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View Full Version : Long and low/stretching into contact vs falling on the forehand



MeghanDACVA
May. 24, 2011, 01:07 PM
Preface:
Stupid question, I know
I know all the prinicples, the classics, etc.
I ride up thru about 1st, ridden since I was 9, now 52, dressage work for past 20 yr. I am not a pro.
Mare is big and difficult; if she spent half as much time figuring out how to do what is being asked as she spends trying to figure out how to evade it we would be miles ahead.
She is 17.2, and big. I am 5'2". She is 13, have had her since 6 months.
She loves her forehand :-)
I ride with an ULR/T on a regular basis (monthly or so), and have with ridden with others for many years.

Now the question/problem:
Like I said, she LOVES her forehand. She also loves either hanging or getting above the bit and immitating a camel. Did I mention she is difficult (ULR/T have this same opinion--she is not easy to ride).

So when working on long/low to get her to stretch thru her back, etc, she often feels like, and prob is, just going on her forehand. Even when she on contact (and not pulling). When I send her forward she 1) goes faster 2) goes further on her forehand 3)throws her head and does her camel immitation.

I CAN get what feels like her stretching and lifting her back but what I wind up doing is picking up more contact while I send her forward. And now it feels like I am pulling. And the other thing she loves as much as her forehand is for little ole' me to hold big ole' her up.

When she IS good and correct she is lovely. But the other 80% of the time....

Have done teeth, vet, saddle, bits, yadda, yadda, yadda.

So I need ideas and suggestions from people who ride difficult, opinionated horses.

Elegante E
May. 24, 2011, 01:56 PM
Have a smaller version of this. Basically, it's a strength issue for her. You need to develop the stretch and contact. Kind of why I find the stretchy circle in Training level a bit bizarre. It's a lot harder than it looks.

First thing, don't let her hang on you. If she leans, down transition. Halt-reinback-trot off is a good one (may have start by few steps of walk off then trot). That puts her on her butt (don't over do it as it's a lot of work). Regular transitions are fine as well, walk-halt/trot-walk.

Keep her bending so that she has to balance herself. Don't toss her onto a circle, but put her on one then push her through (inside leg asks for more push while inside hand softens and outside leg prevents hind quarters from swinging out). Serpentines. Change direction a lot.

Softening fingers. I spent a lot of time softly sponging the reins to keep my guy from leaning (think more breathing rein and don't saw!). Do you understand a lifting inside rein? Being sure to NOT work on the bars of the horse's mouth will get you less resistance.

When training a horse, there may be times when the weight of the reins increases but if you are too small to handle it, then you have to work smarter and probably slower (as in letting the horse rest more and not expecting too much too soon).

Btw, for a good stretchy circle as well as keeping the horse out to the bit, that takes strength and time to build. Start by working on a 20m circle and asking for just a little stretch half a circle, then shorten again. Do this maybe twice around. Not until you can elongate the horse will you successfully be able to ask for more power from behind. This work can take months and years to be successful depending on the horse's conformation and abilities.

Elegante E
May. 24, 2011, 02:07 PM
Ok, am wondering if you understand how to ask for stretch?

On a 20m circle. Soften insider rein, ask for a bit more bend with inside leg at girth, catch with outside rein (it stays steady, maybe a little sponge), if horse softens down gently, give an inch maybe less of rein.

Don't just release the reins and let the horse dive. Don't drive the horse forward with the inside leg. How can a horse maintain its balance if you are releasing the reins and driving? That is putting the horse onto the forehand. The bend asks for the stretch, not driving. And not too much bend. If you can't do a solid 20m circle, you aren't ready to stretch. Balance first!

If the horse remains steady with the inch extra, then ask for stretch again. Don't stay on the stretch or circle for more than twice around! This is work, not relaxation as the name implies. The moment the horse loses balance or becomes heavy, take back the rein or ask for a down transition (being sure you keep your chest up and open, don't just dump the horse). Once the horse gains strength, you can ask for a bigger stretch but it's always in increments (inch every stride kind of thing).

Petstorejunkie
May. 24, 2011, 02:27 PM
this sounds like an equitation issue on a sensitive horse.
what will really help most is if you can take a video of you attempting to warm up your horse, and sending her into LDR so that we can get a more accurate perspective of what's going on.

netg
May. 24, 2011, 02:45 PM
Shoulder fore, shoulder fore, and more shoulder fore.

Until you're ready for shoulder in and haunches in.


(Plus the other suggestions already offered, especially correct transitions.)

MeghanDACVA
May. 24, 2011, 02:50 PM
ElegentE: Yes, I understand a lifting rein.
And thanks for the stretch clarification. That does help some.
But when working on going Longandlow, as opposed to a true stretch (I am assuming they ARE different) the same issue of her love of her forehand is there.

Petstorejunkie: I am sure some of it is a function of my less than perfect equitation and riding. No problem owning that one!! But when several big time ULR/T (read 2 Olympics, multiplePan Ams, etc) have the same problem, I am pretty confident it isn't just a rider issue. Yes, they can get her "fixed" quicker and better than I can but it is still an issue for them.

MeghanDACVA
May. 24, 2011, 02:55 PM
Shoulder fore, shoulder fore, and more shoulder fore.

Until you're ready for shoulder in and haunches in.


(Plus the other suggestions already offered, especially correct transitions.)

We spend alot of time in shoulder fore. But can't do that when workng L&L or when stretching. Can I?
And she has SI and an early/respectable HI. Also good LY. Can get a tiny tiny bit of HP and working on counter canter.

alto
May. 24, 2011, 02:57 PM
Conformation issues, training or both creating the forehand dive?

How does she go on the lunge? (or longe :) ) - if you fix her there first, it will be much easier to get her responsive under saddle as she'll have the muscles etc to carry herself properly: if she's gone OTF all her life, I'd expect 6 months of correct lunging to just get her started on the mindset that maaayyyybe using the back end might be easier :lol:

How respectful/dominant is she on the ground? can you do anything with her, touch her anywhere without a single hard look or ear protest or sidle away?

Retraining her would be much more efficient if:
- you were able to ride at least twice weekly with a coach that really knows how to train the horse/your riding of the horse
- or maybe a 3day clinic for some major breakthroughs
- or have a trainer ride her for a month (or 3 as needed)



she LOVES her forehand. She also loves either hanging or getting above the bit and immitating a camel. Did I mention she is difficult (ULR/T have this same opinion--she is not easy to ride).

BUT the ULR/T should have her going correctly 80% of the time even on a first ride - if not, keep looking for the right trainer.

MeghanDACVA
May. 24, 2011, 03:19 PM
Conformation issues, training or both creating the forehand dive?

How does she go on the lunge? (or longe :) ) - if you fix her there first, it will be much easier to get her responsive under saddle as she'll have the muscles etc to carry herself properly: if she's gone OTF all her life, I'd expect 6 months of correct lunging to just get her started on the mindset that maaayyyybe using the back end might be easier :lol:

How respectful/dominant is she on the ground? can you do anything with her, touch her anywhere without a single hard look or ear protest or sidle away?

Retraining her would be much more efficient if:
- you were able to ride at least twice weekly with a coach that really knows how to train the horse/your riding of the horse
- or maybe a 3day clinic for some major breakthroughs
- or have a trainer ride her for a month (or 3 as needed)



BUT the ULR/T should have her going correctly 80% of the time even on a first ride - if not, keep looking for the right trainer.

Regarding the later part first. Yes, usually in less than 5 min she is right for them. For that ride.

Re the rest of it:
She is built moderately uphill. Definitely not downhill. She is a Hanv/TB cross. While not ideal conformation, definitely better than average overall.

I don't lunge alot. Maybe I should but there are only so many hours in the few days I have free. And I have never gotten the knack of doing more than having the horse going around and around. No, this is NOT something I am going to work on perfecting. I have to prioritize and my life and world is not perfect. I do what I can.
But, I will lunge her and see what she goes like. It has been long enough I can't remember!!

Hmm, that respect issue. With ME, I can do ANYTHING to her. Period. She is what I call an Alpha Wannabe. And she definitely has an attitude, and will try you. (She is spayed because she literally got dangerous when she cycled, right thru progesterone. And she was unridable.) She has mellowed in her old age though and is far more cooperative now. But she is still her.
Depending on her mood and such there are days I will definitely get "a look" when I ask for something on the ground. Other days she is compliant, sweet, etc. Even without her ovaries she is a mare through and through. (She is bay BTW. I don't want to think what she would be like if she were chestnut!)

The Retraining parts:
1) Sorry, but the part of life that provides for the horses precludes this. Esp since my current trainer is 4 hours away. (Better than the 12 hrs my former one was). He was actually here last week for 2 days. Worked on alot stuff. 2nd day was really good (not perfect but better). Then I worked for 3 days straight. That means I don't even SEE a horse, and they live with us, on work days. Leave at 5:30am, get home, if lucky, about 8pm.
2) Do them several times a year.
3) Been there, done that, have the empty check book to prove it. She spent almost a year with one. Things definitely got better but we still have problems I want to make go away.

But keep the ideas coming. New ones are popping up!!

alto
May. 24, 2011, 05:38 PM
She is 13, have had her since 6 months.


:lol:
I misread that as I've had her 6 months :o :o :o

If you feel you want to try lunging, have your trainer spend some time with you on this.
You should be able to plan on lunging for ~10min before each ride so not a huge time commitment; depending on your skill aquirement level, your trainer may just need to spend 10-20min before each lesson getting you sorted for your lunge "homework" for each month & then you'll see steady progress from there.
What you really want is for her to get consistently OffTF every day that you work/ride her even if it's only for the smaller part AND build on that with every session.


Look at your saddle & how it sits you - forward?

Elegante E
May. 24, 2011, 07:17 PM
Not sure what lunging will accomplish here. If the horse is doing SI and HI, then it should have the strength to stretch down and out.

Better do work on cavalettis to keep the horse up and open while srtetching forward.

Have to ask, if you are lessoning with BNTs that can do it, why didn't you ask them what they were doing? What does your trainer say?

If a horse goes below a certain point, it WILL fall on its forehand at trot. I'm thinking the difference between L/L and stretchy circle is that L/L is on the forehand. It has to be unless the horse is an upper level one.

MeghanDACVA
May. 24, 2011, 09:29 PM
Not sure about the saddle question. I think it sits me right. It is level on her.

And I have asked the BNT's what they do. And I get all the usual words. All the stuff I 'know'. What I need is exercises a mere mortal can do to help her, and me.

I will try some of the suggestions tomorrow.

allison finch
May. 24, 2011, 09:42 PM
A horse will not be able to stretch long and low until they can move forward and carry their own weight first.

At a recent clinic, a rider brought her 17.2 homebred. This was a magnificent horse that was displaying behavior similar to your horse's description. As a result he would fall on his forehand and go hollow.

http://i176.photobucket.com/albums/w162/allisonfinch_photos/Canadian%20clinic%20May%202011/Impulsionplease.jpg

I got on her and had a discussion on going forward and carrying her own weight.

http://i176.photobucket.com/albums/w162/allisonfinch_photos/Canadian%20clinic%20May%202011/Havingfun.jpg

She was able to stretch better after going forward and lightening her forhand as a result of her self carriage.

alto
May. 24, 2011, 10:39 PM
Not sure what lunging will accomplish here.

have the horse practised in moving in the desired frame without riding every step, have the horse doing this under the OP's leadership (vs trainer's) - I'm thinking this is a mare who's quick to take advantage & she has a pattern of behavior with the OP that includes levels of evasion undersaddle.
From the initial description it sounds as if this mare is consistently on the forehand, I'm curous how she moves at liberty & in the pasture?


Not sure about the saddle question. I think it sits me right. It is level on her.
A video or even some good photos would help - even if you never post anything here, video footage of your lessons & then rides without your trainer may add clarity.


And I have asked the BNT's what they do. And I get all the usual words. All the stuff I 'know'. What I need is exercises a mere mortal can do to help her, and me.

If you can manage a 2 week holiday & spend every day riding with your trainer, that may be the key to change.
Even if you can only manage 2 rides with trainer & then stay off her back, then 2 rides with trainer etc - try this for a total of 8 - 10 rides before you begin riding her on your own again.


allison finch - lovely photos!

kinnip
May. 24, 2011, 10:49 PM
"Passade – Although its name looks similar to one of the airs above the ground (pesade), a passade is a small circle executed with the haunches making a smaller circle than the forehand. It is often used as preparation for pirouettes at the walk and canter. The size of a passade varies with the gait and the horse's stage of training but should never be more than 6 meters. In the long performance, the School shows a 1.5 meter passade at the walk and a 4.5 to 5 meter passade in canter." -from the SRS site

I love doing lots of this at walk. Don't get me wrong, I have yet to produce a Passade I can be proud of, but just trying seems to help the horse and me a lot. The horse, and you, really have to control the haunch and the shoulder separately. It's like yoga.

MeghanDACVA
May. 25, 2011, 02:22 PM
Thanks guys. Alot of things for me to try.

I really wish I could take 2 weeks and do nothing but ride with my trainer. I know it would help alot but it just isn't a financial option. I used to take 5-7 days and go to my former trainer. Helped some.

I know alot of it is me, and she does take advantage, etc. So I need ways to work around her evasions so we can get out of our cycle.

At liberty she is not on her forehand. Not lofty but not on her forehand.

And I am looking at new saddles as my butt has outgrown the one I have.

Off to do my homework!!

MassageLady
May. 26, 2011, 07:58 PM
Lots of transitions-lots of lateral work, to build the hind end. I'd only ride her straight as long as she was using the hind end...don't allow her to go on the forehand-once you feel her not using the hind end, do something to 'encourage' her to do so...lateral moves, etc. Work on long and low after she's built up and understands.

Showbizz
May. 27, 2011, 07:56 AM
EE gave tons of great advice for this issue! I've been there ;)

CFFarm
May. 27, 2011, 10:09 AM
Ok, am wondering if you understand how to ask for stretch?

On a 20m circle. Soften insider rein, ask for a bit more bend with inside leg at girth, catch with outside rein (it stays steady, maybe a little sponge), if horse softens down gently, give an inch maybe less of rein.

Don't just release the reins and let the horse dive. Don't drive the horse forward with the inside leg. How can a horse maintain its balance if you are releasing the reins and driving? That is putting the horse onto the forehand. The bend asks for the stretch, not driving. And not too much bend. If you can't do a solid 20m circle, you aren't ready to stretch. Balance first!

If the horse remains steady with the inch extra, then ask for stretch again. Don't stay on the stretch or circle for more than twice around! This is work, not relaxation as the name implies. The moment the horse loses balance or becomes heavy, take back the rein or ask for a down transition (being sure you keep your chest up and open, don't just dump the horse). Once the horse gains strength, you can ask for a bigger stretch but it's always in increments (inch every stride kind of thing).

Read this over again. Excellent post. Make sure you concentrate on your own position also. It's easy to tip forward without noticing. You should try and post a video for more detailed help.