View Full Version : Green BN horses what are you doing for dressage training?

Jan. 12, 2011, 11:07 AM
I finally have a lesson scheduled in two weeks with an eventing trainer :) :eek: I have sinned by doing tons of trail riding and very little (make that next to zero) arena work lately. I got her in the arena yesterday and did wtc with lots of circles and serpentines. She is inconsistent with traveling nicely (still does the giraffe neck thing more than I'd like). I worked a lot on transitions- she needs to travel nicely through the transition which she is inconsistent with. Henceforth I will be spending more time in the arena. We have several months before our first event (probably end of April) so I hope we have time to improve enough. So what are you doing for arena work with your green BN horse?

Jan. 12, 2011, 11:45 AM
with a green BN I don't do much "arena" work.
I use lots of poles on the ground. Sometimes raised poles.
I'll arrange a row of two canter poles, one pole, three trot poles, and then maybe 4 poles with two in the middle raised so that I can pick and choose.
And usually have a jump set up so I can pink over a fence if I feel so.

I work mostly on stretch into the bridle. I push the greenies quite forward and really try to get them to reach forward into the bridle, I like the poll low.

Jan. 12, 2011, 11:54 AM
Speaking as a total eventing noob here...

My coach is leaving for Aiken tomorrow (cry) but I am going to try to maintain what we have been working on, and start to do some things we worked on with my previous horse who was further along in the dressage. I am currently working on changing the pace within the gaits (if that makes sense... I think I am using the wrong word)- I am doing baby lengthenings and shortenings and getting him to be more responsive to my seat. I do spiral circles at the trot and am starting to introduce them at the canter now that his canter is more balanced. My coach encourages the use of counter flexion to get the horse to step under themselves with the inside hind. I am going to try to improve our leg yields and try to do some shoulder-in. I also am going to try to work on our transitions more since you can never have too many transitions ;) I love doing the change rein in the one loop way... I'll go from the corner, leg yeild to the centerline and change rein in a 10m turn. Or I'll go down the long side and do a 10m turn in the corner and then leg yield back to the rail. I do serpentines but for some reason I hate them, thus I tend to avoid.

Putting my outside hand way to the outside and then thinking of filling the gap with my inside leg has gotten my horse extremely consistent in the bridle and working correctly. It is probably more of a learning tool for me to maintain enough outside rein, but I find that it also helps balance him around turns when he wants to motor around them.

Lisa Cook
Jan. 12, 2011, 12:46 PM
My horse was 5 last year and started doing his first little baby events, starting at 18" in July and finishing up with 2 recognized at BN in the fall.

He was pretty confirmed 1st level dressage - took him to a USDF show in the summer at 1st level and scored in the 60s. Was schooling parts of 2nd level and my goal is to get to 2nd level at USDF shows this upcoming year, and hopefully move him up to Novice eventing sometime this year.

So last year as a 5 year old: leg yielding, lengthenings all 3 gaits, working on the beginning of understanding collection at all 3 gaits, shoulder-in, haunches-in, rein-back, turn on the forehand, turn on haunches, counter canter. It wasn't all fabulous quality, but it was getting the idea down and building the strength needed to develop better this year with additional age & maturity.

Edited to add: you mention you have sinned by trail riding...I do think that is awesome for a young green horse. I would use my 5 year old to pony my other horse & the 3 of us would be off on our own into the hills, just wandering around. Dressage schooling doesn't have to be an intense process...they'll get ring sour & burned out. I'd go out on a ride with the idea of "today I want to get a nice trot lengthening". I'd warm up, play with lengthenings, and when I got a decent effort, stop and then go trail ride, even if I had been in the ring only 10 minutes at that point.

Jan. 12, 2011, 12:52 PM
No indoor-arena is frozen.
We do all of our winter schooling "out" everything you can school in a ring can be done out, and you have the added bonus of "not so perfect footing" you & your horse will be better because of it.

Jan. 12, 2011, 01:18 PM
Our babies do just about everything you described. Nothing complicated, just all about rhythm and accepting a steady, soft contact. Transitions, bending, straightness, not necessarily in that order. And lots of hacking. It is never a sin to hack. :D

Perfect Pony
Jan. 12, 2011, 02:34 PM
with a green BN I don't do much "arena" work.
I use lots of poles on the ground.

I work mostly on stretch into the bridle. I push the greenies quite forward and really try to get them to reach forward into the bridle, I like the poll low.

Totally agree.

And totally disagree with the "transitions, transitions, transitions" crowd. I think you can have too many transitions if you horse is not sufficiently forward and steady in the contact.

My pony is only just coming 4 this year and was started in September. I only ride her on the days I have off and go to the barn (So 1-2 days a week and on Holidays). She is hacking around the barn, doing 10-15 minutes in the ring working only on straight and forward at all 3 gaits, and on the eurociser 3x a week for 30 minutes. I will start increasing days under saddle and time under saddle in March.

Jan. 12, 2011, 02:42 PM
You don't have to do it in an arena, but I did tons of transitions and laterals and these two things did the most to help build my horse's balance and improve his gaits, it has paid off in SPADES. Given of course, that your horse already has rhythm and is good with contact.

Jan. 12, 2011, 03:52 PM
Arena work is appropriate to make sure you, and your horse, can do accurate, round circles, be straight down the center line and across diagonals, and have an idea how deep you can or can't go in the corners, especially at the canter.

Trail riding is fantastic for doing dressage-and especially for doing dressage with less-than-perfect footing. While you might not be doing circles or changes of direction, you can certainly work on transitions and lateral work. And even better, you can work on having the horse pay attention to your aids when he is distracted. Because, at your first event, your horse will almost surely be distracted!
Also, out on the trail, you can pop over a ditch or downed log, and resume your transitions work...making it clear to the horse that dressage does not stop when you go over jumps.

Fractious Fox
Jan. 12, 2011, 04:31 PM
I think working on the trails is really good actually, especially for dressage basics! You can do everything you'd do in the arena at this stage on the trail.

To answer your question though, we've been working on:
- straightness!!!
- true bend into the outside rein
- listening to the rider's body and increasing adjust-ability
- remembering that we have four legs, not just two up front
- working from back to front with that impulsion and getting off the forehand when we are tired

All of this is coming along well in walk and trot, but we are at the point where the canter needs to be focused on. Really, the biggest thing holding him back is fitness though. My guy is very immature at 5 and 18h, so I'm not too worried. He really is starting to "understand", but sometimes his body isn't ready for it, especially towards the second half of his ride time, or after a day or two of good work. I really try to mix our days up with trail work because he can use all sorts of muscles, and increase general fitness, so the trail is a good place! It makes for a forward horse, too! :)

Jan. 12, 2011, 04:38 PM
Work on learning to hold themselves up in the contact (i.e. stretching for contact, but not hanging). Fantastic exercise for this is to work up an inside track in counter bend, and then either 10m circles at the ends with the correct bend, or a stretchy 15m circle at A and C. Mix it up with transitions to help them work on hind strength, and moving off the leg quickly and immediately when asked.

At least, that's what my trainer keeps getting after me to do. It's actually been too cold and I've felt to crappy with the flu to do much at all. :lol:

Jan. 12, 2011, 10:27 PM
You are so lucky you CAN trail ride right now. We have been confined to the indoor for about 6 weeks due to darkness (after work) and footing (snow or frozen ground). Hacking is great for a young horse. I did a lot of that with my 4 year old last summer and this fall. We did 3 BN events last year and a couple dressage shows.

Right now, since we are stuck in the arena, our main goal is consistently working into contact and getting her back swinging. As far as movements, we do leg yielding, shoulder-in, turn on the forehand and haunches, and attempt lengthenings at the trot. We do some spiral in and out on circles, and work on the quarter line asking for some outside flexion followed by inside flexion. I do trot poles about once a week too.

Jan. 12, 2011, 10:40 PM
my 4 going on 5 hafie, is working on contact and giving to the bridle. she can be VERY stubborn. I sometimes have to break out the dreaded double twisted. only for a short time. Don't forget flexion in the neck, simple to forget, but a nice supple neck is nice. Hard to to break them of stiffness when they are older. I really have to work on balance, lots of transitions. Remember when you go, they are babies and look at the small things that they improve on. We did 6 BN events this year. My achivements, getting around each events with no freak outs and getting past the trolls in the ditches. On to Novice now. hopefully fingers X's.

Jan. 12, 2011, 11:03 PM
On a connection and not faking it by over-bending (much easier!). Consistently picking up the right lead, counter-canter to build up the hind end and make him comfortable with this lead. Going forward, maintaining a consistent rhythm. I don't have an indoor, though I do ride in at least twice a week, so often I am found hacking through the snow, usually at a walk, working on transitions. Keeping my pesky left leg on. My new homework is much more advanced, including haunches in on a circle at the canter, shoulder-in for all gaits, turn on the forehand & haunches, spirals, and shallow loops for canter departs. Lots and lots of walking, his least favorite gait.

Anyone else have a horse that can go really well, or like a camel that has never been ridden? Dressage should be interesting!

Jan. 12, 2011, 11:36 PM
Thanks so much for all the feedback and in advance for any yet to come. I'm lucky to live where the trail riding is great. Just last weekend we did a mountains and beach ride and then did another ride along the beach. She is really good about going into the ocean, up to her belly even! In the summer when we have piles of seaweed she will jump over them. And when I find a log on a trail and it looks safe to jump we nearly always do. I do try to incorporate some work into trail rides like lateral work or asking for simple transitions. And when we canter she has to pick up the lead I ask for or start over again. She's good about her leads though. I am really looking forward to taking lessons again. I am myself new to eventing and dressage so I will obviously be learning a great deal. I think my horse's main issue is she just needs to learn to use herself better. She canters pretty nicely but we still work on traveling nicely and not getting too excited about transitioning between gaits. She is very smart and I think she wants to do the right thing- but sometimes it's hard when you are an OTTB.

Jan. 13, 2011, 12:49 AM
Dressage rider here with a Greenie and soon moving to event barn :)

I have a 4.5 yo who is just learning basic responsiveness. All I have to ride in right now is a smallish indoor, hacking has to wait till the slippery mud dries up. The focus is forward, rhythm, balance, going over her back, and accepting of the aids, especially turning with the outside rein, but also accepting to bend.

Jan. 13, 2011, 11:33 AM
I am so jealous of you guys who have access to trails!!! Ours are very limited, but honestly I couldn't go out on them anyways. My horse is not good on trails and my coach has been working with him, but I am not ready to take him out myself again. Hopefully we can sort this out since I really want to do a 3 day at some point in the future!!!

As far as the transitions go- I have been working mostly on trot/canter transitions so we are definitely keeping the forward going :)

Jan. 13, 2011, 05:52 PM
Limited trail access *sigh*

My 3 going on 4 soon-to-be BN horse is working on throughness, carrying himself more 'up' into the outside rein... transitions, serpentines, leg-yielding.....