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  1. #1
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    Aug. 25, 2012
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    Default Going forward into contact.

    Can I get some help with this please? We've successfully gone through first level and have been working on 2nd. Specifically gaits. Once I get him in front of my legs and into the contact things are smooth sailing however...

    My horse is on the lazy side. I've nipped this in the bud well enough for first level. Now we are beginning collection (well we have been for a few months) and I'm getting sucking back when I ask him to move forward into contact.

    It seems I can either give forward with the reins to get forward or keep my position and loose forward. He was taking steps backwards but I've corrected that. I find myself letting my elbows go forward which causes me to loose my seat and position.

    Also if I give forward he drops his shoulders and pulls forward with the front rather than pushing from behind.

    I'm really having a difficult time getting it. For the corrections: I ask with my leg and if he doesn't go forward I use the whip. Sometimes I feel like I'm getting up rather than forward. Sometimes I feel that if I correct any harder he will explode. I also feel that my reins are short but my instructors (both) say that they are NOT and that he needs to learn to push into the bridle. They also say things are not always going to be pretty. I understand that but I also don't want to create a bigger problem than I already have.

    I've read the books and most of them don't address issues with horses who don't respond correctly. I'd love to hear from anyone who's been through a similar situation and what's worked. Getting really desperate here. Thanks.

    P.S... If I go back to my first level trot everything is fine. He's responsive and forward but we are trying to take it to the next level. Horse healthy and fit.



  2. #2
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    Dec. 25, 2005
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    Quote Originally Posted by KurPlexed View Post
    Sometimes I feel that if I correct any harder he will explode. I also feel that my reins are short but my instructors (both) say that they are NOT and that he needs to learn to push into the bridle. They also say things are not always going to be pretty. I understand that but I also don't want to create a bigger problem than I already have.
    Not a huge bit of advice... but go ahead and TRY going further than you think is advisable, for one ride. You won't ruin him. And like your trainers said, its NOT always going to be pretty. You're asking your horse for the first time for collection... that's hard work! And he's lazy! You may have to really push him so he gets the idea that he can go forward and carry.

    Piss him off! If you're worried, do it a couple days before a lesson so if you do screw anything up, you can fix it with your trainer. I know the first time I started asking for collection, I had to ask to the point of tail swishing. Alone, I would have thought I was doing something wrong. But my trainer quite correctly told me to keep asking until my horse gave me some correct work. She had decided that what we were doing up to that point was acceptable and anything more than that was too much. But once she started realizing that the bar was raised, she would give it. And then when it became the standard (and she became a little stronger), the tail swishing stopped. Sometimes you have to demand a little more to get them to understand that they can do it and they need to try.

    Don't worry about ruining things in one ride and try working outside your comfort zone.


    1 members found this post helpful.

  3. #3
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    You could make strides with this when hacking out in company. Drop your horse back from the group so that he wants to catch up, then only let him go forward if he carries himself in to the contact. It works out hunting too ! Once he is floating along where you want him, you can give a smidge and see if he can keep the rhythm and collection himself for a little, and then longer. Once you practice this it is possible to keep him in rythmic, balanced collection, with just your seat, for miles. Sometimes you have to be sneaky.
    ... _. ._ .._. .._



  4. #4
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    Jun. 7, 2006
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eventer13 View Post
    Not a huge bit of advice... but go ahead and TRY going further than you think is advisable, for one ride. You won't ruin him. And like your trainers said, its NOT always going to be pretty. You're asking your horse for the first time for collection... that's hard work! And he's lazy! You may have to really push him so he gets the idea that he can go forward and carry.

    Piss him off! If you're worried, do it a couple days before a lesson so if you do screw anything up, you can fix it with your trainer. I know the first time I started asking for collection, I had to ask to the point of tail swishing. Alone, I would have thought I was doing something wrong. But my trainer quite correctly told me to keep asking until my horse gave me some correct work. She had decided that what we were doing up to that point was acceptable and anything more than that was too much. But once she started realizing that the bar was raised, she would give it. And then when it became the standard (and she became a little stronger), the tail swishing stopped. Sometimes you have to demand a little more to get them to understand that they can do it and they need to try.

    Don't worry about ruining things in one ride and try working outside your comfort zone.
    Awesome advice.
    Agree totally!



  5. #5
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    you and I seem to be in a similar place--I was working on this today with my guy. As I mentioned in the other thread I have taken a step back to go forward. What worked for my guy today was 1) biting off smaller chunks, 2) being absolutely sure that I am making a request followed immediately by release and 3) lastly LOTS and LOTS of Praise, 4) More Praise Lastly (and this is specific to me,myself, I) being sure when he is up in the bridle to keep my arms supple/relaxed and following....not taking and holding.



  6. #6
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    Oct. 13, 2006
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    In the sumposium on here from 2007 Peters adresses this very issue from TL all the way up to Grand Prix over and over.

    He also shows the way he corrects it
    ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~
    http://www.off-breed-dressage.blogspot.com/



  7. #7
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    Aug. 25, 2012
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    Eventer13: I agree, great advise. Here's the thing... I have mental problems. My last horse (bitchy mare) was awful. Her and I did NOT get along. Anyway she refused the leg and would rear, baulk, try to kick and bite me (mounted) She was a WITCH. Anyway it took me 2 years to get over her nastiness and believe in my current horse who is and has been absolutely perfect.....till now. So now I'm asking for more and he's trying every evasions he can dream up. I'm getting to the point that my back is going to be against the wall. I either have to shit or get off the pot. I need to get him to respect the leg no matter what and that's where "getting out of your comfort zone" comes in. I guess your right. I just have to do it. It's going to get ugly but if I don't do it I may as well just stay where I am forever with this horse. I know once I win I won't have to visit it again. It's just getting to the other side of this hump. I'm going to print our your reply and take it with me and keep it in my pocket. I'll get pissed enough to push him through it one of these days ( I can do it with my trainer there bc she makes sure to tell me I'm not doing anything wrong to prevent him from responding correctly)

    Oh I also LOVE your advise about getting into it a few days before my lesson so I can fix issues in a day or two!! This is HUGE for me!!

    Equibrit: I def can do this. The only problem is I'm worried about the explosion. I guess if I do it planned and keep the distance reasonable we could def work something like this out. I have a hunter pace this weekend. Maybe towards the end would be a good time. He'll be tired but still wanting to keep up. Thanks!!

    Goodpony: I praise TONS!! lol Sometimes I think I'm nuts but I really try to impress upon him exactly what I want. I am also quick with the release sometimes almost to a fault. I do have to hold a bit longer right now if I don't I will have a hard time sustaining.

    NOMIOMI1: Do you have a link you could post? I'm new here and don't know where it is. I appreciate it.

    Are there any other videos that address this issue? I do have a membership on the two online dressage clinic sites.

    Thanks you guys!! I really thought I was going to get replies saying something to the effect that he's not ready etc etc etc (He's ready!! This I know)



  8. #8
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    Apr. 17, 2012
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    When you are asking a horse to "go forward into contact," without rewarding him for going forward by ~lightening~ said contact, you are asking him to ignore pain and push into it.
    Most horses will ignore the weaker (less uncomfortable) stimulus, in this case your legs. He is trying to be polite and not go against your hands.

    Try this: Halt and ask your horse to move forward off your leg by "opening the door" by opening your fingers and relaxing the contact. In other words, don't force a flexion or otherwise hang onto his face. Completely separate your leg and hand (gas pedal and brake) aids. Try this at several different gaits and I'm guessing you're going to see forward impulse and happy ears pretty quickly.

    Pushing a horse onto the bit creates tension, compression, and ultimately resistance and is a misunderstanding of what bit acceptance was meant to be.

    Zipping up flame suit, BRING IT!



  9. #9
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    Aug. 25, 2012
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    SwampYankee: Thanks! I will try tomorrow. I think maybe that will give us some room. I agree I think I am missing something too. That's what I'm trying desperately to figure out.

    I was also thinking of giving maybe an inch in the reins to see if that helps. Hopefully an inch will give him t he idea of what I'm looking for without compromising my position or him dropping down in front. Then my plan was to shorten up again once he has a little better understanding. My trainers really don't think this is necessary but while they are not around I can't have him going backwards on me.



  10. #10
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    Oct. 13, 2006
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    More times then not the hand is stopping too much without through half halts and not giving enough release. That is also addressed in this vid.

    Its not to knock your riding dont think that. But "piss him off" is not good advice if you are trying to learn because you usually WILL start to block him more trying to get "collection" and this is a learning issue not a resistance issue.

    We cant assume everyone on here has a lazy a** of a horse. Usually they are not able to go forward. My own seat will close at the thigh causing this sometimes too.

    Terrible what a horse has to go through for us to try and learn something. You are teaching him collection and its new so why make him angry? Then new equals crappy time for the horse? If he has any hot blood in him he will probably get vicey and be on the list of "witchy horses" too.

    You dont need a horse exploding every time you put the leg on any more than one that doesnt go. You need willing and a good reaction. Kicking out if its not followed by forward is not a good reaction.

    here is the symposum thread http://chronofhorse.com/forum/showthread.php?t=369891

    Notice there is a lot more than just kicking and when one rider does he steps in to say that wont work.
    ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~
    http://www.off-breed-dressage.blogspot.com/



  11. #11
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    More times then not the hand is stopping too much without through half halts and not giving enough release.
    This is exactly what I am trying to work on with my guy--making sure he is really really through on both reins and not blocking him with my hand (taking, blocking, holding, shortening the neck). I have never thought of myself as a heavy handed rider and truthfully I dont think I am--but what Im aiming for is a more lively/subtle connection--keeping the lines of communication more open and the back swinging, him engaged and more in self carriage. Thanks for the video link--will definitely check it out.



  12. #12
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    Aug. 30, 2011
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    I'm not an expert, so take this for what its worth but I was at a very similar place with my young horse.

    My young horse's middle name is "behind the leg" - that's his favorite place, I swear. He was getting stuck too. Couldn't transition from a few steps of collection to forward. I ended up just really giving him the reins (like exaggerated) when I asked for forward, and didn't worry if he dropped his shoulders and fell out of balance.

    After a few weeks of doing this - voilĂ ! - he goes forward into contact, keeps the balance.

    I think 2 things were going on 1) he didn't have the strength to do as I asked- meaning he needed time to make muscles, and 2) it took a while for him to really get what I was asking him.



  13. #13
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    Aug. 25, 2012
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    NOMIOMI1: I don't think your knocking my riding lol You haven't seen me ride. lol I do think there is too much hand at times and that's where I'm getting stuck. Trainers say no, push him through it. I do believe that not all training is going to be pretty and there will be ugly moments. I also believe that I need to stand up to him and insist that he do what's asked. If he gets pissed for those few min of the day, too bad. We can go back to soft and happy at any time.

    I'll try what SwampYankee has suggested. I think the answer lies in there somewhere along with he must respect the leg.

    Thanks for the link. Going to check it out.



  14. #14
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    Might your anxiety also be causing you to send sort of 'blocking' messages with your body? I mean, a horse that's collected properly does kind of feel like a lot of energy coiled up, so you may be feeling that and responding to it as if he's going to use that energy to do something bad and thus not rewarding him for doing what you ask - so he's getting confused.

    (Does that make sense? I don't have a huge amount of experience with 2nd level type collected work, but I'm thinking back to one horse I rode in lessons who just felt fast and made a lot of the other riders nervous because even though he was a good sort, he had a lot of 'go' and so even when you got him to come under himself more and be balanced and so on - not even really collected as such - it felt like you had a lot of horse. I had to kind of get over myself mentally a bit to make progress with him because the instinct was to hold him in and tense up to try to slow him down, and what worked much better was when I said to myself 'okay, if we're going to go fast, we're going to do it right' and forgot about how zippy he felt and just focused on stuff like riding into the corners properly, and bingo, suddenly we had communication. If you couldn't make that mental switch you never really got him going properly, it seemed like. He didn't work for all of the riders in the lesson program.)



  15. #15
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    Oh I've seen those videos but I don't recall this issue. Do you have any idea of what level or video he addresses the horses who have issues? I've seen SP in person and I've seen him deal with this issue but most were horses ridden by pros (daily) and therefore they weren't having the issue that I am. They were able to correct and move on. I can too when I have a trainer there LOL

    Judysmom I have no doubt if I were to do that he would gladly go forward. The issue is him going into the contact. He knows leg=go.



  16. #16
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    Kdow: I know exactly what you mean. No I really don't think it's that tho. I'd LOVE for him to be forward/fast whatever. lol Anything besides sucked back.



  17. #17
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    Aug. 18, 2008
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    Some things I've tried. If I use my leg and there is no to little response. Wallup him with you legs. Also, I've also found if you use the whip at the shoulder it helps...depending on the horse. Do lots of transitions withing the gait. Come back using your upper thigh and go forward with you lower leg. Back and forth.. a lot. I'm no expert either.



  18. #18
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    xsalute: yes I've done that. That works great as long as it's not into contact.

    The more I think about it the more I think SwampYankee has the ticket. I have a feeling that while I'm giving my leg I may be also closing my hands. I think if I separate leg/hand we will get it. Can't wait to try it tomorrow.



  19. #19
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    so after spending time working thru some of this what i learned is that it isnt my hand that creates contact and connection, rounding of the back etc - it is my seat. so if i can ride my horse forward enough and active enough, bent and supple they will round and stay connected thru transitions.... it doesn't even matter if i have a loop in the reins or a soft contact.... because it isn't about the hand.

    so i also agree about being sure to give when you ask for an upward gait.... they need room to be able to do so - by trying to keep your horse round in teh neck it just ends up blocking....

    so when i am trying to keep it all together i think 90% off my seat and only a bit of hand - and as always trying to think forward with my hands.....

    and finally praise like anything - even if you dont think they have done anything...

    sorry for above reading funky - i was visualizing as i typed so it is kind of jumbled!



  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by KurPlexed View Post
    SwampYankee: Thanks! I will try tomorrow. I think maybe that will give us some room. I agree I think I am missing something too. That's what I'm trying desperately to figure out.

    I was also thinking of giving maybe an inch in the reins to see if that helps. Hopefully an inch will give him t he idea of what I'm looking for without compromising my position or him dropping down in front. Then my plan was to shorten up again once he has a little better understanding. My trainers really don't think this is necessary but while they are not around I can't have him going backwards on me.
    You can't be going around holding him up. Take a look at the disparity in size between the muscles of his forehand, and the muscles of yours. What he needs to be taught is to hold HIMSELF up--and not by relying on leaning into pain. Don't be afraid to slip your reins or "let go" a bit--he needs a clear understanding of the command he's being given, and it sounds like right now that signal is being jammed.

    Try it and see!



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