My horse just went to a little bit of a boot camp, he was in the Conrad Schumacher Symposium for three days at Alpine Farms. One of the things we talked about with Conrad is developing more impulsion by way of having my trainer ride half steps, as Werther is a quiet horse by nature. This is one of the reasons why we bought him in the first place, with my weak left leg he does not over react to a poorly timed or unintended aid. As we get Werther more sensitive there is the risk that he will become explosive (normally a asset in a dressage horse). Werther is easier to ride after my trainer Sarah gets on him and makes him sharper to the aids. My question is how do you know when you have too much sensitivity before you put yourself in a bad situation, and how easy is it to make a horse quieter if you do decide that the horse has become to sensitive?
Interesting question, I'm looking forward to hearing what people have to say.
My mare is the "explosively sensitive" type, and it does cause us problems sometimes. I really enjoy her, though I am a bit more familiar with the arena footing than I'd care to be. In her case, it's the type of reaction, and the amount of recovery time needed to get her back, more than the fact that she has a reaction that's a problem.
If I bumped her with my left leg, and she calmly said "Hrm... Maybe canter/legyield/bend/whatever?" when she was a bit confused, that would be much easier to handle than the "OMG! I don't know what that means! Panic!"
I suspect that you're less likely to get into trouble on a horse that has a basically quiet and generous nature. They're more likely to make a reasonable guess at what an unintended or oddly placed aid was supposed to mean.
Since it sounds like Werther is the quiet generous type, I'd guess that you'd be likely to get a lot of unintended movements, transitions, and irregularities in tempo and straightness long before you'd get a blow-up about confusing aids. And if you realized that sort of thing was becoming problematic early on, I dont think it would take much time for him to settle back down.
Of course, I'm merely speculating, and I'd like to hear what someone with more experience has to say
My horse is very sensitive and is still at the beginning of her training. I'm working on getting her more responsive to the aids. There are times when she over reacts to my aids, but most times I can take it and go with her. There are times I have to stop and regroup to try again.
The only thing I can think of is to work on your own reaction time. So if your horse starts doing something you didn't really want how quick can you get the horse back to what you want. It's trying to be more aware of what the body is doing even if you can't control the movements your body makes all the time.