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Training aids or no

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  • Training aids or no

    Hi
    I am new to the forum. I have been riding dressage for three years on my now 16 yo Arabian gelding. He was a country English horse who had never been very good at it but had a lot of show miles, very athletic and a willing heart. I have had to work hard with him to get him to stretch down into connection with several riding instructors. My first instructor had personal problems and quit on me. I loved my next instructor and she really helped Cody and I improve, a lot of circles, spirals and leg yields and he was coming down and really stretching and relaxing. We ended up moving and I finally have had a couple lessons, only one on Cody with a new instructor. She wants me to use a cotton sting ran between his legs and through his bit and then to the girth as side reins to bring his head down. She said he needs to build the muscles up more in his neck and back and this will help, but I am afraid he will not learn to come down without them. I thought most dressage people were against using training aids while riding and he really was improving with my old instructor and using just exercises - What do you all think?

  • #2
    I think it's rarely a good idea to force a horse's head into a position. A "gadget" (and I'm trying to be kind) like that will only back the horse off the bit because there is no release possible into a soft contact. Instead of encouraging him to stretch into the bit, it backs him off. I think your instincts are correct and I would encourage you to find a trainer who can help you without resorting to quick fixes.
    Donald Trump - proven liar, cheat, traitor and sexual predator! Hillary Clinton won in 2016, but we have all lost.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by SillyHorse View Post
      I think it's rarely a good idea to force a horse's head into a position. A "gadget" (and I'm trying to be kind) like that will only back the horse off the bit because there is no release possible into a soft contact. Instead of encouraging him to stretch into the bit, it backs him off. I think your instincts are correct and I would encourage you to find a trainer who can help you without resorting to quick fixes.
      Ditto.

      Comment


      • #4
        Personally the only training aids I use when riding are directly connected to my hands. I want to be able to precisely control the amount and direction of contact with such devices at every moment.
        Proud COTH lurker since 2001.

        Comment


        • #5
          One lesson with your horse and she already wants to put draw reins on his face?

          I concede there are times where draw reins are certainly useful, but the same job can ultimately always be done without them (ie, using exercises, such as you mention). They require a really skillful hand imo, and to be used as an 'aid' - as a helping hand in addition to exercises, etc, but not to initiate something (ie, bringing the head down) on their own.

          The draw reins will bring his head down, but they will not teach him to work from behind. Most importantly, he won't be lifting from the base of the neck to lower his poll, if the draw reins are used specifically to keep his head down. He'll create muscle alright, but in all the wrong areas. When a horse works from behind, they angle their pelvis to 'sit' and bear more weight behind as the hocks load (ie, carry more weight). As a result, their back will lift and they will lift from the base of the neck to drop their poll. While draw reins create the 'look' working from behind will produce (as far as head position is concerned), it only does so upfront and the horse is not in a truly correct frame because it is not lifting from the base of the neck. Now, if you were to use draw reins in combination with the type of exercises you were using prior, I could see a purpose I suppose. But teaching your horse to engage and riding him in such a way that he engages and applies the training scale, the head will naturally drop to a correct position anyway. So why use draw reins? Especially when it (ie, the exercises) was working for you prior. Imo they would mostly be used in extreme cases, to create an upper boundary. Not to actually ask the head to come down, but to stop the horse from hollowing in an extreme fashion. Maybe for certain specific exercises, also. In your case, if it's not an extreme case and the exercises were working, imo that is where you should continue.

          Jmho, for what it's worth. I do have what was an 'extreme case' however and never used martingale nor draw rein on him. His head comes down naturally as a result of his working from behind and thus lifting at the base of his neck and reaching for the bit - all a result of progressive exercises that align with the training scale. Personally, I'd run and find an instructor more aligned with classical teachings.

          ETA: I've had quite a few instructors with such approaches over the years and have had the same questions as you when they wanted me to use certain gadgets on my horses. What I've learned is that if you feel uneasy about it, it probably is for good reason. You might not have the knowledge to fully understand why not to use said gadget (or apply a certain training exercise, etc etc etc), but it's always best to follow your gut (at least until you can have the knowledge to make a more educated decision)
          ....horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
          ~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.

          Comment


          • #6
            dressagefan 62- Your instinct is correct.

            Are there other instructors in the area? This one is on the wrong track. I have found that the exercises work well, and also that hacking out on a long rein can help teach a horse to stretch down, and while hacking you can pickup a light contact and explain that touching the rein needn't mean come up, but to just stay there, chew, and relax.

            Teaching an older horse a concept that is new to him takes endless patience. But lets face it, they know how to stretch down. How else to get grass? Our job is to explain how to do it on command.
            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.

            Comment


            • #7
              I'm gonna jump in here, take this for what it's worth. You say your horse showed in country english. That's very saddle-seat-y, they go with a stiff back, front leg action, and a frame dependent on a really long curb shank and double bridle. Now you're retraining him to dressage. So he's learning to use his back and neck for the first time? That's a long road. In good hands, particular gadgets like draw reins ridden with a separate snaffle rein have their place. Good trainers aid the horse. That's what an aid is. Aid. When the aid is given and the horse gets the lesson the trainer moves on.

              I don't agree with a string going from the girth between the legs, through the bit and tied to the girth to keep the head in a fixed position. If your horse stumbled or fought it he could hurt himself and you. It could undo the good training your previous trainer put on.

              Is this trainer a dressage trainer or an "arabian dressage" trainer? Does she have a successful show record on horses she trained herself? Does she have a trainer herself? Successful students and client horses? Anyone can read a few books, ride a few horses, and call themselves a dressage trainer. Beware..... K.

              You have other options, too. THere are some higher profile trainers who will evaluate you for a "video" lesson online. I'm not a fan of video lessons, personally, but if you really need good advice and aren't near another good trainer, it could help direct you. And lots of good trainers will review you video and give you feedback if you pay for a lesson with them and explain your circumstances. Lots of good trainers are good people, too.

              Comment


              • #8
                Those sounds more like vienna reins than draw reins. You won't have any control on it while riding. This training device should be used while lunging. Not riding. And only used by someone who knows how to properly adjust them, knows how it works and have a plan regarding its use in term of duration/expectation/limitation.

                It can really be a good lunging tool for muscling up.
                Not a riding tool. At all.

                While the reins will put your horse in a desirable position, you on the other hand won't learn how to ask the horse to do so without them. And that is where the problem lie. The horse will listen to the training device instead of
                you. Training devices are not there to teach to horse to listen to a rider, they
                are used to muscle up horses while not being ridden. It cannot teach
                collection, it develops the right muscles to do so later on with a rider on its
                back who knows how to ask for collection now that the horse is enough
                muscled to do so.

                Look at your new trainer's horses. Are they all in this side reins set-up? (I don't like trainers who have a 'gadget fits for all' training system...) Watch other students lessons, see if you like what you see. Are you new trainer and students successfull at shows?

                Ask about why and how long should you expect to be riding with those reins.

                If you don't like the answers nor what you see, go find yourself another trainer.
                ~ Enjoying some guac and boxed wine at the Blue Saddle inn. ~

                Originally posted by LauraKY
                I'm sorry, but this has "eau de hoarder" smell all over it.
                HORSING mobile training app

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                • #9
                  No no no, bad idea, esp on an arab. They adopt a headset very quickly, the opposite of what you want to teach. This will come back to bite you in the butt. I promise---
                  Good for you to ask questions. Let the horse go in a light connection and use gymnastic exercises such as circles to get the horse pushing from behind. The horse should go in a long and low posture with the back lifted. Its VERY hard for horses to (re)lean this, esp arab saddle seat horses, but it can be done. Longe the horse in traditional side reins if the horse has some mucscle built up, take it slow. Don't let the horse rush.

                  I own a purebred arab, PM me if you have any more questions.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Thanks for all the help. I thought I was on the right track. I do not have a lot of other choices for dressage instructors. I live in an area with few far and wide. Surprisingly this instructor has regular clinics by a judge who had even written articles for Dressage Today and judged the Arabian Sport Horse Nationals. I went to observe a lesson and saw her using these "sliding side reins"(cotton clothes line that will break if stressed) but really didn't think of it till she wanted me to use them with my horse. They are not true draw reins as I do not hold them in my hands, the connect only to the girth, thru the bit and back to the side billets. Of course my horse lowered his head quickly and responded to them since he is used to working in a running martingale when we did saddle seat. I like the suggestion of using them only to lunge. I think I may just speak to her more about how my horse has been trained and why I would prefer not to use the side reins. Thanks for all the great advice.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      what you have described is a vienna slide rein.

                      Lunge equipment.
                      http://kaboomeventing.com/
                      http://kaboomeventing.blogspot.com/
                      Horses are amazing athletes and make no mistake -- they are the stars of the show!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by dressagefan62 View Post
                        Thanks for all the help. I thought I was on the right track. I do not have a lot of other choices for dressage instructors. I live in an area with few far and wide. Surprisingly this instructor has regular clinics by a judge who had even written articles for Dressage Today and judged the Arabian Sport Horse Nationals. I went to observe a lesson and saw her using these "sliding side reins"(cotton clothes line that will break if stressed) but really didn't think of it till she wanted me to use them with my horse. They are not true draw reins as I do not hold them in my hands, the connect only to the girth, thru the bit and back to the side billets. Of course my horse lowered his head quickly and responded to them since he is used to working in a running martingale when we did saddle seat. I like the suggestion of using them only to lunge. I think I may just speak to her more about how my horse has been trained and why I would prefer not to use the side reins. Thanks for all the great advice.
                        A lot of folks claim to 'ride with xx' if they sat in on one session. Just because I ride with 'xxxxx' doesn't mean I can ride.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I agree with those who've said they won't ride with any tool over which they don't have direct control. Moreover, I would never suggest draw reins to teach a particular headset. They can be helpful to unteach a headset. The difference being, that they shouldn't be engaged to the extent that they force the head into position. I consider them more like a running martingale that I can engage and disengage as needed, just a little reminder that we aren't star gazing.
                          "Rock n' roll's not through, yeah, I'm sewing wings on this thing." --Destroyer
                          http://dressagescriblog.wordpress.com/

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            The problem with most gadgets is that they force the horse's head into a "desired" position, but the horse is still working the wrong muscles trying to fight it. The horse ends up not strengthening the muscles you want to work, he just learns to hate contact and fake it.
                            Against My Better Judgement: A blog about my new FLF OTTB
                            Do not buy a Volkswagen. I did and I regret it.
                            VW sucks.

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                            • #15
                              Ive trained a lot of green horses and messed up horses and I have used side reins (which most dont think are gadgets - more of a way to lunge with rein contact and they give to the horse can have a soft feel if they work into the bridle). And I have used draw reins on a very few. But usually its after a few weeks perhaps where I have found the horse had prior bad training and I felt that just giving them a limited placing of the head (like I ask them to go a little above the verticle in them and get the rest with my leg) - of course, training level is not on the verticle - it is just above the verticle.

                              It is all about the STRETCH through the back. And it is about IS THE HORSE tracking under? If your horse is tracking under it is usually more comfortable for them to stretch down.

                              The draw reins and the vienna reins can be beneficial in the right hands. However, to set the head without focusing on the body..... that is your typical XSMSKF IIEIHFN I cant say it aloud.

                              Someone was being a devils advocate which is good because we are all not there and cant talk to this trainer BUT - your previous trainer was getting some good stuff and you sound to have worked with her for 2-3 years. SO sounds like this horse doesnt need that rare gadget intervention. Sounds like this trainer is trying to set his head.

                              Instead focus on getting the horse to track up and do those lateral exercises. Not sure your level of riding but can you shoulder in? Haunches in? You have this horse listening to the ouside rein? You have control over the shoulders and able to move this horse straight?

                              My gut feeling is to find a new trainer who is going to teach you HOW TO RIDE the horse correctly to work for you.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Carol O View Post
                                Ditto.
                                Double ditto.

                                I am new to dressage as well, I have ridden hunter all my life but due to my filly's talent, I have been pushed in the dressage direction for now.

                                I have tried several dressage coach's, many told me to get out the draw reins to bring her head down.

                                The head carriage is very telling about your horses balance and straightness.
                                My filly's head is already coming down with only training, no aids.

                                For training youngsters or inexperienced horse to bring their head down make sure they are going forward and are straight, no shoulder popping or nose tilted. (best to use someone experienced on the ground for this).
                                I use some outside rein pressure and little slow tugs on the inside rein to ask the head to come down if she is being stubborn.
                                But first establish straightness and try using the weight of your seat, posting or not, circling 20 meters, maintain straighness. You want to feel like your horse is short like a ball rather than long.
                                When posting, the weight in your seat should feel like you are posting on a firm bed not a soft memory foam bed.

                                (Keep the pressure on the outside rein and use inside rein- slightly sideways rather than pulling back to encourage horse to drop the head, once you get this, make the aid less noticable.)

                                Don't worry it will come, I am working on the same issue.
                                http://dotstreamming.blogspot.com/

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