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Going forward into contact.

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  • #21
    if you are worried about him dropping down in front make sure your elbows are at your sides and that the reins are the right length - and that you dont put your hands forward.... then you will be able to give enough to allow the horse forward but not so much that they drop down... and remember: its all about your seat!


    • #22
      Originally posted by KurPlexed View Post

      P.S... If I go back to my first level trot everything is fine. He's responsive and forward but we are trying to take it to the next level. Horse healthy and fit.
      sorry i just saw this..... maybe you are asking for too much too soon? try instead to make smaller incremental changes - not one big change that isnt possible for you both to do......


      • #23
        Originally posted by SwampYankee View Post
        and it sounds like right now that signal is being jammed.
        This is what I was talking about with not 'blocking' with the hand (or seat, whatever the case may be). It really did help my guy and not just in the Connection/Collection--but he was most definitely in Self Carriage/Engaged.
        Redbud Ranch
        Check us out on FB


        • Original Poster

          SwampYankee, So what your suggesting is to give a bit in the reins and go back and make sure the HH's are working and if they are he will be carrying "himself" more and more as they work and therefore there won't be so much hold/pressure in front which will allow the forward?

          mbm: It "feels" like I am asking for just a "little bit" more than he's ready for but both coaches don't seem to think so. That's where the confusion comes from. Having said that I did have one instructor sit on him recently and she did have the reins a little longer than she makes me have them. When I'm on she almost always tells me to make them shorter and when I do that's the instant that I feel him suck back. I do put my leg on when I take up more contact. It's like a fine balance that I need to take just enough without loosing the forward and I can't seem to take it to where coach wants it without loosing it.

          Could it be that I'm loosing the shoulders and not realizing it in time and then trying to collect? That would be the front to back feeling that I think I'm feeling. Right?


          • #25
            i am not a trainer and have only worked a couple horses thru this so i can only tell you what my journey has been like

            i think trainers forget what it is like to not be a trainer so they forget that an ammie isnt able to generate as much impulsion as they are so they cant collect it as easily....

            one thing that has helped me a lot is to double lunge my horses - so i can *see* what they are doing when i ask for upward transitions in a collected gait....

            but one thing i do know - you dont need a hard contact with the mouth to get collection and you dont need to for good transitions either....

            can you generate good engagement and impulsion without the horse falling on its forehand?

            can you sprial in/out in say trot and feel when the horses shifts backwards and carries more? did you need to force contact them or was is all in teh hind end?

            you can do similar in canter - spiral in and you will feel the shift in weight.... that is what you are trying to create but without using spiraling...

            experiment and see how you can generate more carrying behind and see if you can keep it thru changes within the gait and once you can do that then try changing between gaits.... easiest might be walk/canters.....

            and remember that the feel in your hand should be light and supple - you should be able to feel the horse chewing.....

            oh eta to add: you can also try going more forward and then coming back and shortening the gait a bit so in trot forward/back/forward/back say on a 20 meter circle 1/4 of the circle more forward and 1/4 more collected... this will help generate more collection without the hand being so involved....

            so break it down and do baby steps ....


            • #26
              In regards to the contact, I recently read something that has been very helpful. In one of Mary Wanless' books, she describes correct contact as being similar to the feeling of lightly pushing a cart or stroller. Always pushing forward, always maintaining a feel of the mouth, occasionally resisting, but never pulling backwards.

              When I first began applying it to my riding, my horse did fall onto his front end and quicken a bit. My contact was never really heavy or hard before, but I had been supporting him more than I had realized.

              If I do catch myself using my hands in a backward action, I know immediately that I'm not using my seat or legs properly and I can fix myself.

              I found it to be a great mental image.


              • #27
                Originally posted by KurPlexed View Post
                When I'm on she almost always tells me to make them shorter and when I do that's the instant that I feel him suck back. I do put my leg on when I take up more contact.
                If you just look at this part and think about it from the horse's point of view, it is confusing - leg means go but more contact generally means stop/slow down, so you're saying go but don't go! I think that's what Swamp Yankee is talking about - there's no reward to responding to the leg and going because he's going forward BONK! right into your hand which is creating a correction via pressure/discomfort in the mouth.

                So I think what she's saying is to think about the timing of the aids - leg to go, get nice energy, THEN say 'and now this is what I want you to do with that energy' via half-halts, contact, seat, etc. Which can all happen pretty quickly once you get the hang of things, so it's not like each bit takes half the arena, but, well - if you were going and always going forward into something unpleasant/uncomfortable and confusing, you'd probably suck back too.

                You might want to check out the thread about the French School if you haven't read it - it's not really specifically about this, but I think that's the dressage approach Swamp Yankee uses so it might help you think about things differently and give you an 'ah-ha!' moment.

                (Sometimes when I was taking lessons regularly I had the best moments like that when I was actually riding home in the car with my dad and he was asking about things, back before I was old enough to drive myself. ) (Of course, having that moment does not mean you can magically apply it - but it does mean you understand better what you're TRYING to do at least.)


                • #28
                  Originally posted by OreoCookie View Post
                  ..she describes correct contact as being similar to the feeling of lightly pushing a cart or stroller. Always pushing forward, always maintaining a feel of the mouth, occasionally resisting, but never pulling backwards.
                  Thanks for that--I have never heard contact described quite this way but it does feel like something more like pushing forwards very lightly. It will be interesting to experiment further with this imagery.
                  Redbud Ranch
                  Check us out on FB


                  • #29

                    This is how we are doing it with my own mare. Lateral to collect and working or lengthening to open back up again. I would add to this volte as a useful tool.

                    It talks about the collection coming from strengthening the inside hind. If you are straight and the back legs are not able to choose an inside hind or understand how to step underneath (not enough bend/supple), the horse will just fight the half halts.

                    I would ride 1st level work intorducing lateral/volte to collect and then back to first level type frame with lots of foward. Doing it with transitions up and down and straight is something to do AFTER they understand how to take weight IMO.

                    Shoulder In will be your friend during this time LOL
                    ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~


                    • #30
                      re: how it feels - i always think it feels like the connection is in my core/seat and not my hands..... and i try to alwys feel like my hands are moving forward....

                      re: falling down in front - when that happens ask for more engagement behind and with your core/seat ask the horse to stay up in front. usually for me it means i lost energy and then i let the reins get too long and or my elbows came forward.

                      one of the things i love about riding is that it is so difficult to explain well in words but the feel is obvious....


                      • #31
                        Originally posted by KurPlexed View Post
                        xsalute: yes I've done that. That works great as long as it's not into contact.

                        The more I think about it the more I think SwampYankee has the ticket. I have a feeling that while I'm giving my leg I may be also closing my hands. I think if I separate leg/hand we will get it. Can't wait to try it tomorrow.
                        Get yourself a copy of Jean-Claude Racinet's Another Horsemanship, available from Xenophon Press, and try the exercises in there; it's the cure for exactly what you're going through. Trust me!


                        • #32
                          Originally posted by mbm View Post
                          re: how it feels - i always think it feels like the connection is in my core/seat and not my hands..... and i try to alwys feel like my hands are moving forward....
                          Yep, when my guy is "on the seat" all other aides become very very 'small'. But very slowly Im discovering yet another level within "on the seat" which seems even more 'signifigant' with respect to completing the circle of aides. Number three in particular where the "hand receives the energy".

                          "1. The Leg teases the side of the horse and the hindleg is drawn forward. This is a natural but through training reinforced reflex.
                          2. The seat recieves the energy from the hindlegs as it travels from the hindlegs over the haunches and along the back of the horse. The seat can allow, block, hamper or reinforce the flow.
                          **3. The hand recieves the energy from the seat of the rider since they are connected to the seat via the back and arms, and the elbows are draw to the hips. This gives the seat a direct influence on the mouth of the horse.

                          4. Via the mouth of the horse the rider can control the neck and the forehand, and its position in relation to the quarters, and this has direct implications for the hindlegs, that again need to be guided by the legs...
                          Redbud Ranch
                          Check us out on FB


                          • #33
                            Good post goodpony. But all of that should be established at 1st level (connection).

                            Being connected to start and then using suppleness, lateral, and half halts along with forward creates the collected gaits.

                            If there is trouble in the connection it has to be addressed first.
                            ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~


                            • #34
                              Yep, just like an onion--lot of different layers. I think I was fooled by having such an easy steady connection with my guy-but as he has grown more supple/through Im discovering there are yet more levels within that connection that need to be confirmed before moving on. When its all connected though--wow!
                              Redbud Ranch
                              Check us out on FB


                              • #35
                                Originally posted by goodpony View Post
                                Yep, just like an onion--lot of different layers. I think I was fooled by having such an easy steady connection with my guy-but as he has grown more supple/through Im discovering there are yet more levels within that connection that need to be confirmed before moving on. When its all connected though--wow!

                                It is SOOOO many things and training them yourself while learning can make you a crazy person
                                ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~


                                • #36
                                  Originally posted by goodpony View Post
                                  Yep, just like an onion--lot of different layers. I think I was fooled by having such an easy steady connection with my guy-but as he has grown more supple/through Im discovering there are yet more levels within that connection that need to be confirmed before moving on. When its all connected though--wow!
                                  I like this.

                                  It seems as if a lot of the problems I read about here are people trying to handle changes as a huge step, when it's just peeling off a tiny, thin layer of the onion. Connection, collection, etc., are all part of a spectrum and not discrete steps. Sure the showing itself may have steps in expectations, but training the horse should be gradual and on a smoother continuum. I take each point where it seems like I'm struggling at the base of a big step as a sign I need to back off, fix some basics, and work on it again.
                                  If Kim Kardashian wants to set up a gofundme to purchase the Wu Tang album from Martin Shkreli, guess what people you DON'T HAVE TO DONATE.


                                  • #37
                                    Originally posted by goodpony View Post
                                    **3. The hand recieves the energy from the seat of the rider since they are connected to the seat via the back and arms, and the elbows are draw to the hips. This gives the seat a direct influence on the mouth of the horse. ..
                                    yep, if i am understanding this that is why it is critical to have elbows at sides and ride the connection thru your core/back rather than thru your hands...

                                    what is the saying? the upper arm belongs to the rider and the lower arm belongs to the horse.

                                    as with all of this and all riding no matter how much you "get it" there is *always* more to learn and more to refine - that is one of the big lessons of actually doing it as opposed to just reading about it i think.... or at least that is how it is for me


                                    • #38
                                      Arrgh. Hope the OP comes back with a report.

                                      This is exactly what I was talking about a few weeks back in the French School thread. A blast from the past of my unfortunate early years with the crank-n-spank crowd.

                                      Too many of us are not taught clearly enough ourselves, and so we do not teach our horses, what the leg aids and the reins aids mean. The OP's trainers are classic examples, claiming this horse is "ready" for strong contact when clearly it ain't, or it would not be behind the leg. I must say, it really makes me angry at this point to hear that "trainers" (more than one apparently!) say that, and speak in those terms ("push into the bridle") to someone who is struggling. And with a horse that is sucking back and sometimes feels to the rider "as if it will explode."

                                      It will. Believe me. If you keep going this route, and end up with a horse that rears, you can thank your trainers and yourself, because you taught him.

                                      Before the horse understands the aids clearly, we start mixing up the signals by "pushing him into the contact" IE forcing the horse forward into a strong hand that is saying "don't go forward." So he's saying, "you're telling me to stop and you're yelling at me to go! WHAT DO YOU WANT??"

                                      SwampYankee explained the correct approach, which is to ask him to go--with as much energy/whip as it takes--but DO NOT BLOCK him at the SAME TIME. If you need to, throw AWAY the reins the moment he moves off energetically. (Do this while your idiot trainers aren't around, maybe.)

                                      Horses are very smart in their own way, but it isn't in our way. They understand the leg means forward, because they get a release from it. Young horses should be taught this until it is ingrained. But if later you begin to contradict what they know, they don't have the mental tools to reason through what you are asking.

                                      Traditional training uses negative reinforcement. This means that training occurs when an unpleasant stimulus is removed. Whatever the horse is doing when the unpleasant stimulus is removed, it will repeat the next time, in order to get it removed again.

                                      The horse is paying attention to EVERYTHING it is doing the INSTANT the unpleasant thing stops. Your timing is crucial for the horse to learn what you want. You are using leg and whip to create an unpleasant stimulus. When the horse moves forward, you instantly cease that stimulus--that is his release and reward for doing what you asked. The consistent timing of your release trains him that the leg--always previous to the whip--is the hint that he'd better move so he can avoid the unpleasant whip.

                                      That's the kind of reasoning horses are very good at. Very very quickly he'll be trotting right off at a light leg aid.

                                      But if you hold him back at the same time, you are not giving him any reward for doing what you asked. In fact, you are punishing him for doing what you asked, so why should he keep doing it? Previous to this "contact" thing, he thought the reins meant slow down or stop. Now you suddenly decide they are essentially meaningless. He's supposed to just tolerate whatever pressure you take, to "push into it."

                                      Can you see how confusing this is for the horse? He clearly doesn't like that much pressure, or he wouldn't be sucking back. If you want him to learn to tolerate it, you'd better give him a reason. And that reason will be a release from it that is carefully timed to teach him what you want.

                                      That's essentially what half-halts are, though they are seldom described that way. They are a mildly unpleasant stimulus that is released when the horse does what we want.

                                      It's frankly amazing that horses figure out as much as they do, considering how random and annoying we are to them as we train them. Thank your "lazy" guy for suggesting to you that you can teach him and ride him in a way he can better understand. He'll reward you with generosity, if he's like 99% of horses.
                                      Ring the bells that still can ring
                                      Forget your perfect offering
                                      There is a crack in everything
                                      That's how the light gets in.


                                      • #39
                                        Originally posted by KurPlexed View Post
                                        Can I get some help with this please? We've successfully gone through first level and have been working on 2nd. Specifically gaits. Once I get him in front of my legs and into the contact things are smooth sailing however...

                                        My horse is on the lazy side. I've nipped this in the bud well enough for first level. Now we are beginning collection (well we have been for a few months) and I'm getting sucking back when I ask him to move forward into contact.

                                        It seems I can either give forward with the reins to get forward or keep my position and loose forward. He was taking steps backwards but I've corrected that. I find myself letting my elbows go forward which causes me to loose my seat and position.

                                        Also if I give forward he drops his shoulders and pulls forward with the front rather than pushing from behind.

                                        I'm really having a difficult time getting it. For the corrections: I ask with my leg and if he doesn't go forward I use the whip. Sometimes I feel like I'm getting up rather than forward. Sometimes I feel that if I correct any harder he will explode. I also feel that my reins are short but my instructors (both) say that they are NOT and that he needs to learn to push into the bridle. They also say things are not always going to be pretty. I understand that but I also don't want to create a bigger problem than I already have.

                                        I've read the books and most of them don't address issues with horses who don't respond correctly. I'd love to hear from anyone who's been through a similar situation and what's worked. Getting really desperate here. Thanks.

                                        P.S... If I go back to my first level trot everything is fine. He's responsive and forward but we are trying to take it to the next level. Horse healthy and fit.
                                        I'm on the same boat, except my horse tends to stick his nose in the air to avoid contact. He has plenty of forward, but is not a big fan of seeking the bit. He does fine in Vienna reins but take them off and ask him to move forward into contact and he'll do his best to evade the bit. Some rides i can get him to "cooperate" and keep him collected most of the time, but other times its a constant struggle. It's not easy and its not always pretty either. Sometimes i think we've made progress and then he starts acting like he's forgotten everything we've been working on. I have no suggestions for you, but I feel your pain.
                                        Yes, I smell like a horse. No, I don't consider that to be a problem.

                                        Originally posted by DottieHQ
                                        You're just jealous because you lack my extensive koalafications.


                                        • Original Poster

                                          Ok I'm back and I hear you!

                                          So today my goal was just to go back to first level stuff and figure out where, between where I was to where I was trying to go, things were going wrong.

                                          Here's my conclusion.

                                          IF your connection is not 100% correct in a first level working gaits (with elevated shoulders) there is no way in hell that it's going to:
                                          A. Get correct by trying to shorten the reins and kick into contact.
                                          B. that it will get correct even if I was able to do A. lol

                                          I think I was asking him to go forward while staying round and for some reason this included me closing my hands "or" not opening them (holding) when the leg was applied.

                                          I tried what SwampYankee suggested. I completely separated leg and hand. I started in the halt. Hands closed. leg on, hands open and horse goes forward. It was not 100% honest at first and I don't blame him he's still expecting what he was getting. Did a few more halt/walks got him responding nicely. Moved on to walk/trot, same thing. Hands closed lightly during the walk hands open slightly while leg was applied. Horse moved off. Still not 100% but 70% better than yesterday. Then moved on to halt/trot which was REALLY good (compared to yesterday) I did not move onto canter today as I really wanted to keep it simple and rewarding for him.

                                          Although this horse is on the lazy side he is not a bad horse in any way so I know when I'm getting a fight that it's either him being a little bit of a bully that day and I need to work him through it or there is some miscommunication going on as in this situation.

                                          In defense of my trainers: A. Trainer 1 has been away and really hasn't seen first hand. Trainer 2 is new to me. (4 lessons total) and I don't think she realized that I was legging and closing at the same time (hell I didn't even realize). Sometimes when you start with someone new there are things you assume a student knows and is doing they they really don't have a firm grasp on.

                                          So by the end of the ride I had shoulders up, horse moving off my leg and I did not have to give up my elbows because there was a give in the front door (opening hands ) I had my reins just about where I eventually want them to be maybe 1/2" longer but horse was moving forward from behind and there were NO fights. Half Halts were also more effective when we started to loose it.

                                          There were landscapers pelting the side of the indoor with rocks and he was a little freaked out by that too but he kept his head, we moved forward and had a happy 45min ride.

                                          Saturday I'll see how canter goes and Sunday is a hunter pace and I can fool around out there too.