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Retraining the Western Pleasure Horse

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  • Retraining the Western Pleasure Horse

    I have just started riding a horse that was trained for western pleasure. When I ask her to do a circle she moves away from my leg instead of bending around my leg. While she is doing this she is not looking where she is going, we have gotten pretty close to rubbing the jumps in the arena. She is a sweet willing mare just a little confused right now with what I am asking. How can I help her to understand what I am asking?

    Dawn
    Dawn

    Patience and Consistency are Your Friends

  • #2
    What kind of bit are you using, and how are you using your reins when you are riding the circle?

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      D ring snaffle and I open my inside rein. Today when I rode I used a little pressure with my outside leg and this helped tremendously.

      Dawn
      Dawn

      Patience and Consistency are Your Friends

      Comment


      • #4
        If this is a well trained western horse, then she will be more accustomed to bending from your outside rein aid. Instead of using a leading inside rein, keep your hands in a normal position, but slightly elevate your outside rein while using your inside leg. On the circle, you need to work inside leg to outside rein. This means that the outside rein must be effective, and that you should have less contact on the inside rein. On the straight line, you would be working more with that slight lift on the inside rein, and the greater use of your outside leg position. See how that works for you.

        Comment


        • #5
          how long was she a western pleasure horse? you have your work cut out for you as the quality of western gaits are different that what dressage judges are looking for

          Comment


          • #6
            I have an ex-Western Pleasure horse that is currently in his third week of living at a dressage barn (I did hunters with him in the late fall when I got him, and then for all intents and purposes he had the winter off).

            The biggest challenges for him have been to accept and seek a firmer contact, and that when asked for 'more' in the trot he quickly offers up the canter instead.

            I have not tried to figure out his 'western pleasure' buttons, but have rather focused on saying, "These are the new buttons." So I treat him like any other green horse; when the button I'm looking for isn't there I gently go about installing it, rather than trying to change my aid to suit the horse's previous training.

            I am trying to get a good video of him; tragically the tape ran out yesterday three minutes before the horse gave me the best canterwork he's ever done for me.

            Enjoy your WP horse and don't let anyone talk down to him because of his heritage. My dressage trainer is a huge fan of my WP pleasure horse (and I have three horses, the other two are a TB and an Oldenburg) and loves to teach Jinxy lessons because he is so freakin' adorable and always tries tries tries.
            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


            • #7
              Slow down and put in new buttons

              One advantage of retraining a WP pleasure horse is that they typically know how to accept correction. They are used to being told what to do, and will generally try and try.

              It's true that your mare has probably been taught to turn (but not bend) according to outside rein, perhaps outside leg. If so, you need to teach her that bending while turning is the New Correct. Assume she just doesn't know and would oblige if the understood what you wanted and was physically strong enough to do it.

              WP horses are also typically taught to listen to rein and leg separately. So while keeping their body pretty straight, they will "side pass"-- a leg yield done directly sideways just off your leg alone. They will also do turns on the haunches (sort of, by dressage standards) primarily off your hand.

              The good news in all this is that if you slow down, use leg and hand in different combinations at the walk, your mare will figure out what you want. If this horse were mine, I'd start with the reminder that she needs to move her hind end away from leg pressure. Then, in my snaffle and not worrying about the contact, I'd use a direct rein, perhaps raised up pretty high and ask her for a turn on the fore hand, with her nose bent in. One or two steps with her hind end, and we relax and walk straight.

              If you see the logic of my idea, you can build to get any degree of bend from there with spirals on a circle, whatever. I'd worry about getting her to understand what you want her to do with her body and how she should listen to your hand and leg first. I'd worry about the quality of her bends and acceptance of contact later.

              It will take her some time to get strong enough to do all this well. But if you can enjoy watching her learn, you will be able to continue to enjoy her. She can do it, and the horse who knows how to be trained is a joy to ride.
              The armchair saddler
              Politically Pro-Cat

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by mvp View Post
                One advantage of retraining a WP pleasure horse is that they typically know how to accept correction. They are used to being told what to do, and will generally try and try.
                This is exactly the case with the little QH WP mare who is now my trail / dressage horse. Being a chestnut mare, it sometimes comes with a bit of 'tude, as in "You told me to trot. I am trotting! Why is your %^(*& leg still there ?!" The dressage concept of managing every stride really annoys her, but she will do whatever I ask, while making snarky mare faces ...

                *star*
                "Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit."
                - Desiderata, (c) Max Ehrman, 1926

                Comment


                • #9
                  how long was she a western pleasure horse? you have your work cut out for you as the quality of western gaits are different that what dressage judges are looking for
                  If she has a four beat walk, two beat trot and 3 beat canter, you'll be fine. The brilliance of the gaits may not be getting you extra marks, but you should still get good marks if your basic gaits are pure.

                  NJR
                  Your beliefs don't make you a better person, your behaviour does.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    beg to differ. it's not simply a matter of semantics.

                    a jog is not a trot the judges want
                    a lope is not the canter a dressage judge wants to see

                    the loop in the reins is not the contact
                    the reinback is not the same
                    throughness over the back and forward is different
                    the frame, the energy, the spark?

                    I am not making judgement bad/good or whatever. but a judge will


                    I boarded at LAEC next to one of the premier western pleasure barns, and also at Huntington Beach- lots of western pleasure as well. It's just different, that's all.

                    and I must say that LOTS of classical dressage trainers teach the sidepass as well

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      a jog is not a trot the judges want
                      a lope is not the canter a dressage judge wants to see

                      The gait score is based on the quality of the gaits, which in turn is based on the purity of the gaits. Gaits that are correct should get at least a 5 for Sufficient. Once the horse begins to understand that you want more forward and more expression then the marks will rise accordingly.

                      Techinically, a correct jog IS a trot and a correct lope IS a canter. Not perhaps a world-beater but no reason to make it seem like your horse is insufficient to go before dressage judges because they used to do WP.

                      NJR
                      Your beliefs don't make you a better person, your behaviour does.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        A small hijack...

                        And a big phat plug for WP horses with "cruise control." This post is speaking to Shotenstar's chestnut WP mare who is telling her rider how to ride.

                        I think the mare is right-- Once you have given an aid, and she has answered it, she has earned the right to be left alone until you want something else.

                        I agree with WP horses and the trainers who don't want to micromanage as so many dressage philosophers want. Yes, we can feel and perfect every stride, I suppose, but the best dressage horses understand that they should keep doing what we asked an respond to each new request, not quite requiring constant intervention.

                        So this redhead girl might give us all a riding lesson. Good for her!

                        OK, back to the topic at hand.
                        The armchair saddler
                        Politically Pro-Cat

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Boy, do I appreciate this thread!
                          I am "retraining" my QH just in dressage disciplines, since that's what I know. I don't show, I ride for excersize and pleasure. We've been together 18 months, she's now 7, but I definitely treat her as a greenie as meupatdoes said in an earlier post.

                          The first time I asked for a small circle, she sidpassed! I can't help but laugh when she does stuff like this, it's teaching ME to think differently. Quite rewarding, actually.

                          I've helped her round out from trot to walk, but she's still excitable and learning balance when cantering. She's just mastered gently rolling into the canter instead of lurching into a forward charge, yay!

                          Can anyone help me with our problem of downward transitions? When I ask her to slow from a canter to a trot, she hits the breaks HARD, raising her head and lowering her butt end like a sliding stop. (at least that's how it feels) Her reactions to aids are quick & hair trigger. A WP thing?

                          She's in a snaffle with forks to help keep the rein pressure at a low angle. Riding in a western saddle for now, posting and looking ridiculous.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            The poster who commented that riding her as a green horse had a great thought.

                            You are essentially retraining her. Her gaits must be more forward,her stride longer. and more reaching. Rather than her head being in a position, she must be able to stretch, and move. She has to learn to understand a light, elastic but continuous contact with the hand. BTW many reining and WP horses are started in a snaffle. I've never had a problem switching them to one.


                            Using the outside leg on a circle has always been part of riding a correct circle. The outside leg, ensures that the hind quarters stay on the same track as the forehand. Without that it isn't a circle.
                            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


                            • #15
                              "Techinically, a correct jog IS a trot and a correct lope IS a canter. "

                              Nope.

                              The western lope isn't a 3 beat canter, and the western jog isn't a two beat trot.

                              So no.

                              "Deserves to be left alone til you want something else"

                              Doesn't quite work out that way in dressage, since every stride is something you want....not that a good dressage rider is yankin' and spankin' every step. But it is not at all the same.

                              You're on a horse in both. That's about it.

                              Western pleasure and dressage have very very few similarities.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                That just shows how little you know about good western work.

                                Western wants the horse light. So do dressage riders. However, the dressage rider is not taught how to keep the horse light, or how to get the horse really quick off the aids. More is the pity as many dressage riders go around wondering why those reins do not feel like the silken thread concept into which they bought when they first started riding dressage. When you give an aid to the well trained western horse, you get immediate response. If you give that aid too heavily, you will get way more response than you bargained for. Dressage riders use aids like sledge hammers for the most part, in the mistaken idea that this is correct "contact." Bah!

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  previous poster does not understand dressage. The cowboys around here laugh at dressage riders too, saying they all hang on the horse's face and are afraid to go outside the arena

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Can anyone help me with our problem of downward transitions? When I ask her to slow from a canter to a trot, she hits the breaks HARD, raising her head and lowering her butt end like a sliding stop. (at least that's how it feels) Her reactions to aids are quick & hair trigger. A WP thing?
                                    I have the same thing going on with my mare broke for roping. Only, if I drop the reins at all, She STOPS. So, I'm always riding her forward, especially through the down transitions. It's gotten better but that fast stop is her evasion tactic and she abuses it when she doesn't want to work. Sneaky little booger

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by slc2 View Post
                                      "Techinically, a correct jog IS a trot and a correct lope IS a canter. "

                                      Nope.

                                      The western lope isn't a 3 beat canter, and the western jog isn't a two beat trot.

                                      So no.
                                      Sorry, nope — check page 141 of your AQHA show rules, if you have one. (If not, see below). A jog is a slow trot and a lope is a slow canter — or, at least, it is supposed to be.

                                      ".... The jog is a two-beat diagonal gait. The horse works from one pair of diagonals to the other pair.... Horses walking with their back feet and trotting in the front are not considered performing the required gait.... The lope is an easy, rhythmical three-beat gait.... Horses traveling at a four-beat gait are not considered to be performing at a proper lope."
                                      "Go on, Bill — this is no place for a pony."

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by farriergodmother View Post
                                        ...It's gotten better but that fast stop is her evasion tactic and she abuses it when she doesn't want to work. Sneaky little booger
                                        Ahem ... it is never the horse's fault. Check your own body position/motion, and make sure you're not inadvertently asking for this. Just because you are not aware of what she might be interpreting as a cue from you doesn't mean the horse is wrong for obeying it.
                                        "One person's cowboy is another person's blooming idiot" -- katarine

                                        Spay and neuter. Please.

                                        Comment

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