Go to our "Spinoff: French School!" thread and read it from beginning to end. Print out the Bibliography for future reference, because you're going to want to read a BUNCH of those books. Then go to "French School Workshop" and add your experiences to those of the folks also experimenting with this and posting there.
Enjoy your hunter pace this weekend, and remember that in EVERY SINGLE THING YOU DO you will SEPARATE THE AIDS. NO hand and leg at the same time. Draw your horse a picture of what you want and I'm guessing he'll go 95% better by the end of the weekend out of pure gratitude!
BTW--after reading all of the above you may well decide to ditch those two "trainers." Based on what you've said, I think you'd be better off without either of 'em. Instead you may want to consider working on your own until you can get to a clinic with one of the French School clinicians who travel around; in the interim, there is lots and LOTS of YouTube!
Keep up the good work, your HORSE is right! :cool:
I feel better about what's transpired. I have a feeling I'll have to wait to read the thread for a rainy weekend, sounds long. What can I search on youtube?
I am almost totally convinced that this has been my rides problem and now I am having to deal with it.
So many trainers over the years have said PUSH him into the contact ride him into your hands.
WEll, not the answer I agree and it makes so much sense as to why horses stop going forward, and suck back.
you also need to figure out which system works for you......
i would spend some time researching trainers in your area and go audit lessons.... also watch their student at shows etc. the horse will tell the story if you are watching :)
and just as a cautionary tale - a few years back i was at a very frustrating point in my learning - and i also posted on the internet and i listened and tried to implement all the seemingly good ideas.... unfortunately that ended up really setting me back and wasting a really talented horse.
i will be blunt: find a GOOD trainer and then do as they say - that is the recipe for success :)
It is one thing to offer up, "Here is something which you may find helpful," and quite another to be so impressed with one's own training-by-typing to with a straight face advise someone to throw everything out and watch youtube instead.
I mean, if it gets to the point that a person is so afraid of real life charlatans that they will listen only to nternet forum posts ....... hm.
ToN Farm: I feel at a disadvantage here now. lol I don't know who you are. haha You must know me well though bc I really haven't discussed this issue with many. : )
No worries, I'm not doing away with any trainers. LOL That's the thing about the internet for me. I listen to everyone and take what I like and what works and disregard the rest. I have confidence that my trainers will be able to help be decide what the best path will be to overcome the issue that I'm dealing with. Having said that, being able to ask on a forum (between lessons and without hounding my instructors) for perhaps another point of view or opinion is great for me. Sometimes I get so one track that other options just don't occur to me because I'm so concentrated on the way I think it "should be done".
So the remedy that SwampYankee suggested is currently working and my horse seems happier and is going better. This is perfect for me "right now". I can work on keeping him forward and happy until my next lesson where I can discuss with either trainer how to proceed. Who knows she may come back and say "you can do (what SwamYankee suggested) all you want and you'll be at first level forever or you can do what I'm telling you to do and move up. I have no idea yet how things will go but to get me through the the next lesson I need to do some experimenting on my own and see what will work to keep us on track.
I'm not switching courses or trainers at all. Well unless someone wants to sponsor me and see if SP has an opening.
Hi again. I wanted to post another update and see if anyone finds that I'm going in the right direction.
So I really haven't worked on anything since my last post. I had a hunter pace that was so damn fast that I really didn't have time to work on anything and then I've been sick. So while being sick I've watched a few videos of Colonel Christian Carde. Both address contact. First one was with a TL horse who really was never taught to go into contact. The other was a 3rd or 4th level horse who was going into contact with tension. After watching the videos I decided to go out and see what I can make of it. So maybe this is stuff I should have learned the first week of ever sitting on a saddle maybe not but either way, it's new to me. lol
Here's how it went:
Halt, pick up contact to where you want it.
Horse braces bulges under neck
Hold contact hold your position as much as horse braces is as much as you hold.
Horse softens rider still holding contact where you want it immediately softens too.
Horse stays soft ask horse to walk forward. If horse braces rider holds until horse softens.
Horse softens, rider softens
horse stays soft rider asks for a walk or trot.
Horse braces rider holds till horse softens (while still maintaining requested gait)
horse softens rider softens.
I continued in this fashion through many transitions between gaits and within gaits. I forgot to add NEVER let horse go backwards (although in his video he did, I prefer to correct this behavior as #1 on my list).
Horse was never allowed to dip behind the bit nor drop the shoulders. Once you've asked a few times and horse responds like he's finally understanding how this works with a few correct steps, immediately stretch the horse down and let him trot on.
I worked for about an hour and by the end of the hour after working through the tension I was able to get 2-3 halt canters that were soft and without bracing. This is a HUGE accomplishment for us. We rarely ever got trot canter trans without horse tossing head and loosing connection.
I should also mention at no time was he allowed to be invisible to my hands up front. I always insisted on a soft feel of his mouth and him going to the bit.
My thinking by the end of this session is "No wonder I'm having such difficulty. If I can't hold my position in halt because he's already bracing against me what makes me think that I will be able to hold it in trot or canter?"
Basically it was a matter of making the wrong thing uncomfortable and making the right thing pleasant.
Like I said above maybe I should have learned this years ago but for some reason it's only coming into play now. I'm a little embarrassed to admit it.
Any thoughts on this? P.S. I've never heard of the above trainer. I'm just a member of Dressagetrainingonline and came across his videos. I thought they were very interesting.
Kurplexed, I think my last trainer was more accomplished with training younger/newer horses than anyone I have worked with.
Anyway, she did have contact follow as much as she would variate the rein length. So she would allow the horse down the rein (longer) but keep contact while they went down and then she would ask forward until they would also pick up and she would have to shorten out of necessity. I think it is best to shorten out of necessity.
I read something in a book last night that made me feel quite a bit better regarding 2nd-Level Contact/Collection. The author stated that just like most things with horses establishing correct Contact was an ongoing process and that it was rare for horses at this level to not have faults in the connection. Again an ongoing process. Internally I think I knew this--but thought it was good to be reminded.
I approached my so-called 'contact' difficulties in a slightly different manner by going back and confirming Rhythm/Relaxation/Suppleness on curved tracks especially circles and serpentines. I also focused on suppling the poll-jaw and from that I have been able to establish the kind of light-elasticy feeling contact onto both reins I was looking for. Still all very much one small part of an ongoing progression. Good Luck!
The author stated that just like most things with horses establishing correct Contact was an ongoing process and that it was rare for horses at this level to not have faults in the connection. Again an ongoing process
I agree. Here's what I don't understand.... We are going around doing our thing. Trainer says "shorten your reins" as soon as I do horse gets heavy in the hands causing either my arms to come forward intentionally or not(which effects my whole position for the worse) or my reins get pulled out of my hands causing again "shorten your reins". After a few minutes of this I find horse has slipped behind my leg and I'm unable to leg him into the contact effectively. When does he get rewarded? What is his motivation to go forward? Where is the conversation? Why am I told to send him into a closed door? If I do what's next? Am I supposed to be giving when he meets the hand so that he stretches to the bit? If I'm giving how do I recycle and elevate?
I don't know maybe I'm missing some fundamental information here.
What I do know is by using the method above I've had a happy forward horse who's chewing, round and obedient.
I've only read 11 pages of the french thread so I can't chime in on that yet but for me the blockage I was feeling was immediate and started as soon as the reins were picked up. Probably produced by my uneducated hands. At least with this method I am able to reward my hrose and he's understanding leg = go but hands do not mean stop. There is a conversation going on. I'm not even sure I'm doing the entire method correctly and once I've stopped him from bracing on my I do ride into a soft contact but I am not letting it get too heavy without addressing it.
Yesterday I was able to put the reins in one hand at ALL gaits and my horse stayed forward and round. I went from collected to working to stretching back to working back to collected etc in all gaits. This was pretty amazing considering that a few days ago my horse was rearing when asked to go "into contact".
I tried the reins in one hand because it seemed to help me mentally separate the hold vs the give. It make it more clear to both of us. It also allowed me to use my whip in the correct position without having to draw my hand back which I sometimes do. It was very eye opening. I have a lesson on Sunday and I can't wait to hear what my trainer thinks of what's going on.
No. I don't think I am being harsh. I'm just shortening the reins normally. I've tried going super slow and I get the same reaction. It's not even something that one could detect just watching from the ground. It's a feeling the horse gives me in his body.
I do think perhaps I don't have the forward thinking hands that I should. I've always struggled with this. Doing what I've been doing the past few days though seems to def make it clear to me the difference in holding vs forward thinking. With this method I do now feel like my hands are forward thinking and I do feel I'm able to keep them in the correct position. My only concern is I don't want my horse to hold a "pose" I do want him to go to the contact but I want it to be a contact that I determine and not determined by the horse. Know what I mean?
If you want to send a video of you riding with this problem I would be happy to review it for you. Sometimes it is a combination of aids and timing that are off.
Another thing to check is your horse's nutrition. My Grand Prix horses receive much more "energy" food than my training level horses. Feed is adjusted according to work.
I really wouldn't mind if he rushed. THEN at least I'd have something to deal with.
Equus: I have 3 videos all from my first lesson in which he showed he was not happy. I'll send you the links. Thanks for taking the time to look at them.