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Riding Critique Please!

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  • Riding Critique Please!

    Well, here it is. I own a 21 y/o TB who knows a lot about Dressage, and has schooled/shown 3rd level. I, on the other hand, do not know very much about Dressage at all, so in this video i'd like you to critique 1) my riding, 2) his frame and 3) anything else you can think of. I will not get offended with whatever you say, so please give me your full and honest opinion.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BhYiOEaZoXM

    And yes, he did get lots of walk breaks in between all the trotting and cantering, but i cut all that out of the video. And it's a fairly long movie, so if you don't want to watch me trotting around in circles all day, i start cantering at 2:45ish.

  • #2
    I love this horse! He looks like the product of good basic dressage training. Yes, he could show more engagement, impulsion and suppleness (especially bend) - however he swings along at walk, trot and canter with an obliging expression as though it is all so easy for him. Which at his age and stage of training, it should be.

    What a lovely horse to learn about dressage on. He is in a nice frame (although I hate that expression). He is carrying himself and his head is hanging naturally from the poll - which is generally the highest point, without his nose being either pulled in, or to either side.

    As for your riding, you look very natural and as though it is quite easy for you too. Hopefully, as you become more of a stylist (more erect posture though a stronger core, elbows in, hands just above the withers, legs draped long with a deep heel and a supple ankle) you won't lose that naturalness.

    There is no doubt a lot more that this horse can teach you and he will probably tolerate you starting to experiment with things like leg yielding and more bend through his body (especially on smaller circles), and playing with the power and tempo and length of stride in trot and canter, and maybe things like walk pirouettes and shoulder-in.

    Love the gorgeous location (where is it?) and the ubiquitous black dog that we all seem to have stalking our dressage arenas.

    Comment


    • #3
      You are working this horse at a good tempo and with a fairly good rein length. However, in your posting trot, you need to tuck your seat under you a bit more such that you feel the weight fall into your heels. You are also tending to sling yourself out of the saddle. Lots of people attempt to do this with a mistaken idea that it helps the horse to be more forward. This is not correct. The only time you have to push the horse forward into your hands is on the down portion of the post, and if your seat is not under you correctly, you will not get the push from your seat that you need.

      Your horse is not straight. Mostly this is because his right hind is not under correctly. It wants to hang out behind, while the left rear wants to stay up and under. This means that as you right counterclockwise, you are losing your right rein because the horse is not bending inward enough. As you ride clockwise, you still don't have enough right rein, though in this direction, the problem manifests as feeling like the left rein gets too heavy. This is especially apparant in your right lead canter, with that right rear really stringing out behind.

      While your posting trot seat is almost there, your canter seat needs lots of work. You are falling foward on each stride. Again, get your seat under you such that no daylight is allowed between it and the saddle. Feel the weight go into your heels. A more stable position of your seat in the saddle will allow you to stop pumping with your upper body, which will then help the horse to get off its forehand.

      Overall, you are staying in one gait, and in one direction way too long to provide benefit. You need to be changing your horse's gait, or the direction of travel about every 30-45 seconds...yes, seconds. Increasing or decreasing the size of the circle a few times as transitions, both in trot and in canter, will also help. These rapid transitions will help both you and the horse stay straighter and in better balance during the work. You cannot do transitions this fast unless your body and your horse's body stay in better balance.

      Comment


      • #4
        work the horse on a square, try and get someting for the corners ie brick cone or tyre
        measure it out 60x40 or 80x 40

        use the corners the lenght and the width

        thus keeps your horse workng a staright line and balanced which isnt happening on a circle

        you jingle jangle to much on the bit ie your hands arnt sill and soft therfore giving wrong signals to the horse luckly your horse is one of an older type and isnt confused by the messages you are sending him also your legs arnt still and secure
        and bum isnt working from an independant seat as previous poster said tuck your arse in and under
        dont keep looking down but look ahead---------where you look your hands will follow where your hand follow thorugh then so does the horses head--- look forwards between the hroses ears thus keeps up right and not bend over at the schoulders which in turn drops then horse falls in -- so look forwards

        vairy your work when working by lenghten and shortening nad do plenty of transitions with half halt strides obviuosly i dont hink you know how to do these will post later on how to perform it --

        dont stay on one rein to long make the work interesting and variable horses get bored doing smae old thing one way also makes them sour and makes them stiff on one side be even stevens with work and time

        Comment


        • #5
          Lovely horse... and he looks like a great guy to learn on.

          You are entirely too loose in the saddle, and your hands really need a lot of work. They are bouncing around quite a bit, and I'm amazed that the horse stays (mostly) round through all of that.

          The bouncing hands, I think, is a product of several related things:

          1) You leg is not stable... when you sit, your weight it coming out of your heel, and into your butt. When you rise, it goes down in your leg. you need to work on keeping your weight and leg in the same position regardless of whether you're sitting or rising. Start by trying to keep your lower leg on and stable all the time.

          2) Because your "base" is weak, your body is getting bounced too. Try doing some core work to stabilize your middle body.

          3) Your arms are stiff-- I think because you are trying to get him on the bit too much. don't worry about that part for now. Bend your elbows, and try to keep your hands VERY VERY STILL. Think about posting your hips through your nice still hands.

          But, in general, when you have this much bounce in your body, it will translate into bouncing hands. It is really hard to get a true connection with this much movement, so that is what I would work on.

          Comment


          • #6
            I think you're riding 'at your level', I don't see any point in getting all picky about what you're doing right now or how the horse looks right now, he. I suggest u get used to the horse, get comfortable with him (he looks very, very safe), take dressage lessons. An instructor can help you progress both in your riding and in training the horse.
            Last edited by slc2; May. 15, 2008, 09:04 AM.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Equa View Post

              There is no doubt a lot more that this horse can teach you and he will probably tolerate you starting to experiment with things like leg yielding and more bend through his body (especially on smaller circles), and playing with the power and tempo and length of stride in trot and canter, and maybe things like walk pirouettes and shoulder-in.

              Love the gorgeous location (where is it?) and the ubiquitous black dog that we all seem to have stalking our dressage arenas.
              I know for a fact that Brig knows a heck of a lot more than this, and i know that he can do walk pirouettes because his old owner showed them to me, but i wouldn't dare try them. Like my dog? She always goes with me when i ride. My "arena" is located in CA and it was actually a house site, but i commandeered it for my use until someone starts building on it. Anyway, down to business. How do i get more bend in his body? Right now i'm using my inside leg forward and kinda still, then outside leg back to get him to bend - how do i get more bend?

              However, in your posting trot, you need to tuck your seat under you a bit more such that you feel the weight fall into your heels. You are also tending to sling yourself out of the saddle.
              But wait, i've always heard that you need to post from your knees and NOT have all your weight in your heels, or did i misunderstand you, or have i been thinking incorrectly this entire time (whcih could be very possible)?

              Your horse is not straight. Mostly this is because his right hind is not under correctly. It wants to hang out behind, while the left rear wants to stay up and under.
              Many months ago i had someone come out and help me with Dressage a bit, and she said the same thing. Could this be arthritis, and should i put him on joint support of some kind? Or is it a laziness thing?

              While your posting trot seat is almost there, your canter seat needs lots of work.
              Yeah, i know that. I will be working on it in the future.

              you jingle jangle to much on the bit ie your hands arnt sill and soft therfore giving wrong signals to the horse luckly your horse is one of an older type and isnt confused by the messages you are sending him also your legs arnt still and secure
              and bum isnt working from an independant seat as previous poster said tuck your arse in and under
              dont keep looking down but look ahead---------where you look your hands will follow where your hand follow thorugh then so does the horses head--- look forwards between the hroses ears thus keeps up right and not bend over at the schoulders which in turn drops then horse falls in -- so look forwards
              You have just told me 500 things that i'm doing wrong, and i know i'm doing them wrong - but you haven't told me how to fix them.

              Start by trying to keep your lower leg on and stable all the time.
              Soooo, does this mean that i grip with my lower legs on the side of the horse to keep me more stable?

              Try doing some core work to stabilize your middle body.
              Please tell me what these core exercises are and i will start doing them.

              3) Your arms are stiff-- I think because you are trying to get him on the bit too much. don't worry about that part for now. Bend your elbows, and try to keep your hands VERY VERY STILL. Think about posting your hips through your nice still hands.
              Now that analogy i can work with! Oooooh, i can try this on my Western horse who rides off contact so that i can work on my hands without hurting any horse's mouth!

              take dressage lessons. An instructor can help you progress both in your riding and in training the horse.
              Well, i'm afraid that that is not happening. Dressage lessons are *cough* very expensive around her, and combine that with that fact that i don't have a trailer makes it nigh on impossible. Half of my brain thinks: oooh i really would love to take Dressage lessons! Then the other half of my brain chimes in: But you have a large hay bill to pay next month. And so i never get the lessons.

              Oh yeah, and can someone please explain a half halt to me? I've had it explained as squeeze and hold your hands still and "hold" them for a split second, then let them go - is this right?

              Comment


              • #8
                I'm a newbie so lets see if I can answer some of your questions that I've learned thru my trainer.

                On the bending, does he throw his rear out if you don't keep the outside leg on him? If so keep it on. Apply lots of inside leg to drive him into the outside rein. The outside rein should be taut (sp?) and keep a straight line from you elbow to the bit by bringing your hands up and elbows bent. As your riding improves and you get more strength you will be able to ask for more bend. Lots of carrot stretches might help him some also before riding since he is older. Work on trot circles (20M) and put that inside leg on him and make him take up that outside rein.

                Knees, NO NO NO you don't post from your knees. You need to develop stronger legs so your heel can drop and there is a nice straight line from shoulders to hip to heel. Posting with your knees make you pinch which brings your leg off the horse. You want to keep your leg on all the time. Do some leg work off the horse to stenghten your legs and also if you can post without irons on this guy and work on keeping the leg on him and dropping your heel down, don't drop your toe and pinch with the knee. Also shorten your irons at times and really work that lower calf with some two point and dropping your weight in your heel and relax the leg.

                The horses leg issue, Because of his age and if he is schooled to 3rd level its very possible that he has some arthritic changes in that leg-hock-fetlock etc... The best thing to do is have a vet come out and look it over. They may want to inject him or just put him on oral supplements or maybe adequin.

                Your hands, Work on thinking about your elbows back and bent and quitely posting in your saddle. You don't have to work so hard to post if you get centered on your pelvic bones correctly over your horse (just figured this one out myself ) Quite your post alot and try not to push him with a bigger stronger post. If you want to push him forward you a squeeze on your down in your post (squeeze with your tush ). Work really hard on concentrating about your hands. This is going to take time and strength thru your core also. Don't depend on the reins to pull yourself in the post. This is also a sign of weakness in the core and makes the hands bounce and punish the horse. If you pinch with the knee its going to throw you more forward which in return will cause you to be off balance and make you grab more on the reins to balance yourself. This is I believe the major cause of the hand bouncing in your case.

                Keeping you more stable leg, Strength is what keeps your leg more stable. Build up those leg muscles. You don't grip per say with your lower leg, you keep it on the horse. Resting quitely by his side and on. Balance and core strength will help stablize your leg and not relying on the reins. As you pull yourself in the trot up to post you pinch with your knee which in return throws you forward and makes you pull the reins to keep your balance that then makes the lower leg go wherever because your relying on your hands and reins to keep you there not you balance and position.

                Exercises, Crunches, situps, pushups, riding with a trainer Just normal excersises you can do for strength

                You really need to find a way to get a trainer to help you. In all honesty that horse seems like a sweet heart and the way you ride him just isn't that fair to him. I'm not trying to sound me but a trainer will really help you fix all the problems you are having and have you ride this horse correctly. I just can't help but think if you had the money to buy a 3rd level schoolmaster (which around here runs about 15,000 and up thats in good health) then you should have thought about saving some more money so you can have some lessons on him. Maybe not every week but atleast twice a month. Are you planning on showing this guy? Good Luck and please think about getting a dressage trainer to help you, if not I'd suggest just riding him for pleasure and not trying to "collect" him up or do alot of dressage work with him. The lessons maybe expensive but they will be well worth it for you and him and also you can find trainers that will come to your place and train you. Just ask around. Good Luck.
                Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole

                Comment


                • #9
                  Is it just me or are you posting on the wrong diagonal both ways? I know some people do it on purpose for one reason or another. I like your "looseness" for this frame. Luh-Luh-LOVE! the countryside! This is Ca.? North or south?He also appears counterbent at the trot[didn't see the canter]. I've been told turn on the forehands and legyields are good exercises for this. Good luck! You guys look awesome![and happy]

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by rabicon View Post
                    I just can't help but think if you had the money to buy a 3rd level schoolmaster (which around here runs about 15,000 and up thats in good health) then you should have thought about saving some more money so you can have some lessons on him.
                    Now tsk, tsk, you are assuming here. If i could a 15k horse, i would easily be able to afford lessons. But the fact is that i can't afford a 15k horse. This horse was (amazingly, i might add) given to me by a family friend because he enjoys being worked and ridden and his previous owner was not healthy enough to do so. I will think seriously about lessons, but i'd much rather ride horribly and have my horses healthy, fat and happy than the other way around. And no, i do not plan on showing at all, i am strictly a pleasure rider who wants to learn how to ride better.

                    And thank you so, so much for all of your advice! I am going to read it over and over again until it's engrained in my brain and i can go apply it all.

                    Yes, i probably am posting on the wroung diagonal, i never could get them right, and i'm in Central CA.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Okay, Well you are very lucky to have a 3rd level schoolmaster given to you Wish I could be that lucky Good Luck and work on what everyone has said and repost in a month or so to see how your progressing.
                      Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by ImaBronsonBear View Post
                        . . .
                        Yes, i probably am posting on the wroung diagonal, i never could get them right, and i'm in Central CA.
                        If you are posting on the wrong diagonal you will throw your horse off-balance.

                        Just remember:

                        Rise and fall with the leg on the wall.

                        Pretend you are riding in an arena and note where the walls would be based on the direction you are travelling. You want to rise with the horse's leg that is closest to the wall.

                        Eileen
                        Mad Mare™ Studio
                        Custom Swarovski®, Czech glass and gemstone browbands in Circlet, Diadem and Tiara styles. Matching stock pins, bracelets and belts.
                        http://MadMare.com

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Obedient horse, but needs to swing in his back and actively go forward with much more impulsion. That can help to avoid moments of him being strung out too much with the dropped back at trot. Canter lacks jump and bordering a 4 beat canter that is not a dressage gait. Rider should try to use slightly more leg and less hand.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            The horse looks happy What a cutie!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Just some things I've come across through my learning.

                              Yoga seems popular with some dressage riders. Sun salutations was recommended, it is a group of exercises.

                              At a halt, drop your stirrups and let your leg rest at the horse's side, then keeping a long leg pull your leg back (it may only go a few inches). This is a good stretch to help get your leg back.

                              At a walk, stand up in the stirrups with your butt just in front of the pommel. When your back is straight and you find your proper position, you will also find your balance point. This also helps to get your leg back. You can also start turning at the waist which turns your shoulders and pointing in the direction you want to go. It is very subtle, but if you start doing this while trying to balance, your horse will go where your body goes. These aren't easy exercises to explain in type, so if you are confused anywhere, let me know and I'll try to clarify.

                              Good luck. You have the attitude to go far.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                "you just told me 500 things I do wrong but not how to fix them"

                                this is why i think it's a mistake to get into all this detail at this point, or to go 'fault hunting'. that's why all i said was 'get lessons'. because how you fix the '500 things that are wrong' is get lessons.

                                buying a 'trained horse' doesn't get you out of taking lessons. the horse's training can go to pot in a very short time if the rider doesn't know how to maintain it every day.

                                most people in dressage take lessons for years and years - most never STOP. even the world champions take lessons. there's a lot of different levels to gradually move up to, each horse is slightly different and needs slightly different exercises, plus it's easy to get a habit and not notice it, such as pressing harder with one leg than the other, sitting off to one side of the saddle, hanging on to the reins too tightly, etc.

                                it's not just to avoid habits, but to have someone explain correctly how to do each figure and movement, but instruction serves another purpose.

                                MOST people misunderstand collection, contact, acceptance of the bit, and need these basics constantly re-explained to them and how to apply them at a given moment. is horsey tight and held in in the neck? then let's forget about collection and just go forward. is horsey pulling down on the reins like a train? well then let's forget about stretching his little neck right at this moment. is the rider bending the horse enough? too much? not enough? what should the rider do if horsey won't respond to the rider's leg signal while doing a leg yield? the instructor is CONSTANTLY educating the rider and teaching him something new, PLUS re-emphasizing those basics.

                                without the instructor, people simply go wrong. dressage just isn't like show jumping where if you get over the jump without knocking it down, you say 'that was right'. it can be a lot mroe difficult to learn than that.

                                then there is just that strength that you have to develop over time. there's no avoiding this. it just takes time. it isn't the strength of a weight lifter - it's more like the strength of a gymnast or ballerina dancer....muscles you develop over time stabilize your position.

                                sure you're loose in the saddle. so what will fix it? 2 years of riding. sorry to say it, but it's true. those core muscles - abdomen, lower back, below the shoulders, around your hips, your thighs....they need to develop for dressage in a way no other exercise precisely mimicks. what's the solution? RIDING. and to avoid developing bad habits that can be murder to eradicate - LESSONS.

                                new to this, you can expect to need lessons - frequent lessons - to learn all this. and to avoid developing bad habits.

                                instructors help with that as well as with the usual progression a rider makes -1.) starting out simply learning to sit straight and evenly at all gaits and follow the motion, 2.) learning to bend and do figures, and sit a more active, stronger trot, then 3.) learning half halts and impulsion and the medium, extended and collected gaits, and finally 4.) learning more collection and coordination of the aids and the quicker reactions and more 'feel' of what's going on that the higher level tests require.

                                when you're new to dressage, there's going to be '500 things' that anyone could look at and say are wrong.

                                your 'well trained' horse will also get 'untuned' and not respond as well as he would to having a more experienced trainer get on him and work him, so he isn't going to go the same way for you as he would for a more experienced person - all expected and normal.

                                the horse WILL not be straight, your seat WILL not be perfect, you WILLL be loose in the saddle, the horse WILL not be so perfect....that's all expected.

                                you're only going to get yourself all pressured and upset (and probably see your riding worsen thru tension and trying too hard) if you try to fix all this at once.

                                especially based on an internet critique where everyone will have a different opinion about what's the most important thing to start with, and be nitpicking at things you can't possibly change right now that should be addressed at a later date when certain other basics are established.

                                get lessons. plan to have these things get better over a period of time.

                                you also have to get used to the 'dressage vocabulary'. even the best trained, most classical instructor each will have a slightly different way of describing what he sees, and what order he might go about fixing them. it's important to find an instructor you like and stick with them, and get used to how they express what they see, what words they use, etc.

                                one thing - no one can criticize the horse's 'frame'.

                                there is no one 'frame' a horse should be in, in dressage.

                                do you post with your knees? sort of...and not really.

                                you can't pinch your knees tightly against the saddle or pivot real tightly from the knee. if the person has a very loose knee that pops out away from the saddle when he posts or tries to apply a leg aid, the instructor might say 'post more with your knee' to get it more onto the saddle, if the rider tends to grip too tightly and not let his leg 'breathe' with the horse, the instructor will tell that rider something completely different. you ride dressage 'with all your leg', without gripping tightly or fixing any one part of your leg in a still, stiff or unyielding position, without holding your calf stiffly away from the horse's side, without holding it tightly on the side, without pressing the heel down as hard as you can ('hunter heels'), and without being loose or floppy or unstable in the leg. in other words, in dressage, your leg is soft, adhering, supple, giving, yet stable and contributes to your balance, yet without being held stiffly or tightly.

                                the position of the head and neck is not a fixed 'frame' you can 'get'. how you ride the horse and use your reins depends on what problems the horse has, what his build is, how much training he has, and what sort of work he needs. you'll learn all that gradually - it takes time.

                                riding lessons. find a good dressage instructor, stick with him or her.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  If you can't take lessons you may want to invest in some dvd instruction related to dressage. Just look up dressage trainng in dover catalog and dressage extentions or ebay.

                                  Right now Jane Savoie has some really helpful videos out on You tube.

                                  Taking video of your rides like you are doing and watching is also a good idea. You can see what you'd like to change, then work on it and video youself again to check progress.

                                  What a great horse! You look like you're having fun.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Roan View Post

                                    Rise and fall with the leg on the wall.
                                    Now that i can remember! Thank you.


                                    slc2 - Thank you for the, errr, lecture. I greatly appreciate what you said, but let's recap here. Lessons are approximately $85 a week around here. That equals $340 a month. If i were to use the money i had for my horses to pay for a lesson a week, then both of my horses would neither 1) be fed (or if they did it would be the occasional crappy flake of hay) and 2) get shod. Would you rather have me be a perfect rider and have two horses starving in my back yard with horribly overgrown feet, or two fat, sassy and healthy horses and have me ride horribly? You decide. As for me, my decision is made. My horses are shod/trimmed every six weeks, get the best hay, current vaccines, good wormer, teeth done, and a 5 acre pasture with safe fencing. I don't get riding lessons. I should have some extra money this summer and i will invest in some lessons then, but for now the needs of my horses come first.

                                    And i was never looking to become this perfect rider, or go to the Olympics anyway. I just wanted to learn how to impove my riding. Maybe Dressage isn't the thing for me...

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                                    • #19
                                      I think you are off to a great start with this horse and clearly are on the right track. I see nothing horribly wrong, the horse is going well and looks happy....
                                      I highly reccomend Betsy Steiner's dressage book and Jane Savoie. I also like Ride the Right Horse by Yvonne Barteau.
                                      We'd all love to take a million lessons but sometimes that isn't possible....just do the best you can and make sure you keep being an active learner.

                                      Nice job!

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                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by ImaBronsonBear View Post
                                        Now tsk, tsk, you are assuming here. If i could a 15k horse, i would easily be able to afford lessons. But the fact is that i can't afford a 15k horse. This horse was (amazingly, i might add) given to me by a family friend because he enjoys being worked and ridden and his previous owner was not healthy enough to do so. I will think seriously about lessons, but i'd much rather ride horribly and have my horses healthy, fat and happy than the other way around. And no, i do not plan on showing at all, i am strictly a pleasure rider who wants to learn how to ride better.
                                        Even a lesson here and there would be really helpful You are a lucky dog! Great family friend!

                                        Where in central CA? It almost looks like it could be near where my family ranch is, but it's probably more north.

                                        As for posting from the knees/heels- I think it's a kind of confusion in hunter/jumper training, because you post with your knees instead of your calves when you're riding with no stirrups, but you are still supposed to weight your heels in stirrups. Dressage is more of a long, relaxed leg and as little leg as possible on the horse when not necessary for cueing, so that the horse knows the difference. So, when you post, keeping your leg long helps you not give unintended cues.

                                        That way, when you go to give leg, you don't have to give as much to overcome the desensitization

                                        Ask me how I know this Right now I'm coming back from an accident and suffer from a bit of vice clamp leg syndrome.

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