View Full Version : Can I just ask....

May. 18, 2012, 10:26 PM
ok NOT wanting to start a trainwreck. This is a LEGITIMATE question that I can't answer. Please let's not turn this into a warzone. Please?

So for anyone that has been following my other post on Off Course about my horse's unhappiness in dressageland, you also are aware he is for sale. Tentatively. :lol: Since he is for sale (remember, tentatively!) I have sort of given up on trying to really school him with a purpose, and decided today we'd meander around the farm and maybe *gasp* hack the loop around the property. Since I am in dressage tack (hunter princess isn't quite comfortable in it yet) and worried about the potential for him to turn me into a projectile (pony also isn't a great hacker) I decided to play safe, spray my boots with stick spray and put on draw reins in case we need an e-brake.

How odd. Horse was a GEM. I did a very short warm up in the ring to ensure today wasn't an energetic day, and he was so soft and lovely with the draws on. Here's the disclaimer: they were LOOSE. I mean, loose....flapping in the wind loose. I have ridden with draw reins before and know how to use them, and they were just there as a safety measure today. There was no contact on them at all, and they kind of just hung there while we had a lovely quick boot around, and then a lovely short hack (not a foot put wrong yay! :D)

My question: WHY was he so good? He was forward, stretchy, and relaxed. More so than usual. And after several days off...I just don't understand this odd phenomena! I'm going to ride without them tomorrow and see if it's a one off, or what. I just couldn't believe how good he felt!

Is there an actual explanation for this?!

Again, this was a one off for safety reasons and NOT going to be a cure or fix or crutch. First hack of the season, and I wanted to live through it. Just looking for any sort of explanation as to why this happened!

May. 18, 2012, 10:41 PM
Relaxed plus confident = great seat :)

Open hips with your hands probably more forward because you are less worried about the high head or tension :)

What level are you at? Were you asking for collection already?

If it was just the basic self carriage then really this is your answer... Your seat might be closed and defaulting to a defensive posture over your previous problems.

May. 18, 2012, 10:43 PM
I think it was psychological for both you and your horse. You gave up fighting him with dressage and you relaxed and he relaxed. I saw your other thread and wanted to say something to this effect, but I didn't want to post to interfere, but since you're asking;

1. Are you only doing dressage with your horse?
2. Have you considered training in many vocations? I hope to try some working equitation and competitive trail with Fella as well as dressage.
3. What do you and your horse do to relax?
4. Do you ever just ride for fun?


May. 18, 2012, 11:37 PM
People need mental and physical breaks and a variety of activities to be healthy and happy. I don't think we should expect any different from our equines. :)

May. 18, 2012, 11:42 PM
I agree that it was probably because you were relaxed and trusting with your extra brake (in case you needed it) and because you were not focused on MAKING him do something.

You need to up your confidence and also allow for mistakes and break away from heavy training (to him) sometimes. Just be relaxed and be happy to be on him. It sounds like that's how you're riding when you have the draw reins on and are not focused on doing so much. :D

May. 19, 2012, 06:46 AM
He may also have been a lot more supple!

May. 19, 2012, 07:40 AM
You rode the horse, not the plan ;-)

May. 19, 2012, 07:45 AM
"... they were loose ... "

Are you sure you aren't mistaking a death grip for contact in your usual riding? I have one who won't go anywhere near sliding side reins simply because they put too much weight on his mouth. When I use side reins, I use a pair of leg straps off of a blanket, because they're light in weight and have some give and don't flop around. This horse has taught me what contact is, and how light it can be. I now understand contact by the way the horse is using his body, not by what I feel in my hands. If I try to take a feel before the horse is ready, he will wad up, get tense, flip his head, etc. If I ride him to the contact, concentrate on his balance, instead of "taking" contact, he's lovely.

(disclaimer--I did not go back and read your original thread, so this may be totally irrelevant, but the comment about the loose draw reins made me wonder. I also agree with what others have said about this possibly being a confidence issue)

May. 19, 2012, 08:21 AM
I've had this happen a lot-- the days I just ride and see what I get with no plan I have the BEST rides. I think I over-try generally and this makes me tense despite my not being aware of being tense.

May. 19, 2012, 08:41 AM
You rode the horse, not the plan ;-)

Love this.

May. 19, 2012, 09:12 AM
Without having read any of the other thread.
Sounds like you've been riding his head. Trying to/worrying about a frame.
The draw reins slide, not allowing you to be stiff/unforgiving w/ your shoulders,elbows, wrists.

May. 19, 2012, 09:30 AM
There was no pressure! You've made the decision to take the pressure off your self and the horse.

Similarly, I had a horse that I was working on tempes with. One change - easy. Start doing 6's, or 5's - disaster.

This horse was also for sale. A family came to try him, and he was sold, but going to stay in training with me until the family returned home from a vacation a few weeks later. I put the check in the bank, and wouldn't you know it, the next day: 4's, 3's, 2's.........

The pressure was off to get them, since the money was in the bank!

May. 19, 2012, 10:11 AM
I think he knows he's on the bubble and decided he'd better clean up his act! :D

May. 19, 2012, 10:27 AM
The training goes both ways.

May. 19, 2012, 10:41 AM
Most of the time when a horse is ridden, especially under dressage instruction, the horse is asked to move in a frame, rather than from the rider's seat. What this means is that the horse's shoulders are restricted, much as yours would be if you were forced to run with your arms plastered to your sides. It is much easier to become unbalanced that way. With your loose reins, you were not restricting the horse's shoulders, thereby removing the threat of him becoming unbalanced and afraid that he might fall down.

Sometimes, when the reins are restricted, or the rider is aggessive enough within that restriction, you can sort of muddle through, though the horse will be labeled hot and explosive in the process. Yes, you can have a hot, explosive horse, but restriction into a frame creates an even greater potential for this.

You can take draw-reins, or a martingale, or a curb bit...with or without a double bridle that can afford greater ability of the rider to force the horse to maintain its unbalanced state over long periods of time...hence greater leg injury risk over time as well. I do understand your use of a martingale for the instance you used it. I have done so myself when safety becomes more necessary...just to have a little something for an unplanned event. I always start a youngster with a martingale in place. Most people do not use them, however, for this, but use the leverage of the martingale or other apparatii as a framing aid.

Too bad you do not have someone who can teach you how to train correct contact, which would then allow your horse to perform like this all the time...even without the martingale.

May. 19, 2012, 12:54 PM
I don't think it had anything to do with the tack, and I agree with Petstorejunkie...

Too often, the rider's effort or desire interfere with their ability to feel and connect with the horse. This ends up producing sour horses and riders quite frequently. As an instructor, I deal with this type of issue on a regular basis, but it can be HARD to convince a rider that they need to be "less serious". Taking the pressure off can make all the difference.

I know a lot of people that became suddenly more successfull with their horses as soon as they decided to sell.

It's all between the rider's ears, usually.

Derby Lyn Farms
May. 19, 2012, 07:31 PM
I had a horse that rode way better outside. In the indoor we could just never get it right, he was always tense and choppy and dragging me around. Outside he was a gem, moved nice and free, and was so soft on the bit. I think he just preferred outside.

May. 19, 2012, 07:57 PM
Some horses LOVE draw reins.

Gasp! Yes, I said that :lol:

IME a horse who loves them wants the bit to be really, really still and stable. So maybe there is something to be learned here about your horse, OP.

May. 20, 2012, 09:14 PM
Firstly, I am SO GLAD this didn't open up a can of worms! :D

TO try and answer some of the questions; I am just starting into dressage after being in the hunter ring for the past 10+ years (10 years with this horse alone) I do not jump due to a back injury, and have been focusing on dressage (basic stuff, training level) for the past year. The horse has fought every inch of the way, and dislikes pretty much every part of what we've been doing. He hates having someone sitting on his back, he hates the contact (I have been working with several very BNTs, who I respect immensely) and even they have commented at how unhappy the horse is in this new job. I have been working on contact for months now, and have gone from too soft and too quick to give away the contact to being better able to keep the contact. I have noticed a difference in my horse, he's much quicker to "seek" it out and feels so much more "there" in my hands...rather than there...not there...there...not there as we bounced off each other :lol: I am not a "death gripper" by nature, I'm the opposite: quick to throw the contact away and give the reins...I have horribly soft hands :(

He LOVES to jump, and if I ride him like a hunter, we have fabulous, enjoyable rides. I did find out (through my current trainer) that this horse does like a nice happy mouth mullen mouth snaffle and has been so much quieter in one - he does seem to like the very quiet and still bit.

I was hoping to "convert" him as I really wanted to keep him, and thought this could just be another chapter for us. Not so much.I have come to the realization that this isn't going to work (hence the easy ride the other day) He does not hack well, is spooky, hates bugs, jigs, and generally is pretty miserable, either alone or with others. I rarely (if ever) try to hack him now, as neither of us seem to have any fun or find it very relaxing, so it's hard to find a "new career" for him at 15 years of age.

I think I'm going to try the draws again, and go for a "real ride" to see what happens. Maybe he likes them....? :confused:

May. 21, 2012, 02:33 PM
My mare is easier to get round and thru with draw reins or double - it's simply the weight of the reins.

Could that be the answer? I rarely do more than lightly use the draw reins in the very beginning of the ride, making certain I am keeping her through with my seat. Later in the ride (usually about 10 minutes into ride) she no longer needs them.

In double I don't touch the curb rein - I don't need to. The pure act of riding her in 2 bits handles the extra "push" she needs at the start of the ride.

If I ride without draw reins for 1 day I'm fine, 2 days she gets harder to "get together" so it takes longer to get her through before we can begin the real work.

So I ride with the draw reins most of the time. I never rode with them until I started riding thrid level and trainer felt I had enough of an independent seat and great "feeling" in my hands/arms to handle draw reins - then she taught me the correct way to put them on and use them. (I rode with double reins as a kid when using a pelhem on my hunter.) Using them saves me wasting 30 minutes of my ride time in warm-up, now lengthy warm-ups are only after shes had 2 days off (or more) in a row.

May. 23, 2012, 08:37 AM
Some horses LOVE draw reins.

Gasp! Yes, I said that :lol:

IME a horse who loves them wants the bit to be really, really still and stable. So maybe there is something to be learned here about your horse, OP.

My instructor put a "german martingale" on the leased horse I'm riding. Daylight and dark ... he's so much happier because my hands are better under control. In my situation, it's entirely rider error.