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Tips for heavy-handed horse.

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  • Tips for heavy-handed horse.

    Hey All.
    I have a horse who I have been eventing. He was a dressage horse, showing first level and schooling second. We have been doing well eventing, but needed some work on SJ, so have been doing alot of it. Anyways, I knew that we needed to get back to the flat stuff, so yesterday I threw my dressage tack on. OMG! I have never had a horse so heavy on my hands before! Walk was ok, trot was worse, canter was soooo bad he was almost pulling me forward he was sooo heavy! I need some tips! I have a lesson tomorrow to try and get it figured out, and of course I have my ideas of how to fix it, but looking for some other advise to get him to lighten up in the bridle! Thanks!

  • #2
    People have always told me to not give the horse anything to lean on. So if they start to pull or lean, release. Do a squeeze and release type thing.

    I'm sure some other more advanced riders can elaborate on this for me if that doesn't make sense.
    "Enjoy the little things in life, for one day you may look back & realize they were the big things"

    Comment


    • #3
      Strange that you didn't notice his heaviness until you "threw your dressage tack on." Even when you are practicing your jumping, don't you warm up on the flat first? You must be dramatically changing your entire riding style once you climb into dressage tack. Bet you're not using enough leg and making him really step forward from behind. Bet you're relying on the jumps to rock him back when you're in jumping tack. Or do you jump him in such a severe bit that he's afraid to take contact, so when you put him in a dressage-legal bit, he drops down out of sheer relief?

      Keep in mind that the whole point of dressage training is to have a well-rounded horse proficient in each discipline, and that can go from dressage to cross country to stadium, whether all in one day or in three. You are probably treating the disciplines as far too isolated. Dressage compliance and fitness affects your horse's responsiveness over the stadium course. You should be able to warm up by practicing dressage (and you need not be in "dressage tack" for that work), then seamlessly transition to jumping work all in one school.

      Comment


      • #4
        Great post, Dixon!!
        You need to ride your horse INTO the contact, not the other way aorund. So, your legs and seat need to be the driving force, not your hands.
        Siegi Belz
        www.stalleuropa.com
        2007 KWPN-NA Breeder of the Year
        Dutch Warmbloods Made in the U. S. A.

        Comment


        • #5
          I think, (I hope) your lesson will be an an eye opener. I think you've just been charging forward to the fences, forgeting there is such a thing as a halfhalt that doesn't involve your hands.
          Some riders change their horse, they change their saddle, they change their teacher; they never change themselves.

          Remember the horse does all the work, we just sit there and look pretty.

          Comment

          • Original Poster

            #6
            Or do you jump him in such a severe bit that he's afraid to take contact, so when you put him in a dressage-legal bit, he drops down out of sheer relief?
            Wow, that surprised me a bit. I do stadium, cross country and dressage in a loose ring french link snaffle. There is no difference between any of the bits I use. Of course I warm up on the flat first, but a dressage ride is different from a jump ride in my eyes. When you are cantering up to a jump, your horse isin't traveling the way he is in a dressage test.
            I do think that my habit is to try to pulll the horse into the bridle instead of push him into it. I know that becuase he was used at as a 'lessonn' horse from the time he was 4 to 6 that he has a relatively hard mouth.
            To each their own....


            I think, (I hope) your lesson will be an an eye opener. I think you've just been charging forward to the fences, forgeting there is such a thing as a halfhalt that doesn't involve your hands.
            Oh, and thanks for the chuckle. My hardest challenge with this horse is getting him to go forward. He is seriously a slow horse. It has taken me some months to even get him going forward to a jump, let alone into the bit

            Comment


            • #7
              mine is heavy on the forhand too, and a lazy git also


              the best thing i've found for him is leg yield in and out on a circle in trot, counter canter and shoulder in in walk and trot on straight lines and on a circle

              really gets his hinds underneath him and lightens his front end

              its going to be a long haul though, not a quick fix. have to do the exercises every time i school and have to be happy with a gradual improvement. BUT we are getting better

              oh first i had to make him believe he had to go off my leg without causing me to hyperventilate with exhaustion-again still working on that but much improvement already and much more needed

              Comment


              • #8
                my pony is the same way. i think that when i ride dressage, i ask for a bit more round, a bit more deep and then... he gets a bit heavier! and i think the way i sit in my jump tack vs dressage tack is also a bit different.. not sure how or why it should make a difference, but it does. ???

                i've been working on making him carry himself by dropping him. Letting him fall on his face so he realizes i wont' hold him up!! course if i pay attention and do my proper half-halts and proper leg aids... he doesn't end up getting to that bad place to begin with
                lots of transitions will help keep him paying attention too.

                good luck. i've been OBSESSING over it for the last week...after he went careening left on a right handed circle at the canter when i dropped the right rein!! can you say "i hold with the right rein something fierce"!! so embarassing!! but anyways... now that i'm working on it, i find that i can keep him lighter by paying attention and doing my duty, but.. i know it's not going to be a magic cure instantaneously. i think some of it is strenght too.. he's not used to carrying himself that deep and round just yet so i'm his "training wheels" so to speak... but we're learning to go without them. him and me both

                good luck!

                Comment


                • #9
                  There is a statement that jumping is only a dressage test with road bumps in it. In dressage you DO ride a horse activity (think riding to a base of a fence) to keep that energy! Why are you riding on the flat in a different manner? Keep the horse active and up (literally) to the hand. Horses dont hang, people do. Pulse aids/keep energy/check equitation and half halts.
                  I.D.E.A. yoda

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by BCEVENTER View Post
                    I do think that my habit is to try to pulll the horse into the bridle instead of push him into it. I know that becuase he was used at as a 'lessonn' horse from the time he was 4 to 6 that he has a relatively hard mouth.
                    To each their own....

                    My hardest challenge with this horse is getting him to go forward. He is seriously a slow horse. It has taken me some months to even get him going forward to a jump, let alone into the bit
                    Hard to make your horse go forward when you're pulling him backwards. No wonder he's heavy in your hands.

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Thanks Alexie and FLeckenAwesome! I have been doing some leg yeilds and pushing him off my leg and doing the dropping thing so that he doesn't have anything to hang on to.

                      Horses dont hang, people do. Pulse aids/keep energy/check equitation and half halts.
                      This is what I was looking for, great reminder!

                      And Dixon, congradulations for proving yourself to be the steriotypical dressage queen.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        If you knew me you'd realize how coffee-spitting funny that is!
                        Does correct spelling make one a dressage queen?

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Transition, transitions, transitions

                          from gait to gait and within the gait.

                          walk-trot, working trot-lengthened trot, trot-halt, canter-trot.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by ideayoda View Post
                            There is a statement that jumping is only a dressage test with road bumps in it. In dressage you DO ride a horse activity (think riding to a base of a fence) to keep that energy! Why are you riding on the flat in a different manner? Keep the horse active and up (literally) to the hand. Horses dont hang, people do. Pulse aids/keep energy/check equitation and half halts.
                            I second this Fave phrase of my jumping/dressage trainer.

                            Actually, at Rolex last spring Sally O'Connor said "Well, any horse can ran and jump, but lets see how they can do dressage."

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Sometimes it's a matter of rider focus.

                              I also ride a horse who competes at dressage, showjumping and eventing. When I'm jumping him, I'm almost unconscious of the aids, my hands are soft, my eyes are up, my leg is on and effective. When I want a walk/canter transition it is up and has power and jump. I can get lateral work almost without thinking when I need to (slight hp in a jump-off, or SI if you are losing some engagement), and my horse is on a contact which is light and elastic.

                              Stick me in a 20 x 60 and it all falls apart. Why? Because suddenly there are no jumps to focus on. Instead of the focus being "get to the fence", it is "go from A to B and do it round, engaged, etc, etc, etc".

                              It's a freaking nightmare because suddenly there is so much to THINK about. And my horse feels the tension, feels the additional pressure from hands, and seat, and legs and starts to go like he is filled with lead.

                              Is this not maybe what happens to you?

                              If so, you might find that you can cheat a little. I try to pretend that there is a jump at the arena markers, so instead of going "canter at A and then circle at B", I think, "there is a 3'3" oxer at B, and I ask for the canter that I need to clear that oxer. Generally, it is a MUCH better canter than the one I would be asking fore if I didn't imagine the jump.

                              If this is not your problem, then sorry and carry on....

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                Kaeleer! I think that you are right! Thanks for the tips!

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  You're welcome.

                                  Don't thank me just yet : this might help you at the canter, and possibly the trot, but it's not much help when it comes to the walk!

                                  It just gives you a possible reason for why the horse goes differently when you jump. You're still going to need to learn to RIDE that way on the flat.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    oooh, i'll have to give that a try too!!!

                                    hee hee.. .just watch my goofy horse now JUMP out of the arena...well, you said JUMP mom!!!

                                    doh!

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      I am going through the same problem with my gelding right now. He loves trails and running around cross counrty, but ask him to do actual WORK in an arena and he has a fit. His favourite evasion is dropping his head and getting really heavy in my hands.

                                      I had a rather intense lesson with my dressage trainer and we worked in a 20m circle walk and trot, focusing on basics like keeping a steady rhythm and keeping the bend of the circle. whenever he would try and drop his head, he would get strong leg and a little extra inside rein. Toward the end of the lesson he started to figure out he got much less of a hassle if he pulled himself together and focused on his job rather than being a lazy bum.

                                      Its A LOT of legwork!!! Remember to keep pushing him forward!

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        What about tips for a hot horse?

                                        Originally posted by BaileyTW View Post

                                        I had a rather intense lesson with my dressage trainer and we worked in a 20m circle walk and trot, focusing on basics like keeping a steady rhythm and keeping the bend of the circle. whenever he would try and drop his head, he would get strong leg and a little extra inside rein. Toward the end of the lesson he started to figure out he got much less of a hassle if he pulled himself together and focused on his job rather than being a lazy bum.

                                        Its A LOT of legwork!!! Remember to keep pushing him forward!
                                        This thread has been really interesting to me as my horse lately has been getting really heavy. However, she is a very hot horse - I apply my leg and she just takes off. Sometimes just giving her an aid to correct something can throw her into a panic... she will throw up her head, hollow out her back, and take off. I am trying to get her to relax and accept my leg and we are slowly making progress but she just has the personality that anything new (and that doesn't mean just riding related - it can be anything new in her "world" ) will throw her into a tizzy.

                                        I notice lately that when I do get her to relax and listen calmly, she will start following my contact, then get really heavy in my hands, and it appears she is trying to stretch. While she is heavy in my hands, I can feel a lot of movement from her hindquarters in my seat, like her stride is getting "deeper", for lack of a better term. At first I thought this heaviness was because I have been trying to ride her in shorter rein contact. But I have noticed that even if I give her a reward by walking on a loose rein for a couple of strides after some circle patterns, she will stretch down long and low.

                                        I am not sure how I should be interpreting this... Is what I am viewing as "stretching" a good thing or a bad habit that is developing? If it is a bad thing, does anybody have suggestions as to how to handle given her temperament?

                                        (I am obviously a greenie and am trying to learn and can only describe what I am noticing so please be kind... )

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