I actually have a horse who gets tense at changes of scenery.
Therefore, for us, it's all about changing scenery as many times as possible.
At home, the arena has a 20x60 portion marked out so I can practice geometry and another 40x60 portion with the corner chopped off. I will intentionally ride in one portion, get him going nicely - then switch areas. At my trainer's, each lesson will include more than one arena if possible. When I go to clinics, I like to warm up in a different arena than I compete in.
I don't know if it comes from just changing things up for a horse who likes routine, from new things to look at, a different perspective after he has gotten comfortable, or what. But each ride in the competition arena gets better at each show, and he is learning to adapt and just leg yield out his tension in his warmup around the ring now. Really, in the end, miles are the biggest thing you can do to help your horse. I definitely also do a lot of "taking a break" then getting back to work, since if timing is off at a show and the warmup ring is far from the show ring you end up waiting a while. Time to get totally focused on me again is rapidly improving.
Honestly, it sounds like its the rider. I know plenty of people who warm up beautifully and then bomb in the actual test. If you are tense, he wont move as freely. Have someone else show him at a Dressage show and see what happens. Maybe a friend or barnmate might want to show him or you could switch horses for the show day.
When I warm up, I make sure and warm up until its my turn to go into the show arena. If Im done with my warm up, I walk (not on a loose rein) and put in a few pieces of trot to keep him from thinking he is done. Maybe you are finishing warm up early and he is protesting by acting out?
A little curious here: is he pastured with other horses or alone? Maybe he's a tad resentful about leaving his new found friends in the warm-up ring? Of course that's just tough, but just wondering.
KO, You are correct in that I'd rather do our schooling to fix this issue without having it permanently on his competition record. He is a phenomenal performance horse and I think our struggles are two fold. I am getting more tense because I'm trying harder each time we go in the ring because each time we go in the ring we are doing more poorly. It is a vicious cycle. And At home (and in competition warmups) we are not testing ourselves to a planned test often enough.
As Janet said, "There is a BIG difference between making the transition at H no-mtter-what, and waiting until you have a quality moment to make the transition." We need more to improve our no-matter-what stuff.
netg, This guy loves change of scenery, new environments, etc. It perks him up. So an new ring and an audience would normally set his show-off fires burning.
PiaffePlease, you could be right. He is the type of horse who will lose edge when you give him a break in your schooling or lesson. He is generally a very chilled out guy, not much ruffles his mental feathers. I spend much of my time feeding the fire to get him revved up instead of bringing him down enough to focus on work. Too much walking while we wait could be one of our problems (Or too much warm up. This is something I will have to experiment with this winter).
alicen, He is pastured alone, but shares a fence line with a gelding. They enjoy playing a modified game of halter tag and enjoy grazing along the fence close to each other, but are quite content to graze at opposite sides of their fields. And when either is removed to go to work or a show, it is the one who remains that is most put out, not the one who is going to do the work. He is also in sight of many mares and geldings in other fields, but has no bonds there and is indifferent about their whereabouts.
I did not come from dressage so feel free to discount ;) among the western folks they say that "don't pay nothing to win in the warmup pen"
Originally Posted by SpruceLane
meaning of course that since we run for money in cattle events or barrels or such,killing your horse practicing pays $0.
Also we believe that horses are smarter than people give them credit for and if once you have excluded YOU and your nerves and your signals and your tension, it is quite possible (even probable) that the horse has learned (to put it simply) that you cannot bust his ass for misbehaving in front of a judge...
so he learns he can avoid work at <that> place and time.The solution is (again for us) to go to less expensive entry events to school him and if need correct him properly.The dressage set seems to get more traumatized about all that as if every appearance outside a stall must be flawless,not so much some of the other folks.
But we look to ourselves first and them to him
I agree with this - it may be VERY subtle on your part but a slight tightening of the thighs could make him loose impulsion.
Originally Posted by GoForAGallop
I though a judge was nuts for her comment "rider tense" - that is until I saw the video. Completely loose in warmup but enter for test? Tense rider = short strided horse. :eek: