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Contact Question?

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  • #41
    I agree with the "forward before contact" comment above. Granted, this is a moment in time where she may look worse than she is/was in general, but the whole picture really points to everything the OP has been saying.

    The contact here is very light, but the horse is still bracing against it, and because of that, she's inverted everywhere so *can't* get any semblance of correct forwardness.

    If you're trying to get contact to help her body, that might be the wrong way to go here. The other way to try is go on a loose rein, the mere weight of the rein being the ONLY "contact" there is, and just go. It might be fast-hooved at first, but at some point she may decided to relax, knowing "contact" isn't in the vocabulary, and then her feet will slow while the ground she covers increases - relaxation and rhythm coming together.

    That's just one possibility.

    This horse is similar to a horse I saw on video that George Morris hopped on. It was a Jumper clinic and there was a hot chestnut he got on. This was not a low level Jumper, but he *did not* accept contact, not really. He went around looking just like this mare, inverted and bracing. GM, being the master he is, took the contact, set the boundaries, and said "horse, this is where you fit, you CAN do this, I'm not asking you to something you can't, but now it's up to you to figure it out", and in about 30 seconds the horse did LOL

    So, that's the other option, but the rider has to be ready to never pull, but never give away the hand either, going with the horse wherever he puts his head, and only *relaxing* the contact when the horse has accepted and relaxed his head and neck. Then the horse stops worrying about what the contact is going to do to him, and can focus on what you're asking him to do with his body.
    ______________________________
    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

    Comment


    • #42
      "No matter how much you read, no matter how much you hear, it doesn't make sense until you can do it, and feel it"-

      You can be sure that GM has had many years of practice at doing it and feeling it.
      It is not simply setting a limit and enforcing it!! It is how it is done!!!!
      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


      • #43
        You absolutely need to watch these:

        http://usefnetwork.com/featured/2013...XdEFH1jAfa0H_A

        My mare sounds very similar to yours in her antics and this was a real eye opener. Especially the part with GM riding the bay TB who is throwing his little fits in this video:

        http://usefnetwork.com/featured/2013...AQuzg13AQp7ZMr

        This one's good too:
        http://usefnetwork.com/featured/2013...hNNCUXupZqioen

        Now obviously, your mare and mine are not at the level of fitness of those horses so don't ask too much too soon, but they still need to be forward and accepting the contact of hand, seat and LEGS, which I suspect is an issue at present (it is for me.)

        Good luck!
        "When life gives you scurvy, make lemonade."

        Comment


        • #44
          Good update-- that is encouraging. Glad my post was helpful. I'm dealing with this in my own horse but in a less dramatic way. I've been trying to move up to 1st and second and I realize my contact wasn't 200%. I over-give, even though its only an inch. Nice intentions, taken too far.
          Its hard to balance the ying/yang, isn't it? On some horses its easier then others. My horse is a toughie. Sensitive yet needs a lot of guidance. Goes BTV or braced. Grrrrrrrrr.

          Comment


          • #45
            Originally posted by merrygoround View Post
            "No matter how much you read, no matter how much you hear, it doesn't make sense until you can do it, and feel it"-

            You can be sure that GM has had many years of practice at doing it and feeling it.
            It is not simply setting a limit and enforcing it!! It is how it is done!!!!
            Well of course, hence my last comment
            ______________________________
            The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

            Comment


            • #46
              I agree with much of what has been said.

              To add:
              1) I think your mare looks very capable, but I'd also suggest ruling out health problems. I've known and ridden a mare who was a star at training level and very cranky with the collection for second level. Turns out, she had spinal issues due to an injury she probably got as a foal that no one noticed. She couldn't collect without pain and so she got very cranky. I knew another horse who got cranky with flying changes to the left for the same reason. Sometimes there's a reason for the crankiness.

              2) I think you can drop the contact "for a moment" to stop a horse from hanging (I've done this!), but you have to pick it back up again. The point is for the horse to experience imbalance for a moment, forcing him to carry himself. Then you pick the contact back up and move on. The reward is that he rebalanced himself and learned that balance is better than falling on his face. It seems that your horse learned that the dropped contact is a reward she can take advantage of. You might want to momentarily drop the inside rein rather than both reins.

              3) You absolutely have to back up any dropped rein...and any sponging or contact with the reins *with your seat and leg*. It starts with the seat and leg - collection (even at the lowest levels) is about the hind legs stepping under and the horse lifting the withers...the face coming towards the vertical is a by-product of this. So try to work with driving the horse into the contact (back to front), rather than starting with the reins (front to back).

              4) Bucking is an unacceptable response. He're my answer to her bucking as a result of my giving the reins: hey horse - try bucking when you are galloping forward. Gallup forward...keep galloping...keep galloping...when the horse bucks. THe horse will get tired and will learn that bucking results in having to work harder than actually just trying to carry herself. Suddenly, bucking isn't a good response anymore. DO NOT loose your cool with your horse and reward all good behavior! Your goal with her is to get her to realize that working for you is easier and happier than doing these evasions, and that flexing and taking contact makes her feel better than the alternatives.

              5) Lack of flexion is stiffness in the poll and is often caused by tension in the hands of the rider. You can show the horse flexion and contact on the ground, and reinforce this at the walk.

              6) I think it's fastest to get a very good dressage rider to sit on your horse and teach her "where to go" or "what the aids mean". It would also work faster if you could ride a horse who can come into contact so you can feel what the proper response is.

              7) It takes time! Working with a good rider will help you.

              Good luck!
              Proud member of the Colbert Dressage Nation

              Comment


              • #47
                Originally posted by Superminion View Post

                I think that it's less that Herself has 'holes' in her training and more that she just doesn't have much training.
                Of course a horse that hauls down n the reins and bucks when you try to pick up the contact has holes in its training. You can't even pick up the reins!

                WHICH IS NOT THE END OF THE WORLD. Every horse has holes, this is why they are in training. The green horses I ride have holes in their training, this is why their owners are having me train them. When a training horse tires to bolt off with me I don't say, oh no, not any holes, he's just green. I #1, make an eleven in the dirt with his backlegs before trying again politely this time, and #2 say ok, here's a hole!
                It's ok! Horses have them, riders fix them!
                My personal horse has holes too, they are just different holes further along the line, and as he progresses we'll have different holes. I don't really see much purpose in convincing myself they don't exist: progress is made when you SEEK OUT every imperfect, less-than-excellent, not-so-good thing, acknowlege it, and set to fixing it.

                But sitting there insisting lalalalalaaaaa there are no holes, she's just green is not a trainer's mindset. Right now she won't let you ride a single pleasant figure 8 around the arena and tell you "yes ma'am" throughout.

                A trainer goes, THERE'S A HOLE, OK LET'S FILL IT.

                Not, "She's just green, if I just sit here quietly long enough she'll magically figure it out."

                She is just a horse. She can't just figure it out if your plan is to just sit there. You have to tell her what you want. And to do that you have to set an expectation, recognize that she is falling short of it currently, and PROACTIVELY teach her how to meet it. In other words, ride like a teacher, don't just sit there. And don't let you self concept depend on there "not being holes" because that is the opposite of a trainer's mindset. A hole isn't an indictment, it just means you have some work to do. Honest and accurate assessment of WHAT NEEDS TO BE ADDRESSED THIS RIDE is the trainer's first tool.
                The Noodlehttp://tiny.cc/NGKmT&http://tiny.cc/gioSA
                Jinxyhttp://tiny.cc/PIC798&http://tiny.cc/jinx364
                Boy Wonderhttp://tiny.cc/G9290
                The Hana is nuts! NUTS!!http://tinyurl.com/SOCRAZY

                Comment


                • #48
                  I am not fond of Gm's approach whatsoever and dont feel like anything he rode in the videos went on the bit even an average amount of supple (if you can call that truly on the bit).

                  He is tactful enough to force some changes and lateral but I dont get why people think he is any kind of example for dressage. No one I work with approaches the issues with contact/connection in this way.

                  There is a way to work the horse over the back more through contact and stretching so they do not feel so blocked in. A horse like yours in the pic does not seem like the type to take a 'restrictive' space that you deal out without turning vicey or offering to act out.

                  Horses humping around or kicking at the leg or pinning their ears are not something you should see for simple work with contact and suppling.
                  ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~
                  http://www.off-breed-dressage.blogspot.com/

                  Comment


                  • #49
                    Originally posted by NOMIOMI1 View Post
                    I am not fond of Gm's approach whatsoever and dont feel like anything he rode in the videos went on the bit even an average amount of supple (if you can call that truly on the bit).

                    He is tactful enough to force some changes and lateral but I dont get why people think he is any kind of example for dressage. No one I work with approaches the issues with contact/connection in this way.
                    Ummm, it was a *start* for that horse. It was a clinic where GM had 5 minutes to affect some changes. They were positive changes in the horse I'm speaking of, and it was then up to the owner/regular rider to learn to take that and make the correct training go on.

                    I'm not sure why he's not "any kind of example for dressage", because if you were to give him an unstarted horse, I nearly guarantee he'd give you back a horse who was forward, willing, supple, responsive, and ready for "real" Dressage work. That's not remotely the same thing as trying to affect a change in an unknown horse in a few minutes in a clinic. I merely used it as *one* way that *some* people might give a horse a wake up call to show them yes, they CAN do this, and then you work out the rest of the issues. But it ALL comes down to WHY the horse is reacting this way, which has been the point of many of the posts.
                    ______________________________
                    The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

                    Comment


                    • #50
                      I jumped ahead, so might have missed this. I have a mare who was, at one point, very similar. At about 30 rides, as we started introducing a bit more contact and engagement of the hind, she started rooting and yanking. In a case of "right place, right time" I was riding with an instructor at the time, and we were able to nip it quick. The lesson I learned the most from her was soft, following hands at all times. Mare had to learn first that fair contact was always going to be there, no matter where she put her head, before I could do anything with that contact and engagement. That meant that my hands had to remain constant and following at all times. If she rooted, my hands went with her and I had to really engage my body to not get pulled out of the saddle. If she sucked back, my hands had to stay soft and with her and not let her take advantage of the drape in reins. Basically anywhere her head went, my hands had to follow.

                      I do recall a time or two when we DID let her fall by releasing, followed immediately by leg to boot her forward - but I can't recall if we did it very first, to remind her that forward is the answer and that I would NOT carry her, or if we did it after she was accepting following soft contact and still throwing in the occasional root/yank/lean. I do know that "Forward first" is the first lesson, before you can even start to worry about contact. Then it's soft and following hands, along with forward motion, before you can even start influencing her with your hands as well as seat.
                      If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude.
                      ~ Maya Angelou

                      Comment


                      • #51
                        Originally posted by JB View Post
                        Ummm, it was a *start* for that horse. It was a clinic where GM had 5 minutes to affect some changes. They were positive changes in the horse I'm speaking of, and it was then up to the owner/regular rider to learn to take that and make the correct training go on.

                        I'm not sure why he's not "any kind of example for dressage", because if you were to give him an unstarted horse, I nearly guarantee he'd give you back a horse who was forward, willing, supple, responsive, and ready for "real" Dressage work. That's not remotely the same thing as trying to affect a change in an unknown horse in a few minutes in a clinic. I merely used it as *one* way that *some* people might give a horse a wake up call to show them yes, they CAN do this, and then you work out the rest of the issues. But it ALL comes down to WHY the horse is reacting this way, which has been the point of many of the posts.
                        Everyone is entitled to their opinion

                        I do not like his "five minutes" and I understand that he only has that amount of time to make a quick show of change and that may be why exactly it would be not a good example because an ammy would not want to approach it with such use of aids for "crunch" time so to speak.

                        Lots of clinics push you and push your horse which is good but with the help of someone much more efficient and I think there are a lot more examples out there of good dressage riding with introduction to contact that is not as wam-bam but again that is just my opinion.

                        I think GM is as much as much a legend as the next person but I would not consider those videos good examples of introduction to contact/suppling examples is all *shrug*.

                        ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~
                        http://www.off-breed-dressage.blogspot.com/

                        Comment


                        • #52
                          George Morris is in his mid-seventies, and his riding shows a lot of the stiffness that can creep up on those who have spent years in the saddle and inadvertently, out of it.

                          George, at least on that video, seems to espouse the hold and ride forward method. A lot of us prefer a softer approach that employs a lot more lateral work, and suppling which can require an even stronger rider, and independent use of legs, and hips, and an educated horse.

                          That was an extremely long 5min. Like many h/j riders, his interpretation of dressage is a little different than that of at least one of his legendary peers in dressage. It is also painfully difficult to do dressage in his beloved "close contact" saddle, which for my vote has too much close contact between my seat bones and the saddle tree.
                          Taking it day by day!

                          Comment


                          • #53
                            Originally posted by NOMIOMI1 View Post
                            I think GM is as much as much a legend as the next person but I would not consider those videos good examples of introduction to contact/suppling examples is all *shrug*.
                            Oh goodness, where did I EVER say or imply that was a good introduction to contact or suppling? I highly doubt he would have taken that approach of the horse was put into training with him - he'd have started way back, I'm sure.

                            That was never, ever meant to be "here's how you teach about contact", and I thought I made that clear.

                            Others before me suggested one method of "set the boundary, whatever is appropriate for the horse" and allow the horse to figure out how to live within that boundary. That's exactly what GM did in the video I was referring to. It was a more advanced horse, so he did more advanced things with a lot shorter rein and stronger aids - THAT was not the point though.

                            At this point it's not about Dressage or the type of saddle you're riding in. It's about getting a horse to accept contact. The horse in the OP is not brand spankin' new to riding, and has developed an evasion to contact. Assuming there is no physical cause for it, there are various ways to try to get the horse accepting contact, ONE Of which is to set a boundary and let the horse figure it out. That is ALL.
                            ______________________________
                            The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #54
                              Thanks again, everybody!

                              I think a big part of our issue was that when I dropped the contact because she was leaning and she fell, it was to her knees so I didn't have any reaction time to boot her forward, since I was so off kilter. I was expecting her to stumble, but not quite like that. It was a bit of a mess and it p*ssed her off. I think it also scared her a bit. Couple that with learning freakishly quick and here we are. I'll take responsibility for getting us into the mess.

                              So I guess that our focus now is accepting the contact again and to just stop thinking about flex, bend, and collection for the time being. Once we get her accepting the contact and still moving forward (not upwards!) we can go from there. You all have given me some amazing advice. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

                              Neither of us are perfect, and there is a learning curve I understand that. That's why I appreciate all your advice as well as continue to ask questions.

                              ETA: She doesn't have any major health issues. When I first started her she got cranky about moving forward so I have the vet/chiro/saddle fitter out. She's been cracked, scoped, x-rayed, etc. Everything is fine. It's just her attitude. She is on Vita-calm and we cut her grain back, which is helped significantly.

                              I wouldn't say that she is brand new, I started her in June (ish) but she got Lyme, then surgery for a scarcoid, then I broke my collarbone, so I didn't get her back into serious work until we moved her in December. Life, ya know?

                              I'm not in this to be a pro, or to ride Grand Prix dressage, or even show right now. I just want to learn how to do it correctly.

                              Comment


                              • #55
                                Another thought-when a horse leans, and you drop contact, try rather than simply letting go,instead drop momentarily one rein or the other, usually the inside rein. If you do drop both reins it is for a fraction of a second also. They haven't gained a reward, they just suddenly found that they couldn't lean, but you weren't going away either.
                                Last edited by merrygoround; Jan. 19, 2013, 12:36 PM.
                                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

                                  #56
                                  Originally posted by merrygoround View Post
                                  Another thought-when a horse leans, and you drop contact, try rather than simply letting go,instead drop momentarily one rein or the other, usually the inside rein. If you do drop both reins it is for a fraction of a second also. They haven't gained a reward, they just suddenly found that they couldn't lean, but you weren't going away either.
                                  This is a great idea! Thank you!

                                  Comment


                                  • #57
                                    My mistake , jb. Im sure I mushed the postings together
                                    ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~
                                    http://www.off-breed-dressage.blogspot.com/

                                    Comment


                                    • #58
                                      You can also gently vibrate the reins. You aren't letting them pitch forward, you're just reminding them that the bit is not there to hold them up. And that you aren't going to. At first, vibrate both.

                                      Comment


                                      • #59
                                        Originally posted by stryder View Post
                                        You can also gently vibrate the reins. You aren't letting them pitch forward, you're just reminding them that the bit is not there to hold them up. And that you aren't going to. At first, vibrate both.
                                        Not what I do, but it depends on your horse. My horse is fussy and any vibrations or sponging just makes it worse.
                                        Any reminders not to pull on the hand come from my leg. Reins just sort of hang out and keep consistent contact. May resist or give as need but I don't vibrate to get the horse off the bit. I want the horse ON the pressure.
                                        Maybe on a duller horse that would be ok, hard to say. My horse needs to adjust to the rein length I give him, gets leg if he screws around.

                                        Comment


                                        • #60
                                          Originally posted by SendenHorse View Post
                                          Not what I do, but it depends on your horse. My horse is fussy and any vibrations or sponging just makes it worse.
                                          Any reminders not to pull on the hand come from my leg. Reins just sort of hang out and keep consistent contact. May resist or give as need but I don't vibrate to get the horse off the bit. I want the horse ON the pressure.
                                          Maybe on a duller horse that would be ok, hard to say. My horse needs to adjust to the rein length I give him, gets leg if he screws around.
                                          I don't want the horse off the bit, either. I want her to gently savor the bit, maintain connection and pay close attention. A gentle vibration reminds her to get back to carrying herself and stop leaning on me.

                                          Comment

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