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young horse displaying upper-level movements

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  • young horse displaying upper-level movements

    I'll try to keep this as brief as possible. I'm primarily a h/j rider who has recently started investing in some dressage lessons to help develop my 5 y.o mare's flatwork. She's doing great about coming up and staying off her forehand, but is having some resistance to bending correctly and stepping under with her inside hind.

    In an effort to avoid bending with her body and/or stepping under herself, she will go through bouts of tempi changes, half-passing, leg-yielding, and the occasional 1/2 pirouette or few strides of piaffe.

    The tempis are the most 'impressive' as she will perform up to about 8 in a row while on a circle! And I do mean real tempi's, not 1's or 2's, she's changing each and every stride. And then sometimes she'll just change her hind, but it's usually full clean changes. (Additional info: she practically had her changes when I bought her, and has had solid lead changes on cue for over a year.)

    I know she is young and still figuring out what is being asked of her, but does this say something about a future in the dressage ring? She's a super athletic mare and I have high hopes for her in the hunter or jumper rings, but now I wonder if she's telling me her real talent is in the dressage ring?

    Does anybody have experience with their youngsters displaying upper level movements? Does this mean anything?
    Last edited by *Liz*; Oct. 1, 2009, 09:29 PM. Reason: piaffe, not passage - sorry!

  • #2
    A young horse is like raw clay.....to be molded into whatever discipline. I have bought 2 horses before they were backed because mother nature endowed them with incredible athleticism. They were pretty awesome to watch in liberty. Gallop to halt perfectly square every time. Effortless flying changes at changes of direction. My philosophy is to start with the raw material that is in your favor. This one sounds great.

    During one horse shopping adventure, I saw one horse who only cross cantered.....I had driven 3 hrs in the pouring rain to see this horse....how did I tell the owner I had seen enough after 5 minutes? Crossed that one off my list quick.

    Another adventure led me to a "brand name" WB breeding farm, where I was shown a horse who only trotted....and when asked to canter (in the indoor) as he approached a corner, he was so unbalanced, he could not make the turn without breaking into a trot.....crossed that one off the list too.
    Do not confuse motion and progress. A rocking horse keeps moving but does not make any progress.
    Alfred A. Montapert

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    • #3
      I'm not quite sure how to reply here. That your horse can do these things and is offering them is great. She sounds athletic and as if she has quick back legs, essential in a dressage horse.

      What I'm not so sure how to phrase is why is she offering these movements? While it is very common for horses to offer tempi changes when they are learning canter pirouettes because that work is so hard I wonder why this horse is doing quite so much dancing around when being asked to do what sounds like basic level dressage? I think it could be her way of saying she doesn't understand +/- a comment on the amount of pressure she feels she is being put under. That last sentence has been written carefully. She may in truth be under very little pressure but from her point of view it is so much that she is boiling up and fizzing over.

      If she were mine I would spend time trying to figure out what makes her squirt off into tempi changes or wriggle sideways into unrequested lateral work. You'll learn more about how she ticks by analysing her responses. Once you find out what makes her fizzy try to avoid doing that. Ask her the same question in a different way otherwise you run the risk of ending up with a disobedient horse who cannot canter a 20m circle without throwing in unrequested changes and, believe me, that is a right royal PITA!!

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      • #4
        Originally posted by stolensilver View Post
        I'm not quite sure how to reply here. That your horse can do these things and is offering them is great. She sounds athletic and as if she has quick back legs, essential in a dressage horse.

        What I'm not so sure how to phrase is why is she offering these movements? While it is very common for horses to offer tempi changes when they are learning canter pirouettes because that work is so hard I wonder why this horse is doing quite so much dancing around when being asked to do what sounds like basic level dressage? I think it could be her way of saying she doesn't understand +/- a comment on the amount of pressure she feels she is being put under. That last sentence has been written carefully. She may in truth be under very little pressure but from her point of view it is so much that she is boiling up and fizzing over.

        If she were mine I would spend time trying to figure out what makes her squirt off into tempi changes or wriggle sideways into unrequested lateral work. You'll learn more about how she ticks by analysing her responses. Once you find out what makes her fizzy try to avoid doing that. Ask her the same question in a different way otherwise you run the risk of ending up with a disobedient horse who cannot canter a 20m circle without throwing in unrequested changes and, believe me, that is a right royal PITA!!

        Excellent advice. this thread could be a bit of fun. What the OP describes is also a royal PITA when trying to strike off into a canter to begin a show jumping round, or while trying to walk from the warm up to the start box. Athletic yes.

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        • #5
          You must be sitting funny !
          ... _. ._ .._. .._

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          • #6
            Originally posted by *Liz* View Post
            I'll try to keep this as brief as possible. I'm primarily a h/j rider who has recently started investing in some dressage lessons to help develop my 5 y.o mare's flatwork. She's doing great about coming up and staying off her forehand, but is having some resistance to bending correctly and stepping under with her inside hind.

            In an effort to avoid bending with her body and/or stepping under herself, she will go through bouts of tempi changes, half-passing, leg-yielding, and the occasional 1/2 pirouette or few strides of passage.

            The tempis are the most 'impressive' as she will perform up to about 8 in a row while on a circle! And I do mean real tempi's, not 1's or 2's, she's changing each and every stride. And then sometimes she'll just change her hind, but it's usually full clean changes. (Additional info: she practically had her changes when I bought her, and has had solid lead changes on cue for over a year.)

            I know she is young and still figuring out what is being asked of her, but does this say something about a future in the dressage ring? She's a super athletic mare and I have high hopes for her in the hunter or jumper rings, but now I wonder if she's telling me her real talent is in the dressage ring?

            Does anybody have experience with their youngsters displaying upper level movements? Does this mean anything?
            Actually, what you state is not abnormal for a horse who has talent for dressage and for jumping. However, you hit the nail on the head with your own words.

            It is not unusual for an athletic horse to break into tempi changes (which are just changes at every "X" stride), even one-tempis. But as you note, it is resistance to truly stepping under with the inside hind leg. My own horse does tempis as an evasion so she doesn't have to repeatedly weight the same inside hind leg. She did tempis in a half-pass at a show (I have it on video). WHile an amazing feat it is a total evasion to work. It is also a nuissance because it means she is not listening to the seat. Thus, I don't accept that from her. I don't tell her it is wrong but i say "no, how pleasant but that is not what I am asking for now". Also, dressage tempis at the high levels requires much more than simply flipping leads every stride. It takes alot of collection, strength and jump. Sometimes, horses might offer tempis as an evasion but don't want to be told to do tempis correctly. Does that make sense? SO your horse might just be a nimble, balanced athlete (good for you!) not a dressage wannabe.

            Similarly, my horse passaged as a young horse. While pleasant, it was an evasion to truly using her back in a forward trot. It was a lofty trot but it was not a truly correct passage because she wasn't nearly strong enough to carry a passage until years later. I never told her she was wrong, I told her that it was nice but not what I am looking for. Her whole life she passaged as an evasion to work and can do a passage half-pass in her sleep...but it's usually not what I'm asking for and is a cheat. I can't reward a cheat but don't want to punish that, either.

            Usually, building strength so the horse is more capable of stepping under and balancing behind fixes these kinds of evasions. Just be patient and kind and correct in your training.

            If you are a hunter/jumper, she's telling you that she can do lead changes without losing a smidge of balance and that she's capable of great adjustability within her stride...two things that are very important in the hunter ring. How is her form over fences? Dressage is the foundation of a great hunter and jumper round - you can likely utilize her great balance and adjustability to create a spectacular round if that is what you want to do with her.
            Proud member of the Colbert Dressage Nation

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            • Original Poster

              #7
              Perhaps I didn't word myself clearly, but I'll try again. She's usually quite obedient and at least tries to do what she is told. I am a moderately experienced amateur (showed successfully 4'3'' jumpers) and both my trainer and I are having the same issues.

              (Preface: I hope I'm explaining myself correctly, if I'm not, please forgive me and I'll try again.) What usually sets off the tempis is her reaction to the outside leg. When she isn't bending through her body correctly, and you move your outside leg back to move her hindquarters in, she thinks lead change. Prior to my dressage lessons, outside leg back cued for a walk to canter transition, and for lead changes. Now I'm learning it needs to do a LOT more than just that, and she's not totally comfortable with that concept yet. She's usually go around for a bit, then resits (= upper level moves), then give up and does what basic thing she was being asked for. Then she may protest again 10 minutes later before giving in and simply bending and using herself correctly. This has been her deal for about a month now.

              I know it's mostly a function of time and repetition. She just doesn't understand what she's being asked to do yet. Is that any clearer?

              Edit: And in my original post, I meant paiffe - not passage, sorry.

              More edit: Her form o/f is good, but she goes to crap between the fences - falls on her forehand, leans on my inside aids. So we've backed way off on jumping and really stepped up the dressage work, lightly incorporating trot/canter poles and small fences (usually under 2'.)

              Comment


              • #8
                Hey Liz,

                As a dressage rider, I have noticed that some horses get mighty confused with the outside leg. Haunches in? Pick up canter? Change leads? Ack! my current horse is very smart and anticipates ALOT - I have had to be very clear with her aids to prevent her from anticipating and throwing in movements.

                I ask for a canter depart and tempis MORE with my inside seat bone and hip and less with my outside leg moving back in order to distinguish a canter depart and change from putting the haunches in. It made sense for the horses I've ridden. I put my outside leg back slightly to activate that outside leg but not as much as what I'd do to move the haunches is. I also do something slightly different with rein pressure.

                My point is that clear cues for each thing you want is the key to making a smart and talented horse understand what you want.
                Proud member of the Colbert Dressage Nation

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                • #9
                  There are lots of dressage-y exercises you can do in between fences. You can set up fences that can only be taken if she jumps fence 1, leg yeilds over, and then jumps jump 2 then leg yields back in order to make jump 3. Or you could put trot or canter poles in between fences. Or ask her to halt, back up, and then go forward to the next jump. Each of these things is very difficult for her to do if she's leaning on your hands or on her forehand. Get creative! Make patterns that are difficult for her to do unless she's balanced. She'll learn that between fences she has to pay attention and balance as much as she does over fences.
                  Proud member of the Colbert Dressage Nation

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    You asked if your horse is "telling" you that her real talent is in the dressage ring. The answer you got is, hard to tell, what she is displaying is an evasion. An athletic horse has the ability to achieve success in any of the three disciplines. It has been said of my OTTB who is an CCI** event horse (who has always show a preoccupation with "upper level" movements when he is asked to do anything difficult or when he gets excited) "What a waste, he could have been an FEI dressage horse." Let me tell you, it was nothing short of life threatening to teach him flying changes, despite the fact that he offers one tempis before every stadium round. He also does an amazing "piaffe" in the start box - but I would never survive the training to make him do it on command. Oh, and he uses his neck and back like a hunter, even over solid obstacles, but you can't lunge him long enough to make him slow off the ground. So, I think we understand you, the answer is, your horse is athletic. Right now she is avoiding work. Hard to say if she would be a good dressage horse, depends on whether she can get over herself cause good dressage horses don't get to give their rider the bird in front of a judge.

                    ETA: Sorry, *successful* dressage horses don't get to give their rider the bird.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I would be concerned that the aids are unclear or the horse feels too confined, is stiff somewhere, not moving forward. I would be concerned if a horse was not staying on one lead, and not just trotting when asked. I would consider that something was wrong. Horses shouldn't be doing those things til their muscles are ready through several years of progressive training.

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        J-Lu: We're actually working those exercises in my lessons, and they really seem to be helpful, frustrating though they may be!

                        Gry2Yng: She is certainly quiet and responsive enough to do the dressage on cue and correctly, and she can carry herself in a nice uphill dressage frame (though at the moment her hind end is weak), so I don't think that's the issue.

                        I realize what she's doing right now is her form of evasion - that word was escaping me while I was writing my original post. The interesting aspect (to me) is that in avoidance of a simple concept she reacts by doing something that takes much MORE energy and effort. I've owned horses for over a decade, been riding for more than 15 years, and I've never had a horse do something MORE complicated than what was asked as an evasion tactic.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by *Liz* View Post

                          I realize what she's doing right now is her form of evasion - that word was escaping me while I was writing my original post. The interesting aspect (to me) is that in avoidance of a simple concept she reacts by doing something that takes much MORE energy and effort. I've owned horses for over a decade, been riding for more than 15 years, and I've never had a horse do something MORE complicated than what was asked as an evasion tactic.
                          I can introduce you to several who actually do the more difficult thing - in theory(if they aren't doing the movement correctly it is hard to say if it is more difficult) - than what is being asked. What their brain and body define as "easier" is probably not the same as our definition. Or else they have an alternative goal. In the case of the above referenced OTTB (and others that I have known) anything that they find "restrictive" or makes them feel claustrophobic results in the small tour/temper tantrum.

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                          • #14
                            think of it as when a child throws a tantrum. Its much more difficult to throw yourself on the floor and flail about than it would be to go along with whatever is being asked of them.

                            Same thing here.

                            The guy that is my current partner in crime has one rank attitude, and some decent athleticism. To date we have done 1/2 steps, pieffe and kicked a hole in the wall. He's 4... and throwing little kid tantrums that usually clue me in to back off and do something very easy for him.

                            Great your horse has the ability... but I would be careful to encourage any of it.
                            http://dressageesquire.blogspot.com
                            "The ability to write a check for attire should not be confused with expertise. Proficiency doesn't arrive shrink-wrapped from UPS and placed on your doorstep."

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by *Liz* View Post
                              ...The interesting aspect (to me) is that in avoidance of a simple concept she reacts by doing something that takes much MORE energy and effort. I've owned horses for over a decade, been riding for more than 15 years, and I've never had a horse do something MORE complicated than what was asked as an evasion tactic.
                              Welcome to the world of hot, sensitive mares

                              My mare did some of the same things your mare is doing now in her early efforts to avoid the simple requests (such as putting your leg on while still having a contact with the reins, or asking for a halt when she does not feel so inclined to halt).

                              But there is much much more to making it as an upper-level dressage horse than just the ability to do those movements as an evasion. On one hand, you know she CAN do them (even if not completely correct). But on the other hand, she needs to have the brain and ability to stay sound in heavy work if she is to make it to GP.

                              You won't know if you don't try though!

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                One way which might help you to evaluate her possible futures is to think of what balance she is displaying instead of what "movements." If she is really willing to shift her weight back onto her hocks and get freer in front, that might point you down a different path than if she frequently avoids loading one hind leg by swapping leads....

                                Not saying she is or isn't doing anything noteworthy, just that "carrying power" receives a lot of attention if dressage. Ease of swapping leads on command is a big point too, of course....
                                http://wildwoodfarmnc.com

                                http://cantersgutenberg.wordpress.co...g-quiet-goose/

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                                • #17
                                  These are not upper level movements in a young horse, they are evasions because the horse is uncomfortable and/or resistant in what you are asking.
                                  Tranquility Farm - Proud breeder of Born in the USA Sport Horses, and Cob-sized Warmbloods
                                  Now apparently completely invisible!

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                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by stolensilver View Post
                                    I'm not quite sure how to reply here. That your horse can do these things and is offering them is great. She sounds athletic and as if she has quick back legs, essential in a dressage horse.

                                    What I'm not so sure how to phrase is why is she offering these movements? While it is very common for horses to offer tempi changes when they are learning canter pirouettes because that work is so hard I wonder why this horse is doing quite so much dancing around when being asked to do what sounds like basic level dressage? I think it could be her way of saying she doesn't understand +/- a comment on the amount of pressure she feels she is being put under. That last sentence has been written carefully. She may in truth be under very little pressure but from her point of view it is so much that she is boiling up and fizzing over.

                                    If she were mine I would spend time trying to figure out what makes her squirt off into tempi changes or wriggle sideways into unrequested lateral work. You'll learn more about how she ticks by analysing her responses. Once you find out what makes her fizzy try to avoid doing that. Ask her the same question in a different way otherwise you run the risk of ending up with a disobedient horse who cannot canter a 20m circle without throwing in unrequested changes and, believe me, that is a right royal PITA!!
                                    good post

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      read this post http://www.chronicleforums.com/Forum...d.php?t=225681
                                      and this one

                                      http://www.chronicleforums.com/Forum...d.php?t=226077

                                      http://www.chronicleforums.com/Forum...d.php?t=225797

                                      http://www.chronicleforums.com/Forum...d.php?t=226045

                                      all these above links are rider errors same as your is but diffferent sernerios

                                      read my helpful links pages and pay perticular attention to page one and all links

                                      you can not ask a horse to pefrom xyz if you havent got his full attention
                                      and you can not expect him to perfrom the moves if your not giving him the right aids and signals at the right time - timming is important

                                      hes not what i call a clockwork horse that knows his job and more likely the horses types you have been used to that do it for you at click of a button hes baby and hes trying to understand what your asking but he doesnt thats becuase your letting antispate your moves and hes guessing
                                      and being honest -

                                      you have a smart good horse now if you want a prtnership to work then you need to change your thinking plan - and get him balanced properly before you attempt the upper movements
                                      so if i was you i would go right back to baiscs and stay there till hes ready and your ready to educated him further - hes 5 not 10
                                      he needs to delvelope and use himself properly and as for jumping mate if he cant do flat work on the ground then how do you expect him to do it in the air over jumps
                                      Last edited by goeslikestink; Oct. 2, 2009, 10:44 AM.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Does your mare have the athleticism and talent for upper level dressage? So it would seem. The ability to balance oneself under a rider and perform clean multiple changes without having the work of early dressage, takes some inborn talent!

                                        Does she have the mind for dressage?
                                        That remains to be seen. Part of the "talent" for a dressage horse is not getting all hot and fizzy and confused in the show ring. I mean, for a jumper, you can just take that energy and run and jump it away and it's probably a boon. In dressage, unless she can also contain herself and listen to the rider, it can be a nuisance. But training helps that in most cases, specially if the horse has a good basic work ethic and is not just inventing evasions to amuse herself.

                                        Does she have the correct early training for dressage? Forgive me for repeating the obvious, but it really doesn't sound like it. A horse properly forward to the aides and connected, even in the early years of training, cannot just pop off into tempis and lateral work, as delightful as it sounds. Get to work on the basics and report back on how its going in a few months!
                                        "The Threat of Internet Ignorance: ... we are witnessing the rise of an age of equestrian disinformation, one where a trusting public can graze on nonsense packaged to look like fact."-LRG-AF

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