So, I'm in the process of retraining a horse. The said horse is my 13 year old Appaloosa mare who I did Hunters/Eq with but due to an injury she sustained last year in September my mother and I find it in her best interests if she does something that won't be risky like jumping. She's always been good at Dressage(since we dabbled in it a lot). However, she's a pretty strong horse and its hard to keep her together sometimes. She has a tendency to not be as soft as I'd like( i.e. probably from her Hunter training), so how would I go about retraining her to be softer?
Agree. Proper and slow dressage training made my tank of a Fjord the softest ride I've ever known. I could halt from a hand gallop in the field using only my seat. A-Mazing! It took about 6 months and some things, like teaching half halts, are repetitive which is why a good instructor is key so you stay on track rather than getting bored and skipping foundational lessons.
Edited to add: FYI, we were still doing basic dressage (training/first) after a year, so I'm not saying we were pro's after this...just saying he was way more ridable within that time which I'm guessing is what you're after.
Agree with finding a good trainer. My guess would be lots of transitions. LOTS! Within the gait and from gait to gait. Until she's always expecting a transition... And mostly on curved lines (circles and serpentines).
I doubt her being 'strong' comes from her hunter training.
She's been out of work since about September, and actually we had a vet come out and look at her and do an exam when back in September, she was limping to the point that she was 3 legged lame.. I'm really just slowly bringing her back. When we were competing in the Hunters/Eq, she was described as being too forward thinking at times, and she had a tendency to drag me to the fences. That's really what I meant by strong. Although my mom and I were discussing taking her to some kind of specialist to get her in the clear before she does anything extravagant.
It sounds that as suggested, you and she would benefit from a dressage instructor who is s strong on the basics, half halts, and lateral work, all of which are designed to soften horses, and build their strength so that they can stay together.
Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.
Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.
Sounds like a balance and strength issue. Approach each ride with the goal of improving her balance and carriage by a centimeter better, 3 seconds longer, and she will come along just fine.
I highly suggest a good quality dressage trainer to ride your horse and give you lessons.
Also, a horse that isn't fit for the job will always be stronger and less supple.
Work on self carriage for shorter period and take time to build up her back/butt muscles. Lots of stretching in the walk, trot and canter and lots of transitions should help.
I also agree with this. In my own horse's case it was a bit of a combination of fitness and habit. He had been allowed to travel very heavily on his forehand for many, many years when I got him. He didn't have the strength to do anything different but he also had no idea that he should be going any other way. It was a combination of building strength and retraining his brain to understand that yes, it is in fact possible to use your back and bend your hind legs so they can come underneath you
Find a trainer that understands the physical limitations your horse will have until she gains strength and who can help you instill correct basics while you bring her back.
I think I agreed with every post above, so won't repeat them.
Assuming you don't already have an excellent dressage trainer, the feel you get from your horse as you start riding with one will tell you whether or not you are riding with the right person pretty darned quickly. I highly recommend doing a few "trial lessons" which you tell the trainer are just that to see if the mare can hold up to it - but knowing yourself that it's to see if it feels right to you. If you feel the trainer is pushing too hard for your mare's physical ability or requiring that you use too much hand, go elsewhere. Longitudinal flexibility should come from lateral flexibility, and she doesn't need to be "packaged" yet, but shouldn't be ripping your arms out of your shoulders either! However, her injury may limit her ability to do lateral work including simple circles especially this soon after the injury. A good trainer will help you learn how to ride her up and out so she can build the strength to carry herself instead of pulling on you and improve her balance. I am stereotyping based on my own past experience, but suspect her balance is too much on the forehand from her past and this is why she pulls - and that in trying to "package" her you're trying to pull her into a frame rather than getting her to lift herself onto her hindquarters.
Originally Posted by Silverbridge
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