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Ugh. I look like a shrimp!

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  • Ugh. I look like a shrimp!

    I'm in need of some suggestions.

    Willow has recently hit a wee bit of a snag, training wise. I'm finally at a point where I have an indoor arena, nobody has a butt wart or is pregnant, I feel comfortable riding outside of a lesson, and my husband is capable of putting our daughter to sleep at night.

    We've been working on upwards transistions and to Willow, trotting is overrated. I asked multiple times and after a half lap of insisting she would stop, buck, then walk forward again. She was simply expressing her annoyance with having to *gasp* WORK.

    My problem is this. I seem to curl up in a very shrimp-like position when I'm trying to squeeze her forward. It's not really helping either of us, and then when she does actually shuffle her feet a bit faster, I get top heavy, it pitches both of us off balance and she downshifts. Fail.

    Any advice to help a girl not shrimpify because she's pushing so hard to get a rather large mare to go forward? Any tips for helping said mare move off my leg? I don't carry a whip (we are doing on the ground work with one tonight... she's a bit too expressive about them still) or wear spurs.
    Last edited by Superminion; Dec. 5, 2012, 03:20 PM. Reason: a 9 month old is helping me type...

  • #2
    Refuse to try so hard, and start carrying a whip.

    Ask lightly with your leg from a perfect position.

    If the mare does not go, "Yes ma'am!!!" and leap forth with vim and vigor, back it up immediately and without compunction with your whip. See if you can actually get her to leap 10 feet in the air. This means she heard that you REALLY MEANT IT.

    Release your leg entirely, allowing it to hang passive next to her side.
    Wait for her to slow down again (which she will).
    When she does, use the business end of your dressage whip such that she goes, "Yes ma'am!!!" and leaps forth with vim and vigor.

    Sometimes they have to go a few times before they realize that the leg is not negotiable.

    ETA: if you really really hate the idea of using the whip, you can "box" her with your calves. It is sort of a big "WHOMP!" that bounces off rather than getting stuck. Lack of immediate leap forward of course initiatiates a "WHOMP!WHOMP!!"
    Last edited by meupatdoes; Dec. 5, 2012, 04:13 PM.
    The Noodlehttp://tiny.cc/NGKmT&http://tiny.cc/gioSA
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    • #3
      Does she get "expressive" on the sight of a whip, of just when you touches her with it? If she is overly excited just seeing it, obviously ground work should be the first step to desensitive her about it. Otherwise, just be mindful of not whacking her with it, and may be beneficial to touch her on the shoulder instead of behind your legs: it is less likely to generate a buck reaction.

      Also, once she moves out, do make sure you are not having a death grip on your legs: many mares don't appreciate that. Your legs should be there just, breathing, not cramping down.

      Another thing is, she does sound relatively green (and somehow spoiled), and you relatively inexperienced. Have you considered sending her to boot camp so she is more pliable for you? Just a thought.

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #4
        In no way do I hate the idea of using the whip, I was just hesitating to use it because of the reaction I know will occur. (Willow see's your 10 feet and will up you at least 20. ). I may have to just pull my big girl panties on and get it over with before the ground freezes...just in case. She'll probably make a liar out of me and not give two shakes at all.

        My problem stems from some left over habits from hunterland. I still ride with my irons on the shorter side, because that's the position that I felt more effective in while she started her initially. I was able to ride out the initial wiggles. I realize now that I need to lengthen my leathers in order to ride effectively at this point. I think that that is part of the 'shrimping' problem.

        She is spoiled, I will admit that that is of my own doing. Willow was an amazing gift to me, and I was very concerned that I was going to 'ruin' her, so I avoided any and all fights. She is the most talented mare that I've ever been able to work with. Right now, we don't really want to send her off to a pro. We could afford it, but I want to learn how to bring her along. I've got experience with green horses, but she intimidated me a bit. Not in her actions, but in the fact that I didn't want to ruin her. So. The spoiling is my fault. I've had a few discussions with my trainer about it, and she agrees that I have the ability, I just had to get over myself and treat her like any other green horse that I've worked with.

        My goals with her are not upper level stardom, but to enjoy her and really learn the entire process.

        Comment


        • #5
          Sometimes Miss Mare needs to canter before I can get a decent trot out of her. It loosens up her back and eliminates most of the bucking. We are working now on the non-negotiable forward to a tap of the whip. Not the incessant banging of my legs on her sides that she chooses to ignore. yes we get attitude and some hoping up and down but we will get there. Curling into the shrimp posture helps neither you nor your horse. My trainer has me look at the jumps hanging on the walls of our indoor to keep me from "shrimping". It truly helps.

          Comment


          • #6
            Stop trying to squeeze. Make it more of a "bump", or rattle". You can bump either one or both legs against a horse's sides with more effect than trying to squeeze. Then if there is no response a tiny tap of the whip, applied with a twist of the wrist, not a whip held in a closed hand, should be sufficient backup. Better two tiny taps delivered 1-2 than a big bang.
            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


            • #7
              Sometimes hitting your thigh or hip with a jumper bat can be anough for a horse like Willow to get the idea they need to GO, without the over reaction.

              I agree you are likely working to hard, and I try to get my students to understand that before they go into contortions to get the horse to listen, they need to move on to the crop.

              Often though, the problem with the horse not listening, is that the horse feels blocked by the rider, OR the rider is not timing their aids in such a way as to allow the horse to react promptly.

              Connected Riding may give you some good visuals to help you stretch and grow (up from your pelvis, and then roots down to your toes) that may may help you stop blocking and confusing her.

              There ARE trainers that will help you learn how to train that may be worth considering.
              Freeing worms from cans everywhere!

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by CHT View Post
                Sometimes hitting your thigh or hip with a jumper bat can be anough for a horse like Willow to get the idea they need to GO, without the over reaction.

                I agree you are likely working to hard, and I try to get my students to understand that before they go into contortions to get the horse to listen, they need to move on to the crop.

                Often though, the problem with the horse not listening, is that the horse feels blocked by the rider, OR the rider is not timing their aids in such a way as to allow the horse to react promptly.

                Connected Riding may give you some good visuals to help you stretch and grow (up from your pelvis, and then roots down to your toes) that may may help you stop blocking and confusing her.

                There ARE trainers that will help you learn how to train that may be worth considering.
                I was thinking the description sounds like something I do when I'm blocking my horse. I'd definitely try to get eyes on the ground who can talk you through using your body *correctly* to ask for forward to ensure you don't block.
                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.
                -meupatdoes

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Thanks everybody!

                  I am working with a trainer and she is wonderful. Since I moved off her farm to an indoor for the winter, I'm able to lesson a little bit less, as it's further away.

                  She has also given me the 'bump bump bump' advice, and I plan on putting it into practice. I was more wondering if anybody had any pointers to help me 'de-shrimp' as I agree that I've been working much too hard to get her to go. I'm sure that I'm 99% of 'our' problem, as it always seems to be.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    If you focus on weighting your heel as you bump, you'll be too busy with that to curl like shrimp. There is a far worse description that someone used recently on one of the Forums!!
                    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


                    • #11
                      The best advice I've gotten (I am also a 'shrimper')? BREATHE! That one action relaxes you, opens up your chest, brings back your shoulder and generally helps greatly. I have been working on keeping my shoulders back and more upright (even for the hunters I am too hunched). Funny thing is, as I get looser and more relaxed, mare's stride has become more open and forward. Easier for her if I stay out of her way.

                      ET
                      “You'll always miss 100% of the shots you don't take.” - Wayne Gretsky

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        1. Get a pair of whips, and a sissy strap so you don't catch her in the mouth when she does respond.
                        2. "I don't feel like it" is not an acceptable response. (You know this, but its worth saying)
                        3. To help deshrimpify: push your entire front line against a sliding door as a unit. THAT'S your forward cue. Really, go find a sliding door and practice.
                        www.destinationconsensusequus.com
                        chaque pas est fait ensemble

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Yep. Think heels down and calf as a test back it up with the spur like lightening so you dont have to nag!

                          Nagging will make anyone start to look funky !
                          ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~
                          http://www.off-breed-dressage.blogspot.com/

                          Comment

                          • Original Poster

                            #14
                            Originally posted by Petstorejunkie View Post
                            1. Get a pair of whips, and a sissy strap so you don't catch her in the mouth when she does respond.
                            2. "I don't feel like it" is not an acceptable response. (You know this, but its worth saying)
                            3. To help deshrimpify: push your entire front line against a sliding door as a unit. THAT'S your forward cue. Really, go find a sliding door and practice.
                            Can you pretty please clarify front line? My sliding door is primed and ready.

                            I went out tonight and played around with her with a whip, she was forward, but not hysterical like I expected. Tomorrow... we ride!

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Forehead, boobs, belly button, ( and if you're slender) pubic bone. All in contact with the door. Push the door open with equal pressure on all points.

                              It's an exercise I learned from Paul Belasik.
                              www.destinationconsensusequus.com
                              chaque pas est fait ensemble

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by CHT View Post
                                Sometimes hitting your thigh or hip with a jumper bat can be anough for a horse like Willow to get the idea they need to GO, without the over reaction.
                                I was also going to suggest this. When in doubt, start by smacking your own boot. If you need a little more oomph, you can use it on the horse's shoulder - which makes it easier to keep both hands on the reins - or on their hindquarters. The bat doesn't sting the way a whip does and doesn't prompt the same kind of adverse reaction.
                                "You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed." - The Little Prince

                                Comment

                                • Original Poster

                                  #17
                                  Thanks Petstorejunkie! I'll have to try it when the baby goes for her nap.

                                  I think that it would be a good idea to start her with a bat over a whip. Then I don't have to worry about inadvertently hitting anybody with it in the occasion of hysterics. I'll get one on my errands today, I don't think that I have one in the black hole that is my tack trunk. I normally ride everybody in spurs.

                                  Stupid newbie question (go easy on me here...) bats aren't legal though, correct?

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    As far as I know, there is a restriction on max whip length but not on minimum length, so that would make them legal. Although I doubt you will be using one that long. At some point, your horse will become desensitized enough, you will have a better connection from leg to hand, and you will want to keep your hands on your reins and use the whip properly - and then you will graduate to a dressage whip. The bat is a training tool - a stepping stone.

                                    There are also dressage whips with bat-like ends, but I find them harder to use on my boot or on the shoulder, so I'd go with the jumper bat for now (not a crop - a BAT - with the big fat leather flap on the end).
                                    "You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed." - The Little Prince

                                    Comment

                                    • Original Poster

                                      #19
                                      Thanks!

                                      I'm excited to get on her tonight. She KNOWS how to trot when I ask, I have video proof! It's comfy too, once you get used to the hang time.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Just remeber that its kinder to teach a horse right from the start that a soft leg cue means 'go'. Nagging with the leg getting stronger and stroner just makes them dead to your leg. I agre, start with a good old fasioned h/j type crop. You don't want to use spurs to teach forward - those are for more subtle and lateral cues.
                                        Lowly Farm Hand with Delusions of Barn Biddieom.
                                        Witherun Farm
                                        http://witherun-farm.blogspot.com/

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