY moron is lunging.....much lunging......in properly adjusted side reins. Lets her argue with herself while burning off some of that silliness. We're having incredible cold weather, though, and as long as the arena is frozen, she's just turned out. Good luck......the bottle of wine may well be the best idea in this weather! :D

enjoytheride
Jan. 12, 2011, 07:55 PM
I blanket my winter horse (who gets the same amount of turnout, but doesn't move around when the footing is crappy), and free lunge for a few minutes in the arena so she can run on good footing. Then I get on and since we are already warmed up, I trot almost right off the mounting block. Then I trot and canter while changing direction every 4 strides non stop. At the very end I'll do a little walk work.

EqTrainer
Jan. 12, 2011, 08:13 PM
Slow the tempo and bend, bend, bend.