View Full Version : What Are You Doing With Your 4 Year Old Dressage Prospects?

May. 26, 2011, 08:16 AM
I know each horse matures differently. I am interested in hearing what breed of horse you have and what you are doing with it. Training program, hacking, AP or dressage saddle, plans for showing, etc. Thanks! This should be interesting and educational.

May. 26, 2011, 12:26 PM
My 4 year old Friesian Sporthorse mare and I are walking and trotting in the arena. Big 20 m circles, changes of direction, transitions, etc. Very basic stuff. But then... she's a spookaholic, so we're trying to get her to just focus more on her work than the dressage letters that will inevitably eat her.

She's too spooky for me (please understand that I am recovering from a very severely broken ankle and so I do not push the envelope right now) to hack out at the moment... maybe someday...

May. 26, 2011, 12:29 PM
I have been walk/trot, nice big round circles, even half passes to get his stretched out, just working on fundamentals.

May. 26, 2011, 02:20 PM
Here are videos of our four year olds that are under saddle right now. They are all registered American Warmbloods (AWR) and roughly 45-50% Hanoverian or Oldenburg & the rest is TB from our breeding program.

Liam (http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=don+william+wf&aq=f) spent the winter in Aiken seeing the world at Phillip's barn with Ryan and the girls hacking, doing training-first level stuff and jumping Novice stuff plus grid work about once every 10 days. He was started in August last year, had 2 months off and restarted in January. I took him to his first schooling show 3 weeks ago and we got a 7.5 in the 4 Year Old Test (mostly due to the fact I'm not very fit when it comes to the canter work). We have entries in again for this weekend. My goal is to be fit enough to bring him out down south this winter in the FEI 5 year olds if all goes well. Pedigree. (http://www.paardenfokken.nl/pedigree.php?horseid=303261)

Hansel (http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=wall+street+wf&aq=f) was started in February and the videos are from his first few rides with Ryan. He does banks, ditches, water, WTC w/ clean, uphill and easy changes and is just working on the basics. He's going to stay in that program for the summer - so flat 3-4 days per week and 1 jump session (either w/ Ryan or loose jumping grid work). Pedigree (http://www.paardenfokken.nl/pedigree.php?horseid=303208)

Whodini (http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=whodini+wf&aq=f)was started in February and is a bit ahead of Hansel (super quick learner). He's working on his stretching & lengthenings, WTC & changes, baby leg yields, a bit of counter canter and all the cross country stuff is fun to him. Like Hansel, he'll stick in that same program for the summer. They'll go event a bit with Ryan as his schedule permits or XC school as needed. If I am fit enough, we'll go show the 4 year old test at a schooling show or 2. Pedigree (http://www.paardenfokken.nl/pedigree.php?horseid=303207)

Stella (http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=daylily+wf&aq=f) was started last summer and has had the winter/spring off due to my injury. She'll on the schedule to add back into the riding horse group next week - so a few days of lunging w/ tack and then away we go. She was solid WTC w/ changes last year and hopping logs, so hopefully we pick up where we left off. :) Pedigree (http://www.paardenfokken.nl/pedigree.php?horseid=303260)

Photos L-R
Whodini jumping the ditch (he really loves to jump)
and Stella right after she came home from being started.

Kris - you have my complete sympathy and admiration on riding a spooky horse with a bum ankle. I had a truck smash my ankle and do a whole bunch of nerve damage back in November and it has shattered my confidence for being able to deal with a spook...let alone push a horse much. :sigh: I dream of being able to relax and put full weight on the leg with my heel down someday in the future...

May. 26, 2011, 05:28 PM
Not sure if this counts, my guy is coming 5 in a month... but he just went out to his first recognized show at Training 3 and earned a 72.8%!!! I try to keep his work program interesting, with hacking, lunging, riding in our jump field, ring work maybe 2 days a week. Good luck with yours!

May. 26, 2011, 06:11 PM
Kris - you have my complete sympathy and admiration on riding a spooky horse with a bum ankle. I had a truck smash my ankle and do a whole bunch of nerve damage back in November and it has shattered my confidence for being able to deal with a spook...let alone push a horse much. :sigh: I dream of being able to relax and put full weight on the leg with my heel down someday in the future...

Absolutely... it's taken a lot of slow confidence building. Obviously, I purchased and fell in love with my mare before I broke my ankle, so I'm not willing to just give up on her because she's a spooky four year old. I often wonder if she's too much for me in my current condition, but I have a wonderful trainer who has vowed to stick with me every step of the way and I spent gobs of time on a lunge line on a dead broke schoolmaster for several months before we went to tackling her! Right now, we're riding in a western saddle, to help me with my confidence, which of course, helps her with hers and she improves by leaps and bounds on every ride.

May. 26, 2011, 06:16 PM
I have a four yo GRP mare (will actually be 4 tomorrow....) who I'm just itching to get out. She walk/trot/canters with minimal fuss. Sometimes she swaps behind if we lose the bend, but we're getting better!
We work 5 days a week, half of the time in an arena and half the ride out in the field/on the trails. I think that the trail riding has made her into a very brave little pony.
We do go to clinics once a month to see how we're doing and get new 'homework' from my trainer. I think it's good for her to get out to new places and be ready to work, not look around and goof off.
Shes a pretty solid training level, but I'm loathe to take her to a 'real' show until she's schooling at lease first. I'd like to be over prepared with her. :D

I feel behind the eight ball with her since my little quarterhorse was showing all summer his three year old year... Now he's a bombproof 7 yo schooling third.

May. 26, 2011, 06:28 PM
My 4yo (PRE) works on rhythm and relaxation in the ring and goes for long interesting trail rides, where he works on the same thing with all sorts of spooking and balking opportunities.

May. 26, 2011, 07:29 PM
^^ Haha, yes!

My 4yo GRP is comfortably doing w/t/c under saddle. We've worked on baby leg yielding to correct some obvious straightness issues. Since she's of the "damn quick" variety, I do a lot of variation in my figures (figure 8s, serpentines, etc) to make sure she doesn't get bored and start making her own decisions.

I've done some trot poles with her, but she enjoys her trailrides the most. Ponies are bold, people. Bold.

I haven't taken her out to shows, but I did trailer her across the country to a new barn recently. Which she took all in stride... since, after all, her feed bucket had some grain in it when she got there.

May. 26, 2011, 07:45 PM
My 4yo, 16.3 hh WB (TB X Shire/Percheron/paint cross) started work just 5 weeks ago. He is learning super fast, and I attribute his speedy learning with lateral work etc to the facts that 1- I did a bunch on the ground first (long-lining, lunging, and just lateral stuff) but probably more importantly- 2- our barn has a drill team which is absolutely AMAZING for young ones. If there are 4 or 5 well schooled horses around your horse, doing the leg yields, etc, he can learn SO fast. I've backed horses with and without the drill team, and can say that one drill team night is worth about 3 weeks worth of schooling without it. What a huge difference!

And it's nice that he has to learn to behave well in company as well as out.

I'll also say I don't know what my colt's chosen career will be. I'm a jumper person at an eventing barn, but he seems to be leaning toward being kind of a fancy dressage guy. I bred him to be an all-around sporthorse but I don't know what is going to happen! His suspension in the trot is unreal, and his canter is beautifully balanced and WONDERFUL. I really hope his jumping will be up to the quality of his flatwork so far.

Just took our first hack on the trail the other day, he was peeky but not bad, though there was one troll behind a large boulder that made me wonder if we might not be flying soon.

May. 26, 2011, 08:03 PM
2009 was my horse's 4yo year (late May baby, started Nov '08) so here are some videos from that year:

He was going 2 or 3 times per week for 20-30 minutes at this point.

4 times per week, 30 min

(Although this video makes me :cry: because it has my NJ hunter trainer's voice on it.)

We moved to a dressage barn and did not jump the rest of the year.

Jan 2010 (which still counts bc he is 4 1/2 here technically)

We moved to TX and on this day trailered out to see how the jumps were doing.

The by now famous "Baby Green Hunter Moment" upon which COTH decreed I was ruining him and should get a new trainer. :lol:

First Level Test 2, 68.8%
My first dressage show ever (obviously his too).
Sadly we went off course.

First Level Test 1 68.6%

More dressage shows when he had turned 5:
FLT3 66.5%

No score because we unintentionally left the arena. Whoops.

Other fun vids:
Prix Caprilli 71.6%, September 2010

Ruined horse jumping, October 2010

Latest jump video, February 2011

From the videos it looks like all I ever do is jump but I swear the horse jumps twice a month max and sporadically at that. The February video is the last time he jumped this year.

We didn't do trails in TX because there weren't really any, but while in NJ and especialy as a baby he went on endless hacks. From his first week at the hunter barn he was going on hacks; he might school 20 minutes first or might not, and then we would go on a 30-60 minute walk.
So trails and hacks were a HUGE part of the program in NJ.

Some pics from that:
(Chronologically backwards from about October 2009-Nov 08)

Different 4yos
4yo I rode for my BO in TX.
She went twice a week for 30 min.

This is a combined video of three rides from Alph's first month jumping.
At that time (Sept of his 4yo year) he was going 5 days a week for 45 min.
He is now a full time dressage horse, unless he is teaching a lesson or pinch-hitting at a show.

May. 27, 2011, 08:51 AM
I am not doing much with my 4 year old. She has been very growthy and was 3" butt high for most of last year. She was started by a professional baby breaker last April and has no behavioral issues (thank you Angela) other than just plain gawkyness. I gave her 6 months off from November to a couple of weeks ago. She still seems too physically immature to ride more than 4 days a week. Unfortunately, I cannot hack off my property or around my fields (too steep). She is by Sir Sinclair and 16'2 right now. it seems as though some of the Sirs develop more slowly as they are soooo leggy. Does anyone else have a "late bloomer"? Not trying to hijack the thread...

not again
May. 27, 2011, 09:35 AM
I have a 17.2 four year old Waldaire that I haven't started under saddle at all. She free jumps and is wearing tack though!

May. 27, 2011, 09:43 AM
Not Again, that makes me feel better. I gave my filly (guess she's a mare now) the 6 months off to grow into herself which she did. I haven't ridden a baby in 17 years and forgot just how different it is. It is just a gut feeling that she needs more time. I had a TB/QH that I was eventing at the Novice Level at the same age...TB/QH and WBs are so different.

May. 30, 2011, 07:20 AM
Just a bit of an update on Liam - we went to the Cross Roads Tack Show @ Quentin Riding Club yesterday and got an 8.16 in the 4 Year Olds Test! As I was able to sit all of the trot work (except the lengthenings), I am going to try to wear my show boots and if that goes ok - it's off to find a recognized show! And we got a 9 for our walk! So excited to have such a nice horse to ride!

Photos are here (http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10150266798065239.371759.160425195238).

May. 30, 2011, 09:25 AM
Congratulations on your success Tasker! Hope you can get those boots on.

May. 30, 2011, 11:31 AM
Kris - you have my complete sympathy and admiration on riding a spooky horse with a bum ankle. I had a truck smash my ankle and do a whole bunch of nerve damage back in November and it has shattered my confidence for being able to deal with a spook...let alone push a horse much. :sigh: I dream of being able to relax and put full weight on the leg with my heel down someday in the future...

give yourself time! you can get your confidence back if you really want it! i shattered my tibia and fibula 2/12/10 and ended up in the hospital for 4 days having a rod put in my tibia from my knee to my ankle with 4 screws. i was walking my dog at night and slipped on ice i didnt see on the sidewalk. it was devasting! i had been bringing along my 5 yo horse and he had been doing so well. when i started riding 3 months later i was scared. but i wanted it so i did it. my horse is usually very well behaved. he is a 17 hand swiss warmblood. the dr allowed me to start jumping late last fall. i had to start all over again due to me being scared. and then in december it was really cold and my horse was getting fit and he spooked really for the first time and dumped me and ran away from home for 2.5 hours. my leg survived! but i was now a bit afraid of my horse. i put a neck strap around his neck and persisted. but i had to wait really 6 weeks after the spook and fall off because i was scheduled for surgery to hage the screws removed. i have my moments where i am afraid, but i want it bad enough, that i push through and feel great! just give yourself time and only push yourself so much that you can handle it. you will get it back. i still have trouble with my leg, but i am doing okay!
BTW your horses are lovely! thanks for sharing your videos. when i was horseshopping i would have loved any one of your horses!

May. 31, 2011, 11:13 AM
Thanks for the encouragement guys! :) The ankle is tricky as there seems to be a nerve trapped somewhere (the MDs want to leave it alone to see if it quiets down), so it's the act of putting my heel down & putting weight on it that is a bugger. :sigh: But it is somewhat better and I'm getting used to the pain - but when it do the wrong thing - holy smokes does it hurt! Oh well...I can ride a bit, that's the main thing! The show boots fit fine but the ankle seems to squish the tendon onto the bone spurs & hooks, so it will be a matter of toughing it out to try to show but I'm filing it away under the 'no pain ='s no gain!' for now!

TS - the young horses are a great motivation to just suck it up and get the job done. They really are a blast to work with, so it's worth it, right? :) :yes: :)

Perfect Pony
May. 31, 2011, 07:15 PM
My 4 year old (June 28th) 14.1hh Connemara mare is ridden 4 times a week (twice during the week by a trainer and weekends by me) and is ready for training level and schooling 1st. She was started late last year lightly, and started work early this year. I am getting ready to show her at training level at the end of June, and she is going back out to pasture in July to live out 24x7 and will be schooling in the ring lightly and concentrating on trail riding for the summer-fall. She is WAY ahead of where I anticipated her being at this point so I feel like I need to back off for a while.

May. 31, 2011, 07:39 PM
I have a 17.2 four year old Waldaire that I haven't started under saddle at all. She free jumps and is wearing tack though!

This makes me feel better. My mare is three and I am only only able to ride her on the weekends due to work and having a young child. However, she is the most amazing TB mare that every ride is a dream. I am so in love!

I wanted to add that this mare is my horsie soul mate!

May. 31, 2011, 08:00 PM
I started my now 4 year old Hanoverian mare last year, and after some lungeing, long lining, and lite riding (10 rides total), I found out I was pregnant so put her away until this spring. It has rained so much here that I had to delay riding a bit which was ok since I have my hands full with a full time job and a newborn! She went to my friend who is an event trainer for 1 week, and now I am riding her. She has a whopping total of 13 rides this year including that with the trainer. This past weekend she went away to a clinic for the first time and rode in a spooky indoor with wierd stuff like a vaulting dummy, etc. I was very proud of her even though she was a bit quicker than at home. We are currently trying to get a good canter/canter transition as she feels a bit fast and flat. I hope this is just a young horse thing! I have no plans on showing until the canter thing works itself out. I wish I had a larger arena to ride in besides a 20X40, but that is what I have. I have trail ridden her twice and no problems-very brave. I will try some lower level eventing next year to hopefully create a well rounded athlete, but my passion now is Dressage.

May. 31, 2011, 08:08 PM
I have 2 four year olds. The GOV gelding is going great u/s, has done some clinics and a schooling show. He is easy to get along with and train, so he has progressed in his work. He is still growing, so I'm not pushing too much. We trail ride quite a bit and he loves that, the big hills are good for him and wildlife crashing around sometimes doesn't bother him. He is currently schooling training level work plus lateral, and is consistent. He has a laidback temperment and is very kind and sweet, so he will make a nice prospect for someone -- he's too big for me. My other 4 year old is a Trakehner filly or mare, just starting her round pen stuff (again!) u/s and I'm really impressed with her. She is smart and listens and I love everything about her so far. Hope to find time to progress to riding soon -- hot and steamy here! I wish I could get more done, but I'm not moving too fast anymore and have alot of other stuff to handle, too, LOL!

May. 31, 2011, 08:22 PM
I breed Irish Draughts. I send them out in fall of the 3yo year with w/t/c the goal for spring riding outside. If we have a nice fall and winter they will get out sooner. The other option I consider is starting in fall of 3yo year and then coming back home to wait til spring. It is the judgement of the trainer. I have a 4yo Welsh Cob who was a bit of a laughing criminal and went out at 3 in the fall mostly to have someone convert her from a happy criminal to a happy worker and he achieved this nicely. Then in April as a 4 yo she went to Dressage School and is outstanding. The goal on all my 4yos is to be sold. So far they sell as soon as they are offered. I don't put competition records on but they will be ready to show at 4. I will move them around to find the right place to sell them from. I like to put the Irish Draughts out with trainers who haven't had one to train yet as they become believers and then have Irish Draughts on their raidar for their customers. I have had non-Irish Draughts as youngsters and find canter is the challenge if you send them out to soon but canters are the best gait for the IDs so you get w/t/c pretty quick. PonyCob was much more interested in Punking someone til she learned training is fun. I think that is my real goal...teach the young horses to have fun working. PatO

May. 31, 2011, 10:54 PM
Rex turns 4 next Monday. I lightly started him at 3.5 in November. Since November, he has had approx 22 rides. I usually ride him once every one to two weeks. And usually I do not work him between those times. No rush as hes big and growing.

We have w/t/c u/s since our 5th ride (well 5th ride was at a clinic and we got to canter and its never been an issue). Really just working on forward. Once we had that, introducing contact and accepting the bit, and the last few lessons, bend. Hes a very balanced horse - picks up the correct lead over 95% of the time and will do a flying change to correct if asked.

Unfortunately he got a puncture through the skin on the outside of his left hind on the side of the cannon bone right between the digital tendon and suspensory. He actually did it when my mare was chasing him and he kicked at her and caught her tooth on his leg. Yeh. So hes on limited turn out with a wrap and no riding for 3 weeks. And I literally just bought a new saddle for him last week!

Once I get to riding again, we will just pick up with again focusing on forward and accepting of contact and start asking for steps of him carrying himself and lifting his back and working to build strength.

Test riding the new saddle here but this was like 2 weeks ago at home
http://a6.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/249664_1973364740984_1449009522_32230149_7728399_n .jpg

http://a5.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/227881_1973365060992_1449009522_32230152_914296_n. jpg

A few weeks ago with Mr Trainer
http://a5.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/225075_1907599776901_1449009522_32131155_7808870_n .jpg

http://a1.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/223146_1907601016932_1449009522_32131160_7833350_n .jpg

This is back in Feb - 11th ride
http://a5.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/181907_1795593216807_1449009522_31954357_3078575_n .jpg

http://a1.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/180128_1795594296834_1449009522_31954362_986737_n. jpg

Hes a big love bug though
http://a8.sphotos.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc6/224192_10150185731742414_634627413_7296724_7783247 _n.jpg