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  1. #21
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    I was getting fairly similar scores in my novice events last summer (35-41). I can absolutely guarantee you it's not because the other riders crank their horses head in, it's because we have serious problems with our tests! I know my similar scoring tests feel like crap, with issues well beyond going too slow. An accurate ride with a few little problems is mid 30's, not 40's.

    If you cannot figure out why you are scoring low, that tells me you need to work with a dressage trainer, who can help you understand why your work is incorrect. I know what my problems are, can recognize good work in other riders (and my own rides at home), and am working with an excellent trainer to fix my crappy dressage tests. Along with getting a dressage trainer, I'd suggest watching others ride dressage test. The high scoring horses are round (not cranked in), with lifted backs, engaged hind quarters, and as a result, better movement.
    Quote Originally Posted by pinecone View Post
    I can't decide if I should saddle up the drama llama, dust off the clue bat, or get out my soapbox.



  2. #22
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    What you talk of, [toe flipping trot and really deep in the contact] are both very incorrect ways of going.

    mbm and cindyg had good replies.

    1. You do not need an extension for Training level. You only need a lengthening of the BODY AND STRIDE.

    2. The very deep frame you see is incorrect and those horses will eventually be lame in the back and start to quit out over fences.

    here is a VERY good lengthen.
    http://www.anja-beran.com/uploads/pics/_DSC8601_01.jpg

    You see the nose of the horse IN FRONT of the vertical.

    here is a VERY incorrect lengthen
    http://www.hwfarm.com/2_Late/Pics/Do..._extension.jpg

    You see deep frame and toe flip.

    In a correct lengthen, medium, and extension you should draw a line from the ears down the front of the face and continue the way to the ground, the front hoof should line up perfectly with that imaginary line. The line should go alone the entire front face of the hoof...not just touch the tippy toe.

    The way I usually teach my horses to lengthen is from a very young age to haul ass every time I change rein on the diagonal. That way even when they are really young they start to understand that something will change on that line.

    Then when they are more schooled and can actually carry themselves I teach them to properly lift and lengthen across that diagonal. I also teach it with a vocal queue.

    The correct feeling for you will be like a motor boat. You should feel the horse lift like it is very proud. Also, the trot SHOULD NOT become more bouncy. It should suck you down into the saddle. (from the lowering of the hind end)

    Also, you will feel a hitch through the horse's shoulder each time a front leg moves forward. I love that feeling. It's the feeling of the hind end doing it's job. Coming up and under and "punching" that front leg up and out of the way.
    Because remember, all of those new trots are made from the hind end coming under, not the front end going out.

    Most of the rides I see these days are not correct. The riders have their horses in too much of a frame and often judges reward them for it.
    For this reason we as horseman have begun to forget what the true goals and guidelines are of the dressage progression.

    I've saved this picture in my photobucket for these types of threads.
    This is a photo of my horse in a Training Level Dressage test. This is a canter circle.
    I received a 9 often in canters often with him. I'm just sorry it's only a head shot. But it does show the less deep and very correct frame for the level of competition.
    http://i128.photobucket.com/albums/p...m/canter-1.jpg


    Now your troubles are going to be getting to the point where your horse's body can dish out a lengthen. And for that we really can't help you so much. You'll need some dressage lessons to help with those fundamentals.

    But for me, I get the self-carriage I need for the lengthen from a previous trick.
    My big gray horse got it from renvers through the corner. Many horses get it from a shoulder-in through the corner.
    My little paint horse got it from canter serpentine a 10 meter canter circle, down to trot and then he was off the forehand enough to get a good lengthen.
    all of those previous "tricks" are movements that get the horses on their butts and into a bit more of self carriage. Then the front end is out of the way enough to allow the hind end to punch through.

    But then the problem also comes from the half halt or lack there of. Which most horses of that level do not understand. You can't really do any of that without a functional half halt.

    A whole new can of worms.
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    Horses are amazing athletes and make no mistake -- they are the stars of the show!


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  3. #23
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    Teaching an OTTB how to lengthen can be a challenge. I've enjoyed reading all the suggestions here, and implement many.

    I've often found it difficult for my OTTBs to get the idea of lengthening as they think they're supposed to break to canter or just go faster. Just to give them the understanding that their bodies can actually do this strange thing, I've trotted them up a slope with a buddy horse cantering alongside. I won't let them out of a trot, and they generally flip the switch in their brain and lengthen. Or my favorite place to do this is on the beach headed for home. They REALLY want to move out, and if I can contain them in trot they show lengthening (and are mightily praised for it).

    I think Jack LeGoff had an exercise where ground poles were set on an arc (20 meter or more) with a 3 1/2 or 4 foot distance at the center. Then the rider could trot the horse over at the perfect rhythm. Moving to the inside of the arc at the same rhythm helped the hose compress it's trot, moving out a bit helped it learn to lengthen. Much like the ground pole exercise described above, but only one set of poles.
    They don't call me frugal for nothing.
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  4. #24
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    Well...I'll beg to differ a bit on the deep in the contact. I think a LOT depends on the horse. I have one OTTB who is built VERY up hill. Not like a typical TB at all. For the way this particular horse is built and goes....getting him deep initially is what is needed to get him to relax and be connected. Same with my WB cross. Of course that is not where you want to stay or be forever and especially not for a test....but can be what is needed initially depending on the horse. My other horse...no way. For her, you would never ride her the same because of how she is built. She is well built but different.

    So I do not agree there is only one way without knowing the particular horse or knowing what someone is saying when they say deep.

    That said...Toe flipping is NOT the goal with dressage and eventing. And no, not all horses will have the same range of motion. But the goal should be RELAXED and loose through their shoulder and back. Steady rhythm...steady contact. An accurate test, with a horse who is steady, relaxed, straight and connected will be competitive. Being slow does not equate to being relaxed and connected. By relaxed, I mean soft through their body as opposed to tense.

    And getting a good lengthening trot with out going faster (changing the Rhythm) is tough. There will be more than one horse at Training level with you who don't get it yet....I'll probably be on one of them Just takes time but if your jumping is ready....you can catch the dressage up while having fun and getting miles for the xc.
    ** The difference between genius and stupidity is genius has its limits. -- Albert Einstein **


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  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by frugalannie View Post
    Teaching an OTTB how to lengthen can be a challenge. I've enjoyed reading all the suggestions here, and implement many.

    I've often found it difficult for my OTTBs to get the idea of lengthening as they think they're supposed to break to canter or just go faster. Just to give them the understanding that their bodies can actually do this strange thing, I've trotted them up a slope with a buddy horse cantering alongside. I won't let them out of a trot, and they generally flip the switch in their brain and lengthen. Or my favorite place to do this is on the beach headed for home. They REALLY want to move out, and if I can contain them in trot they show lengthening (and are mightily praised for it).

    I think Jack LeGoff had an exercise where ground poles were set on an arc (20 meter or more) with a 3 1/2 or 4 foot distance at the center. Then the rider could trot the horse over at the perfect rhythm. Moving to the inside of the arc at the same rhythm helped the hose compress it's trot, moving out a bit helped it learn to lengthen. Much like the ground pole exercise described above, but only one set of poles.
    That hill idea is a GREAT idea! I used to use hills to get my 'sticky' (like most OTTBs, he had it in him and didnt KNOW it) horse to really move out on that trot -- I'll have to try it with a partner!

    And I *LOVE* that exercise. The only problem I have with it is when you don't have a grounds person you have to get off to fix any mistakes you make.. but it is SUCH a good exercise to ride!
    AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012



  6. #26
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    I liked what purplnrpl said and others. I have nothing to add (just a smurf here) but I will say that training with a really good dressage teacher is a must. I rode a very downhill mare that was consistently in the 40s until I went to someone who was a retired eventer with a really really strong dressage background. I saw my scores go to the 30s. . . We could never win the dressage (except for once) but it put me in the top 3 every time.

    I now ride a very uphill correct OTTB and for the first time I feel the trot "lift" I can now at home work to find the right feel and I know it when it's there. Every horse is different and there is no short cut, but it's the hind end that makes the difference. And one more thing is with a dressage instructor you will work on accuracy, accuracy, accuracy
    RIP Kelly 1977-2007 "Wither thou goest, so shall I"

    "To tilt when you should withdraw is Knightly too."



  7. #27
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    As has been pointed out, hyper extension of the lower joints (toe flipping) is incorrect. Why? Because the horses are over tempo and onto the forehand, the lower joints jutt out in an attempt to sustain balance.

    Almost any horse CAN have free strides with greater length and gain ground. But remember that extensions come from collection (collectibility) of compressed joints producing thrust upward (shorter/higher strides) and then forward (longer/flatter strides). And although horses bred to wear a collar might have more knee action, the actual length(enging) of stride has little to do with that. And that is what judges should highlight.

    The tempo is the rate of repetition (rhythm is purity of the gait), the appropriate tempo allows for longer strides w/o loss of balance. And speed is the enemy of impulsion/purity. A little slow is ok but the impulsion must be sustained (effective HH).
    I.D.E.A. yoda



  8. #28
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    Some great advice already here! I have always been taught the same as Purplenurple says--the toe flippin' isn't a correct lengthen unless the hind end is matching the angulation of the front end. I will say that it looks fancy, however a good judge shouldn't be fooled by that.

    As others have already said, you can improve your score a lot by showing a *difference* between your working and lengthen trot. My older horse is an unusual OTTB--while not a "toe flipper"--she has a big floaty, fancy trot and is a total "worker bee" so she gives 110% effort in a test. The problem is that she would power around in her big trot for our working trot-- so it's hard to show a big difference in the lengthen. So, we used to get good "gait" scores, and good scores on our movements in the working trot, but not always the greatest lengthen scores because there wasn't as much difference. I really had to learn to "power her down" a bit and set her up for the lengthen in order to show a difference. I'll have to find some pics to post. It was always fun to take her to a dressage clinic and have the clinician ask me what her breeding was (after they saw her trot). I'd say she was an OTTB and they were always shocked! That being said--we had to working on improving her walk --as that wasn't her best gait. You rarely have a horse that doesn't have at least one gait that could use an upgrade!



  9. #29
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    Nov. 28, 2011
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    Ok I just saw your blog! We were definitely in the same warmup for dressage, I recognize your horse! What was your dressage score? We got a 36, but weren't as forward and focused as we can be, mostly because I got to warmup an hr before the test, then things were running late, and Pie thought he was done!

    I thought you guys looked great and your horse was obedient from what I saw in the warmup. We've got to meet if we are ever showing together again!

    Here's Pies write up of the same weekend
    There's a video of my test if you want to watch it.
    http://www.piesblog.com/2013/02/04/first-show-of-2013/
    Founder & President, Dapplebay, Inc.
    Creative Director, Equestrian Culture Magazine
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  10. #30
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    completely derailing this thread, but leah, your blog rendition of pie is hilarious. love the XC video of the first fence.
    AETERNUM VALE, INVICTUS - 7/10/2012


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  11. #31
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    Hahaha thanks! I know the commentary on it is just priceless. You can thank my boyfriend for that!! LOL
    Founder & President, Dapplebay, Inc.
    Creative Director, Equestrian Culture Magazine
    Take us to print!



  12. #32
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    Just to clarify, because I didn't earlier, I am not trying to achieve the "toe flip" but just a quality, true lengthening/medium/extension (instead of rushing, stiffening, etc). Toby's issues come from the freedom of his shoulders, which he HAS, at liberty, but doesn't know how to find it under saddle. Thus, all the work to encourage him to come up, stay up, and relax there.



  13. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by yellowbritches View Post
    Just to clarify, because I didn't earlier, I am not trying to achieve the "toe flip" but just a quality, true lengthening/medium/extension (instead of rushing, stiffening, etc). Toby's issues come from the freedom of his shoulders, which he HAS, at liberty, but doesn't know how to find it under saddle. Thus, all the work to encourage him to come up, stay up, and relax there.

    And that is where every horse is so different. I had one mare (who scored decently at the CCI* level) who it was all about getting her shoulders up. So for her, I did a lot of pushing fwd for the lengthen into a halt. She wanted to get low in her shoulders so we would halt at different places on the diagonal and on the long side while working on the lengthening. My other horse, we worked outside the ring (or around the entire ring) just keeping the same tempo and asking for a bigger and bigger trot...leg in time, rider posting a bit higher.

    This is why you really need to work with a good grounds person with your particular horse. What works well for one type, might not be the best for a different type of horse....even though what you are aiming for as a result is ultimately similar.
    ** The difference between genius and stupidity is genius has its limits. -- Albert Einstein **



  14. #34
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    I think we need at least one simple post. lol.
    Everything gets so technical and difficult.

    The type of test that goes in a scores well every time without fail is a quiet, steady, rhythmic test.
    Don't worry about being fancy and having huge lengthens and showing major suspension.

    Just go in there and make sure your test is quiet and correct. Most people have poor lengthens. You're damned if you do and damned if you don't sometimes.
    You try to lengthen and you get a "6" comment: rushed. You don't do much of a lengthen and you get a "6" comment: didn't show lengthen.
    BUT!! With the latter, at least you still have a quiet soft horse therefore your next movement will score better. ; )

    I'm willing to bet, if you just forgot about the lengthens and went in there and just pretended, you would score as well or better than if you tried to do a lengthen.

    If I have a horse who can do Training level but does not yet have lengthens then I will sit the test, and post for the so called "lengthen". That alone makes it look like something more is going on.
    The lengthen score is only 1 mark. 3 marks if you have canter lengthens. You can make up for a lack of lengthen by scoring a 8 or 9 on your stretchy walk. That's one of my tricks. To nail the movements that have a coefficient of 2.

    Dressage is all about confidence and bullshit.
    http://kaboomeventing.com/
    http://kaboomeventing.blogspot.com/
    Horses are amazing athletes and make no mistake -- they are the stars of the show!


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  15. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by JFCeventer View Post
    The Training level tests do not have extensions, they are simply a lengthening of the stride. As long as the horse takes slightly longer steps and then comes back, you have done a correct lengthening. Big difference between lengthenings and extensions.
    Anatomically speaking, they are the same thing: the pace/tempo stay consistent and the stride lengthens. And what's funny to me is that the joints that are doing the work are actually increasing in FLEXION to create this longer stride!

    If I remember correctly, the tests read "develop a lengthening," so you can consider this the "starter extension." It is in the test at this level because the expectation is that the horse will progress and be asked to demonstrate ranges of gait at higher levels.

    The working trot progresses to medium trot which progresses to extended trot. The aids used to "develop a lengthening" are the same used all the way through the range. The most important thing is to be gradual in your method, even if your horse is hypermobile at the joints and shows big fancy steps. You want the hock to be fully engaged in any increased length of gait, with the rear hoof on the same horizontal plane as the front. If this isn't happening, there is unbalanced discrepancy somewhere in the chain of movement, and that will place unnecessary stress on the joints and supporting ligaments and tendons.

    You may not be able to create extravagant movement, but you can ALWAYS create quality/precise movement.
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  16. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dakotawyatt View Post
    I feel we get beat by horses that go almost behind the vertical. We just got home from Poplar, and I SWEAR my horse looked like the ONLY one not ridden with his nose cranked to his chest by draw reins
    If it were me, even if that were totally true, even if the judge TOLD me it were true, it would not persuade me to use the draw reins.

    Just because EVERYONE is wrong -- doesn't make them right.
    I have a Fjord! Life With Oden


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  17. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robby Johnson View Post
    Anatomically speaking, they are the same thing: the pace/tempo stay consistent and the stride lengthens. And what's funny to me is that the joints that are doing the work are actually increasing in FLEXION to create this longer stride!
    Absolutely, I was just trying to put it into simpler terms and let her know she didn't need a Grand Prix worthy extended trot for the Training test. The difference between lengthenings and extensions is the size of the stride, amount of engagement, and how much longer your frame should be.
    Blog: http://movingonupeventing.blogspot.com/

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  18. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by purplnurpl View Post
    Dressage is all about confidence and bullshit.
    This. Times 100.

    Take my advice, as I have made this mistake. DON'T TRAIN BY YOUR DRESSAGE SCORES AND COMMENTS. Unless you and your coach/mentor/grounds person/whathaveyou feel like the comments are dead accurate and exactly what you need to hear and WHEN you need to hear it, don't rush your horse into fitting the dressage judges' comments. Train your horse the way it needs to be trained at the pace it needs to go.

    I think some of the issues I experienced with Vernon in the dressage ring came with chasing after the comments made on his dressage tests. Instead of working to achieve a happy, quiet, relaxed horse, I pushed for something he was not mentally or physically ready for, and dressage became a huge stress for both of us in large part because of it. I regret that decision, but have tried to learn from that mistake. Toby's education thus far has been geared toward what HE tells me he needs, and I ignore the judges as much as necessary.

    I hope that makes sense! It certainly does in my head!


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  19. #39
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    Y'all are awesome, SO much information!

    This is what I mean ...
    Most of the rides I see these days are not correct. The riders have their horses in too much of a frame and often judges reward them for it.
    THAT'S what I felt like I was seeing ... I felt like a fish out of water! I DON'T ride my horse in draw reins, and I felt like he was so much more ... up than many of the other horses I saw.

    My horse warmed up fabulous; most of our comments are "tense", and "hollow", so the goal this go round was to be relaxed. Relaxed. And he was,almost to a fault! No, it was not forward and engaged; it was steady, accurate, and smooth ... but it was also a BN test. I always thought at BN steady and accurate trumped engagement. I've taken some lessons here and there from a dressage trainer, and the advice has run the gamut from MORE FORWARD!!! To, SLOW DOWN! Literally, lol. Tiki carries a lot of tension through his body; he's one of those touchy red heads that pins his ears and kicks out if you use a soft curry on him! I was SO pleased by how soft and quiet he was in the warm up, I'll take that to so tense you could bounce a quarter off his butt.

    Anyway, like I said, a 41 isn't too awful considering my friend showed him that weekend, and it was her VERY FIRST dressage test ever, and she's never even had a dressage lesson, period. It was just eye-opening for me to be there in the sense of watching him vs. all the other horses.

    Today, I worked mostly on a 20m circle, and did a lot of back and forth at the trot; I kept my leg on and kept the cadence up at the collected trot, and tried to really keep my posting rhythm the same as I opened up and asked him to lengthen on the circle. Towards the end of the ride, what I was feeling to a VERY small degree was the "hitch" in the shoulder, which is what I was really meaning when I say "toe flipping". That moment of suspension when that shoulder swings forward ... the moment that makes for an awesome pic of a dressage trot. I got to watch the I and P horses, and saw that beautiful, open shoulder and got some trot envy, hence the question, "Can ANY horse have that gorgeous trot?"

    I will study the videos, read for comprehension all the explanations, and do some hard work in the next few months! He has all the jump in the world, so I'm not concerned at all about the T heights; I've done jumper rounds at 3'3, and schooled T/P questions on xc, but our dressage experience is extremely limited. Got lots of homework!

    Leah! I will have to check out your blog! I remember hearing your horse's name announced over the weekend, too cool Do you ever ride with Mary Bess Davis up at Calimar Farm? Going to try and head out there and do a clinic in March



  20. #40
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    If your comments are saying 'tense' and 'hollow' then... I sort of think that you may have a sliding scale of what "too deep and round" may be.

    No, you don't want your horse's head pinned to its chest, but it DOES have to be relaxed over the back and accepting the contact in a steady, following way, which means that the horse's head should not be up in the air. You do not need to be 'up' for Beginner Novice, Novice, or Training - a relaxed working level frame is perfectly fine.

    On the lengthening front, I have never had a horse with a naturally good lengthening/medium/extension (whenever I get to ride a horse with one, I swoon!!). The key for getting good scores for me has been going back and improving the quality of the engagement in the working trot: the more you can get the horse using its hind end and solidly accepting the contact in the working gaits, the easier its going to be to ask for a lengthening without having everything go to pieces.

    Good luck! I looked at your blog and your horse is mega cute



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