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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul. 26, 2001
    Location
    Toronto, Canada.
    Posts
    6,385

    Default Beginner Frusterations

    Beginner dressage rider here, long time H/J rider with bad habits.

    Have a great dressage coach and taking weekly lessons. But, I feel like when outside of a lesson I just simply can not ride.

    I have a saint of a horse, but difficult to ride. I HANG on his right rein, and he pulls back. I add leg, he speeds up. I pull harder, appy more leg...he pulls harder and goes faster. I forget to halfhalt sometimes and forget which leg needs to be applied an have utterly bad timing for my pathetic attempt at halfhalts.

    Sigh...its hard work, I dont mind that....I just want to do good by my horse and I'm feeling like Im just messing things up.



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun. 30, 2006
    Location
    SF Bay Area, California
    Posts
    4,707

    Default

    I know how you feel because I'm an adult re-rider with a green horse. The only thing that began to work for us was for my trainer to start riding my horse so that my horse could really understand what was being asked. If you can't afford to have your trainer put some rides on your horse, perhaps she can split the lesson so that she rides your horse for half the lesson and then you get on. It made a big difference having my trainer ride my horse because she knew how my horse felt and could better communicate what I needed to do.

    Good luck, I hope you stick with it and start to feel better about things!
    Proud owner of a Slaughter-Bound TB from a feedlot, and her surprise baby...!
    http://i42.photobucket.com/albums/e350/Jen4USC/fave.jpg
    http://i42.photobucket.com/albums/e3...SC/running.jpg



  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar. 3, 2010
    Location
    Georgia
    Posts
    1,523

    Default

    Practice those half halts and stop pulling. He won't pull if you don't. Keep your end of the connection steady. Give him something to work into. If he gets too quick, slow your posting, and half halt-- a lot.
    I have the exact opposite problem. I ride fine on my own, and turn into a mushroom when I'm in a lesson. No one said the road to Rome was an easy one.
    "Rock n' roll's not through, yeah, I'm sewing wings on this thing." --Destroyer
    http://dressagescriblog.wordpress.com/



  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar. 4, 2010
    Posts
    1,879

    Default Keep practicing!

    I can so relate! Almost exactly a year ago I moved my green Arab to a dressage barn and started taking lessons. I was commenting to someone today that my horse has changed SO MUCH in a year. And me too! Since I used to ride saddle seat and western, I felt dumber than a post for the first 6 or 7 months I rode dressage. Everything was wrong. The poor horse must have thought I was a moron. I know my instructor must have felt like tearing her hair out on many occasions. And then, mysteriously, sometime around August or September things started coming together and they just keep getting better. All I can figure is that the horse and I finally figured each other out after months of practicing.

    So, keep riding. Keep practicing. Go to as many clinics as you can and take the clinicians' comments to heart. Your horse won't be permanently damaged by all your mistakes. Give your instructor a big Christmas bonus! Persevere! It will get better!



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep. 8, 2007
    Posts
    2,900

    Default

    I have re-schooled several off track thoroughbreds, so I'd say I'm pretty familiar with leg=speed and half-halt=pull, LOL! Don't forget the three T's, Things Take Time!!! The problem is most likely that your horse has no idea what a half-halt is, he is new to dressage just like you. So you have to actively TEACH him what response you want. Right now you give a half-halt and he takes the reins and pull back.

    Try this instead, do a clear half-halt and then give your hands forward so you know you are releasing the half-halt. If you don't release the half-halt pressure you will never progress in dressage. Every bit of training in dressage comes from the release, not the pressure. So give the hands, and observe what your horse does. He will most likely speed up since you have been holding him with the reins, so come to an abrupt halt and then really praise him in the halt. Keep repeating this until he finally gets that the half-halt = stop. And you must remember to release the pressure the instant he halts or you will not teach him a thing. You will see after a few sessions when you half-halt he will be willing to come right back to you and halt.

    From there, only after he is totally understanding you want him to stop, then you start adjusting the half-halt. Give a smaller half-halt and see if he will come down to the walk easily instead of the halt. After you master that you can move on to the correct half-halt where you stay in the trot and he simply rocks back on his haunches. But he will never get that idea if you don't make it much more clear to him through the halt.

    And just for your info, don't try this method with a lazy horse! This method only works for the forward horse who tends to run and ignore half-halts.

    Another thing you need to teach your horse is that leg does not always mean faster. Yes, you want your horse to go from your leg aids, but adding impulsion has nothing to do with speed. I think of asking my horse to step with more energy but HIGHER off the ground. I don't want him charging away forward, I want him rocking back and lifting up instead. Many, many transitions, especially walk to trot back to walk will help establish this idea for your horse.



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar. 3, 2010
    Location
    Georgia
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    1,523

    Default

    Great post dwblover!
    "Rock n' roll's not through, yeah, I'm sewing wings on this thing." --Destroyer
    http://dressagescriblog.wordpress.com/



  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul. 26, 2001
    Location
    Toronto, Canada.
    Posts
    6,385

    Default

    Thank you all so much for your words of encouragement. And yes, Things Take Time. Im not giving up, I am 100% dedicated to this.



  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep. 8, 2007
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    2,900

    Default

    Thanks kinnip!



  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec. 25, 2005
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    1,945

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by dwblover View Post
    And just for your info, don't try this method with a lazy horse! This method only works for the forward horse who tends to run and ignore half-halts.
    Hmmm... OK, any tips for the lazy horse?



  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep. 8, 2007
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    Default

    Sure, LOL! My other horse is a Dutch Warmblood who is as lazy as the day is long, haha!! It comes down to the same principle, the horse must react from a set of clear aides that are always the same. So, if you are having trouble keeping your horse forward, then you have not taught the horse to carry himself. You have taught him to depend on you for motivation. So you start from the halt and you give a light leg aid to go forward, and be sure to have a very soft hand. If nothing happens, you have to immediately be much more clear and either tap three times with the whip behind your leg or really give a thump with your legs until the horse really jumps forward. Then you praise like crazy. Then you MUST go back to the light leg aid and get a response from that. Repeat until the horse goes from the light leg aid.

    Now once the horse is in motion it is the horse's job to keep that motion going, not yours. You really need feel like the horse is in front of your leg, not hiding behind it just waiting for you to let up on the pressure. Walk-trot transitions where you expect the horse to strike off into trot instantly can really help to jazz up the lazy horse. Responsiveness is golden! Then when they are maintaining the forward themselves, sit quiet and have quiet hands. If they make a mistake and slow down, send them forward very clearly and then be very quiet until they slow down again. Horses are very smart and they will soon figure out that you expect them to remain forward and that is the ONLY thing you are going to accept from now on.

    And be sure with the lazy horse that you do not allow them to suck back during a half-halt. For these horses, you need to think of a half-go instead of a half-halt. Add forward energy first, then close the fist softly and brace the back lightly and be sure your horse simply shifts weight to the back end, but does not try to hide back there himself. Always feel you have a lot of horse out in front of you, and just a small, powerful, quick engine behind you. The instant you lose that feeling it's time to apply the very clear aides to go forward again. But always return to the lighter aides and give the horse the chance to respond to them. That way you train the horse to respond to the smaller aides instead of bigger and bigger ones.



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug. 14, 2004
    Posts
    7,540

    Default

    why would you tap 3 times with teh whip when the horse ignored your leg? wouldn't it be more correct to reapply the leg and tap once at the same time and give the horse a chance to respond to that aid? if he ignores escalate but always give the horse the chance to respond and always keep the leg aid the same and increase the whip aid.

    also, i am sure everyone knows this, but a half halt is mostly leg/seat and then hand even when you are teaching it.
    Last edited by mbm; Dec. 5, 2010 at 11:39 PM. Reason: damn a' s



  12. #12
    Join Date
    Jan. 16, 2007
    Posts
    2,169

    Default

    I think the idea that DWBL is expressing is that you are teaching the horse to respond NOW to the light aid, and if you don't get a response you escalate VERY quickly until you do. You want the connection to be immediate in the horse's mind.

    If you repeat the aid before getting the response, you are diluting the aid and habituating the horse to giving the aid twice.

    It's like calling a dog over and over when it doesn't respond the first time. You begin to lose the connection between the cue and the response very quickly.



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Apr. 1, 2003
    Location
    Cocoa, Fla
    Posts
    4,261

    Default

    HINT: When I forgot my HH's my trainer had me ride the movements and put in HH's at certain times - at every 1/4 of the circle, before corners, before each change of movement - at every letter down the long side, etc...

    This gets you in the habit of using HH's so once it's established you can back of to using them when necessary - not as scheduled.
    Sandy in Fla.



  14. #14
    Join Date
    Sep. 8, 2007
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    2,900

    Default

    MelantheLLC, EXACTLY what I am saying!!! Horses don't think in shades of gray like people do, only black and white. The horse has to know CLEARLY what a light leg aid means. If you give him six chances to respond to ever increasing aids he has totally lost the message. If however you go from light leg aid, then three taps with whip and light leg aid, back to light leg aid the horse is going to pick the light leg aid next time! If you think that sounds mean, it's much more annoying to confuse the horse and never be clear enough for him to know what you are asking. Once he has established the light leg aid means go, there is no more argument.



  15. #15
    Join Date
    Jun. 23, 2010
    Location
    south
    Posts
    627

    Default

    Squish, NEVER pull back on the reins unless your life is in danger. You and your horse IMO, need to practice knowing where your bounderies are, and you need to stop this pulling match. Plant your hands on the pommel and don't move them just your fingers. Or, make sure your pinkies are touching the pommel almost all the time. If the horse pulls, plant you hands and let pull your pelvis into the saddle, and keep your elbows at your sides.

    Halfhalt, squeeze the reins and move your pelvis forward. Always hold, release, hold release, not hold hold hold.

    I know nothing about a horse that's lazy to the leg. But like another poster here said, trot-walk transitions will get him more on the leg aids.



  16. #16
    Join Date
    Aug. 14, 2004
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by MelantheLLC View Post
    I think the idea that DWBL is expressing is that you are teaching the horse to respond NOW to the light aid, and if you don't get a response you escalate VERY quickly until you do. You want the connection to be immediate in the horse's mind.

    If you repeat the aid before getting the response, you are diluting the aid and habituating the horse to giving the aid twice.

    It's like calling a dog over and over when it doesn't respond the first time. You begin to lose the connection between the cue and the response very quickly.
    i disagree. strongly. you give an aid, if no response you give the SAME aid, and escalate by using the whip ONCE. if you don't get a response to *that* then you use the SAME aid and escalate the whip again. But you need to give the horse the chance to respond. depending on the horse this might be lessor or greater time span....

    if done correctly it DOES work. attacking the horse with the whip 3 times does not allow the horse to respond to the aid, and in fact if he does respond and then gets hit again the message gets muddied. in other words, 3 lashes of the whip with no interval for response is over aiding and may backfire and is unfair.

    btw: this is not my philosophy - but the masters of dressage.



  17. #17
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    Aug. 14, 2004
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by dwblover View Post
    If you give him six chances to respond to ever increasing aids he has totally lost the message.
    i said nothing about increasing the leg aid - in fact i said the SAME leg aid with the addition of one whip. see above post for more info.



  18. #18
    Join Date
    Apr. 20, 2009
    Location
    Raeford, North Carolina
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    3,002

    Default

    To the OP (Squish? Bunny? What's a good nickname?), you're getting lots of great advice about aids, half-halts, etc. And that's all super. But . . . .

    If you are this new to dressage than my advice / encouragement is this: Give yourself some time. It really does become a beautiful and intimate conversation that you have with your horse. Not today or tomorrow, or maybe even a year from now. But every day a little closer.

    Stick with it, listen to your trainer, and try to absorb it all. Unlike other disciplines where your accomplishments are for the world to see (Hey! I jumped 3 foot for the first time! Or Hey! I nailed my sliding stop!), your personal victories in dressage are usually quiet and personal - a great canter transition, a horse on the outside rein for the first time, your first moment of honest connection.

    From someone who wondered why dressge girths were so little, to someone who truly appreciates the beauty of the relationship, let me just say "I understand". You have begun a long and amazing journey, the learning never stops. I'm a mere infant in this and I am always eager for the next phase.

    Keep us posted and ask for encouragement whenever necessary!



  19. #19
    Join Date
    Jun. 23, 2010
    Location
    south
    Posts
    627

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by ACMEeventing View Post
    To the OP (Squish? Bunny? What's a good nickname?), you're getting lots of great advice about aids, half-halts, etc. And that's all super. But . . . .

    If you are this new to dressage than my advice / encouragement is this: Give yourself some time. It really does become a beautiful and intimate conversation that you have with your horse. Not today or tomorrow, or maybe even a year from now. But every day a little closer.

    Stick with it, listen to your trainer, and try to absorb it all. Unlike other disciplines where your accomplishments are for the world to see (Hey! I jumped 3 foot for the first time! Or Hey! I nailed my sliding stop!), your personal victories in dressage are usually quiet and personal - a great canter transition, a horse on the outside rein for the first time, your first moment of honest connection.

    From someone who wondered why dressge girths were so little, to someone who truly appreciates the beauty of the relationship, let me just say "I understand". You have begun a long and amazing journey, the learning never stops. I'm a mere infant in this and I am always eager for the next phase.

    Keep us posted and ask for encouragement whenever necessary!

    Beautifully said! I think training level was the most frustrating level there is!



  20. #20
    Join Date
    Jan. 16, 2007
    Posts
    2,169

    Default

    OK, mbm, nobody is talking about "attacking" the horse with the whip.

    Let's not put up straw men to create dissension where there are simply subtle differences.

    You may feel your way is best, and works best for you and the masters of dressage, and that's fine.

    However, another approach is NOT to give the aid twice, but if there is no response, or insufficient response, to use whip taps (taps, got it?) within two steps of giving the aid, in one smooth escalation, to get the response within 2-3 steps. As soon as the response occurs to the light aid (whip taps or not) you release the aid. There is simply nothing abusive about this.

    It is meant to be as clear as possible for the horse by associating the light aid (which is pressure) directly with the response and release within 2 steps. Repetition of this will teach the horse very clearly what the light aid means, without any confusion that might be introduced by giving an aid which does not get a response, and then repeating that aid.



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