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First lesson on my Fella

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  • First lesson on my Fella

    So Fella has been here about 10 days I think. It's been as hot as heck, and I have a couple of classes winding up so I've been on him only twice outside of the test ride. This is the first time in lesson with my equitation trainer.

    He has some training issues - none bad, but definitely stuff to work through.

    1. Somewhere he learned to be BTV. I don't know if someone trained him to look like he's collected or what. The two horse breed is both have natural carriage, but he has such flexion in the neck that I wonder if he was in side reins at some point. So that has to be undone. It's false collection and well behind the vertical - he's collected to the base of his neck, but the rest of him is not connected as yet.

    He's quite sharp though and learned a great deal in our first hour. Also, recall I've been working him in hand and he's done very well in giving to pressure (at the hip, and backing). He has a real brain on board.

    2. He balks at the gate. It's an interesting evasion, but we'll work on it.

    3. Had to retrain him to stand to be mounted at the block. I think this might be a hold over from the cowboy days because I know quite a few Western riders who don't require the horse to stand still to be mounted - but I am only speculating. The way I reinforced this was to set the mounting block on the off side , getting up on the block and draping myself over him. Like me, he had no idea what to do with someone trying to mount on the wrong side, so he stood still. Lots of praise. Go around to the correct side to mount, no problem.

    4. He's really behind the leg. I think this will improve as he relaxes. I took up the dressage whip and that worried him alot. Instead I used my mild spurs and that was better for him. I'll keep working with the whip as it is a good tool for cueing, etc.

    Here's a brief video from today http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HTXovCgC4-0

    You can see the BTV and behind the leg. We started some bending lessons - 20 meter circles first at walk then trot, and tighter circles at walk. He started to bend nicely towards the end of the class.

    Paula
    He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).

  • #2
    You make a nice pair.

    I suspect a lot of his BTV thing will go away when he learns that a request to go forward actually does require him to get his booty into gear and keep it there, which will come with increased fitness and confidence that you are in fact in charge and mean what you say.

    Good luck and have fun!

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Thanks for the kind compliment. Yes, I'm hoping that he'll learn to be more forward. Apparently he's different on the trail but we've yet to test that. I'll ride him most days of the week - I think that will help him get used to me as well as build up his fitness. The balking is annoying, but I am sure it is quite fixable.

      Paula
      He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).

      Comment


      • #4
        You two make the cutest pair! I can see why you just had to have him.

        1 and 4 are connected, and I'm sure you know

        A little position critique (I know you and Fella barely know each other, but I can't help but offer observations that may help things move along quicker)

        Go to 0:15 and study your shoulders in that upward transition....
        Start this video at around 2:15 for an explanation of what giving your shoulders away does to the rest of your equitation. (I'm sorry my audio sucks)

        Okay, other thing that may help is you need to pick one or the other
        1. light half seat (like huntseat angle but not perchy) with open low hands like in your video. This is to encourage the horse forward, seeking the bit down and stretching over the topline

        ...or


        2. seated tall, working the bounce of the seatbones (think of bouncing your seatbones on a trampoline), elbows bent and at your sides with raised hands (most horses your hands will be 5-7" above the wither). This is the position of raised work. the horse must be sufficiently sent forward so that the poll can rise and yield accordingly, and you'll have that sacred line from elbow to bit.

        Right now you are doing pieces of both and it's confusing and throwing you off balance.

        You are smart for solving the mounting issues from the offside. You can use that same way of thinking to solve the btv lack of forward stuff. Once you know eachother better, work on your dressage stuff out on the trail until it's solved. You may also find that if you have access to someone who is skilled at in hand work, it is a fantastic avenue rarely explored, and therefore rarely tarnished. It could be the secret doorway to fixing both issues (it is most of the time for my projects)
        www.destinationconsensusequus.com
        chaque pas est fait ensemble

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          Very good, petstorejunkie! You have bionic eyes. The video was very helpful even though the audio was tough. Indeed, I have an issue with throwing away my contact in upward and downward transitions and have been working on it with both my dressage and equitation trainers. I've been getting better about it, but he was so behind the leg that I kept getting in front of vertical like I could pull him along. Two things happened there; he stops, and he loses his fragile-for-now balance. I have to remember to squeeze the tube of toothpaste I'm sitting on instead of returning to the hunter hand thrust half seat.

          And you're right; that bobbling about makes him think he has to take care of me, and removes any effective leadership on my part. He has great packer potential that way. So I have to decide, like Yoda said, to "do or do not".

          I like what you say alot in #2. It jibes with what my equitation instructor suggests to fix his poor head set. But what you're saying is that instead of one hand raised, I need to take that position you describe totally. I'm riding again tomorrow morning before work so I will attempt that "position of raised work".

          Regarding in hand work - it is something I'm very interested in. I have a book I've been reading; Horse Training In-Hand: A Modern Guide to Working From the Ground (Schuthof, E., and Mistral, K). Also, I began learning to longe from my equitation trainer. Fella have been working in hand as well and, at risk of giving away my dog background, I can walk him at a loose leash heel in patterns, including backing down his body so he circles to face me!

          I can see in hand work will help a great deal here. And he has an excellent whoa. I'll ride tomorrow and maybe Tuesday between classes can be the longe session.

          Thank you so much. I am very analytical so I enjoy being able to discuss these things in detail.

          Paula
          He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).

          Comment


          • #6
            I'm sure you're excited to be getting to know your new guy better. One observation, please take it from the perspective of someone who is her own harshest critic...do you need to sit his trot right now? In terms of getting him forward, posting the trot might be your best bet for now. Posting really takes the pressure of any issues you may have with your own position at the sitting trot and allows you to focus on rising and keeping him forward and really getting him in front of your leg for now. Many people (myself included) have a tendency to want to get too "handsy" and slow down the trot when we first start to sit, so we end up sending a few conflicting messages. This can be especially difficult for a horse that tends to get BTV and one that also needs to build up more muscle and strength through his topline.

            Good luck!
            Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.

            A Voice Halted

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by paulaedwina View Post

              I like what you say alot in #2. It jibes with what my equitation instructor suggests to fix his poor head set. But what you're saying is that instead of one hand raised, I need to take that position you describe totally. I'm riding again tomorrow morning before work so I will attempt that "position of raised work".
              Paula
              Very cute guy - you guys are going to have a lot of fun together! To further this idea...One hand raised doesn't do a lot to uncurl a horse. It is used more to encourage a flexion at the poll, (Philippe Karl uses this this type of work) but IMO, it's something your guy doesn't need more of right now.

              Petstorejunkie has the right idea.... BOTH hands should be raised and should be feeling as though they could come forward - It's amazing when you pay attention to this, how often we as riders tend to ride with pulling pressure on the reins. How high the hands are are somewhat dependent on where the neck comes out of the wither - a horse with a low set neck wouldn't have hands held as high as a horse that comes high out of the wither.

              To bring the horse out from BTV, BOTH hands must raise (think a quick "bump" up), leg must say "GO!", and the hands must IMMEDIATELY give FORWARD to give the horse somewhere to go. if you are restrictive or backwards with your hands, the horse will only curl more with more energy from behind. Repetition of this will help uncurl the curler.

              Do be insistent that he go forward from your leg...ask with your seat, and if you are not satisfied with the response, a quick "attack" with your small spur and then back to neutral leg and ask again with seat will get the message across. And work on desensitizing to the dressage whip, you'll be happy that you did as you continue to work on forward

              Good luck - update us!!

              Edited to add, I agree with the above regarding not sitting right now...You can use your posting to generate energy and solving the forward will help you solve the BTV problem.

              Re-edited to add: I would work on calm, forward, straight riding at the moment and less on bending...ask for too much bend and the horse can use it as an excuse to curl and get further behind the leg. Bending IS important, but you had mentioned doing small circles, I would keep the circles large and keep up the tempo to drive the horse into the outside aids and then bring the head up as needed, as often as needed as I described above...

              Sorry, usually not so wordy - but I have some experience with curlers and hope that some of my experience will help!

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                That's a brilliant observation. Posting did get him more forward. I think I was tempted by his beautiful perch/stb action with his tea-sipping trot. I'm not especially handsy with the sitting trot - I actually warm him up on the buckle, but I will post more to get him to move out. I'd try two point, but when you lean forward he stops so I'm not sure what he'd do with 2 point. I'll give it a shot tomorrow morning.

                ETA I'm taking notes! I'm going to try to be more assertive tomorrow morning (not harsh, but more clear). Forward is important to me. I've had a taste from riding a PSG schoolmaster of what forward and suspension are and I don't want Fella to settle in to a typical school horse pace - if you understand what I mean. I want him to be strong and athletic.

                Paula
                He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).

                Comment


                • #9
                  I agree with all that was said above. especially no tight circles, too much bending and posting the trot for right now.

                  May I suggest something? Act as if he is a young horse just getting started. With that I mean, a young horse will be ridden very forward to get him straight and to carry himself. I think that that is what your new horse needs right now. Then once he is forward, carries himself, and is quick off the leg, you can/should sit his trot again. Hope that that helps!

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    I'm going to focus on forward. I guess we'll be using the outer edge of the arena more and more. We will still take 20 meter circles I think, but I do think we need to get more forward. I'll also see how he goes on the longe.

                    Paula
                    He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by paulaedwina View Post
                      I have to remember to squeeze the tube of toothpaste I'm sitting on instead of returning to the hunter hand thrust half seat.
                      Most importantly, remember your whip. Don't EVER use more force with your leg for any movement than what you want the horse to respond to all the time. Ask with the lightest of aid, then the maximum you are willing to use of leg without compromising position (this for me ain't much force!) then whip whip whip until you get the forward in any form, even if it's a launch forward. Getting a horse to go forward should take mere thoughts when executed correctly.

                      Originally posted by paulaedwina View Post
                      And you're right; that bobbling about makes him think he has to take care of me, and removes any effective leadership on my part. He has great packer potential that way. So I have to decide, like Yoda said, to "do or do not".
                      Fix the shoulders, fix the loss of balance. you are throwing each other off. And believe me, I'll raise my hand to the giving shoulder club. I hear Paul in my head (the clinician in the video) every time I set up a new horse for forward raised work "hold your position, ride forward"



                      Originally posted by paulaedwina View Post
                      at risk of giving away my dog background, I can walk him at a loose leash heel in patterns, including backing down his body so he circles to face me!
                      oh we can talk dog! instead of viewing in hand work as obedience work, think of it more as a way for your horse to explore his body and balance without having to worry about you. you can SEE what is happening, and give checks to the rein, or taps with the whip to shape and perfect it. In hand dressage work is like a whole different catacomb of learning and mystery. I'm so grateful for my classical in hand training,... it fixes just about everything.

                      Originally posted by paulaedwina View Post
                      And he has an excellent whoa.
                      Ok, when you say this, do you mean he stops promptly, or that he stops correctly by lowering his haunches? They are two different entities.

                      Originally posted by paulaedwina View Post
                      Thank you so much. I am very analytical so I enjoy being able to discuss these things in detail.
                      Paula
                      I LOVE the nitty gritty details... that's what makes dressage so dang facinating!
                      www.destinationconsensusequus.com
                      chaque pas est fait ensemble

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        My favorite clinician calls it "pushing the grocery cart." Making sure your hands are always thinking forwards...

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          In the sales video, this horse was not BTV and he looked big, strong and relaxed. In your video, he looks like his mincing his steps and he shrunk.

                          As someone else mentioned, please post, and before you try and put him together to look like a "dressage" horse, why not learn to ride him with more freedom so he can find his balance with you, a new rider. Once he is confident doing what is easy, you can work on bringing him together a little bit more.

                          He is a very nice horse, you do not want to loose what made him so attractive in the video, ie, he was calm and trusting but he moved out for his rider and he appeared quite regular. You want to be careful not to confuse him, and he looks confused to me. If he has never done dressage then treat him like a baby green horse and start at the bottom, dont expect because he is older that he will step up to where you are, that's stressful.

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Trust me, I'm not trying to put him together like a dressage horse at all. He doesn't have the balance or the muscles. He has never had a dressage lesson in his life. Actually in his sales pictures you do see the BTV (they're gone now because he's sold). I'm not putting his head there at all - he is doing that on the buckle. I'm trying to unwind him. If you recall the sales videos he wasn't very forward either, even when I test rode him. I got those very gaits when I sat his trot then too.

                            Here are his sales videos I saved to You tube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wcXRgh8SZnY In this first one with no bridle he is a different horse. He is quite relaxed, but his gaits are not large.

                            Here is the other sales video with some stills http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H3QxjzNK3iA Look at the second still and the last still before he rides out in the field - BTV. Then look at the video - under Western tack with Western aids that BTV is much less pronounced. He neck reins beautifully. Further into the video you see him in English tack and he changes again (at about 4:01). I think Petstorejunkie called it - when I raise my hands he'll unkink his head.

                            He has never done dressage. I bet you dollars to donuts if I put my Aussie stock saddle on him and neck reined he'd relax. The problem is that he is not relaxed, and you're right, he's confused as heck. He is new to the barn and he'd never done ring work in an indoor either. He just doesn't know what to expect. That will change.

                            I will post more and sit less. I will also do some longe work with him.

                            PS. Petstorejunkie - when I said he had a good whoa it's not put together, he just stops on a dime.

                            ETA Now you've got me wondering whether I should put the Aussie on him and ride him Western to get him to relax or whether that is just sabotaging his training.

                            Also of course he's not relaxed yet. He's still in quarantine. He hasn't interacted with any of the horses on the farm yet and I'm sure that's contributing.

                            Paula
                            Last edited by paulaedwina; Jul. 25, 2011, 07:26 AM.
                            He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              After watching parts of the sales videos, I don't think you have a horse who has learned evasions like BTV or behind the leg, he's just confused by the questions his new rider is posing. He was ridden on a loose contact previously, he's thinking the hand brake is on. Although he is giving to the bit, it's not in the correct manner and he's trying to spit it out (dropping the bit) to get to his comfortable place. I think it would help to warm him up on that loose rein and get him going before taking up the reins. Also, keep your hands close together as keeping them wide encourages curling. I love his temperment; he seems like a really cool dude! I think the most challenging things about this horse will be developing schwung in his body (making more suspension) and unlocking the base of that neck. Do continue posting to help make these things happen. Ride him out to the bit, don't make the contact by making him come to you. I would rather see him moving forward and on a long rein like a hunter right now. Teach him how to package himself up one piece at a time rather than all at once.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Good pair!

                                Like others have said post, and post the trot you want. If you want a big dressage trot, post big, not the little hunter barely geting your butt out of the saddle motion.

                                Ride straight lines for now, that will get him more forward, but that doesn't mean just ride along the outside of the arena. Ride the diagonals and quarter and center lines, pick a point and go straight for it. Don't let him anticipate which way you are going to turn before you reach the end of the line
                                I wasn't always a Smurf
                                Penmerryl Sophie RIDSH
                                "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
                                The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  Well we had a session this morning. It did not go very well. On the plus side his ground manners are quite good and it only took one setting the mounting block on the off side before he would stand still for me to mount. I get the feeling this is the second time in his life that he's been in an indoor (the first time would be the last time I rode him). His walk is much more relaxed too. Like I said I warm up on the buckle.

                                  He is balking though. He balks at the door, he balks at the window. He'll trot and then stop. Sigh. I think in_the_zone is right - any contact is the brakes. Though I think he also balks on the buckle. I'll have to give that some thought.

                                  Tried to lunge- yeah wow that was tough. First I had to convince him to stop trying to join up. I'll use the round pen the next time.

                                  I think I'm getting ahead of him and will work alot at walk and on the buckle to get him to relax. And yes, when we get back to trotting I will post.

                                  Paula
                                  He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Can you turn him out in the indoor & just let him explore for an hour or 2 - if your BM will let you turn him out overnight with some hay & you get there early & clean everything up, that will get him relaxed very quickly

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      10 days is plenty of time to acclimate to a new environment - after all, he's not going to have time to acclimate to every new show environment you go to. That being said, as others have noted, it sounds like he is still trying to figure out what you want. I would also note, it sounds like from your last post, the first thing he needs to learn (or re-learn) at this point is forward at all times when you ask. It's okay to investigate things if you let him, but balking is not allowed. My horse is not a balker, but I can sense when she is distracted in the least bit, and she gets a tap and asked to go forward until she re-focuses.
                                      As others have suggested, I would forget working too much on his poll position right now - getting the forward will fix that eventually. If he is balking regularly, you have to get him forward and you have to MEAN it. As much as we want to be subtle, he has to go off your aids and focus on you. Escalate your aids but again, as others have noted, when you get to that third and final escalation, he MUST go. Horses appreciate a clear sense of direction, so don't hesitate. It sounds like once he grasps this concept with you, you two will be working confidently together in no time.
                                      Looks like I picked the wrong week to quit sniffing glue.

                                      A Voice Halted

                                      Comment

                                      • Original Poster

                                        #20
                                        RE: I would also note, it sounds like from your last post, the first thing he needs to learn (or re-learn) at this point is forward at all times when you ask. It's okay to investigate things if you let him, but balking is not allowed.

                                        In a nutshell this is where we are. Like I've said; I'm not at all concerned about his poll except to unwind that BTV, but I am really interested in him going forward when I want him to for as long as I want him to. I think, as other posters have said, the BTV will fix itself with forward. According to John (the broker who bought him from his seller), his seller was intimidated by him so I think he might have learned some behaviors that got results at some time in his past.

                                        I have no doubt that we'll get past this. It is just a matter of time.

                                        Would you mind describing an escalation of aids to get him forward and not balking?

                                        Paula
                                        He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).

                                        Comment

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