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  1. #1
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    Default Okay great COTH dressage gurus...thoughts?UPDATE, new ???

    My mare has been in training for the last 60 days to be sold as a hunter. He went home for Christmas, so I'm pitch hitting for the next couple of days.

    Background..I've had her since she was 3 months old. When I look back to this photo (and nope, it wasn't photoshopped) at age four, I think why, can I not repeat this. This was a trainer who had her in training a few years ago.

    http://s222.photobucket.com/albums/d...t=diva_4x6.jpg

    When I got on her yesterday and today, I could tell what an awesome job the trainer has been doing because she feels so strong. But even he said before he left, that she still wants to dive down on the forehand and run...instead of rocking back (heck, she has to learn this as a hunter too, unless she wants to take down all the fences. ). Since I've had the luxury of riding my schoolmaster in many lessons this month....I felt a little more knowledageable since the last time I rode her (October)...I could feel the issue was straightness. She will avoid coming into the bridle by wiggling any which way she can. Once I had her straight and on the outside rein..she was using herself much better. We started cantering and I could feel her sitting back as much as she can (she is croup high), but still could not get her soft in the bridle.

    Here's the two things that are driving me nuts.

    1. She could care less about stretching long and low...that is a fight to the finish...all she wants to do is wiggle, look around, anything but submit and reach over her back. She is much softer when she is asked to come UP instead of down....do I worry that our stretchy warmup isn't as productive that I like. I feel like I'm cheating since this part of the puzzle is never completed.

    2. It drives me nuts, I can get her to use her body, but still cannot get her soft in the bridle.


    And a side note...teeth were done last month, just had the chiro look at her, saddle does fit, she does have a full time trainer.

    Granted, I know I have her for sale, but this puzzle drives me insane. She does try, and she does work hard....but just will not give in the bridle.

    I tried on her on Lubrisyn for 10 days, trainer didn't see any difference so I took her off. She does lock her right jaw....I almost wonder if she could have a jaw issue...but the chiro that just looked at her is VERY thorough and found nothing conclusive.

    I'm not asking her to passage and piaffe, just make connection.

    I've tried every trick in the book that I know of....anything worth trying (not interested in gadgets).
    Last edited by dalpal; Dec. 31, 2008 at 04:52 PM.



  2. #2
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    Forward, down, out come from the horse sustaining a steady connection and working into the hand. The horse (likely) does not want to go out of balance. The question is always: would you jump the horse from the posture you are asking her to work on the flat? 60 days is just enough to go straight ahead, make large circle, make a steady connection, and sustain a steady tempo. In doing large circles (20 m) the horse can softly chew, offer a light lateral flexability, any flexion (longitudinally) will come over time. Very cute horse, dont ask more of her than the first pix, and thats already alot imho.
    I.D.E.A. yoda



  3. #3
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    Nov. 11, 2006
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    perhaps she just needs some time to grow up? she's still young to be all business when you want her to be, and some horses mature slower than others. Does she get enough turn out time, time to be a horse? shes certainly a cutie and obviously she has it in her, but maybe she's telling you she's not quite ready to be "all business"



  4. #4
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    Sep. 12, 2007
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    I agree that going soft on the bridle and stretching long and low go hand in hand. So, if she's not giving in the bridle, she probably won't stretch.

    Where does she lock, in her jaw, her poll or both? Does she give laterally equally to both reins? If she does not not understand the actions of the snaffle, I would work her in hand. If the rider does not understand the actions of the snaffle, I would have the rider work in hand. It can do a lot for the rider's hands as well as the horse's mouth.



  5. #5
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    Hello. I'm a bit confused. I'm not sure if I got this right but that picture is a few years old? How old is she now? What has she done between the time when this trainer had her in training and the recent 60 day session with the newer trainer? What do the trainers say about her desire/ability to stretch over the back?

    A.



  6. #6
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    Sep. 17, 2003
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    If this mare is anything like my hot blooded little mare, you have to be very good about releasing. Just flex the fingers when you take her up, then immediately release. It is during the release that my mare goes down and round.

    The hot blooded ones you can't tell, you must ask.



  7. #7
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    If the way she is being ridden in the picture is anything like how she is being ridden today, the problem stems from her being held to the bit. She has not been trained to go to the bridle because the reins are too short for there to be anywhere for her to go. You need to let go of her face by about four inches worth of rein. Then, use your body to ride her hindquarters to the contact. It will also help if you stay more vertical in your position, and don't lean forward. If you still cannot ride to the contact, just bend your elbows until you have contact, a little more snug that you want. As you ride into the contact, it will become heavier. Slowly return your elbows to the correct degree of bend as you follow the contact downward.



  8. #8
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    1. She could care less about stretching long and low...that is a fight to the finish...all she wants to do is wiggle, look around, anything but submit and reach over her back. She is much softer when she is asked to come UP instead of down....do I worry that our stretchy warmup isn't as productive that I like. I feel like I'm cheating since this part of the puzzle is never completed.

    -- What does her trainer say?

    -- In the picture she looks like a very short backed, square, horse, and it's hard for them to stretch. DOn't expect to starr with a big downward stretch. It might be very slight, in fact. After that it takes a lot of pushing with the leg to push the horse's neck out and down.

    2. It drives me nuts, I can get her to use her body, but still cannot get her soft in the bridle.

    --What does her trainer say?

    --What is 'soft in the bridle'. Is what you want appropriate right now? How soft should she be?



  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by ideayoda View Post
    Forward, down, out come from the horse sustaining a steady connection and working into the hand. The horse (likely) does not want to go out of balance. The question is always: would you jump the horse from the posture you are asking her to work on the flat? 60 days is just enough to go straight ahead, make large circle, make a steady connection, and sustain a steady tempo. In doing large circles (20 m) the horse can softly chew, offer a light lateral flexability, any flexion (longitudinally) will come over time. Very cute horse, dont ask more of her than the first pix, and thats already alot imho.

    This horse is now 7, she isn't green. The picture is when she was four.



  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by angel View Post
    If the way she is being ridden in the picture is anything like how she is being ridden today, the problem stems from her being held to the bit. She has not been trained to go to the bridle because the reins are too short for there to be anywhere for her to go. You need to let go of her face by about four inches worth of rein. Then, use your body to ride her hindquarters to the contact. It will also help if you stay more vertical in your position, and don't lean forward. If you still cannot ride to the contact, just bend your elbows until you have contact, a little more snug that you want. As you ride into the contact, it will become heavier. Slowly return your elbows to the correct degree of bend as you follow the contact downward.

    You are correct. She was held up too early, I've been told that many times from other trainers. This was the inital dressage training that she had (not me in the picture).

    I'm sorry that I left out a key ingredient that she is turning 8 in April. She has come far from the four year old point. Eqtrainer started steering her in the right direction last year.

    I'm just wondering now (especially since you made that insightful observation..that many have made when working with her......I wouldn't have picked up on it in a still shot, so kudos to you. )...if she just will never understand true contact. She was my first young horse and I hadn't a clue about young horses...so I sent her off to a trainer. You can definitely feel that she wants you to hold her up....it has gotten better, but at first she would get REALLY PISSEY if you expected her to find her own point of balance.

    She does prefer the hunter frame, we've all come to that conclusion, that her balance point is just more comfortable in that frame work. I just couldn't help thinking today....if only you'd soften, if only.

    I adore this mare...ADORE her. As I told the chiro last week....can you change her body, so she can do upper level dressage And often joke with the farrier...do you have a piaffe shoe in that truck....of course he always responds.."Of course I do, but it'll cost you."



  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by slc2 View Post
    1. She could care less about stretching long and low...that is a fight to the finish...all she wants to do is wiggle, look around, anything but submit and reach over her back. She is much softer when she is asked to come UP instead of down....do I worry that our stretchy warmup isn't as productive that I like. I feel like I'm cheating since this part of the puzzle is never completed.

    -- What does her trainer say?

    -- In the picture she looks like a very short backed, square, horse, and it's hard for them to stretch. DOn't expect to starr with a big downward stretch. It might be very slight, in fact. After that it takes a lot of pushing with the leg to push the horse's neck out and down.

    2. It drives me nuts, I can get her to use her body, but still cannot get her soft in the bridle.

    --What does her trainer say?

    --What is 'soft in the bridle'. Is what you want appropriate right now? How soft should she be?

    Of course the wonderful magician trainer doesn't have the amateur problems. He makes her look beautiful. But, he does say, she is difficult as far as dressage work and belongs in the hunter ring. When I put her in inital training in November with him, he spent about 10 days working her to see just how much she was willing to give him as a dressage horse and he came to the conclusion that she is going to make someone one heck of a hunter, but not an upper level dressage horse.

    Could I keep her and do first/second level dressage on her and let him continue to jump her....I could, but then again, I already have a horse who can do 3rd/4th level work, so I don't really need a lower level horse to pay board on.

    And I do have to say, put a fence in front of her and she gets that rhythmic hunter roll and just looks gorgeous going over. I just get quezy looking at the jumps.

    I plan to keep her in full training for the next few months and then we'll go from there....if she stays mine, guess I'll be shopping for a jumping saddle.

    SLC...she's built very much like an American TB.....mom was off the track....so imagine a TB build, with a little more warmblood bulk (Sire was Graf Genius)

    I would have asked the trainer these questions today, but won't see him for a few days/when he gets back.

    My schoolmaster is soft, you ask, he gives, you soften.......with this girl there is never much give, very strong in the jaw...she does soften more when allowed to come up...but will hardly ever soften when asked to stretch.



  12. #12
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    Oh and thank you very much to all of you for taking time to answer me. Always good to get different insight from different riders.



  13. #13
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    This is the only recent shot I have of her...it was taken in October, it was her second day over some small fences. Hubby used to come out and take lots of pics, but he's too busy these days....so I don't have any recent pictures of her on the flat.

    http://s222.photobucket.com/albums/d...rent=Divaj.jpg



  14. #14
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    She could care less about stretching long and low...that is a fight to the finish...all she wants to do is wiggle, look around, anything but submit and reach over her back. She is much softer when she is asked to come UP instead of down....do I worry that our stretchy warmup isn't as productive that I like. I feel like I'm cheating since this part of the puzzle is never completed.
    Just a thought on this, my horse who is pretty square and carries his neck higher has a hard time with F/D/O however I don't ask him at the beginning of the ride I ask at the end, to test whether he is truly coming through and reaching for the bit. If I asked at the beginning before warming him up, or even as the warm up, there would be no way (at this stage in his training) he would offer it to me correctly.

    2. It drives me nuts, I can get her to use her body, but still cannot get her soft in the bridle.
    Not too sure why she isn't softening except that maybe you are asking for too much and for too long? If she doesn't naturally carry herself then ask for it slowly. Accept the odd stride then ask for one more then one more. It takes a while for a horse to learn to carry itself.

    GL she's a cutie and I would take her in a heartbeat
    I have horse to sell to you. Horse good for riding. Can pull cart. Horse good size. Eats carrots and apples. Likes attention. Move head to music. No like opera! You like you buy.



  15. #15
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    Funny story today.

    I rode my little hot number today (it was cool and she was frisky) with a wonderful young hunter rider in the ring. My mare was strong, and really pulling on me...just feeling her oats. The young hunter rider had admired her before, and she is quite a good rider. She complimented me on how cute the mare is......so I said.."Would you like to ride her"...Very sweetly she said.."Do you mean it?" "Sure, come ride her." I told her that she was a bit strong today and just know she's alot of horse right now (Of course, I had watched this young lady do a wonderful job with her horse who was also acting a bit fresh).....she gets on and rides her around and yells..."Oh my god, she is sooooo soft, I love her." I think this was my reaction.... I started laughing and said...."You obviously have never really felt soft, when we get done with her, I'm going to let you ride my gelding..now he is SUPER SOFT." So we finish up with my mare, who looked like a million bucks with this teenager on her.

    I get my schoolmaster out....now this boy is so sensitive (I have pics of him on the TB thread)...you barely have to even touch him, he is all seat and easy, easy, easy to ride. So I warm him up and then let her get on....and I mean he is super soft to me. She starts riding him around and I explain to her to just use the outside rein and really give on the inside...and boom, he stretched right into contact. So I yell...."Now does he feel soft to you?" Her..."No, not really." I had to laugh....because as a hunter rider what she was looking for was totally different than what I am looking for as a dressage rider. What I think feels tough and resistant, to her felt soft and easy.....What I think feels totally soft and light, doesn't feel easy to her."

    So I asked her to explain her definition of soft so we could compare notes....."Youre mare is so easy to move off my leg, Cooper isn't that easy." "Ahhhh, very true....Diva is very gifted laterally and Cooper can get stuck on your right leg. " The right leg thing has never bothered me, because I just boot him off and get him straight on the right rein....as a hunter rider, she wasn't looking for as much bridle contact, she was looking for the horse to respond to her leg.

    I thought it was a very interesting experiment. Now I understand why all the hunter folks who have ridden her have really, really liked her.

    Jacksprat..thank you for that nice compliment...she is a very special horse to me.



  16. #16
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    Trainer and I talked when he got back....and he said he absolutely knew what I was talking about....she will offer to collect, but very resistant about touching her face.

    I told him about her family history....she had a 1/2 brother who was diagnosed with arthritis in his jaw at age 8. He was very reluctant to have his face touched until they injected him.

    So, trainer talked to the vet (thought the vet might take him a little more seriously than me/the amateur owner)......vet said that he thought we should inject that area to see if it would help. I hated the thought of injecting...BUT, if it would help..then let's try it (don't kill me EqT) He said if it worked, in the future we would only use Hylaurinic Acid.

    He said give it 5 days....5 days for her to realize it wouldn't hurt..IF this was the problem.

    I rode her yesterday and I do have to say she was much less wiggly and willing...not 100 percent.....but the cooliest thing was....she actually gave me a few strides of canter holding herself up...I let go of the reins and she stayed "UP"....I immediately stretched her down...patted her and told her how wonderful she was and stopped.

    Now today, we had freakin 50 mph wind gusts.....she is so good natured and trustworthy, I can ride her in these conditions...but not my 20ish year old schoolmaster. So we went out...and she was not bad, my friend thought she looked better...but here's the same ole issue with her (Eqt can attest to this).

    When she hits the end of the rein, instead of reaching for it, she immediately bounces off, never steadies in the head.

    My friend (FEI rider) rode her yesterday and said she could feel EXACTLY what I was describing...she never finds her happy place.

    So today, same friend watched me ride.....she said...she is willing to bend, she's giving at the poll, she's relaxed through her body....but just fussey with her head.

    Now this same issue occurs no matter who the rider is, what saddle is on her, what bit is in her mouth. The teeth are done, she has a chiropractor...everything I can possibly think of, has been addressed.

    She is SUCH A GOOD NATURED horse, that I really have a hard time believing that this is an attitude issue....she isn't pinning her ears, being ugly, she is just evading contact with the bit. I am not riding her in a flash, and perhaps I should next time.

    My friend agrees completely with me with the above paragraph.

    And perhaps it is just the second day and it was gusty....maybe it will continue to unravel for the next few days.......she is a little better than before the injection, I will say that.

    I'm just wondering if we are missing something else. Vet said that if this doesn't work, then we will consider xrays of her neck.

    I don't care if she is an upper level dressage horse, lower level, hunter...I don't care, I just want her comfortable in her work. She is such a willing horse and I will do all that I can to figure this out.



  17. #17
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    Firmness of contact is not even often about attitude. It's about conformation and balance in motion.

    Your hunter rider probably rides the horse with a different rein length. I've heard a zillian times people say a rider that rides with long reins finds their horse 'soft' and 'easy'.

    The hunter rider rides with long reins and the horse doesn't have to carry himself in the same way. The rider doesn't have to coordinate the aids in the same way, either, and the horse doesn't have to work the same muscles or use the same sort of balance.

    If someone gets on and tells you 'oh she's so soft!' when to you she feels NOT soft, that means it's very likely a training issue.

    I very much doubt the injection would have had such a big effect so quickly. It takes longer than that to work.



  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by slc2 View Post
    Firmness of contact is not even often about attitude. It's about conformation and balance in motion.

    Your hunter rider probably rides the horse with a different rein length. I've heard a zillian times people say a rider that rides with long reins finds their horse 'soft' and 'easy'.

    The hunter rider rides with long reins and the horse doesn't have to carry himself in the same way. The rider doesn't have to coordinate the aids in the same way, either, and the horse doesn't have to work the same muscles or use the same sort of balance.

    If someone gets on and tells you 'oh she's so soft!' when to you she feels NOT soft, that means it's very likely a training issue.

    I very much doubt the injection would have had such a big effect so quickly. It takes longer than that to work.
    SLC.....the little hunter rider was one day. I do NOT think it is a training issue...I just simply do not. I also disagree that an injection into the jaw wouldn't give some relief in 24 hours if it was an arthritis issue.

    And no, my mare still has the same issue on long reins, in a long and low frame IF you actually ask her to flex in her jaw..especially her right jaw.



  19. #19
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    Oh that puts a new light on it.

    I hope it turns out in your favor and the results are good, whatever it turns out to be.

    I usually hope it's a training issue as it's easy to change how one rides, treating medical conditions can be tougher.



  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by slc2 View Post
    Oh that puts a new light on it.

    I hope it turns out in your favor and the results are good, whatever it turns out to be.

    I usually hope it's a training issue as it's easy to change how one rides, treating medical conditions can be tougher.
    Thanks Slc...I do too.....Happy New Year.



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