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At my Wits End. Lazy horse /blocked Rider

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  • #21
    All right, if it is you, lets mix it up for you!

    So, you know your horse will easily stop, so no worries trying different stuff.

    Off the horse - skip, yes, like a little happy kid, skip; then REALLY skip big HUGE skips. Alternate legs - make sure both are equally easy. Get on your horsie, warm up, "skip" while riding in canter - practice "skipping" HUGE like off the horsie.

    At a walk, then trot (possibly want to be lunged by a friend for this one) - pedal your bicycle - yep, legs go up, forward, down, back; just like on a bicycle, while one is up/forward, the other is down back at the same time.

    Those should be easy, fun, and get your seatbones in the saddle, and legs unstuck from your horsie.

    Have fun! Check out Sally Swift and Susanne von Dietz for some biomechanics stuff to do on your own.

    Have you considered lungeline lessons with a qualified trainer? Sometimes mixing it up for a person works as well as for a horse.
    Horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
    ~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #22
      Originally posted by Ltc4h View Post
      If you are a good/solid Hunter rider. Your legs are much to strong for a Dressage horse.
      It equates to riding a continuous half-halt.
      The easiest way to test is an exercise called legs away.
      Having equal pressure on both seat bones raise your legs from your hip up-away from your horse. At first you may only be able to come away about an inch, with practice it will be closer to 6". Every time he starts to loose energy check your tightness, in all gaits.

      As for him I would ride him as if getting ready for a long format event. Lots of outside & interval work. As long as BO doesn't mind, riding on not so good footing actually will help him tremendously.
      My 3rd level horse loves to get lazy & behind the leg. I rarely practice "Dressage" in the ring, he's been very eager to engage since changing to this . Once forward it's always easy to bring back.
      OMG never ever thought of this!! Hunter rider for 30 years. I have been doing dressage now for 15 but have struggled to get any horses beyond where this one currently is. I was forced to give up hunters due to back injuries so dont jump t all now. I wish I could. I love it. My back does not. Yes core an issue. Yes i grip with the knees and turn my toes out. Its been a constant struggle to correct this. It took me a long time to learn to sit on the saddle. . Have purchased the book. Hopefully that will give me some clues.
      Don't Squat With Your Spurs On.

      Comment

      • Original Poster

        #23
        Originally posted by mzm farm View Post
        All right, if it is you, lets mix it up for you!

        So, you know your horse will easily stop, so no worries trying different stuff.

        Off the horse - skip, yes, like a little happy kid, skip; then REALLY skip big HUGE skips. Alternate legs - make sure both are equally easy. Get on your horsie, warm up, "skip" while riding in canter - practice "skipping" HUGE like off the horsie.

        At a walk, then trot (possibly want to be lunged by a friend for this one) - pedal your bicycle - yep, legs go up, forward, down, back; just like on a bicycle, while one is up/forward, the other is down back at the same time.

        Those should be easy, fun, and get your seatbones in the saddle, and legs unstuck from your horsie.

        Have fun! Check out Sally Swift and Susanne von Dietz for some biomechanics stuff to do on your own.

        Have you considered lungeline lessons with a qualified trainer? Sometimes mixing it up for a person works as well as for a horse.
        Thanks going to try this. Skippedy do dah
        Don't Squat With Your Spurs On.

        Comment


        • #24
          Do you duck butt?

          It's a common problem with former hunter riders (as others have - I speak from personal struggles here!) Sitting with the back hollowed points your seatbones in the wrong direction and sure enough, they block your horse's movement. When you move with your horse in a sitting trot - is it as if your pelvic bone is being lifted up and forward, one side and then the other - or is it as if your butt cheeks come up toward your ears behind you? The first is your body softening and allowing the horse's movement and takes a lot of core strength to support. The second means you were probably good in eq classes as a hunter rider and need to learn the dressage seat before you can move on.

          Example: See, wouldn't I make a good hunter rider?
          http://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphoto..._1267252_n.jpg
          Note that while your hip angle is supposed to open and close with the horse's movement, the angle of mine means it can't.

          For a comparison look at the hip angle and seat angle of any top rider. While I can show my own improvement, I'm not there yet... but I've improved enough to make a HUGE difference for my horse. It's hard, and I second the suggestion of finding a biomechanics instructor to help you. I'm now riding with a trainer who isn't a biomechanics instructor specifically, but he focuses on fixing the rider's position as it affects the horse a lot, which is exactly what I need to finally be making progress.

          I'm finding because my body is happier in a hunter-type position the change is really, really difficult. I'm most definitely the cause of a lot of problems my horse and I have, and theoretically I have known my problems for a long time - it's just figuring out how to execute the corrections which has been a challenge! Good luck to you, and good for you for admitting it's you!
          Originally posted by Silverbridge
          If you get anything on your Facebook feed about who is going to the Olympics in 2012 or guessing the outcome of Bush v Gore please start threads about those, too.

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          • Original Poster

            #25
            Originally posted by netg View Post
            Do you duck butt?

            It's a common problem with former hunter riders (as others have - I speak from personal struggles here!) Sitting with the back hollowed points your seatbones in the wrong direction and sure enough, they block your horse's movement. When you move with your horse in a sitting trot - is it as if your pelvic bone is being lifted up and forward, one side and then the other - or is it as if your butt cheeks come up toward your ears behind you? The first is your body softening and allowing the horse's movement and takes a lot of core strength to support. The second means you were probably good in eq classes as a hunter rider and need to learn the dressage seat before you can move on.

            Example: See, wouldn't I make a good hunter rider?
            http://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphoto..._1267252_n.jpg
            Note that while your hip angle is supposed to open and close with the horse's movement, the angle of mine means it can't.

            For a comparison look at the hip angle and seat angle of any top rider. While I can show my own improvement, I'm not there yet... but I've improved enough to make a HUGE difference for my horse. It's hard, and I second the suggestion of finding a biomechanics instructor to help you. I'm now riding with a trainer who isn't a biomechanics instructor specifically, but he focuses on fixing the rider's position as it affects the horse a lot, which is exactly what I need to finally be making progress.

            I'm finding because my body is happier in a hunter-type position the change is really, really difficult. I'm most definitely the cause of a lot of problems my horse and I have, and theoretically I have known my problems for a long time - it's just figuring out how to execute the corrections which has been a challenge! Good luck to you, and good for you for admitting it's you!



            Hehe no duck butting but it did take me at least 10 years to fix that one. I do now sit on my butt ( my trainer has commended me on that ) but the toe out thing has been the harder one to correct and rightly thats likely what is causing all my issues. I did go to a clinic with a Mary Wanless coach but really did not find her good at all. A friend who was auditing said shes never seen me ride so bad. The coach just did not gel with me one bit. I do like that sort of stuff but she just wasn't for me at all. Have also cliniced a couple of times with Colleen Kelly but her teaching was more about the body influencing the movements rather than correcting each individual riders issues.
            Don't Squat With Your Spurs On.

            Comment


            • #26
              I'm just an amateur so take my advice with a block of salt.

              I find that my dressage coach (I event) focuses a lot on riding without legs - as in, when you're sitting in 'neutral' on the horse, your leg should not be on him. Your leg comes on to ask for something (i.e. walk to trot), but once he is trotting use no leg. I find it easiest to get this concept at the sitting trot (not that I can sit for very long anyways!). Walk around and think about not having your leg on. Loose jelly legs, barely breathing on the horses sides. Tap tap to transition to sitting trot, once horse is trotting keep your leg off and allow the horse to be responsible for going forward. If they slow down, tap tap again - but do not keep the leg on. It took a while for me to get this - but I find with my gelding this keeps him unstuck and thinking forward.

              Hope this helps and good luck to you!!

              Edited to add: also think about where your shoulders are. With horses that are not very forward or are learning, sometimes keeping the shoulder too straight can be a problem. Allow your shoulders a tiny bit forward of vertical - just a tiny bit to encourage the horse to step forward.

              Comment


              • #27
                I love what you said, Mouse&Bay, it jibes with everything I've been taught. I want to just jump on my horse right now because you've reminded me of what to focus on. Of course it's snowing like there's no bloody tomorrow!

                Paula
                He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).

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                • #28
                  Similar to what netg stated except after arching my back I went through a stage where I was pushing seat bones down (not forward), that "stops" horse.

                  So when warming up in rising trot open close elbows to maintain constant correct rein contact, then the minute you "sit" curl hips forward instead of straight down - that's the "gas" pedal. To HH from there press down equally with both stirrups and straighten hips while lightly squeezing BOTH calves - to get horses back legs in front of your legs.

                  I start as soon as I get on - with getting horse in front of leg by "bumping" alternately with my legs as mare's hind leg comes off the ground. (After months of doing this you'll find you only need to periodically remind the horse to get up there and stay up there.)

                  Then after starting the (rising) trot if (with light contact) horse is pokey give horse one STRONG whack with whip just behind your leg, around the barrel. No matter what horse does after this do NOT touch reins and discourage any forward movement, even if its a mad gallop around the arena. (If horse is really bad you might want to work on forward out on the trail first with horse wanting to "catch up" to it's buddies.

                  Repeat often, always paying attention to when horse starts to suck bac, and never make it a "gentle" tap - what you're aiming for is a light "ask" with your calves and/or seat (curled forward hips) and if no reaction (or not enough) a STRONG action with the whip. If horse leaps forward then a "good boy/girl" is in order and ZERO backwards action with the reins. After several strides of gallop then you can gently bring horse back to slower gait - but the key here is to hardly use any rein and mostly use riders weight in stirrups and core "stomach crunch" to get horse to slow/transition, rather than the reins.
                  Now in Kentucky

                  Comment


                  • #29
                    I second Valentina's suggestion, and wanted to suggest adding a breastplate/neck strap/monkey grip/anything to hold on to for the hopefully inevitable gallop off.
                    Pisgah: 2000 AHHA (Holsteiner x TB) Mare (lower level eventing, with a focus on dressage)

                    Darcy: 7? year old Border Collie x Rottweiler? Drama Queen extraordinaire, rescued from the pound in Jan 2010

                    Comment


                    • #30
                      i think thinking about opening your hips/thighs and making absolutely sure you are not tilting forward *at all* will help a lot.

                      so figure out a way to self check so that you automatically think open seat/sit tall (or whatever will work for you)

                      then you also need to ask for the level of energy you want from your horse. ALL.THE.TIME. not let him lollygag along one day and expect him to work hard the next.

                      as my trainer says it is just a habit and if he can be forward for others it is you that needs to be habituated

                      good luck. i went from riding a hot tamale mare to a rather laid back "pony" and struggled with this for a bit. but it is totally fixable.

                      Comment


                      • #31
                        Is this all with the same instructor?

                        I am glad Im working with a very seat oriented instructor this time around as it is really helping me to grasp the concept of how important it is to ride from lower in your body than I did in hunters.

                        I am trying to recreate my default positions and my knee jerk reactions to be core forward rather than to fold up.

                        Some days are better than others but it sound like for you, your default might be to grip and you need to basically change the foundation of your go to seat and start there.

                        It is a process. It takes time and patience to get your body to let you master it against its will and without force. Force creates more problems, while letting go will help you correct most of it.

                        It is hair pulling out dressage at its finest! Your horse will thank yoU! lol
                        ~~Member of the TB's Rule Clique ~~
                        http://www.off-breed-dressage.blogspot.com/

                        Comment


                        • #32
                          The issue with the toes isn't in your ankles/knees-- it's in your hips. Several times per ride, take your thighs straight off the saddle ("fluff" them) and let them drape down again. If you try to turn your toes in without addressing the tightness in your hips, you're going to continue to block your horse.

                          Best of luck!

                          Comment


                          • #33
                            a couple of random thoughts

                            When you post do you do the nice hunter pitterpat IOW barely rising? I wish I could remember the person who told me "Post the trot you want" so post with energy, all the way to the top of the rise with your knees as the center of the circle and thinking of moving your pubic bone up and FORWARD. If your horse isn't supplying the thrust it needs to come from your thighs

                            Forget sitting for now.

                            Are your stirrups to long? I find with a wider horse I need to bring my stirrups up a couple of holes.

                            You are probably not turning your toes out, you're turning your whole leg out. Where are the wear/dirt marks on your boots? If they are near the back seam that's a dead giveaway. Draw an imaginary line from your hip flexors to the center of your knee cap. This line should point forward. You might need to grab the back of your thigh and pull it away from the saddle at first to rotate your upper leg forward.

                            I couldn't find it on Youtube but Jane Savoie used to have a good video on making a horse responsive to light aids. She said you should whisper your aid and your horse should shout her response. So you ask your horse to go forward with a light aid and if she doesn't respond ask with a more emphatic aid, being careful not to punish her when she jumps forward. Then ask with the light aid again.
                            Last edited by carolprudm; Mar. 25, 2013, 01:30 PM.
                            I wasn't always a Smurf
                            Penmerryl Sophie RIDSH
                            "I ain't as good as I once was but I'm as good once as I ever was"
                            The ignore list is my friend. It takes 2 to argue.

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                            • #34
                              Light squeeze on both legs, and then relax your legs to indicate for him to move forward. If he does not move forward, pop him with whip behind your legs. The key here is "relax" your legs to "allow" him to move forward. My guess is you are holding with your legs way too long. Also, it sounds like you or your horse or both is not strong enough to do a lengthening trot and that is why he is running. Get both of you stronger and the lengthening will come.

                              Comment


                              • #35
                                Originally posted by WildWest View Post
                                Selling him is not an option. I have sold 2 previously because they were too lazy before I came to the realisation that the problem IS me! I even managed to shut down a mad crazy warmblood. Not to this point but still had him behind the leg. It actually was not apparent to me until I went on holiday and had a friend ride him and when I came back he was so light and gorgeous ....... For a while.
                                I sold the mad crazy warmblood because although he was forward enough for me and I could not shut,him down to the same extent he was dangerously spooky. I then purchased a big quiet horse but had trouble motivating him and thats when my trainer said FGS get a smaller easier to motivate horse.

                                During spring grass flushes he gets so sugared up to the point of madness. Hes then amazing to ride and school at home when he's like this but too crazy to show. Last spring when he was like that I did some amazing tests on him but we could not use the warmup ring as he was so terrified of his own shadow and the other horses and we had to get led right to the arena to do our test. he pulled off amazing tests but was so on edge if a cat sneezed he would have been out of there. He's on high energy feeds but low sugar and low GI for that reason. He's perfectly sound so its not an issue there. He lives out all summer and is only in at nights in the winter. It makes no real difference but when he is stalled 24/7 at shows he's actually got more energy.
                                I don't want to keep him in 24/7 though while at home.

                                I know I and I alone OWN the problem. Fitness can be a problem as well as weight issues. He's an air fern so for this reason is in a paddock that has meagre feed so I can get plenty of feed into him.

                                So yes I know I can feed him to craziness to get more forward but the tension outweighs the benefit.

                                I have sent him for training and yes he comes back forward again. Sure he's naturally lazy but after training is way more responsive...... For a while.
                                I use the same methods they do and we have tried everyone under the sun.

                                So yes its me... I know the training methods and know how to carry them out. But this body I live in is doing something I don't and my trainers don't understand.

                                I just hope someone has some clues as its going to be me that gives up not the horse. I have done this to 3 horses already and need to find and answer.

                                I know its really tough to ask on here as none of you have seen me and so its difficult to get a picture but I was just hoping someone might also have the problem or have seen someone with the same issues that might give me some clues.
                                First of all, kudos to you for being forthright as to where the problem lies.

                                And you have tons of good advice here.

                                But this last post shows me the problem is not LAZINESS on the part of the horse, because 'laid back' horses don't go nuts at shows, especially since they have show experience.

                                Sounds to me more like the horse just shuts down. Simply stops listening. And that often translates to lack of forward. And you are right, it IS the rider who does this.

                                Honestly, it wouldn't be hard to get a video, but I'm sure you'd get alot of crap ideas along with the good ones, 'cause you know, COTH is so full of experts...

                                Instead, get your hinnie to a very good pro. If the person can't see what the problem is, they aren't good enough.

                                My guess is that you constantly "nag" the horse with your leg and keep too close contact. This is (unfortunately) a popular way to teach these days, but it takes a strong leg to drive a horse forward even when you have a choke hold on the horse.

                                I can't honestly imagine going through THREE horses and no pro being able to fix the issue...I think rather than needing a new horse you need a new instructor.

                                Lastly, it can sometimes "be the horse." Not all TBs like to run, not all QHs like to work cattle, etc. Although most horses can perform most disciplines on a lower level, you really DO want the horse to like the job....then they will do better.

                                If this horse was doing better for his other owners/riders, then yes, the problem IS you. But if he's always been laid back, then it maybe just the way he is.

                                But "lazy" horses don't usually freak out...that to me is a red flag that something is badly amiss.

                                Comment


                                • #36
                                  If you can lay your hands on a copy, I recommend reading the article in the latest USDF Connections magazine about developing more expression. I'm afraid I'm blanking the author--might have been Eric Herbermann?

                                  There's a lot of good stuff in there about the rider's attitude and approach, as well as the mechanics of getting the horse more forward and expressive.

                                  I don't have it in front of me, so I can't quote, but his premise is the the rider has to be up and forward and joyful about the ride if they expect the horse to be also.

                                  Comment


                                  • #37
                                    I've only read a handful of the responses, but here's my two cents.

                                    When I first started riding my lazy guy, I spent MONTHS going for hand-gallops in a half-seat EVERY RIDE to get him in front of my leg. As in, trot-warm-up, then GO! Then go some more! And I have to revisit that regularly to keep him thinking forward. This also helps with fitness, and now we do it while also keeping him round. Talk about encouraging jump in the canter!

                                    If you think you might be blocking, make sure you aren't tight. Take lots of deep breaths, where you actually feel your entire body let go, including your seat/hips. I have to remind myself of this at times, and I just start at the walk on a long rein and try to get everything to let go. Then I try to keep that feeling when I pick up the reins.

                                    Assuming you AREN'T blocking, your horse should move forward AS SOON AS you put your leg on. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. If not, give a bump-bump with your foot or a tap-tap with your whip (quick, not in rhythm with the stride), at whatever volume is appropriate for your horse. Release, and then put your leg on again. Does he go? Good. If not, bump-bump or tap-tap again. It takes a little coordination (I have to REALLY concentrate to get that bump-bump with my foot). And he should do this WITH contact. No matter his reaction, keep your position. Mine bucks.

                                    Have you ridden consistently with any other trainers? Not just an occasional lesson or a clinic, but in a serious program? A good set of eyes on the ground is your best bet, someone who can see what you may or may not be doing. Sometimes a different trainer will see something that your current trainer may not.

                                    Take all of this with a grain of salt, as I'm just guessing and throwing out what works for me and my horse.

                                    Edited: And ditto everything Kyzteke said.

                                    Comment


                                    • #38
                                      Another exercise you might try as you say you think you could be blocking with your thighs and your horse has a hunter canter. It also works at walk and trot, but canter is going to show it up fastest. Use the hunter canter with the minimal contact for this - it's an exercise for you, not the horse.

                                      Ride either bareback or without stirrups (this cannot be done with stirrups). Canter somewhere you don't have to make sharp turns or worry about running into anyone or anything. Once you have the canter, actively point your toes at the ground with everything you've got. Try to drag your toes in the dirt on both sides of the horse. If you actively use the muscles in your legs to point your toes it's pretty much impossible to grip with your legs. If you are gripping with your thighs you will very quickly notice that you are losing your seat/balance/position when you point your toes. Fix it by lifting your toes, settling yourself (without changing gait if possible) and then actively point your toes again. Fix your balance and position in the saddle as needed, and go back to the pointing toes as quick as you can. DON'T wait until you're sliding off the side to fix your balance/position. Fix it early and quickly, and go back to toe pointing.

                                      It helps to stretch the upper body very tall, straight and in the middle of the horse.

                                      This exercise can also help you learn to keep your butt in contact with the horse's back in canter without holding on with your legs. You want to get your pelvis rolling loosely under your upper body and following your horse's back.


                                      I did this exercise almost bareback. I had a saddle blanket to cushion his back and my butt. I don't recommend that because the loose saddle blanket makes your seat more unstable (but it certainly made me pay attention! ). My very cooperative horse was a bit puzzled, but quite happy to canter around without having to do anything extra. I really found it helpful and have a much lighter leg as a result. I still double check with the pointing toes every so often.

                                      If you haven't done much riding bareback, the toe pointing exercise done bareback at the walk can be helpful. It's teaching your body to be balanced on the horse without holding onto the horse with your legs. I should mention that when you start to slide, twist your body towards the side you're sliding to (sliding left, twist your body left). It's counter intuitive, but it shoves your butt back in the opposite direction - which is what you want.

                                      Good luck!

                                      Comment

                                      • Original Poster

                                        #39
                                        UPDATE. For the week I have been just riding in a half seat and trying to motivate him. I have out up raised trot poles and a small grid. I have tried to make him gallop. Its all a bit fruitless really. Its just not in his nature. I could smack him as hard as l like and he might increase the pace for one or two steps but then is back into his metronome canter. I took him out a couple of days on the trail. It was very relaxing but hardly inspiring. It was a droopy reined dawdle. He just wants to be a learners horse!!
                                        I have changed his feed once again and have now gone for a molassed sweetfeed t try and sugar him up to replicate the spring growth. 4 days of filling him up with it and no excelerations, no mad freaking out. Nada. Just the usual loose rein dawdle.
                                        I don't even want to try schooling him as its such hard work and uninspiring at the moment. I really feel like I am abusing his quiet laidback nature.

                                        I got the three books from the author listed on my kindle and have read the first and am on the second.

                                        I have realised I am definitely not gripping with my knees but yes I am turned out from toe to hip. I think alot of the blocking while riding a test is from me constantly being after him with my leg.

                                        This whole thing is killing me. I love this horse and really don't want to sell him. I would have died and gone to heaven if Id had him in my hunter days. I know he could be a fabulous dressage horse too if I could just find his motivation button.

                                        I am just hoping that I find the answer. As I am not allowed to compete in hunters anymore due to an injury I have found someone who is going to compete him in hunters for a bit and see if a bit more fun can help find his upper gears.

                                        Feeling very sad and depressed about my beautiful boy. I am not going to give up on this one without a fight.
                                        Don't Squat With Your Spurs On.

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                                        • #40
                                          Do you have access to a trainer? Hacking out will help with forward, but I'd suggest again you work bareback for a bit and see if you can evaluate your seat.

                                          Paula
                                          He is total garbage! Quick! Hide him on my trailer (Petstorejunkie).

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