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Confused about poll height and achieving this?

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  • Confused about poll height and achieving this?

    I am fairly new to dressage and am confused about training for proper poll height. If everything is coming together (mouth is soft and on the bit...and moving in a reasonably balanced, round frame)....BUT the poll is consistently too low most of the time, how do you correct this? I have read about "bumping" the mouth to achieve this. I have heard of driving the horse forward to achieve this. I have heard to leave it alone until the horse is stronger and this will happen naturally. I have read up on Buck B's philosophy on this but have never actually heard what technique he recommends for this.

    I am suspecting this might be a complicated subject but would love to hear opinions and experience with this.

  • #2
    We are working on this too. Philosophy we are working under is "don't frack about with your hands, use your legs and seat to get more forwards and up." You've got to have a nice, through, actively swinging back to get anywhere, though.

    Comment


    • #3
      Absolutely do not attempt to get the horse from a "too deep" position bu bumping with your hands.

      Maintain forward with your legs and seat, open your chest and lift you. The head will come up. Not many beginning riders are strong enough to maintain this. But it can be done. Alternatively you can simultaneously work on the horses' own carrying power. But still the rider must remember to carry themselves. No one ever said this was easy.
      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


      • #4
        If your horse is inexperienced, he is still building back and ab muscles, and the only way for him to do this is with the lowered head and poll, so that he stretches the topline and is able to reach under himself from behind. This is also how you can develop his walk and trot into a nice, loose, swinging gait. Keep him going forward and not onto the forehand. If you ask him to lift his head before he has the necessary strength, the only way he can do it is by hollowing his back, which you definitely do not want.

        Comment


        • #5
          In dressage, the poll should always be the highest point of the horse's neck (except if you are stretching or executing long and low), it doesn't matter what level you are working at. That should be your goal at all times.

          Bumping up with the hands is an accepted method of keeping the head up in the school of classical dressage. It is called an arret.

          More traditionally, most people use half halts to accomplish this, which involves some use of the hands, coordinated with the seat and legs. If you (and more importantly your horse) are new to dressage, it will take some time to develop this.

          With either approach, you'd probably benefit from some instruction on the issue.
          See those flying monkeys? They work for me.

          Comment


          • #6
            My two cents: If you and your horse are both new to dressage, it's going to be hard to fix this without good instruction. But then, do you need to worry so much about it now? Some horses have low polls because they are on their forehand. Some horses have low polls because they curl (NOT always the fault of the rider) due to the fact that they aren't strong enough to hold themselves yet, some horses have low polls because of their particular conformation, etc. Knowing the reason why your horse goes with a low poll is the first step in devising a training plan to fix it. Most often, riding the horse back-to-front (meaning, riding forward and with impulsion, but not hurrying or quick) eventually fixes this problem. But if you are new to dressage, this can be easier said than done. I suggest not "bumping" the mouth unless you really know how to do this. Fussing with the mouth before fussing with the motor of the hind-end is a recipe for bad dressage (i.e. bad training). I'd suggest trying to find good instruction to help you, even if it is a few lessons to get you on the right track, and periodic follow up lessons (I know good lessons can be expensive). ALso, find someone to tape yourself while you ride and especially tape yourself during a lesson. Often, we FEEL like we're doing a lot when we're riding but when we WATCH ourselves ride, we say "geez, I'm not doing anything!!".
            Proud member of the Colbert Dressage Nation

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              Helpful advice. My horse is a QH type so naturally carries her head a bit lower but not as much as most QHs I have been told. She has moments of keeping her poll up and then she drops way down. Reminds me of the western pleasure classes in which the horses carry their heads extremely low.

              I am very hesitant to do anything about it until I'm certain it is correct.

              Comment


              • #8
                Could you post a link to a video? That could help. Edited to add, quarter horses are perfectly capable to do dressage. It sounds like you both need to "get" contact and "carriage" more. Are you retraining her from Western Pleasure? That's fine, but you need to approach it as "that's great that you're going with your head so low and in a jog, but now we're going to go differently" - and patiently retrain her to go forward and use her back more.
                Proud member of the Colbert Dressage Nation

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Originally posted by J-Lu View Post
                  My two cents: If you and your horse are both new to dressage, it's going to be hard to fix this without good instruction. But then, do you need to worry so much about it now? Some horses have low polls because they are on their forehand. Some horses have low polls because they curl (NOT always the fault of the rider) due to the fact that they aren't strong enough to hold themselves yet, some horses have low polls because of their particular conformation, etc. Knowing the reason why your horse goes with a low poll is the first step in devising a training plan to fix it. Most often, riding the horse back-to-front (meaning, riding forward and with impulsion, but not hurrying or quick) eventually fixes this problem. But if you are new to dressage, this can be easier said than done. I suggest not "bumping" the mouth unless you really know how to do this. Fussing with the mouth before fussing with the motor of the hind-end is a recipe for bad dressage (i.e. bad training). I'd suggest trying to find good instruction to help you, even if it is a few lessons to get you on the right track, and periodic follow up lessons (I know good lessons can be expensive). ALso, find someone to tape yourself while you ride and especially tape yourself during a lesson. Often, we FEEL like we're doing a lot when we're riding but when we WATCH ourselves ride, we say "geez, I'm not doing anything!!".

                  Yes...that's so true about taping yourself! I noticed that one time. I didn't look like I was doing nearly as much as I felt I was...

                  Comment

                  • Original Poster

                    #10
                    I will try and do that. I'd love to get some feedback.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Poll height is determined by conformation and degree of carrying power. A QH with a low set neck can never carry their poll like a high necked wb without compromising in the withers.
                      I look forward to a video
                      www.destinationconsensusequus.com
                      chaque pas est fait ensemble

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Are you familiar with the training scale? Collection is at the very top! The more your horse "sits" & develops carrying power, the more the poll will come up. Do you have an elastic connection or is the horse hanging on you? It is hard to say without seeing it, but if your connection is soft, I wouldn't worry about the poll so much in this stage. You can practice transitions both between & within gaits to help your horse lighten the forehand. A good quote I often refer back to, "If you don't like what's happening in front of the saddle, then change what's happening behind the saddle" Make sure your horse is actively moving from your leg & seat aids. Also, make sure you are sitting up - where are your eyes looking? If you're staring DOWN at your horse's head, then you are causing the poll to go lower. Do you have mirrors - look at your posture apart from your horse. A rider in proper balance will be stable if you remove the horse from underneath them. Good luck

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Trot around, walk three steps, trot again.
                          Repeat, twice per longside and once per shortside.
                          Get the downward transition progressively off the reins and onto your seat.


                          Later, replace the full transition with simply doing "allllllmost walk." Alllllllmost walk for four strides, then trot off full power again. Count 1,2,3,4. Challenge yourself to do a double handed release on 4, but still hold the "almost walk" with your seat. Then challenge yourself to do the double handed release on 3 and 4. Then challenge yourself to do the double handed release for 2, 3, and 4, while holding the compression with your seat.
                          (Apply the "allllmost" aids EACH step. Don't hold continuously for 1,2,3,4. Half halt, release on 1, half halt and release on 2, etc. Then see if you can get the horse to hold it under your seat without the little half halt reminder at the start of each stride).

                          Then get the whole thing off of just seat. Keep your reins the same length and let the horse make a loop in the rein during the 1,2,3,4. Then send it out and fill the rein again. Your hands don't change, you just hold the horse off the bridle with your seat and then send it toward it again.

                          To help the horse understand, bring your legs back during the "alllllmost walk" steps, and then forward to the girth to send it out again. This will eventually be your piaffe button, and it helps the horse understand the difference between "forward" leg and "collecting" leg.


                          The more you do this, the more the poll will come up.

                          ETA:
                          Here is Eddo Hoekstra coaching my horse and I through it in July 2011.
                          Btw we still do the same thing every ride, every lesson, with EVERY person we lesson or clinic with, so make best friends with this exercise, lol. Although be best friends with it with your reins ten miles shorter than demonstrated.
                          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


                          • #14
                            Ditto on the training scale. Ride the horse, not the poll!

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              Am trying to get a video together. Look forward to some feedback once I get that up! Thanks!!

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by BlueSunMare View Post
                                Helpful advice. My horse is a QH type so naturally carries her head a bit lower but not as much as most QHs I have been told. She has moments of keeping her poll up and then she drops way down. Reminds me of the western pleasure classes in which the horses carry their heads extremely low.

                                I am very hesitant to do anything about it until I'm certain it is correct.
                                My old made was just like this. I found her biggest issue is she moved naturally on her front end, and if I could go back, I'd do TONS of butt work, and TONS of ab/back work.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by BlueSunMare View Post
                                  Helpful advice. My horse is a QH type so naturally carries her head a bit lower but not as much as most QHs I have been told. She has moments of keeping her poll up and then she drops way down. Reminds me of the western pleasure classes in which the horses carry their heads extremely low.

                                  I am very hesitant to do anything about it until I'm certain it is correct.
                                  My old made was just like this. I found her biggest issue is she moved naturally on her front end, and if I could go back, I'd do TONS of butt work, and TONS of ab/back work.

                                  Comment

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