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Horses that drop behind the contact...

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  • Horses that drop behind the contact...

    This is such a difficult tendency to overcome. I wonder if it can be completely eradicated, or if these horses will always want to spit the bit out a little bit?

    My 5 year old was started in Holland, which didn't help, and he tries to do this. Galloping and cavalletti help, but even when riding very forward in canter, he wants to nod behind the vertical each stride, and he definitely wants to do it when in working trot and canter.

    How do you handle this? I'm open to dressage training suggestions. (ie., I've covered the horse management angles, and I'm not into round pen training, etc.)

    Thanks!

  • #2
    Its about the push from the back end, its not about the bit per say. Its very easy to fix with good riding. If this was my horse I'd revisit walk and trot work and get a really good push from the hind legs over the back.

    Working in side reins can help IF and only if the horse is really really pushed into the bit. The horse should not be allowed to suck back.

    Keep the hands following but yes, the horse does have to take the connection. Its very hard to write "how to" on here, but its basically the training pyramid. Your horse is just missing a few things, hardly the end of the world.
    Shoulder fore can also help.

    Comment


    • #3
      Are you quite with your hands? Does he do it when others ride him? What type of bit is he using? Have your tried different ones?
      Horses aren't our whole life, but makes our life whole

      Comment


      • #4
        agree its about the hind end.... but you also need to make sure your hands are not also pulling or blocking.

        then work on activity in teh hind end... also doing transitions can really help and also turns..... but mostly you need to ride activity forward and ask the horse to accept the bit - no matter where his nose goes..... once you get him to accept the bit you can, over time, get him to put his nose more out.... but you cant get there without bit acceptance first. there are a ton of things you can do.... are you working with a trainer?


        and yes, should be fixable... just dont passively wait for it to magically fix itself!

        Comment


        • #5
          For my horse what really helped was doing some flexions and counter/true bending. Flex him one way for a few strides, straighten, then flex the other way a few strides (do NOT see saw, flex slightly for a few strides, straighten. flex the other way). Counter bending him, using your legs to really push him into the "outside (the bend)" rein, then true bending him using your leg to push him in to the outside rein. Just getting him to 'follow his nose', really helped my horse. As I did this I could slowly let his nose out more and more and he's been much better about being happy IN the contact and being so much more steady.

          Comment


          • #6
            My one horse tended to do this no matter how much he used his hind end - he always got a lot of compliments from top trainers on how well he used his hind.... What has helped are French style unmounted flexions and at least a month of stretchy trot to walk transitions etc getting him to stretch out with a soft contact. As I reintroduced the canter and more advanced work I was very conscientious about keeping him very balanced and encouraging him to stay "up and out" to the bridle in a very soft way. His neck has never looked better!

            He was a jumper before I got him and was never really taught a soft proper contact as a good thing .

            Comment


            • #7
              I have found that if I just carry myself more up and open while adding leg, my horse will come up. So it's a balancing act between the half halt to get and keep him round, and opening my chest and lifting (not my hands), and the head will come up, if it goes too deep.

              Riding is sooo easy! The horse does all the work!
              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


              • #8
                This response CAN be changed, slowly and methodically replaced. And you are right, young european horse are often ridden into premature longitudinal flexion from over tempo schooling where the horse is merely pushing like mad behind, problem is he is not carrying. And the specific question is whether you mean the lowered/closing the throat latch or causing the reins to loop (more difficult/slow to replace). And do you mean in ALL gaits (I take it you do since you are talking about caveletti) or just w/c?

                Only the rider can sustain the connection, install the correct responses, and reward the correct self carriage/ifv outline which is a result of the horse SEEKING the hand rather than posing behind it. Realize too that the RIDER MUST follow the bascule/telescoping use of the neck in walk/canter/gallop; if they are not elastic in the elbow joint/shoulder socket the horse WILL nod (because their bodies have to fit into what we allow). So the question is: do you follow that bascule? (its sort of like the aciton of a horse jumping)

                Unfortunately many young (european) horses are almost run off their feet in search of forward, but that also traps them into early (and too great) flexion. So, have you tried SLOWING the tempo slightly? That usually will cause the horse to raise open slightly.

                Thirdly you must have an effective hh (hh are not holding/driving), they are light vertical actions to get the horse up/open and cause the horses to change their balance and use thier hindlegs differently. And early on they have to be very clear and "reward' the changed balance. And then the rider must think to the future steps as well. First the horse 'just' meets the hand (up/open/etc), THEN the use of curved lines put the horse into the (control of) the outside rein, and then the rider must be able to mobilize the jaw (inside aids) and allow it to chew forward/down/out by slowly releasing the outside rein; and then (still keeping contact) lengthen the neck while still maintaining a connection.

                The basis of this work is better done in hand: teaching proper balance, mobilizing the jaw, extending the neck. It breaks down the pieces, the reactions to our actions, without the rider. Least we all forget, theses are NOT just french flexions, they are progressive training in many traditional schools.

                Equally one has to be VERY careful as to how changes of flexion (NOT bend) are used when riding. They should be subtle are than can easily do the exact opposite of what is intended, and compound the incorrect posture.

                IF you are going to lunge, this is a horse that I would definitely have in a caveson, any hh from it. And I would use von B-F's method of crossing the side reins to the opposite Ds on the saddle, so that it is very straight and not enforcing lateral flexion. Have MEANINGFUL hh/vibrations to keep the horse open/high enough. It is starting over with the horse's response.

                Remember roundness is a condition of the entire body of the horse; how well the horse articulates (not pushes) with the hind leg joints and STILL carries out to the hand (ifv/open throat latch). It is not compressing the neck and running the horse forward to keep its submission.
                I.D.E.A. yoda

                Comment


                • #9
                  This is a weakness in a specific area of the back, withers and shoulders and is not particularly difficult to fix.

                  Don't let your horse get the idea that he can ever avoid contact by tipping behind. Make sure that you have and maintain appropriate (definitive and responsive) contact and then forget about where his nose is. Really at this point it simply doesn't matter. Just ask him to step energetically (effort, not speed) from behind with good balance (to the extent he is able). Bending and counterbending, things like serpentines and downward transitions through shoulder in/shoulder fore will help. I prefer true bend to counterbend. But either should work and change between both kinds bends is beneficial.

                  Once the horse has accepted true contact as demonstrated by nose in front while energetically stepping from behind and lifting his shoulders (sort of stacked on top of his hips), he'll be able to better stretch into the handshake you offer. And when the horse offers to stretch, it is important to reward him by yielding within the contact that you have established. This is one of the ways he'll learn about elasticity.


                  P.S. what yoda says about half halts being vertical is particularly important. A true, responsive half halt takes time and strength to develop. But as it does develop, it is import that this horse connects the idea with lifting the withers, shoulders and upper back up with pushing from behind. This pays off in a number of ways later, in terms of connection, strength, collection and straightness.
                  See those flying monkeys? They work for me.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    If a horse is not coming over the bit the hind end isn't working properly realitve to contact. There is something blocking the energy. He may be moving with suspension but its not translating to good contact.

                    The rider must take this contact and ride it forward with out letting it escape.

                    Suppling work can assist this energy block, either with things like legyield or bending work, but I prefer to have equal contact in both reins before getting too much on either one side or the other.

                    This all assumes the rider isn't the problem, with out seeing anything like a video I just have to describe the horse.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      All great suggestions. My 4 year old was having a "curling" problem. She would seek contact, get it and then quickly come behind it. Her engine was going but she was finding a way around it. Because she is a contact seeker I wondered why. Tried all the training techniques and finally decided to rule out physical. Had a dentist come out who showed me she has a very very fat tongue. The French mouth she was in would press into the tongue and push it back up her throat when she would take contact! Yikes! I got her an anatomical bit the Myler Comfort Snaffle. Instant improvement and no more curling but she stopped seeking contact. We wondered if it was too thin. I then tried the HS Dynamic Eggbutt as it has the same tongue pressure relieving shape but is thicker. She took instant contact and has never curled again. Food for thought if it isn't a training issue.
                      Please excuse the typos...I'm always on my iPhone and autocorrect is not my friend. Yes I mean mares autocorrect...not mates.

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Thanks for the good discussion! Its so nice to be able to bounce around slightly different takes on training. It gives me some ideas on new angles beyond what I normally do with horses like this.

                        Its an important thing to correct, and far better to do it now. Its awful to ride a Grand Prix test on a horse that ducks behind the bit!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by dressagegirl123 View Post

                          Its an important thing to correct, and far better to do it now. Its awful to ride a Grand Prix test on a horse that ducks behind the bit!
                          I would think that any horse who does this on a regular basis is a long way from being ready for GP! Aren't they asking for steady contact by 2nd Level?

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Great story! I wish the horses could just tell us!

                            You mentioned your horse was a "contact seeker". How did you know this if she always curled behind after getting contact? Had you used another bit prior? Or did you just surmise she would be this way from ground work?

                            I know it is a great idea to have a qualified professional (and many vets are not) take a long look in your horse's mouth when choosing a bit. It's one more tiny piece of the puzzle, but, as you learned, can be a real issue if it's missing.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by ideayoda View Post
                              This response CAN be changed, slowly and methodically replaced. And you are right, young european horse are often ridden into premature longitudinal flexion from over tempo schooling where the horse is merely pushing like mad behind, problem is he is not carrying. And the specific question is whether you mean the lowered/closing the throat latch or causing the reins to loop (more difficult/slow to replace). And do you mean in ALL gaits (I take it you do since you are talking about caveletti) or just w/c?

                              Only the rider can sustain the connection, install the correct responses, and reward the correct self carriage/ifv outline which is a result of the horse SEEKING the hand rather than posing behind it. Realize too that the RIDER MUST follow the bascule/telescoping use of the neck in walk/canter/gallop; if they are not elastic in the elbow joint/shoulder socket the horse WILL nod (because their bodies have to fit into what we allow). So the question is: do you follow that bascule? (its sort of like the aciton of a horse jumping)

                              Unfortunately many young (european) horses are almost run off their feet in search of forward, but that also traps them into early (and too great) flexion. So, have you tried SLOWING the tempo slightly? That usually will cause the horse to raise open slightly.

                              Thirdly you must have an effective hh (hh are not holding/driving), they are light vertical actions to get the horse up/open and cause the horses to change their balance and use thier hindlegs differently. And early on they have to be very clear and "reward' the changed balance. And then the rider must think to the future steps as well. First the horse 'just' meets the hand (up/open/etc), THEN the use of curved lines put the horse into the (control of) the outside rein, and then the rider must be able to mobilize the jaw (inside aids) and allow it to chew forward/down/out by slowly releasing the outside rein; and then (still keeping contact) lengthen the neck while still maintaining a connection.

                              The basis of this work is better done in hand: teaching proper balance, mobilizing the jaw, extending the neck. It breaks down the pieces, the reactions to our actions, without the rider. Least we all forget, theses are NOT just french flexions, they are progressive training in many traditional schools.

                              Equally one has to be VERY careful as to how changes of flexion (NOT bend) are used when riding. They should be subtle are than can easily do the exact opposite of what is intended, and compound the incorrect posture.

                              IF you are going to lunge, this is a horse that I would definitely have in a caveson, any hh from it. And I would use von B-F's method of crossing the side reins to the opposite Ds on the saddle, so that it is very straight and not enforcing lateral flexion. Have MEANINGFUL hh/vibrations to keep the horse open/high enough. It is starting over with the horse's response.

                              Remember roundness is a condition of the entire body of the horse; how well the horse articulates (not pushes) with the hind leg joints and STILL carries out to the hand (ifv/open throat latch). It is not compressing the neck and running the horse forward to keep its submission.
                              Best method right here. Done with a very knowledgeable trainer who knows what he/she is talking about/doing on the ground to help you.

                              My horse was a curler - behind the bit until the reins are slack, the shorter the reins the more he would bend to get away from them. With his time on the track, he learned it early.

                              When I first got him I was NOT knowledgeable to do what ideayoda says, and it instead meant not even trying to really ride dressage but teaching him to go on a loose rein and stretch forward, reshaping muscles so we could gradually work into contact, starting to carry behind and come up in front, etc. It took two years to get very solid contact with no overbending. I was injured last year and barely rode for six months; it turns out my horse would revert to curling after he lost strength. I'm working with a new trainer now who has the classical experience to have helped me get him uncurled and open using the methods ideayoda gives (ridden, not in hand, in our case, though in hand would obviously have worked well) and results are much easier and faster. Because he's one who curled very badly it's harder than a horse who just wants to come btv because he overpowers himself a bit, but it took him about two weeks to be consistently accepting contact most of the time from the start of working on it, rather than months. He definitely improves as he gets stronger, though, and there is most definitely NOT an aspect of "just shorten your reins until you have contact" involved in getting there. Merrygoround also explained nicely what it takes from your own seat and body to encourage a horse to reach out and seek the contact instead of having a backward hand and taking the contact yourself.
                              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

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