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Most Dressage Horses are Under~ridden...

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  • Most Dressage Horses are Under~ridden...

    ....Was the comment made by my trainer today. I believed he used a percentage, like 75% or so.
    Do you all believe that? Underridden meaning that their gaits are underridden (simplified as, not big/forward enough).
    And if that is true, it would pretty much mean that "most" people on this forum under ride their horses.....
    So, how to you determine when your horse is forward, or forward and relaxed, or rushing, or....... How do you find the right gaits/tempo for your horse? I think that one can have a horse that is responsive to the leg, but still not using themselves fully. Furthermore, my horse can give me a bigger, more forward walk when I squeeze my legs, but this doesn't have to be his biggest, most effortfull walk ever. And how would I know what his best effort is? Especially considering how gaits can develop over time...
    I have had my horse forward and responsive before, but I haven't ever had him work like he worked today (as in, we didn't work extensively or do new movements, but he sure was sweaty at the end ~ in a good way). I had a heck of a time getting him to really use himself in the walk (still don't have it down), and felt a big difference in his trot (we didn't canter). I had started to feel that something wasn't right in the gaits department ~ I'm glad I work with a trainer who can guide me!

    It was a bit of a "smack myself on the head" moment that I couldn't figure out on my own ~ thought I would comment about it.

  • #2
    I dunno, I think a lot of people rush horses off their feet & create or contribute to a lot of tension in their back.

    Or maybe I'm one of the 75% that your trainer is talking about.

    I think the key is to do the opposite of your horse's tendency. If the horse is zippy, go slow & soft until he relaxes. If they are sluggy, push on, even a little over-tempo until his engine is revving. Make the tempo your own, ride the horse straight & through and produce a soft, swinging back.
    "You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed." - The Little Prince

    Comment


    • #3
      I ride my horses by how they feel. Both are a little zippy but in different ways.

      The mare is more inclined to be spooky and rushy due to environment so relaxation is always a big part of the workout. If I have to, I will have her doing the smallest trot she can possibly do just for relaxation but if she is feeling calm on a certain day I will ride her forward and continuously ask (in small doses) for BIGGER and BETTER if I can keep her head and body chilled out.

      The gelding, green as grass, bit unsure of what the leg always means. I bought him off a Show Jumper so all he knows is leg means GO! (Really go, not just a little). If I can keep his head, we steadily work on applying the leg without losing rhythm and relaxation and asking for bigger gently to grow the pace, not so much as signal a clear transition.

      Comment


      • #4
        Sounds about right.
        You didn't mention how you felt-Did it feel fast or rushed to you. Or did it just feel bigger.
        With proper guidance, as a rider your judgement/understanding of the gaits will improve and you will be able to immediately tell the difference.
        I for one hate warm-up at shows. It is disgraceful the amount of riders slowing their horses to a mere snails pace, because they can't ride.
        One of the reasons I'm a firm believer that it is best to learn on an average moving horse and ask for more than to overface a rider and having them struggling to at best stay with the horse.
        It's not hard to pick them out- they are the ones that look nice, but that extra +% would have made it brilliant.
        Huge KUDOS to you for having such a great Trainer.

        Comment


        • #5
          I don't think this was intended as just a speed comment?

          My horse and I are trying to improve and grow. So he will be perpetually "underridden" as he continues to develop more and more ability. When I had a week and a half of FABULOUS but easy work from him, I knew he was being underridden, because he had caught up to what I was asking from him as far as strength went. I told my trainer I knew I needed to push him more, so we focused the next lesson on what ways I should ask him for more. Once he really gets what we're working on now, I'll have to figure out how to stop underriding him again.


          One of the reviews I read of a Steffen Peters clinic mentioned that he believes in training and really riding every minute of a ride, and no wonder he can progress so quickly with a horse. I would guess most of us (myself included) aren't nearly so diligent, and I'm certain most if not all of us don't get a horse progressing as quickly, either!
          Originally posted by Silverbridge
          If you get anything on your Facebook feed about who is going to the Olympics in 2012 or guessing the outcome of Bush v Gore please start threads about those, too.

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          • #6
            Quality of horses has improved....

            resulting in a lot better gaits on these horses. But how many of us amateurs can really ride these gaits. One of the comments that I've gotten from trainers when preparing for a test is "Go for Gaits" or "Make it bigger". Comments from the judges are 'needs more' But not many amateurs, including myself half the time, can really ride those bigger gaits without sacrificing balance or relaxation. The horse must be strong enough to ride those big gaits in balance and without tension. The rider needs to know how and when to make the gaits bigger without making them tensed and rushed or putting the horse out of balance.
            "I'm holding out for the $100,000 Crossrail Classic in 2012." --mem
            "With all due respect.. may I suggest you take up Croquet?" --belambi
            Proud Member of the Opinionated Redhead Club!

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            • #7
              I would agree with that comment. I see a lot of horses plodding around at all levels. But I would also say there is a huge difference between speed vs. bigger, more elastic, more expressive gaits. I think when most riders ask for more from their horse, they get flat, choppy speed instead of impulsion. There really is an art to getting those big, lofty gaits with true impulsion.

              But I don't believe our horses need to go at 100% impulsion EVERY day in training. I spend some days just doing relaxed stretchy trot and canter circles and serpentines. Then the next day I'm sure to turn the engine back on, but my horse seems even better after having a "no pressure" sort of day.

              Comment


              • #8
                I would think that your trainer is probably correct -- given that to get the "more" out of a horse in a balanced, beautiful, through kind-of-way takes a fairly well educated, experienced and skilled rider (which again takes time, money, dedication and some luck with available/ridable horses to become) and systematic training of the horse -- so yes, I would think that the majority of riders could not (or at least not consistently) produce a horse that develops its gaits the fullest potential.
                "Reite dein Pferd vorwärts und richte es gerade.” Gustav Steinbrecht

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                • #9
                  I think I have read quotes from Edward Gal saying that when he rode Toto, that he asked/pushed for the bigger gaits at the shows than he would normally ride as ongoing work. But I believe that also means that Toto has been trained to correctly respond to the bigger ask. Someone earlier posted re amateurs not being so able to do that kind of thing - IMO the poster hit the nail on the head. My trainer always emphasizes the need to ride every stride during our lessons; I have a relatively new horse and I can now see that when I relax for a moment, so does my mare. And every once in a while I have one of those "BIG" moments - for example, where the shoulder really lifts on the med. trot, and it is a happy day! I think the amateurs are less able, and perhaps less willing to really ask and get the correct answer.
                  We don't get less brave; we get a bigger sense of self-preservation........

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    No, not just a speed comment!

                    The trot didn't feel rushed; it felt bigger and more suspended and easier for me to get the suspension to stay. In the beginning it seemed he'd take the reins, so to speak, and start to do mediums, and I had to do walk transitions to make my half halts mean something. A major thing I have to work on (as told), is to find/maintain a tempo. Suggestion was to get video of my ride ~ apparently his stride will change a LOT. This sounds like a tough fix, but I accept that I'll learn it in time ~~ it sounds hard, but sounds like an "mid level" problem that I'm sorta proud to be needing to address. You know?

                    I agree that these bigger gaits take strength and endurance! I had to take frequent breaks during my lesson ~ embarrassing!

                    I wanted to add that my "so most of CotH must be under riding..." was to say, that I think ALL of CotH is meaning to not under ride, so I wonder where some of us are going wrong or fooling ourselves or how do we test/know that we aren't?? I wasn't meaning to say "I just figured this out and the majority of you are doing it wrong, so HAH!" ~ just making myself clear!

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I get what you are saying. Once upon a time, I would have clearly said, "well, I'm that 25%. My horse scores consistantly 70s, is a huge mover, I get 9s on trot and canter mediums, I can sit the trot forever . . ."

                      And then, I rode with a clinician from the SRS. The last day, he hopped on my horse for like, 5 minutes, did a couple of invisible things.

                      I got back on. And oh my goodness, did I struggle just to sit that collected trot! SO much more activity and suspension!! Humbled me!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by GimmeQs View Post
                        I wanted to add that my "so most of CotH must be under riding..." was to say, that I think ALL of CotH is meaning to not under ride, so I wonder where some of us are going wrong or fooling ourselves or how do we test/know that we aren't??
                        Well--I think it's easy to compromise, or maybe more accurately: to get distracted by everything else that's going on. In my head, I'm always thinking about riding for more, but in practice, it's very, very easy for me to notice a little tension, or a little stiffness, or a little whatever, and decide (or not decide--sometimes it just happens) that maybe I need to sacrifice the impulsion for a moment to really confirm the bend or the throughness or whatever. Which is sometimes flat-out a wrong decision on my part, I think, and sometimes a right decision that sneakily grows so that instead of keeping track of the balance of everything, I end up tunnel-visioning on bend (or whatever) alone as the impulsion dies away to nothing. (Which, of course, doesn't do much for the bend, either!)

                        Threads like this are actually kind of dangerous for me. *lol* I need the threads about, "Make it _all_ happen _at once._"

                        And riding a horse to the limit is out of the comfort zone for most of us, for all sorts of reasons, and not everyone is comfortable with being uncomfortable. It can be very seductive to go around with everything feeling nice, even if it's a little unbrilliant. This is, as above, something I grapple with on a regular basis, and some days are better than others, but I distinctly remember the first time I felt my horse _really_ going brilliantly, and my reaction was 75%, "THIS IS AWESOME!!!" hearts and flowers and 25% a little bit dismayed, because now there was no going back.
                        bullyandblaze.wordpress.com

                        "The present tense of regret is indecision."
                        - Welcome to Night Vale

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I'd guess his figures were pretty on the spot, if you look at how most people ride lateral movements. They slow them down and lose the tempo. So, in that instance, this is a true statement.
                          "And I'm thinking you weren't burdened with an overabundance of schooling." - Capt Reynolds "Firefly"

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                          • #14
                            I would think that your trainer is probably correct -- given that to get the "more" out of a horse in a balanced, beautiful, through kind-of-way takes a fairly well educated, experienced and skilled rider (which again takes time, money, dedication and some luck with available/ridable horses to become) and systematic training of the horse -- so yes, I would think that the majority of riders could not (or at least not consistently) produce a horse that develops its gaits the fullest potential

                            This. I don't see that many riders who can get their horses through and working on the hind legs to get more expression ect. It takes a strong, effective rider to do that and it's hard to become a strong , effective rider if you don't ride for a living.
                            www.svhanoverians.com

                            "Simple: Breeding,Training, Riding". Wolfram Wittig.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by BetterOffRed View Post
                              resulting in a lot better gaits on these horses. But how many of us amateurs can really ride these gaits. One of the comments that I've gotten from trainers when preparing for a test is "Go for Gaits" or "Make it bigger". Comments from the judges are 'needs more' But not many amateurs, including myself half the time, can really ride those bigger gaits without sacrificing balance or relaxation. The horse must be strong enough to ride those big gaits in balance and without tension. The rider needs to know how and when to make the gaits bigger without making them tensed and rushed or putting the horse out of balance.
                              This is why most ammies should NOT have big moving warmbloods for their first horses! But, no, everyone wants the spectacular mover because that's what will win in the ring. Who wants to learn to sit correctly and go up the scale, buidling a great foundation for their riding? No one. That's why there are so many people looking like sacks of suet sitting on horses that have won them their Bronze and Silver medals. It's just sad. No one wants to take the time to really work on things and get good at riding. They want to buy their way into an award. What good is it really if you don't EARN it (seat and award, I mean)? Isn't it hollow if you just buy your way into with little or no effort?
                              "And I'm thinking you weren't burdened with an overabundance of schooling." - Capt Reynolds "Firefly"

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Donella View Post
                                I would think that your trainer is probably correct -- given that to get the "more" out of a horse in a balanced, beautiful, through kind-of-way takes a fairly well educated, experienced and skilled rider (which again takes time, money, dedication and some luck with available/ridable horses to become) and systematic training of the horse -- so yes, I would think that the majority of riders could not (or at least not consistently) produce a horse that develops its gaits the fullest potential

                                This. I don't see that many riders who can get their horses through and working on the hind legs to get more expression ect. It takes a strong, effective rider to do that and it's hard to become a strong , effective rider if you don't ride for a living.
                                Ditto. All of the above.
                                "Against stupidity the gods themselves contend in vain" ~Friedrich Schiller

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  To be honest this is something that literally drives me bonkers on a regular basis. And it's not just ammy riders, not just riders on big moving horses, it includes many trainers too sadly. There is nothing I hate worse than watching someone ride a horse front to back, creeping along, typically with the head cranked in and hind legs dragging. It makes the tears well up just a little bit, because so many times these horses are so lame. Lately it's been a source of depression for me, and I have considered quitting "dressage". Problem for me is, there really is no other place near me to board that offers the facilities and level of care, so my New Years resolution has been to try to just focus on myself and try to ignore what is going on around me.
                                  On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog

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                                  • #18
                                    BUT......

                                    This is why most ammies should NOT have big moving warmbloods for their first horses! But, no, everyone wants the spectacular mover because that's what will win in the ring. Who wants to learn to sit correctly and go up the scale, buidling a great foundation for their riding? No one.
                                    The problem is that in order to LEARN to ride big gaits....you have to ride them regularly. I am coming off a large pony on to a big moving warmblood......there is absolutely nothing I could have done on that pony that would have prepared me to ride those warmblood gaits! It's a matter of gaining the fitness and balance to ride the large gaits, and that only comes with practice.

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                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      I agree with CheeseToast. I bought my large Dutch schoolmaster last year, having previously ridden a "faux" 2nd level horse (think slow, cranked, stiff, but "looking great" to previous trainer). I bought him because he was the deal of the century, safe, and had been my best friend's horse.
                                      Velvet's last post made me cringe ~ I am probably in part, what she described. I may be well on my way to making the horse look good, but judging from my frequent need to take breathers while on the horse, I may look like said sack of suet. But, I am doing my best to get in shape and ride well. I have spent the last ~8months of owning him riding in the not~so~good slow gaits, and now I am starting to move up. While this may destabilize my position, I think its partly more healthy for the horse (the gaits, not my position), and again like Cheese said, the only way to learn.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by BetterOffRed View Post
                                        But not many amateurs, including myself half the time, can really ride those bigger gaits without sacrificing balance or relaxation. The horse must be strong enough to ride those big gaits in balance and without tension. The rider needs to know how and when to make the gaits bigger without making them tensed and rushed or putting the horse out of balance.
                                        Well said.

                                        I would definitely agree that my horse is under ridden as well. She is very forward and sensitive, but it's very easy to lose the relaxation and connection, and those qualities must be well established before I ask her for more, and I must ask lightly and correctly, or I'll lose what good I've got.
                                        "In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming part dog."
                                        -Edward Hoagland

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