Not trying to be rude here, but why do you keep on asking for advice, yet you are not LISTENING to the advice that you receive??
It is not what you can "do with her", but it more about what you can do for yourself to become an EDUCATED rider. Let me repeat what has already been said: lessons, lessons, lessons, more lessons, dressage videos for the beginning rider, dressage videos for the green horse, dressage videos for the rider that doesn't understand riding or understand the horse, books, books, books.
You obviously don't understand or know what collection really means. It is not about the head being in a, I can't say it, H_ _ d S _ t. It is not about the neck curling either. In fact, it really has nothing to do with that end of the horse. So, do you want to know what end of the horse collection has something to do with?
First, educated yourself about the Training Pyramid in dressage, and you will realize that Collection is no where near the bottom (where the training starts) of the pyramid. At this stage of the game, collection should not be in your vocabulary.
You asked for advice, so this is what I have offered you.
DJ, I agree with the basic idea, if not the tone, of what others have posted here. You need to do some learning about the basics of dressage. Reading books is good, and a good trainer is even better.
One of the most important things to understand is the Training Scale. You need to at least have a grasp of one stage before you can move on to the next. You will notice that "collection" is actually at the end of the scale, not the beginning. If your mare is putting her head down but the other elements of the Training Scale are not there yet, then it's not actually collection, plain and simple.
The dressage training scale is arranged in a pyramid fashion, with “rhythm and regularity” at the bottom of the pyramid and “collection” at the top. The training scale is used as a guide for the training of the dressage horse (or any horse, for that matter). Despite its appearance, the training scale is not meant to be a rigid format. Instead, each level is built on as the horse progresses in his training: so a Grand Prix horse would work on the refinement of the bottom levels of the pyramid, instead of focusing on only the highest level: “collection.” The levels are also interconnected. For example, a crooked horse is unable to develop impulsion, and a horse that is not relaxed will be less likely to travel with a rhythmic gait.
Rhythm and Regularity (Takt)
Both rhythm and regularity should be the same on straight and bending lines, through lateral work, and through transitions. Rhythm refers to the sequence of the footfalls, which should only include the pure walk, pure trot, and pure canter. The regularity, or purity, of the gait includes the evenness and levelness of the stride.
The second level of the pyramid is relaxation (looseness). Signs of looseness in the horse may be seen by an even stride that is swinging through the back and causing the tail to swing like a pendulum, looseness at the poll, a soft chewing of the bit, and a relaxed blowing through the nose. The horse will make smooth transitions, be easy to position from side to side, and will willingly reach down into the contact as the reins are lengthened.
Contact—the third level of the pyramid—is the result of the horse’s pushing power, and should never be achieved by the pulling of the rider’s hands. The rider drives the horse into soft hands that allow the horse to come up into the bridle, and should always follow the natural motion of the animal’s head. The horse should have equal contact in both reins.
The pushing power (thrust) of the horse is called “impulsion,” and is the fourth level of the training pyramid. Impulsion is created by storing the energy of engagement (the forward reaching of the hind legs under the body). It is a result of:
• Correct driving aids of the rider
• Relaxation of the horse
• Throughness (durchlässigkeit): the flow of energy through the horse from front to back and back to front. The musculature of the horse is connected, supple, elastic, and unblocked, and the rider’s aids go freely through the horse.
Impulsion only occurs in the trot and canter—not the walk—because it is associated with the moment of suspension found in these two gaits.
A horse is straight when his hind legs follow the path of his front legs, on both straight lines and on bending lines, and his body is parallel to the line of travel. Straightness causes the horse to channel his impulsion directly toward his center of balance, and allows the rider’s hand aids to have a connection to the hind end.
At the apex of the training scale, collection may be used occasionally to supplement less vigorous work, but is only focused on (through the collected gaits and more difficult movements, such as flying changes) in more advanced horses. Collection requires greater muscular strength, so must be developed slowly.
When a horse collects, he naturally takes more of his weight onto his hindquarters. The joints of the hind limbs have greater flexion, allowing the horse to lower his hindquarters, bring his hind legs further under his body, and lighten the forehand. A collected horse is able to move more freely. When collected, the stride length should shorten, and increase in energy and activity.
I am tired of getting these replies whenever I post somthing. Yes, I know I piss most of you off. Do I do it on purpose? No. I am still going to read but I am going to refrain from posting anything else on this thread just because some pisses me off, it just digs me deeper.
Cookie Pony, that is very nice, thanks for posting that.
I think the real problem (ok, one of them) is that DJ needs to learn to disconnect her body parts, then put them back together. She needs a good trainer to take away her reins and irons and drill the daylights out of her on the lunge until the lightbulb goes on over her head.
Without a moving video to watch, I'm thinkin it's not the horse's fault. Saddlebreds are sensitive and hi-strung, not unlike Arabs. When ridden by someone without an independant seat and hand with a true understanding of how to ride a horse from the inside hind to the outside hand, they get scared and frustrated quickly. QH's and other stock types, and certainly many WB's and cross breds have more of a sense of humor about this. No, they won't be traveling correctly, but thier threshold for "get rid of the kid" is higher.
DJ, the very best thing you can do for your horses is to become a balanced rider. It's not physically possible for the horse to be truly on the aids if you are not able to maintain your balance at all gaits without relying on the reins. To test yourself, try tying the reins in a knot (just so that they don't flap around, not tight enough to put any pressure on her mouth) and try to ride with your hands on your hips at the walk, trot (posting and sitting) and canter, and also ride in your two point with your hands on your hips at all three gaits. If you can't do this with no reins, but you can with your reins, then your are balancing on your reins. It doesn't make you a bad person -- lots of people do this as they are learning to ride, and it takes a lot of lessons and a lot more than one month of practice to break the habit.
But do you understand why we are saying that your balance is such a factor here? Being "on the bit" or more correctly, on the aids means that the horse is coming forward into the contact. If you are balancing on her mouth, then this can't be happening. You are inadvertantely pulling on her mouth to keep your balance, and she throws her head to avoid those pulls and to keep her own balance.
You are a long way away from being ready to ride your horse "on the bit," but the first step towards getting there is improving your own balance. You can't skip these steps -- it WILL come back to haunt you. (Trust me, I know.) I know it seems crazy, and a little disappointing, but if you really want to teach your horse and yourself dressage, stop worrying about her headset!! There will be a time for that (well, kind of -- again, "headset" isn't the right concept) but not yet --Jess
pirateer and freebird... lovely singing, gals.... love the 'peace train' song dearly!
DJ.... here is what I tell my riding students who are having a hard time decoding their horse's behavior.
All Sheza's parts are connected. Neck bone connected to back bone, etc etc. All of 'em. They all have to work together, and if even one part is not doing the right thing, the parts will make a domino effect until the problem is something large enough to see. That's how the horse tells us that something about our ride isn't working for them.
(This is why a horse and rider moving with impulsion, rhythm, collection, and JOY is such a fabulous sight to behold - they are getting all their separate parts to work in harmony, and complimenting each other. This is not easy.)
You say her head is up too high. This can be a symptom of lots of things, including too much pressure/jarring on her back. If you thump down on a horse's back (even accidentally) - they hollow their back and their head goes up. Boom, high head that has nothing to do with your rein or hand.
There are about a million other rider errors that can cause a horse's head to go up in the air - this is where working with an experienced, competent trainer/instructor comes into play. We cannot really help you completely or thoroughly from a few pictures on the internet.
I will not ennumerate them one by one, but reading through your post, most if not all of your other complaints about Sheza's performance can be related directly to rider error. I am not saying you are definitely the source of the problem, but when a horse is not moving with the natural grace he or she possesses, obviously an outside force is at work. You seem to feel that you have ruled out physical ailments or discomfort and equipment problems. Sadly, for you as for ALL RIDERS EVERYWHERE, this probably means that you are unintentionally causing the problems. Again, working with a good trainer/instructor is the way to solve this.
The other problem is one that we can talk about but only you can ever remedy. The very best riders in the world acknowledge their own humanity, recognize their own shortcomings, and humbly seek the advice and knowledge required to train themselves to do better. No matter their apparent skill level or how many ribbons they have at home, until a person becomes a HUMBLE student of riding and servant of the horse, and owns up to their imperfections and devotes themselves to overcoming them through patient and conscientious practice, that person is just a pretender, and not a horseman.
It is really hard for me to say that after 21 years of intensive riding lessons, horse ownership, and competitve riding, I still put too much weight on my right seat bone. I am too 'soft' in my hand to the point of not always supporting my horse with the contact he needs. I have a naughty habit of taking long spots, especially to large scary fences. I do a lot of other less-than-perfect things on horseback, but I honestly try not to do anything other than help my horse out and make sure we have an enjoyable time working together. If I were to seek advice from anyone on this board by posting pictures and questions, you can be darn certain I would be listening with open ears to ways to be a better partner for my horse.
It is really hard for me to say that after 21 years of intensive riding lessons, horse ownership, and competitve riding, I still put too much weight on my right seat bone.
I'm right there with you Actually, it's not so much my right seatbone as that I still lean in when I ask for the canter. Pretty much every time. Even though I know that I shouldn't and how it affects the quality of my transition. Even though I've had trainers try every trick in the book, from a zillion transitions to dropping one stirrup to riding on the lunge line to practically throwing things at me in frustration
And DJ, the easy stuff is HARD when it comes to horses. Good riders are always going back to the basics. I've been stuck back on the lunge line more times than I can count -- and it helps every time. --Jess
Do try to keep in mind that we seem to be typing an posting at the same time. Or did that even occur to you?
You posted two fairly bad photos that clearly show WHY you are having a problem. Then when I point that out, you get mad, and explain it away as being a month old. I did not know that when I looked at them, and as I said, I'm not going to search the forums just to find out how old they are.
You also said you have a new problem of her yanking the reins out of your hands. When I tried to explain that to you, you countered with "that was on a loose rein".
Either you are just in a mood to fight with me, or you just can't accept that you are the common denominator in all your 'training' issues with this horse.
YOU need to learn (and soon) how to ride with an independant hand. THAT is the problem.
Certainly a video would be helpful, but I realize that not everyone has the means to post one on line. I sure don't. But based on the problems I believe you are having, your lack of control over your hands, and likely your whole upper body are the root of the problems you are having. Every awkward move, every unintended aid, they send signals to the horse. Body control, IMO, is 2/3rd's of learning to ride, well. Everything else is just learning what combination of signals provides the desired response.
okay, new clique... "OMGiH, I Made My Trainer So Mad S/He Threw Something At Me."
My new trainer (been with him about 8 months) is just bewildered about how I could actually have gotten this far with this little seatbone problem! (And I mean, it's pretty insignificant in the grand scheme of things, he only discovered it when I rode without stirrups for over an hour!) Just completely mystified. It's sort of cute. Not to me, of course - because I have been diligently trying to fix this flaw for 3-4 months with very little success!!! So I wholeheartedly share your leaning-in pain! :-)
You keep on bringing up that your horse is doing this or that wrong...how can you fix it. She isn't responding...
newsflash....your riding is what is wrong, your horse is responding resonably to your riding, in fact I know some horses that would leave you in the dust if you did that to them because they know how it is supposed to be done.
To prove my point, I would bet you that if my trainer (who has been shortlisted for the olympics, when she hops on during my lesson to show me something I am in awe of her seat!) hopped on your pony would look ready to go in the dressage arena in 20 minutes or so for a good training level test.
In short, your horse goes like you tell it to with your whole body. I would highly suggest some lunge lessons, and those can take months to fix everything. The Spanish Riding School of Vienna keeps their riders on it for a year or something rediculously long like that. There are no quick fixes if you want to do things the right way with horses.
Last edited by Jeepers; Jun. 16, 2006 at 12:43 AM.
I'm right there with you Actually, it's not so much my right seatbone as that I still lean in when I ask for the canter. Pretty much every time. Even though I know that I shouldn't and how it affects the quality of my transition. --Jess
Hmm, not to hijack, but have you considered chiro, for yourself? I can't afford it now, but I know I need it. How? Lots of ways. I just got a new DL having moved to a new state. The dude taking the photo said "why are you tilting your head?" HUH? My head is straight, thanks! NOPE, I tilt my head to the right, like it or not, and I'm sure that my left hip swings out when I ride. I have a hard time with my one horse who's heavy on the left. It's like the left leg doesn't work 'right'. It's all because I'm crooked to start, loong before foot goes in stirrup.
Oh, and the head thing, it sure did explain why all my sunglasses seemed crooked. Yup, tilt the head left, and they were fine.
The most obvious difference I notice between the walk picture where you claim her "headset" is nice and the trot picture you referenced is the presence of the martingale. To be honest, looking at the relationship between your hands, the rings, and the bit - and the angles of the reins - it seems as if she's getting some definite downward pull there. If you're having to use a pulley action to bring her head down, as you are in that photo, I wouldn't go so far as to use the term "collected."
Scanning through the other photos in that album, the walk pictures all feature low "in the lap" hands and the martingale rings definitely breaking the line from elbow to bit. Personally, I don't like to see kids (or any of my students, for that matter) using martingales - if something goes wrong, there's a serious problem with balance, and I've even seen horses fall with their riders. That said, I use them occasionally on green horses once they have the background to understand it - driving from behind, giving to the bit, relaxing the jaw and poll - but need a little help finishing the concept in their heads. I generally like to use a "primary rein" that doesn't go through the martingale and run a second curb type rein through the martingale so I'm only using it occasionally when I need it. Otherwise, the horse gets in the habit of bracing or balancing on the martingale, which develops the underneck muscles rather than the topline - and actually results in the horse being more high-headed than before. The other comment I'd make is that your martingale rings are considerably lower than I personally like even for using the martingale with two reins. The way they're set in relation to where your hands should be (or even where they are in those photos) and the position the horse's head would naturally fall in means that it's impossible for you to have a straight line from elbow to bit with that martingale there - so you're always going to have a downward pulley effect with that martingale which you're not going to be able to reproduce without it. That downward pulley effect also forces the horse to pull upward somewhat, increasingly so as you put more pressure on the reins, just to keep her head in a position where she can work. Over time, your horse's "pull upward" muscles are going to be developing - at a faster rate than the muscles she'd use to "relax downward" - which will make your problem worse.
My guess, given the limited information posted here and that I can gather from the photos, is that she'll relax somewhat at the walk simply because she can. The martingale will make her "set her head" more, no doubt, but I doubt at this point she'd even be outrageously high-headed at the walk. At the trot, however, I imagine she feels out of balance. She's green and has trouble balancing on her own; adding a rider complicates balance for the horse considerably; adding a green rider who's still having trouble with balance and position herself makes it incredibly difficult for the horse. Green horses often try to balance with their head and neck. It's possible she's holding it up so high at the trot because she's afraid she can't keep herself - especially with young rider in tow - upright. I'd guess it would be worse with the martingale you have on her. Feeling that off-balance and not being able to use her head and neck is likely very frightening for her - and possibly dangerous to both of you.
My personal thought is to lose the martingale and have a professional work with both of you. It's hard enough for an inexperienced horse or rider to learn to do things correctly with a seasoned partner. It's harder to learn to do them correctly together.