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*UPDATE POST #49!* Meet my Saddlebred. Dressage Prospect?

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  • *UPDATE POST #49!* Meet my Saddlebred. Dressage Prospect?

    Hey guys,

    So I took in this 5 year old Saddlebred gelding while knowing little to nothing about him. We picked him up in December, he spent time chilling, socializing with other horses, and learning to be a horse again until around the end of August. I have only been riding him since the very end of August. I got him in hopes of one day making a dressage horse. Not necessarily a competitive one, but one that I can enjoy and take to lower end shows. I did ride Saddlebreds for the majority of my life and learnt to love their disposition and personalities. Since this one didn't stand a chance in the saddleseat ring, I thought I would give him a chance doing something else. That said I have been taking dressage (and a bit of hunter) lessons on and off for about the past 4 years, one of those years being spent in Germany.

    It has so far been an interesting ride with him. Some days he decides to go all Saddlebred on me and spook at everything.

    I basically want to know if I have a backyard horse or not and if I am wasting my time and efforts trying to make a sporthorse out of him. He seems to sometimes really start using his back, but then again other times he goes into Saddleseat mode, throws his head and ears up and totally ignores me.
    Last edited by Swishy-Tails; Dec. 6, 2011, 10:36 PM.
    You only have to let the soft animal of your body / love what it loves
    "Wild Geese" by Mary Oliver

  • #2
    Cool, another project! Good for you. Projects are what keep life interesting IMO. Take what I'm about to say with a giant grain of salt because I am no expert in conformation, nor am I in any way a trainer. He is flexing from the poll to the base of his neck -false collection? He reminds me of Fella when I first got him -all carriage that stopped right about at his shoulder while the rest of him moved like two horses. I guess with this type of horse the big challenge would be to get him to relax his back?

    I'd love to see how you go with him.

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

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Originally posted by paulaedwina View Post
      Cool, another project! Good for you. Projects are what keep life interesting IMO. Take what I'm about to say with a giant grain of salt because I am no expert in conformation, nor am I in any way a trainer. He is flexing from the poll to the base of his neck -false collection? He reminds me of Fella when I first got him -all carriage that stopped right about at his shoulder while the rest of him moved like two horses. I guess with this type of horse the big challenge would be to get him to relax his back?

      I'd love to see how you go with him.

      Paula
      I agree completely. I think it may be a part of him previously being trained to always hold his head up? I think it may be a rough transition. It may take months for him to start collecting even remotely like a dressage horse.

      Maybe if anyone has any tips on how to fix this that would be great. I really need to call a trainer up for some lessons but I need to save some money first.
      You only have to let the soft animal of your body / love what it loves
      "Wild Geese" by Mary Oliver

      Comment


      • #4
        I think if it's what you want to do, he certainly looks like he could be retrained to move a lot more correctly for dressage. He may not be a world beater, but he has potential. You seem like you have a grasp of where he is and what he is doing and what needs to be corrected. I would not have guessed you had put so little time into retraining him. He looks like he has potential.

        Since most of us can't compete with the big money horses bred for dressage, why not work on doing the best you can with non-traditional horses? You'll do the best you can with what you have.

        It really takes years to take a horse out of shape or trained in a different way to strengthen and use those muscles correctly, so be patient and give him and yourself time. You need to start reworking those back muscles. Start simply. Things like trails and walking up and down hills are great. Lunging works because you can give him support with sidereins because he is not strong enough--just be aware he's not going to be strong enough to do much at first, and he's resisting because of weakness. I'm sure you'll get plenty of good ideas in here.

        Comment


        • #5
          I think blindfolding a horse and riding it is a dangerous thing to do. With respect to the video - especially the lunging - the side reins are too short and you should set them lower on the surcingle. You are pulling his nose back which is not making him come over his back.
          Summit Sporthorses Ltd. Inc.
          "Breeding Competition Partners & Lifelong Friends"

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by ise@ssl View Post
            With respect to the video - especially the lunging - the side reins are too short and you should set them lower on the surcingle. You are pulling his nose back which is not making him come over his back.
            Ditto. Use the sidereins to help him learn to *reach* into the contact- not to be pulled into it. You want him to be able to stretch down and out/long and low, especially in the beginning of any kind of dressage training. If he feels restricted by the sidereins and is forced behind the vertical, he will learn to go behind the bit to avoid pressure- not something that is easy or fun to fix!

            That said, good luck with him!! There are lots of saddlebreds doing well at the lower levels and a couple doing really well at the upper levels! I am sure that he will pay you back in spades for the wonderful new life that you are giving him.

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              Originally posted by ise@ssl View Post
              I think blindfolding a horse and riding it is a dangerous thing to do. With respect to the video - especially the lunging - the side reins are too short and you should set them lower on the surcingle. You are pulling his nose back which is not making him come over his back.
              I realize that blindfolding isn't the safest thing to do but lead him around a lot at first and it really calmed him and kept him from being distracted and horribly stressed out from all the tiny noises and stuff going on around him. At that point of time it was much safer considering the situation using the blindfold as opposed to not. I can see how some horses it would be particularly dangerous but I saw that it helped the situation and that it calmed him down significantly. Not to mention he was dependent on me and started listening to me. Before he was totally ignoring me and going nuts. Since then he has starting to trust me. Saddlebreds are very hot and unique horses and I have dealt with them for 15+ years.

              Regarding the side reins- they are as low as my surcingle goes and they are actually quite loose. Due to the quality of the video you cannot see them flopping but they were. I am looking for a new surcingle but I am compromising with what I have atm.
              You only have to let the soft animal of your body / love what it loves
              "Wild Geese" by Mary Oliver

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Originally posted by sweet2lula View Post
                Ditto. Use the sidereins to help him learn to *reach* into the contact- not to be pulled into it. You want him to be able to stretch down and out/long and low, especially in the beginning of any kind of dressage training. If he feels restricted by the sidereins and is forced behind the vertical, he will learn to go behind the bit to avoid pressure- not something that is easy or fun to fix!

                His way of trying at the moment is putting his head down and being behind the vertical. You cannot see it due to the low quality of the video but the side reins are flopping and he HAS the ability to stretch his nose out of he would. I am currently satisfied as long as he doesn't hold his head up like a saddleseat horse.

                Getting his head to "stretch down and out/long and low" is a great challenge considering his past training to constantly hold his head up and in. Please look at the picture added in the edit so you can understand. When I started him, he only knew how to hold his head up.
                You only have to let the soft animal of your body / love what it loves
                "Wild Geese" by Mary Oliver

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Originally posted by Beentheredonethat View Post
                  I think if it's what you want to do, he certainly looks like he could be retrained to move a lot more correctly for dressage. He may not be a world beater, but he has potential. You seem like you have a grasp of where he is and what he is doing and what needs to be corrected. I would not have guessed you had put so little time into retraining him. He looks like he has potential.

                  Since most of us can't compete with the big money horses bred for dressage, why not work on doing the best you can with non-traditional horses? You'll do the best you can with what you have.

                  It really takes years to take a horse out of shape or trained in a different way to strengthen and use those muscles correctly, so be patient and give him and yourself time. You need to start reworking those back muscles. Start simply. Things like trails and walking up and down hills are great. Lunging works because you can give him support with sidereins because he is not strong enough--just be aware he's not going to be strong enough to do much at first, and he's resisting because of weakness. I'm sure you'll get plenty of good ideas in here.

                  Thank you for being so kind. I really need to take him on some trails now that we've still got nice weather. Thanks so much for the feedback.
                  You only have to let the soft animal of your body / love what it loves
                  "Wild Geese" by Mary Oliver

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I agree that the side reins look too short. You might consider using Vienna reins, to encourage him to stretch forward and down.

                    Get him relaxed and stretching and I bet he'll look like a completely different horse.

                    I was a little dizzy from the video ...

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by ise@ssl View Post
                      I think blindfolding a horse and riding it is a dangerous thing to do. With respect to the video - especially the lunging - the side reins are too short and you should set them lower on the surcingle. You are pulling his nose back which is not making him come over his back.
                      Yep.

                      You can say they're loose and flopping... but that's only going to happen if he tucks his nose even more. Right now he doesn't know about contact, and they're not inviting him to learn. Learning about contact, for him, is going to take learning how to carry himself in an entirely different manner - and anything which encourages him to shorten his neck (as those side reins are) won't do so. You can attach the side reins at the top of the girth of the surcingle if necessary - loop them on the billets, rather than going through the rings which are too high. He'd be better off longeing in no side reins than the way you have him set which is just reinforcing his incorrect for dressage muscling/carriage.

                      He has plenty of potential to do what you would like to do with him. I would suggest you get lessons as soon as you can to help yourself learn about bending properly and asking a horse for correct lateral suppleness, which will encourage him to start reaching out and using his body properly. The longer he builds the wrong muscles, the longer it will take to re-teach him.
                      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.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        If my advice was worh anything I'd be selling it.... but here goes. Trail riding is the best thing for the both of you. Keep working with him and try to establish a bond with him. Remember he has been taught to be upright and flashy. But he can learn to be a horse again. I have known Saddlebreds who have become trail horses and even one who became a cowhorse. He watched the stock horses work from his paddock and figured out what they were doing. Yes it took time to get him to get his head down and look a cow in the eyes. But it happened. It takes time to undo all that Saddleseat training. But with you working with him it will happen. My Arabian loved the challenge of the Dressage work. Cavalettis gave him another challenge. The first time we went over them he tripped and stumbled and stepped on the rails. I stopped him and went real slow and he finally got the idea to step over them and not on them. He finally got the idea and went over them really well. He began to look forward to the challenges of the trail course and the basic Dressage.
                        Give this boy time. And praise him when he does good. It will work.
                        sadlmakr

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Congrats, he looks lovely a real sweetheart and tryer! I love underdog stories and projects. (My horse is a project horse)

                          Okay...some advice best I can give..he looks very thin and undeveloped, esp in loin and hq area. Look at dressage horses, even off breed ones over 1st level they start getting that round strong look with developed hq. That is what makes them carry themselves. He is young and you are young, so have patience. It will take about a year to year and a half to build strength and muscle on him, and it is the strength and mucle you put on through gradual buildup that will let hm get past his early training and move freely.

                          Lunging...a chambon imo is better than side reins. Yours are set way too high, they need to be set lower. Many experts think sr are for trot only and not the canter. He has a pretty canter.

                          Here is what helped my horse immensly on the lunge line and I highly recomend it (mine is half Arab half mustang , and also likes to go high head hollow back). Here is what I did, after many frustrating months, so I can save you some time.

                          Take the side reins off. Lunge him over a pole. The pole will get him to put his head down, and at the same time, use his back to get over it, and at the same time, use his brain to focus. Walk trot and then canter him over the pole, set up anywhere on the circle. After a few weeks, add a second pole on other side of circle. This also builds strength as sometimes they jump it at the canter. If you buy a chambon, you can lunge them over the pole in the chambon (it is much more forgiving then sr). I would not lunge them over a pole with side riens.

                          The riding, ditto what others have said, if you can manage to get a few lessons with a trainer in, and buy some books on starting young horses re basic lateral work helps immensly. Pretty hard to mess up a horse doing leg yield, and even at his stage he can do it. Best of luck and you are off to a good start. (field and trails are good , yes, but as he is spooky lead him out first and go with a calm horse if you can find a trail buddy)

                          PS your best friend on trail is leg yield/shoulder in if he gets distracted/excited so practice them inside, even at his stage he can do a very shallow shoulder in, it gets him listening to your leg and gets his attention on you) I would walk or trot under saddle over poles placed on ground, imo cavaletti beyond his strenth now.
                          Last edited by Countrywood; Oct. 17, 2011, 08:07 AM.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Saddlmakr is spot on...Your best friends right now are TIME and TRUST. The side reins are way too short. The only reason they are "loose" in the video is because he is behind the bit, and as stated numerous times above, this is never a good thing to encourage.
                            Encouraging trust and relaxation (btw, I rather enjoyed your blindfold story- now that's thinking outside the box!) should be your main goal. Introducing cavaletti first in hand and then under saddle will be fun and will help free his back, etc.
                            I'd be doing lots of in-hand/groundwork to establish communication and TRUST.
                            Yes he has potential. Good luck! He's cute. And you are getting lots of terrific advice.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Regarding his tendency to be tense. Over stimulate him = i.e. curry him alot and rub him with big towels. We had one horse that was like this and we hung small sponges with string from the ceiling over his stall so he was constantly being "touched".

                              You can get a leather loop with a ring on it to put on the girth so you can attach the side reins through his front legs to encourage him to reach over his back. We use what are called "sliding side reins" that can attach at the sides or underneath and they aren't "static".
                              Summit Sporthorses Ltd. Inc.
                              "Breeding Competition Partners & Lifelong Friends"

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                He looks like he'll be a fun project for you. Do you intend to drive him at all?

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  FWIW, he looks and moves a lot like the ASB my friend hunts on. He's ridiculously athletic. He'll never be a world beater at dressage (they get by), but he can jump the moon. Its taken her two years to get him to the point where he's bold and not spooky, but now he's one of the coolest horses I've met in a long time.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Lots of very good advice so far.

                                    My two cents, and this is coming from another ex-ASB saddleseat rider, is get in the habit of working more in circles (i.e.20 m) and less on the rail like saddleseat. Use the circles (figure 8 and serpentine also) to help your horse learn to bend, and take the contact on the ouside rein...add in leg yields. This will also help him learn to use his back more appropriately, lower his head, and can help nip the spooking in the bud.

                                    Good luck, he is very cute and can definitely make a nice, fun dressage horse.
                                    Wiiliam
                                    "A good horse is worth more than riches."
                                    - Spanish Proverb

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      you've got several red flags going on that need to be addressed

                                      1. Saddlebreds are hot, but they are not spooky, especially ones trained to show as 3 year olds. Something is awry there that needs investigating. Please don't blindfold him
                                      2. in the video your hands are WAY too low. remember his conformation and his neck is set high. you should always have that sacred line from elbow to bit, and right now your hands are about 6" too low. bring them up
                                      3. side reins are A. about 3-4" too tight, and B. are set too low for this horse. start by putting the saddle on your horse, and then placing the surgincle on top. attach the side reins to the next ring higher, and let them out 1-2 holes, and see how that does... depending on spacing.

                                      PLEASE don't go forward with this project alone. Find someone who has experience with saddlebreds in dressage. There are several on this board, and I'm sure someone can make a recommendation. He's young, you're young, you have the next 20 years together ahead of you, get those years off to a good start so you don't spend the next 15 trying to fix these experiments in the first year.
                                      He has potential for dressage, but how you handle this next year of training will determine if he ever becomes something worth a darn.
                                      www.destinationconsensusequus.com
                                      chaque pas est fait ensemble

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        He's very nice!

                                        On a 20m circle ask him to flex into the middle with the right rein while driving him out toward the wall with your calf. Use the outside knee and outside rein to hold the outer shoulder on the bend. Also try this counter flexing him and leg yield toward the middle.

                                        Also change direction a great deal. Asking him to flex at the poll. I had the hardest time with my half saddlebred because he was so flexible at the base of his neck. It was difficult to keep him straight. But lots of changes in direction with changes in flexion to ask him to soften and pay attention to you.

                                        Work more on transitions. These guys are smart and get bored quick. Keep him listening to you by constantly asking him to change what he's doing (transitions, circles, halts, lengthens,etc). He shouldn't have time to look at spooky things. If you know he's going to spook at an object, flex his head away from it and leg yield him onto the direction of travel. Let him look when you're first walking around, but once the warm up begins, that's it. If he's not listening to you, then ask him to do something hard that he'll have to think about (serpentines, spirals, transitions, leg yields, etc). Don't stay in the rail, use the whole arena. The mire you change things up, the less time he'll have to get distracted.

                                        Also... I took my half Arab half saddlebred through 3rd level. We beat pro's on warmbloods at top dressage shows. You have a lovely horse and I think he could go quite far. But fundamentally, you need to spend this first year teaching him how wonderful it is to use that long beautiful neck he has.

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