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Spinoff: "Many riders are way too easy on their horses"

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  • Spinoff: "Many riders are way too easy on their horses"

    From another thread i thought I would bring this here becuase it is so much in the forefront for me right now....

    Do you know this is *the* most challenging thing in my journey to be the best rider/trainer i can be?

    i have the hardest time asking for enough..... i always worry that i am going to hurt them or they aren't strong enough or trained enough, blah blah blah.

    i drive my trainer (and myself) NUTS with this!

    anyone know how to get over this?
    Last edited by mbm; May. 14, 2012, 05:04 PM.

  • #2
    My trainer was always telling me "Your too nice!" I've gotten over it because I'm sick of only being able to show training level on my naughty pony.

    Patience and Consistency are Your Friends


    • #3
      Haha, I'm "too nice", too!

      A few clinics with assertive trainers fixed me. I still need refreshers from time to time, though. Riding with strong, focused BNT's or BNJ's have upped my game. Give walk or stretch breaks in between intensive training sessions. A test is only about 5 or 6 minutes long so I use that as a time frame for intensive work. Then a break. Then back to work for 5 or so minutes.

      As I started my gelding out doing rehab for his back, it took me ages to realize after months of rehabilitation and rebuilding that he was NO LONGER an invalid!


      • #4
        Someone will probably tell me I'm evil for this, but...

        I quit taking regular lessons about seven years ago. Since then I have taken 1-5 lessons in one week 3-4 times a year with a clinician. It's worked for us in large part because I need time to play with things between lessons to work out what I'm doing and how the horse is responding, and I like variety so I'm also hacking and jumping regularly. Since then we have come a long way though not as fast as perhaps we might have done.

        Because I only see my coach 3-4 times a year he always shows me the next step or two regardless of whether I, we, or the horse is "ready." My coach explains how to do the exercise(s), what they do, what the end goal is, and what pitfalls I might encounter. And he runs us through the exercises. While I don't push my horse to his limit every ride, I usually push him fairly hard on one issue in each ride, and we play with the next step exercises asking for more and more. When I pick up on an issue I will work all sorts of exercises that might invite the issue to show up and be extra vigilant about getting exactly what I'm asking for.

        For example I noticed my horse was "sliding" out of lateral work - most especially leg yield and half pass when they ended at the wall. He knew we were going to be going along the wall once we got there and the angle of the movement flattened out as we got to the wall. I spent weeks making sure he didn't alter the angle by so much as a degree, doing shoulder out along the wall after half pass, and so on.

        I think sometimes when we have a few things we need to work on our weekly coach can get hung up on getting X fixed before proceeding to Y. Riding is one of those things that we can never do perfectly the very first time so we start with something that may be barely recognizable and work on making it better. I find that trying something that we're not quite ready for shows up what we're missing in order to do that next step. It gives a certain clarity as to why such and such a thing needs to be mastered, and we can play with the next step to see how we're doing with the missing links.

        I don't worry about pushing too far, or lack of fitness, or lack of training because for most horses getting pushed too far ONCE isn't a problem. It's valuable for the rider to push too far once in a while. You can find out what the horse's signs are that he's losing the ability to process/do what you're asking. As long as you recognize that you went too far/pushed too hard and stop short the next times, the horse will also learn that he can trust you to listen to him and back off when he gets in over his head. Trouble comes from pushing too much every day.


        • #5
          Since so much of dressage is rider error i actually feel many riders myself included could ask more of themselves too...

          I am trying to make sure I work on my fitness and seat and ability also and so I think I am easier on the horse because its not her fault I am still riding too forward or back or without enough leg or or or

          I think we are how we ride ... It is what it is because we make it so.
          ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~


          • #6
            Yep, I have this same problem. Although I can be quite firm with my horses when needed, so I wouldn't say that I'm "too nice", I am entirely too patient and conservative when it comes to increasing my expectations. I don't push the envelope at all.

            Over the years, though, I've been fortunate enough to have instructors who are more than willing to give me a nudge (kick? shove? ) when it's time. And once I see that we *can* do something, I'm pretty good at continuing to work on it.
            "In order to really enjoy a dog, one doesn’t merely train him to be semi-human. The point of it is to open oneself to the possibility of becoming part dog."
            -Edward Hoagland


            • #7
              Timely thread. I hear the "too nice" comment a lot and just this morning, my instructor told me to put my big-girl panties on in dealing with my mare.


              • #8
                Sometimes I see riders who are "too nice" but end up being unkind. I see horses not being asked to carry themselves in a more uphill balance, then being asked to do movements up the levels without that change in balance. I've seen horses show signs of being sore from too much half pass when not uphill and strong enough to do it, for example. That's when being kind is actually being UNkind.

                My lessons with my trainer establish a new level of work each time, and my goal between lessons is to keep my horse at that level or pass it, then establish a new level the next lesson. I absolutely would progress faster if I were a pro. Of course! But this is new to me and to my horse, so I really need the outside help to know what to work toward. I'm good at remembering a feel and transferring that to my work between lessons.

                In order to be less kind to myself, I take lessons with a biomechanics instructor who helps me improve my own position and body use, which then helps my horse more easily do the things I'm working on with him.

                I like to work with a couple clinicians who push me WAY beyond my comfort zone, but who highlight a longer term area to work on. My trainer then helps me get there in between clinics.

                I think there's a balance between not pushing hard enough and not making progress because of it - and my horse helps me there, because if I don't push him hard enough he starts to be a jerk. He's only happy when pushed! With the mare, she is one who puts up a fuss when asked to do anything if she isn't consistently being challenged, but once she gets her mind on working she is great and improves as much as a constantly fitness challenged and somewhat unfortunately built Friesian cross can.
                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.


                • #9
                  Since I've toughened up a bit I notice more of a bond with my pony. The boundaries are more clearly established and she appreciates the firmer leadership from me. I have to admit that she had a couple of huge tantrums before our break through but soooo worth it.

                  Patience and Consistency are Your Friends


                  • #10
                    yep this is so where I am at right now too---in my case though I realize it partially my fear of making mistakes that Im not asking for enough. Too often I find myself throwing away the connection when at this point the lines of communication are open and the basics are all solid. Im not talking about 'yank, crank, spank' but at least where Im concerned its past time to expect more.

                    Im giving myself permission to make some mistakes, even step backward if necessary in order to move ahead.
                    Redbud Ranch
                    Check us out on FB


                    • #11
                      And it's even worse if you have a horse that's been injured or sick and you are irrationally afraid to push the envelope in case you break them...


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by atr View Post
                        And it's even worse if you have a horse that's been injured or sick and you are irrationally afraid to push the envelope in case you break them...
                        Yep, this too--definitely a contributor in our situation.
                        Redbud Ranch
                        Check us out on FB


                        • Original Poster

                          Originally posted by goodpony View Post
                          yep this is so where I am at right now too---in my case though I realize it partially my fear of making mistakes that Im not asking for enough. Too often I find myself throwing away the connection when at this point the lines of communication are open and the basics are all solid. Im not talking about 'yank, crank, spank' but at least where Im concerned its past time to expect more.

                          Im giving myself permission to make some mistakes, even step backward if necessary in order to move ahead.
                          now, see - that is me. i want to be perfect all.the.time. and so i don't like to make mistakes -Especially in front of my trainer - whom i respect a ton.

                          i ride well, i have a nice seat, etc. but sheesh. my trainer gets on and no matter what horse (or pony!) it is they are 100% *more* when he gets off. He tells me i can do it too if only i were more determined!

                          this is where i want to stamp my feet and tell myself "self! get over it already and RIDE!! - you are NOT going to hurt them and there is no law against using your hands (or whatever other hang up i have) life to too short and when you are 80 you will be PO'd that you didn't take this time to let go of all that bs that you *think* is correct and learn to ride well"!!

                          (i hope i heard what i just said lol)


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by atr View Post
                            And it's even worse if you have a horse that's been injured or sick and you are irrationally afraid to push the envelope in case you break them...
                            Oh yeah, BTDT and still in that mindset to some degree. I am not trying to push the mare up the levels, so that's not the issue... but if I feel the slightest wobble in her hind end I kind of panic, because I want to keep riding her and not have to retire her. We take too many (and too long) walk breaks when we are on our own, which doesn't do either of us any favors.
                            You have to have experiences to gain experience.

                            1998 Morgan mare Mythic Feronia "More Valley Girl Than Girl Scout!"


                            • #15
                              My horse and I are getting back to work after an injury (mine). She is trained (PSG-ish) and older, just turned 20. We had about 10 months off and have been back at work since the 1st of the year as consistently as weather has allowed. She is worked in hand once a week and a trainer rides her a couple of times a month.

                              Saturday I had the best ride on her I've had in years and I think it was because I expected her to really do her job from the beginning of the ride. When I asked her to walk off from the mounting block, she gave her usually "I am going (sort of)" walk and I thought "Sheesh I'm only asking you to walk, so let's do it!". I stopped her and asked again. Got a better response but not a march. So we halted and tried again with a tickle from the whip for inspiration. That was not very well received so we tried again with a bit of a whack and she trotted off smartly, for switch she got a pat. We halted and tried the walk transition again and I got a very nice transition.

                              Then nhwr is riding around with a little light bulb over her head. I just knew that the occasional mediocre results we got were the result of my expectations. I changed my approach for the ride. I only asked for what I knew I could ask for clearly (I am still developing my fitness after sometime off and inconsistency) and I would only accept a good honest result. She was so good; responsive and light that I was done in 20 minutes. She gave me 3 truly remarkable half halts.

                              Whadda ya know!, there is a 3rd level horse inside her, not for more than the long side of the arena. But that's OK with me, we can definitely build on that. During the ride, she had hardly broken a sweat, but it was interesting where she did; her back top between the saddle and her tail, her stifles and her butt cheeks.

                              I had a lessons today and found it hard to keep the same level of expectation when we were working on things that are challenging for me. And I don't mind making mistakes in front of my trainer. If I could do it perfectly, why on earth would I be paying her. I want her to find my weaknesses and remove them. I went back to being demanding during our cool down, same positive results
                              See those flying monkeys? They work for me.


                              • #16
                                No Nagging

                                I have to keep working to tell myself that it is kinder to be 'ruthless' for 15 seconds than to nag for half an hour.

                                Remember get the point across with a correction as strong as necessary and then stay quiet (now if I could only do what I say).


                                • #17
                                  My trainer told me this winter "you are a laid back personality and so is the mare. One of you needs to up the ante, and I'm guessing it wont be the mare volunteering..."

                                  I have really worked on this and though periodically we still have an occasional "discussion" I'm finding that the girly is now taking me seriously, so I can ride w/ a lighter hand and leg while still getting a prompt response or transition. Should have figured this out a while ago... but oh, la di da...
                                  We don't get less brave; we get a bigger sense of self-preservation........


                                  • #18
                                    In the last few months I've gotten a lot better at not "being too nice", because it finally clicked that I won't get anywhere with my mare if I don't lay the smackdown by insisting on MY plan while riding, instead of giving in to her tantrums and accomplishing nothing (except teaching her she's the boss and screwing myself even more). Now that I don't take her sh!t like I used to, we've come a looong way in a short time and she's enjoying work more and more.


                                    • #19

                                      I never considered that riders were being easy on their horse. I think they're just being easy on themselves.

                                      Many days it takes focus on the goal, so much so that you ride through the "it's time for a rest break" thought. Too much momentum lost.
                                      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.


                                      • #20
                                        Also going through this right now. My gelding can do the work. I just have to get over my own insecurities in being able to ride his bigger movements. I've told my trainer to keep pushing me and now I need to live up to it with him.