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Getting the Winter horse in front of your leg

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  • Getting the Winter horse in front of your leg

    Winter horsel moves forward off my leg quite nicely (we're still very green), but always gives the impression of being 'sucked back' - he's not driving off the rear end. When we DO get 'rear wheel drive' he's brilliant. And we do get it on occasion.

    BUT.

    He will pass the same object roughly 12,000 times in one evening and on pass 12,001, he spooks at it. 'It' changes regularly. You never know when or if something-anything!-will be spook worthy. Yes, I know, it's sheer naughtiness, but as it's Winter Horse Syndrome+ not enough work, it's pretty much what I have to deal with. He's on straight grass plus oil (EPSM) and I work him as much as I can, so now it's on to brainstorming for ideas to get through without adding in LTD or more.

    I need to find a way to get him driving off the rear end-we do transitions, half halts, etc., but sometimes you really need impulsion-and with impulsion comes the stop/drop risk.

    So. How do you get YOUR personal dragon/winterhorse in front of your leg? (I have a sneaking suspicion it won't be resolved without a healthy dose of 'wet saddleblankets', which is my first preference, but since the current weather isn't really conducive to such, I'm open to suggestions!)

    TIA!

    (No, I don't have an instructor. I live in Dressageland BFE-unless I want to drive 3+ hours to Spokane or Boise or TriCities, which isn't an option, and neither is sending him out for training. If I could afford $750+ a month for training, I could drive back and forth to Spokane twice a month and have an instructor)
    I am not allowed to look at breeding stock.
    Or babies. Or CANTER, et al.

    ESPECIALLY not CANTER, et al.

  • #2
    Do you have someone who can be your ground person, equipped with a lunge whip? My little one started picking a "spot" on the right lead that was impossible to pass -- until my trainer got behind me with the lunge whip. It was a little exciting for a minute -- but she got past it just fine after that!
    "Reite dein Pferd vorwärts und richte es gerade.” Gustav Steinbrecht

    Comment


    • #3
      Not sure of the solution but good luck! My coming four year old is getting the winter off because she's a crazy bronc when turned out in the arena to have fun. She's nuts. Totally spooky in hand about pretty much everything all winter long as well. I know you don't really want the winter off option but I thought I'd let you know I share your pain! I do have another less moronic horse to ride all winter.
      "Those who know the least often know it the loudest."

      Comment


      • #4
        My winter horses don't spook much, but they don't focus much either. On days when it's feasible, we go for a gallop. It's helped. In the arena, I just keep it simple and forward, forward, forward. I do little trot work, mostly I do challenging walking for warmup and cool down-- shoulder-in, reinback, walking ground poles or cavaletti, hills; the rest is cantering-- figures if I'm lucky.
        "Rock n' roll's not through, yeah, I'm sewing wings on this thing." --Destroyer
        http://dressagescriblog.wordpress.com/

        Comment


        • #5
          I like to refer to it as above my leg. Forward definitely happens, and any leg leads to more, yet it seems as if the front end loses weight on you.

          Is your horse able to get turnout with this weather? With my guy it's even less wet saddle blankets and more getting the sillies out on his own time.
          If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.
          -meupatdoes

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            I don't. It would be helpful if I did. I assume your trainer just drove your baby forward at the sticky spot?

            I might be able to coerce/bribe someone into it, but their eye isn't going to be good at all. hmm...it'd probably cost me a case of beer...but that'd be worth it.

            It's a tough situation, I know-I may have to be patient til spring and I can work the starch out of him.

            I need a seat belt. or an oh $h!t handle. (I have a chicken strap on my saddle already, just not the habit of reaching for it)
            I am not allowed to look at breeding stock.
            Or babies. Or CANTER, et al.

            ESPECIALLY not CANTER, et al.

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              Originally posted by Equine Studies View Post
              Not sure of the solution but good luck! My coming four year old is getting the winter off because she's a crazy bronc when turned out in the arena to have fun. She's nuts. Totally spooky in hand about pretty much everything all winter long as well. I know you don't really want the winter off option but I thought I'd let you know I share your pain! I do have another less moronic horse to ride all winter.
              Maybe we should just get a bottle of wine and commiserate. I don't have any less moronic ones to ride (LOL at the description!) but maybe I should find one. He's getting to be cucoo inhand as well-I knew the 'winter horse' syndrome was a problem, but maybe I should just quit while I'm ahead and work from the ground.
              Originally posted by kinnip View Post
              My winter horses don't spook much, but they don't focus much either. On days when it's feasible, we go for a gallop. It's helped. In the arena, I just keep it simple and forward, forward, forward. I do little trot work, mostly I do challenging walking for warmup and cool down-- shoulder-in, reinback, walking ground poles or cavaletti, hills; the rest is cantering-- figures if I'm lucky.
              I'm moving where you are. If you can gallop, we're coming.

              Maybe I should take him home - 18 inches of snow would be a good workout (and a good cushion for WHEN I come off!)

              Originally posted by netg View Post
              I like to refer to it as above my leg. Forward definitely happens, and any leg leads to more, yet it seems as if the front end loses weight on you.

              Is your horse able to get turnout with this weather? With my guy it's even less wet saddle blankets and more getting the sillies out on his own time.
              The 'elevated' front end? Here too! Only...we're still not off the HQ-IDK how that works physiologically!!

              Turnout-not really so much-maybe 1/2 hour a day? He's in a stall with a run, so lots of standing around. Not as bad as a stall-only, but little 'play time'.

              I'm starting to think I'm fighting a losing battle here...maybe I'll work on getting a few more poles and adding to our cavaletti collection rather than riding.
              I am not allowed to look at breeding stock.
              Or babies. Or CANTER, et al.

              ESPECIALLY not CANTER, et al.

              Comment


              • #8
                I also have one of the "light on the front end" types! She LOVES a fight, so if I add more leg in one of those piss-and-moan moments, she starts bouncing the shoulders up and down. So, I wait very quietly, and once she is forward again, I bump her one time with both legs right behind the girth. If I don't make a big deal out of those sticky moments, we get through them.

                We also have a "spot" in the covered arena that is just a wrestling match to get by every single time I ride. If I'm on the ground, it's not an issue. If I'm riding on the buckle, it's not an issue. If I pick up contact, there's a bear living in that corner! So, knowing my horse LOVES to fight, I just don't even go there. On good days (when she's had turnout and isn't a dragon), we can ride there. On bad days, it's not worth the fight...she gets tight, I get tight, we all get tight...and we all know where that leads.

                I've surrendered to the idea that winter is just going to be tough. She doesn't get regular turnout in the ice/show...she loses her brain...so, hand-walking, a bit of lunging (as long as she's isn't insane), and the occassional ride. It sucks, though....I have so many plans for us! And, maybe that's MY take home message...the plans don't matter as much as the fun journey to get there. I'm working on learning that...I mean, REALLY learning that.

                So, no true answers, really! Just commiserating and letting you know that you're not alone!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Maybe I'm dense... "winter horse"? What does that mean

                  I've never known my horses to have responded differently under saddle in the winter as any other time of year.

                  Educate me...
                  www.littlebullrun@aol.com See Little Bull Run's stallions at:
                  "Argosy" - YouTube and "Boleem" - YouTube
                  Boleem @ 1993 National Dressage Symposium - YouTube

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Some horses are just spooky, lol! My DWB was a major spook. A leaf, a spot of sunshine, a leadrope, whatever. I had his eyes checked about 30 times to see if he was half blind or something. But that is just the way he is programmed. BUT, if I totally committed myself to having him way in front of my leg and truly pushing forward from behind the spooks would decrease by about 95%. One third of the horse underneath me, and two thirds out in front. I also have to be careful with his neck. He needs to have a longer, more open neck frame or he gets claustrophobic. He also needs quiet, quiet hands.

                    But I sure am thankful for my OTTB, I can ride him in the eye of a hurricane and still not feel out of control. LOVE THAT HORSE!

                    ETA: A horse can be going really, really fast and still be sucked way back behind your leg. That may be why your guy is spooking so much. PROMPT transitions can help get them in front of the leg. Think of making the hind legs quicker while keeping the tempo of the front legs the same.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      What do you all think that is has to do with winter?

                      Is it because you can't ride as often, thus their training regresses?

                      I've never seen winter to be a problem for any of my horses...and they are kept mostly outside with run ins, lots of hay, good clean water and the ability to move about freely.

                      Perhaps it's the confinement that is the problem (management), not the horse itself?

                      This issue is new to me and I've had many very good dressages horses for many years now with none of the issue you mention during the winter months. Many, many years. No problems like you describe, thus I wonder about your problems being attributed to "winter".

                      Just thinking.
                      www.littlebullrun@aol.com See Little Bull Run's stallions at:
                      "Argosy" - YouTube and "Boleem" - YouTube
                      Boleem @ 1993 National Dressage Symposium - YouTube

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        I think it is a phenomenon well known to folks like the OP who live in places like Montana--real winter. Really cold, very hard to keep a regular exercise schedule, T/O may be limited, but feed may well be upped because of the cold--and this goes on for months on end. Add to that sliding snow off the roofs of indoor arenas, and life can get really entertaining.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          My guys have turnout any time it's not dead nasty weather (like this weekend). I can't ride them as often as I'd like. The ground seems to be either sticky, deep mud or frozen sticky, deep mud these days. I've been riding through windgusts of 25 mph. My TBs and Arab are not in a working frame of mind. Our gallops are not pretty, but I can't imagine going without them, you all have my sympathy!
                          "Rock n' roll's not through, yeah, I'm sewing wings on this thing." --Destroyer
                          http://dressagescriblog.wordpress.com/

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Constant change of activity and i'll quote George
                            shorten your reins
                            close your fingers
                            LEG

                            when you stop over thinking (because you are a dressage rider, and we allll over think it) and drive him forward with purpose, he'll stop creating his own entertainment.
                            www.destinationconsensusequus.com
                            chaque pas est fait ensemble

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by atr View Post
                              I think it is a phenomenon well known to folks like the OP who live in places like Montana--real winter. Really cold, very hard to keep a regular exercise schedule, T/O may be limited, but feed may well be upped because of the cold--and this goes on for months on end. Add to that sliding snow off the roofs of indoor arenas, and life can get really entertaining.
                              We have winter horses in SoCal as well. I know to most of you it's not really winter, but that doesn't seem to inhibit the silliness.
                              2012 goal: learn to ride like a Barn Rat

                              A helmet saved my life.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Along with riding my coming 4 year old, I lunge over cavaletti and practice canter transitions on the lunge, I grounddrive at the walk to work on bending and our geometry, I set up small jumps for at liberty sessions, I work in hand on moving away from pressure and on trot halts and backing up...

                                Plus, I let him loose before I get on so if his long coat is making the saddle feel itchy, he can get a few bucks out. Lots of variety seems to work for us. He is very "up" under saddle, but he puts his energy forward. I attribute that to all the ground work that helps him become sensitive to the aids.

                                Also, be sure you are not involuntarily gripping (with thighs or hands, etc) when you go by scary stuff or whatever. I've found I really need to get out of my young horse's way, even when he feels really fresh. Defensive riding (worrying about a spook or speed) can often cause a horse to suck back. Not saying that's your issue, but its a common one when you're riding a "dragon!"
                                2007 Welsh Cob C X TB GG Eragon
                                Our training journal.
                                1989-2008 French TB Shamus Fancy
                                I owned him for fifteen years, but he was his own horse.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  If the spooking is random, one thing you can check is in his eyes. Sometimes those little brown nobby things in their eyes break off the edge of the pupil and start floating around in the eye, creating the occasional occlusion of vision. I used to ride a super horse who had a "floater" in his eye, and I suspect that his occasional, random spook was due to something suddenly appearing in his field of vision. Know why it happened somehow made it easier to deal with :-). They can be removed if it's a real problem.

                                  Other than that, my "winter horses" (love the term!) that tend towards the naughty/unfocused get lunged before being ridden, and then get ridden *really* forward. Lots of exercises with changes of direction, change-ups in tempo and size of step, transitions (especially trot-canter-trot). I also ride the youngsters almost always in shoulder-fore.

                                  We have a door in the arena that the cats use to come in and out, so there are often cats leaping through the arena. Add that to "winter horse syndrome", snow coming off the arena, frost patterns on the mirrors (who knew that *those* were so scary!), and the pigeons dancing on the tin roof, and it gets a little crazy sometimes! Just stay centered and keep riding through it all, after a while they get used to things :-). I feel your pain, though! Spring is coming!
                                  Liz Steacie
                                  Porcupine Hill Dressage
                                  Maitland, Ontario

                                  http://www.porcupinehill.com

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    OMG my "winter horse" is so far in front of my leg I am practically hanging on to his tail!! Seriously, he is a completely different horse in the winter time. In the summer I can put almost anyone on him and he just pokes along but in the winter time he takes any excuse to go airborne--all 17 hands of him! Oh, and it better not be windy! I think he just really appreciates the good footing in the arena as opposed to the frozen fields.

                                    Oh, and did I mention--on Valentine's Day he will be 20!!

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I've recently re-re-re-discovered that backing off is not the way to go.My 4 yo had turned into a fire breathing dragon over the past few months. My attitude had been almost to feel he knew better, beautifully bred wonderfully started imported horse that he is. I was afraid to ruin him!
                                      He is infinitely more happy and relaxed now that i've quietly and firmly insisted that every working session he achieves some genuine throughness (to the best of his ability which is quite a lot :lol )
                                      It has taken some resolve, but it's been worth it. I just longed him yesterday (which I do once a week,to have a good look at him) and there were two men cutting down a tree behind the hedge of the arena, then dragging the branches and loading them onto a trailer next to the arena.
                                      Due to insisting on him working at least until he blows, relaxes, and goes forward everytime he works...he coped. We had some moments, but in the end he stretched, stopped holding his breath, and used himself. The sweetest thing is that he looked to me for reassurance, and when things got REALLY too much with noise and falling branches, I brought him in to me and petted him and he went all soft eyed.
                                      I do love the youngsters and the relationship you can develop, but i've once again had it reaffirmed that one must stay in charge, and it is doing them NO favors to be over indulgent

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by sid View Post
                                        What do you all think that is has to do with winter?

                                        Is it because you can't ride as often, thus their training regresses?

                                        I've never seen winter to be a problem for any of my horses...and they are kept mostly outside with run ins, lots of hay, good clean water and the ability to move about freely.

                                        Perhaps it's the confinement that is the problem (management), not the horse itself?

                                        This issue is new to me and I've had many very good dressages horses for many years now with none of the issue you mention during the winter months. Many, many years. No problems like you describe, thus I wonder about your problems being attributed to "winter".

                                        Just thinking.
                                        Originally posted by atr View Post
                                        I think it is a phenomenon well known to folks like the OP who live in places like Montana--real winter. Really cold, very hard to keep a regular exercise schedule, T/O may be limited, but feed may well be upped because of the cold--and this goes on for months on end. Add to that sliding snow off the roofs of indoor arenas, and life can get really entertaining.
                                        This.


                                        However, I'm learning that even in AZ you can have a "winter horse." We've gone from riding in 90-ish degree daylight to 40s in the dark, and it has made a difference with my guy. Not to where it's a problem, just to where I'm enjoying the fact he's not being *lazy* like he is in the summer! Forward and lengthening is easier for me. BUT - I'm able to get him enough turnout to get out the bucks and silliness he needs to get out more now than he did in the hot weather.
                                        If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.
                                        -meupatdoes

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