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View Full Version : On draped reins, or more connection ?



17Rider
May. 9, 2012, 10:29 AM
I guess I am a crossroads (again) about how to ride my horses.
On one hand, I am mesmerized by the style of Anja Beran, as I see on her youtube videos ( and dvds). The photos on her website seem great, don't they?

The training I have available to me at home is a very different style. Its alot of contact, with much tighter reins, pushing the horse through, getting the back, the hindlegs, engaged, do you know what I'm saying?

It seems like a different world to what I see*** , yet have not directly experienced (AB).

Is it a case of the grass is greener?

My coach works me in a way that leaves me and my horse drenched, exhausted, like we can never be forward enough, engaged enough, collected enough, fit enough... I also got 2 blisters, and tend to take tylenol on clinic days.

I could be a wimp. I have been told I don't do enough or ask enough of my horse, or ride *hard* enough.

I was just looking at Classical stuff again today and thinking it looks like they don't even break a sweat.
How do they keep the connection, engagement, and progress the horses on draped reins?

NOMIOMI1
May. 9, 2012, 10:38 AM
That is not normal :( you can have connection and without blisters (yikes). To start you dont need collection or a tons of forward to just begin contact... Later as the horse learns to be quicker off your leg and you learn to train with quicker aids then your horse can begin to shorten as well as connection will be there throught the horse whole body.

To start you should be letting them go down the rein and learning to use your legs promptly and your half halts to help balance.

That all sounds so miserable I am sorry :(

dwblover
May. 9, 2012, 11:25 AM
Blisters are certainly not normal, sounds like your trainer is asking for way too much contact in your hands. A full glass of milk is about all the weight you would ever want to feel in your hands. If you are holding the whole gallon then it is time to re-evaluate. BUT I would also like to point out that a draped rein is the END result of teaching the horse to collect on contact. The draped reins are the goal, not something that you can really just start with. You need a connection and contact to "talk" gently to the horse's mouth. Then as the horse gets proficient he may not need the reins all the time, but that takes years and years.

meupatdoes
May. 9, 2012, 11:48 AM
Ultimately, the purpose of training is to get the horse to maintain as much on his own. He should be forward without needing constant reminders from the leg. He should hold himself under the rider's seat lightly without constant reminders from the hand. The rider should do nothing as much as possible, and remind only as necessary.

This is because ultimately, the rider only has two legs, two hands, and one seat. If they want to get the more advanced stuff done, the horse has to be doing most of the rest himself.

The classical riders you admire are setting up the expectation, and then letting go to see if the horse carries on on his own. Constantly looking for places to let go and let the horse do it, gradually they turn more and more responsibility over to the horse. They teach, ask, and then allow him to perform.

Constant maintenance of every last thing is exhausting. If you are breaking a sweat you are working way too hard.

Find a trainer who will teach you how to teach your horse to carry himself.

Dutch Lovin' Dressage Rider
May. 9, 2012, 11:50 AM
Dressage should not be painful - for the horse, or for the rider. That just doesn't sound right! You shouldn't have blisters, arms shouldn't hurt, back shouldn't hurt, crotch shouldn't be raw.

Sounds like riding front to back, if your hands are taking that much weight. But don't throw away reins/drape reins either.

I can't imagine ever getting blisters from one horse! Heck, usually work 4-6 per day alternating riding with long lining, so my hands are holding 4-6 pairs of reins on way or another 5 days per week, and I never get blisters!

Do you have other alternatives for trainers?

JackSprats Mom
May. 9, 2012, 02:22 PM
In all fairness you're comparing apples and oranges.

You're looking at a finished horse, my guy, once we have worked through some of his right bend issues, is light forward and round. Getting to that step may take 10 mins of reminding him he can't take the inside rein from me becuase he doesn't believe he can bend right and me sweating (in fact the last lesson it lasted longer then that!)

Also it depends on your level of fitness. I've taken about 12 months off from riding 6 days a week and at the end of a ride now I'm exhausted!

Another point, your trainer is there to push you! Most riders do not ride forward enough or ask enough and are happy with 'good enough' (I fall into that, its very easy when you're on your own alot). To suddenly be asked for more once a week can be alot.

If you're unsure, ride with a couple of other trainers and see.

I expect to feel pushed in my lessons, its what I pay for.

Aven
May. 9, 2012, 02:34 PM
At first glance it doesn't seem right. BUT I had a student who got blisters riding a mare that tolerated barely any contact. The student just had very easily blistered fingers.

Are you making progress? Are things getting there? Or are you being pushed and pushed but doing the same lesson over and over again? How does it look on video? Are you happy with things when they are going well?

Western
May. 9, 2012, 05:30 PM
Ultimately, the purpose of training is to get the horse to maintain as much on his own. He should be forward without needing constant reminders from the leg. He should hold himself under the rider's seat lightly without constant reminders from the hand. The rider should do nothing as much as possible, and remind only as necessary.

This is because ultimately, the rider only has two legs, two hands, and one seat. If they want to get the more advanced stuff done, the horse has to be doing most of the rest himself.

The classical riders you admire are setting up the expectation, and then letting go to see if the horse carries on on his own. Constantly looking for places to let go and let the horse do it, gradually they turn more and more responsibility over to the horse. They teach, ask, and then allow him to perform.

Constant maintenance of every last thing is exhausting. If you are breaking a sweat you are working way too hard.

Find a trainer who will teach you how to teach your horse to carry himself.

:cool:meupatdoes, you rock! Instead of saying anything further, I'll just repeat your post, if it's all the same to you!

17Rider
May. 9, 2012, 05:34 PM
Thanks for the thoughtful replies!

I could probably start a spinoff on the idea of dressage should not hurt... wasn't there an article recently of Stephen Peters and how he runs/ works out to stay fit enough to ride well?
I know someone else who went off to Florida to train and posted she needed to increase her run to 10k.

I did not know dressage was a sport requiring that much fitness... and I am not a noodle... I do barn work and start young horses. Just not fit enough to "dressage" 1400# wb, I think. Arabs and morgans are easier for sure.

HOW did Debbie do it on Brentina? I was seriously thinking of relocating just to train under someone who knows about that!

Yah, I'm a lowly young horse rider, but my personal horse is now 10. Trainer pushes me, wants me to be effective... but dang. It does NOT look like AB. I held onto the buck strap for strength, also because I had 2 blisters, was dying for breath and she was NOT letting me slack an ounce... which worked. I used to be a 'loose noseband' let the horse come around philosophy, but trainer is kind of the opposite of that.

Its not front to back riding, but rather trying to get his butt in gear but not letting him run away.

?. I don't see tight reins on any of Anja's riding, which makes me think I'm missing something.

AnotherRound
May. 9, 2012, 05:53 PM
A goal is 'lighteness' - as meupadoeos said, more and more you are working towards 'self carriage' so everything you do, you then ask him to maintain, release and ask him to continue.

There is a diffrerence between some schools of dressage which push from behind with the seat into the hand, and others which ask for engagement frombehind with the legs and lightness. You are looking at the french school in those vids, not the german school.

AnotherRound
May. 9, 2012, 05:56 PM
It also takes strength for a horse to do that, and to be light doing that strength which requires conditioning, repetition and balance, strength. For yor, yor\u also need strength, core strength to carry yourself, as well.

ThreeFigs
May. 9, 2012, 05:58 PM
I'd bet Anja and her horses sweat a little bit on the way to that light, looped rein riding. Also, they're Spanish, for the most part, aren't they? Those critters are born in collection.

Yes, you do have to be fit for dressage, but it's a certain kind of fit. Core strength out the ying yang. Cardiovascular fit, however you can achieve that. When all is going well, though, even a "hard" workout seems easy until you step off the horse and feel like an overcooked noodle.

I amazed my coach at the last clinic we rode at -- I'm an asthmatic, my horse was acting the fool (the wind was tearing the barn apart -- literally!) and it took all my strength and concentration to keep his attention ON ME. But I realized that my breathing was steady, rhythmic in time with the horse, and I never once needed a breather during the 45 minutes we rode. The horse's walk breaks were very brief, not enough for ME to recover under the usual circumstances. However, that day was an awesome ride, there was something Zen-like about it. I was soooo focused and in the end, my horse WAS listening and soft and springy and all the good stuff. He gave me a good stretch on contactas part of his cool-down. But ride him on a looping rein? Um, not that day!

If you are not achieving some level of lightness -- even if it's only a relative thing, then something MAY be wrong with your trainer's approach or you're missing something. A correctly ridden horse should feel more light & elastic as the ride progresses. Without alienating your current trainer, check out other trainers, watch their lessons, try a lesson with another instructor. See what they have to say.

Petstorejunkie
May. 9, 2012, 06:28 PM
AR Summed up everything I was going to say.
Balance before power, always.
rider position, position, position.

sorrelfilly721
May. 9, 2012, 06:31 PM
Constant maintenance of every last thing is exhausting. If you are breaking a sweat you are working way too hard.

Find a trainer who will teach you how to teach your horse to carry himself.

This reminds me of a video I saw of Clint Haverty once (a reining trainer). The interviewer asked him why the horse kept turning even though he wasn't continuing to cue him. Clint said something like "this horse has a j.o.b. right now and his JOB is to turn around. He keeps doing that until I tell him not to". Always reminds me not to nag my horse while putting a smile on my face.

Foxtrot's
May. 9, 2012, 10:09 PM
My horse's trainer teaches lightness - I'm so lucky.

SnicklefritzG
May. 9, 2012, 10:17 PM
Dressage should not be painful - for the horse, or for the rider. That just doesn't sound right! You shouldn't have blisters, arms shouldn't hurt, back shouldn't hurt, crotch shouldn't be raw.

Sounds like riding front to back, if your hands are taking that much weight. But don't throw away reins/drape reins either.

I can't imagine ever getting blisters from one horse! Heck, usually work 4-6 per day alternating riding with long lining, so my hands are holding 4-6 pairs of reins on way or another 5 days per week, and I never get blisters!

Do you have other alternatives for trainers?

THIS!!!!

To the OP: your experience sounds much like mine when I first dabbled in dressage years ago. I would get off at the end of a lesson and feel SORE to the max, particularly in my arms. I was in absolutely tip top shape then so it seemed really strange to me that I'd feel so thrashed. These were schoolmasters too that knew their job, but probably weren't going to do it until I proved that I was worthy. lol.

Fast forward to 2012 and now I'm riding a 6 year old OTTB who is forward, generous and very willing and patient. She doesn't know a whole lot and neither do I, but the partnership works. A HUGE HUGE HUGE part of this is having a trainer who understands the two of us and what dressage should feel like, particularly when dealing with a horse who is very sensitive.

I'd look around for another trainer. I don't think you should hurt or feel sore at all.

mbm
May. 9, 2012, 10:52 PM
wellll..... first the goal is not the same as the path to it. and each horse and rider combo will have a different *feel* between them.

as an example my WB mare always is a bit too light in the bridle and my Con is always a bit too heavy....

it is impossible to say whether your current style is too much or too little in the larger sense but it sounds like too much for you and your current horse.

have you tried out other horses?

because honestly, while it *is* hard work to train a horse up the levels and for them to be in self carriage - there shouldn't be many rides where you are exhausted.

the goal is lightness.

one thing that i have to remember all.the.time when looking at vids on line is that those horses are already where the rider wants them - we dont get to see the training process that gets them there.

and sure if you want to ride like anja berran go find a tainer to teach you how.

JULSCARVER
May. 10, 2012, 04:36 AM
I ride a schoolmaster who's very clever. He doesn't like to get off his right shoulder. It takes me at least 10-15 minutes of LY, SI sometimes HI to get him through. BUt it's a tough 15 minutes for me; I have to work hard on my position to get it right. But I get rewarded with some lovely lateral work-his half passes are to die for.
I like my trainer, she's all about lightness in the contact and making the horse carry himself.
But after most rides I get off and I'm sweaty! This makes me happy, I don't think I'm doing anything wrong. I work hard on ME to make it easier for the horse to do what he needs to do.
As an aside, I do alot of pilates, cardio and weight work so my fitness is good.

Carol Ames
May. 10, 2012, 05:00 AM
I amazed my coach at the last clinic we rode at -- I'm an asthmatic, my horse was acting the fool (the wind was tearing the barn apart -- literally!) and it took all my strength and concentration to keep his attention ON ME. But I realized that my breathing was steady, rhythmic in time with the horse, and I never once needed a breather during the 45 minutes we rode. The horse's walk breaks were very brief, not enough for ME to recover under the usual circumstances. However, that day was an awesome ride, there was something Zen-like about it. I was soooo focused and in the end, my horse WAS listening and soft and springy and all the good stuff. He gave me a good stretch on contactas part of his cool-down. But ride him on a looping rein? Um, not that day!

LookmaNohands
May. 10, 2012, 06:56 AM
Have you read "Twisted Truths of Modern Dressage" by Phillipe Karl? He talks about how wrong it is to do this constant pushing of the horse into a fixed hand and many other things including rolkur. He is very classical. That book cleared up a lot of things for me that some people teaching. Expensive but worth it to me.:yes:

mbm
May. 10, 2012, 09:53 AM
I have a bit of a different take on reading books like twisted truths etc.

personally i got lost for many years in the oh god i am doing it wrong, i need to be perfect before i can do anything" mind set. i got not very far and lost a lot of time.

nowadays i do the best i can and try to remember that i pay my trainer to teach me - not so i can second guess him, or not learn.

so even if something feels funky to me - i try to remember that i am still *learning* and my feel isnt all that it should be -

i guess my real comment is: find a good trainer whom you like - then shut up and RIDE! do as they say and see where you go. :) otherwise you might just sit around T level never getting anywhere but feeling smug that you are riding on loose reins :)

beckzert
May. 10, 2012, 12:17 PM
In your description of what your trainer asks you to do, I noticed quite glaringly that self carriage was not on your list.

It's true that the horse needs a lot of strength, conditioning, and forward energy to be correct, but one of the basic tenets of dressage is moving the balance from being mostly on the front legs to the hindlegs in a relaxed and progressive manner. The horse should ultimately carry itself. The "loose rein" riding you see in some classical riders is the result of long years of work and acquired skill. I don't think you should try to ride you horse that way particularly, as it can cause many problems if your horse is not yet able to fully carry itself on it's hindlegs, but they should be light in the bridle (somewhere between .5 to 3 pounds can be correct, depending on the horse). You shouldn't feel like you are holding them up or trying to stop the water from pouring through a dam.

As instructors, we have to learn the balance between pushing students to do all they can and recognizing when it's enough for one day. Training of horses and riders should be progressive. You should read Charles de Kunffy's article called "The Teacher's Notebook" (I think it's available for free online somewhere). After reading the article you will know more clearly whether it's time for you to change trainers, or at least seek another opinion.

NOMIOMI1
May. 10, 2012, 02:14 PM
Beck is saying it exactly :)

Before they get light and you can test the loose rein and connection you have to help the horse over their back at a level of contact that will help them step all the way through with their body and not lose balance.

My trainer called it walking into their fronts... Using their shoulders to the maximum without speed and loss of consitancy.

As they develope a topline then will lighten on their own but that does not mean they should lean either.

Leaning downward and forwad is something else altogether and just sweating and forcing forward will not fix this because the horse must be using himself from the very first step you ask.

If you have to ask you trainer if you can just work in a walk for a while and get your horse connected without pulling. Then move to trot only when you feel in control without tons of pressure. And same with canter.