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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul. 16, 2003
    Location
    Guthrie, OK
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    1,601

    Default Stupid Questions

    First, this is my first time for asking a question. So be gentle.
    Second, I am bascially an event rider. BUT I work very hard at my dressage since I am very aware that I need it for jumping since jumping is just dressage with a few seconds every now and then of time in the air. And I do show some dressage though mainly schooling shows. We are capable of getting good scores (have had some 8's!) as well sucky scores (some 4's).
    We are playing at 2nd level trying to get our 1st level better but just like everybody else the basics continually need work.

    She is a big mare--17.2 and solid--and I am not--5'2". We have a mother daugher relationship since I have had her since 6 m and she is now 13 and I am the one who has done 90% of the work with her. She is NOT an easy ride either. She is a MARE, thru and thru, though having her spayed some years ago helped alot. She can go from being a pig and hanging on me to being a B**** and trying to dump me. Or she can be an angel. She is typically very good the frist 15 mins of work then starts to get to be difficult after that unless I (or whoever is riding her) just pushes her thru her beligerence or caniption fits for the next 15-30 mins.

    She can also be either dull to my leg or very pissy about it. With the former I of course nag at her, not knowing what else to do. With the later she has taught me well to then take my leg off her. (So see, I CAN learn!) And of course etiher way she way behind my leg and with the later is also well behind the bit.
    When I am successfull in kicking her up in front of my leg I then feel like I am again PULLING as she takes contact.

    When I DO get it all right it feels wonderful, she is up in front, light, etc.

    Ok the questions for the day:
    I tend to pull too much, prolong my aids, try to get her off her forehand by pulling her up (duh, no it doesn't work).
    Why? Fear of making it worse!!
    I prolong the aid if either I have the desired result and then are afraid I will loose it (and to never get it again!) or that I have NOT gotten it and keep it to "be sure" I don't loose it. I know in my head neither is right or true but the other side of my head is so fearful of screwing up even more.
    And here is that fear.
    If I let go, and she doesn't keep it, my brain says she is learning to do the wrong thing when I let go. Same with teaching her something new, use a new tech or correction to fix a problem, etc. If I don't get it correctly and just "take" what I get for however long it takes for her finally get it, my brain says I am letting her learn that what I am willing to "take" is the correct way to do what I am trying to get.
    For example, if I let go when she is pulling back on me (yes, I am very aware it takes 2 to pull!) and she falls on her face, which she often does, that I am letting her learn to fall on her face.

    I can almost always get good results in lessons but then when I go home and work on it I tend to loose it again and revert back to my old ways.

    And I don't have mirrors :-(

    HELP??



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct. 30, 2009
    Posts
    1,967

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by MeghanDACVA View Post
    First, this is my first time for asking a question. So be gentle.
    Second, I am bascially an event rider. BUT I work very hard at my dressage since I am very aware that I need it for jumping since jumping is just dressage with a few seconds every now and then of time in the air. And I do show some dressage though mainly schooling shows. We are capable of getting good scores (have had some 8's!) as well sucky scores (some 4's).
    We are playing at 2nd level trying to get our 1st level better but just like everybody else the basics continually need work.

    She is a big mare--17.2 and solid--and I am not--5'2". We have a mother daugher relationship since I have had her since 6 m and she is now 13 and I am the one who has done 90% of the work with her. She is NOT an easy ride either. She is a MARE, thru and thru, though having her spayed some years ago helped alot. She can go from being a pig and hanging on me to being a B**** and trying to dump me. Or she can be an angel. She is typically very good the frist 15 mins of work then starts to get to be difficult after that unless I (or whoever is riding her) just pushes her thru her beligerence or caniption fits for the next 15-30 mins.

    She can also be either dull to my leg or very pissy about it. With the former I of course nag at her, not knowing what else to do. With the later she has taught me well to then take my leg off her. (So see, I CAN learn!) And of course etiher way she way behind my leg and with the later is also well behind the bit.
    When I am successfull in kicking her up in front of my leg I then feel like I am again PULLING as she takes contact.

    When I DO get it all right it feels wonderful, she is up in front, light, etc.

    Ok the questions for the day:
    I tend to pull too much, prolong my aids, try to get her off her forehand by pulling her up (duh, no it doesn't work).
    Why? Fear of making it worse!!
    I prolong the aid if either I have the desired result and then are afraid I will loose it (and to never get it again!) or that I have NOT gotten it and keep it to "be sure" I don't loose it. I know in my head neither is right or true but the other side of my head is so fearful of screwing up even more.
    And here is that fear.
    If I let go, and she doesn't keep it, my brain says she is learning to do the wrong thing when I let go. Same with teaching her something new, use a new tech or correction to fix a problem, etc. If I don't get it correctly and just "take" what I get for however long it takes for her finally get it, my brain says I am letting her learn that what I am willing to "take" is the correct way to do what I am trying to get.
    For example, if I let go when she is pulling back on me (yes, I am very aware it takes 2 to pull!) and she falls on her face, which she often does, that I am letting her learn to fall on her face.

    I can almost always get good results in lessons but then when I go home and work on it I tend to loose it again and revert back to my old ways.

    And I don't have mirrors :-(

    HELP??

    You have to remember that horses learn best from "release" of pressure. If you prolong the aids after getting the desired result it leads to confusion.



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct. 27, 2010
    Location
    Nevada
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    2,561

    Default

    I readily admit that I have almost zilch experience in dressage but do have some saddle time training horses...mostly western events including starting a few in cutting. My experience says that horses learn when we release the pressure of a cue....ie... I pick up a rein and make light contact with the bit...the instant the horse responds with even a "try" that is going in the direction I want I drop that rein....not just release it but actually drop it to make sure the horse has NO pressure as his reward. As he gets better in responding I can hold that cue longer....ie....I want his nose to the toe of my boot and I want it held there BY THE HORSE, not by my cranking it around there.....pick up the rein, ask for his nose and keep asking until he puts it where I want it, hold, hold, hold until he goes the extra 1/2 inch and puts the slack in the rein himself, DROP the rein to reward him. I also make sure to pet, rub, talk with him as a reward as well. I try very hard to make cues very clear and work on one thing at a time, get it, then go onto something else rather than keep repeating what he's done....if he did it right then he gets to rest from working on that one and we are off to something else.

    Sometimes I find that holding too long will do a couple things... the horse will lean on it more and more and things go downhill.....and they don't learn to hold themselves up if I'm constantly trying to do it. If I get them where I want them I want to immediately reward him so let go....if I have to pick him back up in 3 seconds well, that's what it will take....if I repeatedly pick him up, hold for a second until he holds himself for just a second and let him go...if he continues to hold himself up then he's rewarded by the pressure release and gets more "attaboys"....if he has to be picked up 100 times or so he'll get tired of being picked up all the time and figure out that it is rewarding to hold himself up and work to be picked up repeatedly. Hope this makes sense...it is all in timing.



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul. 10, 2008
    Location
    West Chicago, Illinois
    Posts
    470

    Default

    Release of pressure just means stop what you are doing when you get the result of what you want. For example if you kick to get a horse to go forward once it goes forward stop kicking.

    I think where the confusion comes in is when people think release means let go of the reins. A release can be as subtle as relaxing your shoulders or exhaling. When the horse is being piggy keep your contact even. Think of your reins as side reins you are only going to let her go so far forward because your elbows are elastic and you will not pull back because side reins can't pull on the horse.

    When my horse that likes to pull at times and suck back at others there are times when I find myself having to be a micro manager. If he starts to pull to much make sure that he is pulling on himself. Sucks back more leg and if he doesn't take me seriously a tap on the but.

    Also I work with a trainer doing a lunge lesson at least once a week to make sure that I am balanced, and not using my hands for my balance.
    Life's a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death.
    -Auntie Mame



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul. 6, 2004
    Location
    East Central Mississippi
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    1,404

    Default

    Agree w/the other two. Horses learn from release of pressure, and them being the "wanna get along" little troupers that they are they will give and give and give and give... once they understand what we're wanting.

    But the communication it takes to tell them what we want comes from RELEASE. Instant release. You want a 'try' that you reward instantly, the try continues to build on itself until eventually your horse is holding herself in frame and you simply remind her every so often.

    I am not a dressage rider, but I do have supple, responsive horses. I'm going to give an example of how a horse learns, and please don't pick my cues apart... I'm just trying to get across the basic "pressure/release" idea.... not give instructions on teaching a back up. <g>

    One good (albiet very simplistic) example I like to use of horses learning from release of pressure is for one to rear. I want my horse to back up so I put pressure on the rein. Horse has no clue what I'm asking so she just stands there, maybe raising/tossing her head or swishing her tail or gaping her mouth, etc. I want BACK so I just hold and maybe even put MORE pressure on the reins and add my leg a bit stronger. Instead of backing she comes up in the front end every so slightly.

    "Ack!", I say, and I release the rein pressure out of self-preservation to grab her neck and stay on.

    Guess what she just learned???? That lightening the front end gets rid of the pressure!

    That's why the next time I put pressure on the reins she goes up all that much higher, all that much sooner! I just taught her the niftiest of little tricks. It's not what I wanted to teach her, but it's what she understood because of the timing of my release (when her feet were eleveated).

    Where I messed up is when I first put pressure on the reins I should have picked up a light contact and held it, relaxed into the saddle a bit and put my leg on just a tad. Meaning, "Go, but not forward." Then... I should wait. When I feel her even think about shifting her weight backwards I LET GO... meaning... instantly drop the reins by opening my hands completely and getting my leg off her immediately.

    "OH!", she says. "So... if I shift backwards I get left alone! Cool."

    Next time I pick up rein contact, relax into the saddle, put my leg on, she'll shift backward quicker and maybe even take a step. Whether shift or step, doesn't matter... I let go again. Give her a bit to think about it.

    I repeat my cues, and the release, and she gets better and faster w/her response until I can take contact, relax into the saddle and she's already thinking about moving backward and by the time I get my leg on she's gotten her weight rocked back and is taking a step...a nd she'll continue taking steps backward until I release the cue -- which is NOT HELD, but instead is gently repeated.

    Edited to add... yes, release can be so subtle as to be imperceptible to anyone except the horse, but for teaching either horse or rider I like to have a BIG release they both understand and that "I" can see. When learning it needs to be totally black and white for the horse... refinement can come later. And, too, a more experienced rider w/impecable timing can get away w/very subtle cues even for teaching a horse because they are tuned into whether the horse responded properly and understands the cue.
    Last edited by arena run; Nov. 18, 2010 at 11:21 PM.
    Never explain yourself to someone who is committed to misunderstanding you.



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul. 10, 2008
    Location
    West Chicago, Illinois
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    470

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by fourh mom View Post
    Agree w/the other two. Horses learn from release of pressure, and them being the "wanna get along" little troupers that they are they will give and give and give and give... once they understand what we're wanting.

    But the communication it takes to tell them what we want comes from RELEASE. Instant release. You want a 'try' that you reward instantly, the try continues to build on itself until eventually your horse is holding herself in frame and you simply remind her every so often.

    I am not a dressage rider, but I do have supple, responsive horses. I'm going to give an example of how a horse learns, and please don't pick my cues apart... I'm just trying to get across the basic "pressure/release" idea.... not give instructions on teaching a back up. <g>

    One good (albiet very simplistic) example I like to use of horses learning from release of pressure is for one to rear. I want my horse to back up so I put pressure on the rein. Horse has no clue what I'm asking so she just stands there, maybe raising/tossing her head or swishing her tail or gaping her mouth, etc. I want BACK so I just hold and maybe even put MORE pressure on the reins and add my leg a bit stronger. Instead of backing she comes up in the front end every so slightly.

    "Ack!", I say, and I release the rein pressure out of self-preservation to grab her neck and stay on.

    Guess what she just learned???? That lightening the front end gets rid of the pressure!

    That's why the next time I put pressure on the reins she goes up all that much higher, all that much sooner! I just taught her the niftiest of little tricks. It's not what I wanted to teach her, but it's what she understood because of the timing of my release (when her feet were eleveated).

    Where I messed up is when I first put pressure on the reins I should have picked up a light contact and held it, relaxed into the saddle a bit and put my leg on just a tad. Meaning, "Go, but not forward." Then... I should wait. When I feel her even think about shifting her weight backwards I LET GO... meaning... instantly drop the reins by opening my hands completely and getting my leg off her immediately.

    "OH!", she says. "So... if I shift backwards I get left alone! Cool."

    Next time I pick up rein contact, relax into the saddle, put my leg on, she'll shift backward quicker and maybe even take a step. Whether shift or step, doesn't matter... I let go again. Give her a bit to think about it.

    I repeat my cues, and the release, and she gets better and faster w/her response until I can take contact, relax into the saddle and she's already thinking about moving backward and by the time I get my leg on she's gotten her weight rocked back and is taking a step...a nd she'll continue taking steps backward until I release the cue -- which is NOT HELD, but instead is gently repeated.

    Edited to add... yes, release can be so subtle as to be imperceptible to anyone except the horse, but for teaching either horse or rider I like to have a BIG release they both understand and that "I" can see. When learning it needs to be totally black and white for the horse... refinement can come later. And, too, a more experienced rider w/impecable timing can get away w/very subtle cues even for teaching a horse because they are tuned into whether the horse responded properly and understands the cue.
    I agree for a very green horse a large release can do wonders however if the rider just say for conversation the OP wants to work through the levels and she has gone far enough to do rein back.

    The rein back is complicated to people that have not trained it move because they start to go about it in the way described above. The above method is a fine way to teach a horse to back up, however it is not a rein back.

    The above method you describe starts to mess with the halt. It does this because in the halt we close the leg to keep the forward, block the forward with the seat and contain the energy with the hands. If the horse when you relax or close your hands right before the salute had been taught to back in the above method he will put his weight back or even worse step backwards. Either of these acts will kill the halt and dump your score.

    The rein back for a Dressage horse should be left side back right side back and so on for the the amount of steps needed for the movement. This method also helps the rider keep track if the steps and it makes a clear distinction for the horse between the halt and rein back. I believe the OP stated that she is at first cleaning it up and is working second. So I am assuming that the OP wants to work the levels. That being said you have to think about how fixing one problem will effect the total training in the long run.

    The reason I am using the rein back issue is because I foolishly thought my horse to back using the pressure slightest effort back I gave a release and now we are working on no backing what so ever at the halt. So now I am teaching rein back correctly.
    Life's a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death.
    -Auntie Mame



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul. 10, 2008
    Location
    West Chicago, Illinois
    Posts
    470

    Default

    I just thought of something, to the OP where would you say that your hands are during the ride? A lot of times when riders, I myself included will drop our hands below where your bucking strap should be on the saddle. When we should keep our hands slightly above where the strap is on the saddle also your hand should not be really wide this is just a generality but not much wider than 4 to 6 inches. I see some riders that go low and as wide as the shoulders this can cause problems as well.

    When our hands drop or drop and go wide the horse will drop his or her head. Then we pull up to where our hands should have been all a long and we screw up the gate. Some of the problem may be a simple as reminding your self not to drop your hands or have your arms going to your knees.
    Life's a banquet and most poor suckers are starving to death.
    -Auntie Mame



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec. 30, 2009
    Location
    The Great Plains of Canada
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    3,066

    Default

    OP,

    I think you are approaching things from the wrong angle. But first:

    > The release of pressure is what teaches, not the pressure itself. Increased or prolonged pressure teaches a horse to lean into said pressure, not to release to it.

    > HOWEVER, pressure should not be the teacher when teaching collection or to teach the horse to pick up contact. Contact is established by the HORSE, so if you are setting her up correctly to make it HER idea, you will not have the issue of "releasing pressure and having her fall flat on her face, or losing said collection".

    > If you drop her when she is LEANING and she falls on her face (this is NOT her picking up contact, this is her LEANING), yes she is learning to fall on he face - and thus (if done correctly) how to also pick herself up. Carrying herself is her responsibility, not yours. You should not have to be the one to carry her about.

    > This should be a partnership. I am unsure as to what you exactly mean by a mother-daughter relationship and what that all implicates however you have to ensure that your partnership with her is one that balances both trust and respect. From your description the latter is definitely lacking. Your job as a rider and partner is to balance her and develop her as a horse - teach her to have equal "go" and "woah", to be responsive, and to be respectful so as to work as a partner. Same as in the herd.

    IN GENERAL:

    Earn her respect on the ground and it will carry over to your u/s work. This means she is not pushy on the ground - she stays out of your space unless invited. Even "mom" would never allow baby to tromp about her toes. This means YOU move HER feet, and NOT vice versa (which she does by moving into your space, etc), so play games/use exercises that drive the front and hind ends around using phases and body language (not touching the leadrope) - her front will present the largest challenge to move because horses dominate through their fronts. When you longe her on the ground, ask her to change directions and gait. Ask in phases and make those phases fair, but follow through and expect a snappy response. Expect a lot, accept little at first. Then build on that.

    U/s, there are a number of exercises you can do to get her more responsive to your leg - predictable transitions, change of pace within a gait, hacking out, using jumps and poles to increase impulsion. I've mentioned the Point-to-Point exercise before on these threads (see if you can find it). Phases of ask, follow through. Expect a lot, accept little. REST BREAKS are HUGE for these types of horses. HUGE. This does not mean just a downward transition to a walk, this means a HALT to reward an appropriate response.

    Lastly, CLASSICAL INSTRUCTION. You should not be PULLING your horse together. If you develop her via exercises and patterns that encourage HER to collect HERSELF, she will be light and responsive without you having to piece her together. She should establish contact (but not pulling!) of her own accord but also be light and working from behind -which only occurs as a result of natural progression through the Training Scale. 101 Dressage Rider and Progressive Schooling Exercises for Dressage & Jumping (Islay Auty) are great reads and teach progressive exercises that encourage the horse naturally to start stepping beneath themselves (due to the nature of the exercises) and balancing correctly.

    And keep your aids soft. Your horse will reflect you, so if your aids are not soft, neither can your horse be soft. DO NOT NAG. Nagging creates resentment and breeds disrespect. Use phases instead and increase those phases until you achieve the desired response, then release. As an aside, I think kicking a horse is the most disrespectful thing one can do to a horse and I have never met a horse yet who appreciated it

    Consider changing your outlook a bit, and good luck!
    ....horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
    ~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jul. 16, 2003
    Location
    Guthrie, OK
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    1,601

    Default

    Thanks guys!!
    Since I don't quite have the knack of getting quotes in the nice little boxes, bear with me.

    where would you say that your hands are during the ride?
    I do have trouble here. My arms are SHORT. So with my elbows at my side (or sl at my back) my hands are barely in front of the pommel! And because I am short, and very short waisted, my hands arent' as high as most other people's. I try to be very carefull to not put them low. No lower than my hip bones or at pommel level. No, I don't do the arms straight down bit (not any more anyway). I do work at the straightline from bit to elbow. Don't always succeed but definitely stay close to it.

    This should be a partnership. I am unsure as to what you exactly mean by a mother-daughter relationship and what that all implicates however you have to ensure that your partnership with her is one that balances both trust and respect. From your description the latter is definitely lacking. Your job as a rider and partner is to balance her and develop her as a horse - teach her to have equal "go" and "woah", to be responsive, and to be respectful so as to work as a partner. Same as in the herd.

    M-D meaning we have been together long enough that I tend to fall into the "when she was a little girl" and then treat her that way, ie I forget to ride her like a broke horse. And she also knows how to push my buttons to subtly sneak in an evasion.
    There is definitely trust and respect between us. Maybe not between her and others (esp the respect part). She is an alpha-wanna be, and big, and a MARE. So the respect issue has been well addressed, trust me. And there is definitely trust. We event, remember?
    So I don't think it is trust/respect issue. It is my lack of expertise vs her size and conformation. I want to get me better so I can let her be better.

    And she knows all too well where my space is and where her space is. She only comes in when invited. Period. Even at her age she still does the foal mouthing behavior with me when on the ground and she is having to give up her alphaness that she oh so badly wants to express but knows all too well that she had darned well better not. (The teenage years of our M-D relationship were rocky, to say the least)

    I like the "expect a lot, accept little". I will have to engrave that in my brain.

    I am out of the saddle for the next week but have all of Thanksgiving off (Th thru M) so I can put this, and whatever follows, to work then.

    Thanks again. And more is welcomed!



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Aug. 5, 2007
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    1,535

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    I'm a bit surprised no one has mentioned that all of the horse's power and your control of it comes from behind?

    Until you get the horse in front of your leg consistently you are not going to progress: you simply can't have the horse coming through or reaching and carrying at all.

    You need to put yourself in a position where you can just lightly feel the horse's mouth and then ask the horse with your legs to go forward IMMEDIATELY.
    If that doesn't happen you need to flick with your whip. NOW.

    No wrangling, kicking harder, etc., just give the horse a direction to go, mean go and LET the horse go: At least for a count of 5 before you rebalance, come back to a slower gait and repeat that lesson.

    When your horse understands that your leg means engage rear gear and gives you a consistent surge to your saddle, then you can start worrying about establishing steadier contact and developing some responses to rein signals through correctly timed releases and adding more subtle seat cues. Without her transmission in gear you are just kickin' and pullin' -and that annoys her no end!


    And please stop thinking of her as daughter and yourself as mom. Relate to her as the adult athletic horse she is, and she will come to know you as her dependably fair and demanding partner and trainer.

    No one wants to be 'mothered' all their life -I'd get pissy and sullen, too.


    If you get brave enough, have someone give you lessons on her while they lunge her. You'll be humbled by how helpless you suddenly feel without reins and realize how much hanging you may inadvertently be doing. Riding well is quite a skill to master: lunging shows up many weaknesses.

    You can do this, just needs a bit of re-thinking.



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Dec. 27, 2006
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    I think of contact as connection, and the aids are like an electrical circuit. If your horse is moving forward into the contact, the mouth should feel like if you move your shoulder blade or fingers, the jaw should be mobile, not hard, and definately not like there's nothing there.
    I like to start out with horses that have contact issues with following hand. Meaning that whereever they go, I go, if they stretch I follow them down, if they hollow, my elastic springy elbows follow them up, keeping as close as possible to the exact same amount of weight in the reins no matter where they are.
    Forward, ahead of the leg, doesn't mean speeding around at mach 90, ahead of the leg, means a positive push forward even if the rhythm is slow. And really if you slow the rhythm down, then you can ask for a nice strong push forward, that stays balanced. Balance means even weight in each leg, not a little more on the left shoulder than the right , or 60% in front and 40% behind or vice versa. When the horse is balanced evenly over all four legs, they can be free to flex their head down and lift their backs. When the horse comes evenly into both reins, not heavy in the outside and loopy on the inside, but evenly into both, and you give your hands forward softly and they are in balance . Once you get that nice plugged in feeling, the horse will seek to stay with your hand, and if you give forward and down they willl stretch forward, and down. For me, that feeling comes from the shoulder blade, so if I'm sitting squarily plugged into my saddle, and balanced, I can roll my shoulder back a little to apply more pressure on a rein to ask for softening, and relax that shoulder as the horse softens, but never drop the rein into a loop, that breaks the connection. If I can't accept contact on the bit, how can the horse. I'm the leader in that. As my boot massages the horses ribcage in rythm with their stride, my hip rolls in the saddle in rythm, my shoulder is also in that same rythm, so really the horses rythm creates the swing of my leg into the ribcage, as my hips follow the horses back......like it's all connected. You can't work the horse counter to that.



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Dec. 30, 2009
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    The Great Plains of Canada
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    Eventing does not necessarily mean there is trust in the partnership. That said OP, my issue is not with your horse's trust in you (in fact I suspect your trust level with her is fine), I merely mentioned there must be a balance of trust and respect. Personally, I do think respect is lacking in some areas, based on these statements:

    "She can go from being a pig and hanging on me to being a B**** and trying to dump me."

    "She is typically very good the frist 15 mins of work then starts to get to be difficult after that unless I (or whoever is riding her) just pushes her thru her beligerence or caniption fits for the next 15-30 mins."


    A horse is a reflection of its rider. Its responses are in response to its rider. That said, a horse acting as you described is NOT one that respects its rider. She wouldn't DREAM of doing that to a horse above her in the hierarchy of a herd. That is not to say that her reactions are not legitimate responses with a root issue (whether it be pain or behavioural), but they are not responses denoting respect. Her dullness to leg is also a respect issue. You can bet that if there were a horse above her in the herd, that she would move NOW, not later, when she felt like it. In such a manner, respect ties in to responsiveness - teaching her to be lighter and more respectful of you: your requests and your aids.

    BaldStockings is right and it was something I was trying to get at, though in a roundabout fashion. TRAINING SCALE. She needs to be working from behind.

    Relaxation
    Rhythm
    Contact (or acceptance of bit)
    Impulsion
    Straightness
    Collection

    Obviously they all tie in to one another. As relaxation is achieved, rhythm will begin to naturally occur. As those occur, a horse will begin to accept contact and even establish a bit of contact. IMPULSION will cause the horse to be through and to engage its entire body, including picking up full but LIGHT contact. Impulsion will create straightness, and all this leads to collection, which then may be refined.

    Her evasion and "pushing your buttons" is not a result of her being with you since she was 6mos. To that end, a horse does not deliberately "push buttons", though they will of course test boundaries and challenge (respect, dominance). Be careful with how you perceive her and your relationship with her. She needs a healthy balanced relationship - not a mother, and she is a HORSE FIRST. I have to be honest that, despite your explanation, I still do not quite understand all the implications of your M-D relationship with her but it makes me leery when you say that because most people do not have a healthy view on a M-D relationship when they try to apply it to their horses. I understand what it is like to have horses from young - I currently have a 15yo and a 10yo whom were homebred and homeraised, as well as other young horses I have brought up/am currently bringing up. They are my partners but we still maintain a healthy relationship. As such, they are healthy happy horses. The 10yo was much like your mare when he was younger, due to the fact that I did not establish boundaries and earn his respect. He was a little snot who not only tried to get me off regularly, but was even worse behaved than your mare (trust me) and behind the leg u/s. Once I figured it out, I earned his respect and ever since then he has been a dream - he is currently leased out and teaching beginners as well as showing some under an experienced jumper who wanted a confidence builder. I am not implying your situation is the same as my past situation, however I am pointing out that though you may have your mare's respect in some areas, there are gaps or flaws in the partnership that you may want to consider. Balance and develop the partnership and you can work through the Training Scale MUCH easier. You shouldn't have to push your horse through caniption fits; a PARTNERSHIP is harmonious and not full of arguments.

    Besides that, trainingscaletrainingscaletrainingscale. Work her in such a way that she naturally engages herself and becomes lighter as a result of progressive schooling exercises. The rider's job should merely be to guide. Later down the road you can enhance and refine, but especially initially, it is all the horse. AND HAVE FUN! :P

    ETA: forgot to clarify the leaning issue in the interim as a horse is developed to be light and working from behind. Personally I do just "drop" such a horse. In the heat of the moment, you can also bump them forward a little, squeeze with your hands, and then release. Transitions and changes in pace. If it is a continuous problem however, I drop all contact and pick up exercises and patterns (the same I use to develop collection) to teach the horse RESPONSIBILITY - to carry itself. We might do a lot of loopy-no-contact first, then I might pick up sufficient rein to establish correct bends etc, but insufficient contact the horse can actually lean on. Then as the horse picks itself up, I can also pick up the slack the horse leaves in my reins (much as one would do in a warm-up) and start re-establishing contact on my end. Horses leaning is the reason it is so important to allow the horse to establish actual contact and why no-contact work is so important, especially at the beginning. The horse's job is responsibility for self.
    Last edited by naturalequus; Nov. 19, 2010 at 02:56 PM.
    ....horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
    ~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Jul. 6, 2004
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    East Central Mississippi
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    Quote Originally Posted by ginger708 View Post
    I agree for a very green horse a large release can do wonders however if the rider just say for conversation the OP wants to work through the levels and she has gone far enough to do rein back.

    The rein back is complicated to people that have not trained it move because they start to go about it in the way described above. The above method is a fine way to teach a horse to back up, however it is not a rein back.

    The above method you describe starts to mess with the halt. It does this because in the halt we close the leg to keep the forward, block the forward with the seat and contain the energy with the hands. If the horse when you relax or close your hands right before the salute had been taught to back in the above method he will put his weight back or even worse step backwards. Either of these acts will kill the halt and dump your score.

    The rein back for a Dressage horse should be left side back right side back and so on for the the amount of steps needed for the movement. This method also helps the rider keep track if the steps and it makes a clear distinction for the horse between the halt and rein back. I believe the OP stated that she is at first cleaning it up and is working second. So I am assuming that the OP wants to work the levels. That being said you have to think about how fixing one problem will effect the total training in the long run.

    The reason I am using the rein back issue is because I foolishly thought my horse to back using the pressure slightest effort back I gave a release and now we are working on no backing what so ever at the halt. So now I am teaching rein back correctly.

    Sorry.... I mentioned in my post - at the very beginning - I was not giving instructions to teach a back, but instead was simply giving the results one might experience from poor timing of the release. But I went back and highlighted it for noticability.
    Never explain yourself to someone who is committed to misunderstanding you.



  14. #14
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    May. 6, 2007
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    I'm riding at a lower level but am having many of the same issues you described, from getting attitude from the mare halfway through the ride (at which point I hike up my big girl pants and ride FORWARD) to the hanging.

    One thing my trainer is working with me on when she hangs is letting go of the rein on which the mare is hanging (in our case, the inside rein 90% of the time) while simultaneously (and that is important) really holding that outside rein and bending (read:kicking) her into it. That prevents the likelihood of an equine summersault, since you're not dropping the mare on her face. When I execute it correctly, it works well. When I do it poorly, there's no connection into the outside rein and we weave around. That's my fault.

    We've also been working hard on developing better contact. Lots of transitions, half halts, circles, serpentines - it works best when I really keep her moving and thinking. Bending, and unpredictability - seem to be great friends here.
    Don't wrassle with a hog. You just get dirty, and the hog likes it.

    Collecting Thoroughbreds - tales of a re-rider and some TBs



  15. #15
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    Mar. 25, 2009
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    645

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    Weekly lessons...I went from having once a month lessons to once a week lessons...it was a big investment on my part, but it has really helped focus my riding...I had gotten "stuck" even though I was diligently practicing in between monthly sessions, it just WASN'T working and we weren't improving. Weekly or every other week lessons (I have 2 horses, so each horse gets 2 lessons a month) seems just about right for us.

    I also think it's important to have the right trainer, who can explain WHY you do certain exercises, when to "release," the system they use, and perhaps even school the horse for you, so you can learn and see (and eventually feel) when it's right. Attend clinics...audit whenever you can...those can be really helpful, even if riders are riding "above" you...

    Good luck!



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