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Novice Q: behind the bit on long/driving lines

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  • Novice Q: behind the bit on long/driving lines

    Hi, all! first, let me apologize. I'm not on the level of most of the posts i've read here. I've been riding for, gulp, 30 years now -- but many years rode "classic jumpers" (read constantly in 2-point, rigid hands, rigid demanding orders to the horse) then many years minimal riding....and have limited dressage instruction, no access to an instructor and no budget or time to go either....

    Ok, disclaimer over...

    Kelso is my current project. He is a 7yo appendix TB who is the son of the best natural dressage mover I've ever met -- and my rarely-instructor describes her the same. He is finally maturing, finished growing (3" this year!) and broadening through his barrel.

    We are currently working on long lines, after several months of periodic work at liberty in a round pen doing lots of transitions, changes of direction, working on impulsion and helping him build his balance, and limited work in side reins in the same conditions.

    A little lightbulb went on over his head this week as we did our first work in long lines in MONTHS. Suddenly, instead of spending most of the time avoiding the bit, he is coming round, bringing his hind end under him, and moving forward with power in MOST situations.

    I understand that, when riding, if a horse come behind vertical, then I need to drive him up into the reins, requesting more impulsion and for him to put his hind end under him further -- which will cause him to stretch forward and help get him back onto the bit...

    Now, when on the long lines, he is sometimes "tucking" his nose -- breaking well behind the pole and thus avoiding at least part of the contact. I have been trying to urge him forward when he does so but am not very successful doing so. Is that what I should continue to try to do? or would lateral or some other request bring him back into focus or perhaps make something else harder so that, if he "cheats" he has to do a more difficult task, so that he promptly learns that cheating isn't worth it?

    Please remember I have limited dressage lingo and limited support to help if your suggestions are complex....so small steps are REALLY appreciated.

    Here's a poor quality video of his work last night, in case it helps to show you our current efforts....

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kpeJF...eature=channel
    AnnMarie Cross, Pres, Crosswinds Equine Rescue, cwer.org
    Sidell IL (near Champ./UofI/Danville IL/IN state border)

  • #2
    I noticed that you were not carrying a lunge whip, which is generally used as a tool to create more impulsion when on the lunge/long lining....

    In other words, you may not be getting more impulsion, because he has no reason to give it to you. Clucking doesn't always do the trick...sometimes you have to follow it up via more leg, spurs, crop, or, in your case, a lunge whip.

    Don't get me wrong. I'm not encouraging you to go out there and flog your greenie with a whip if he doesn't respond with the amount of impulsion you're looking for....but he should understand a flick, and it that doesn't work, a tap, etc. etc.

    Comment


    • #3
      Ditto on carrying a whip. Also, make sure you have even (light) contact on both lines. When working on a circle its easy to rely more heavily on the inside line to bring his head around and create "bend" - but that may result in too much pressure and him ducking behind the bit.

      Comment


      • #4
        One of the things I do if I feel a resistance is "break it up" - that is, I will ask him to step into one rein, the other, then straight, do transitions (even walk/halt) - when he isn't sure what's coming he tends to "step it up" - this is true in the saddle as well!
        www.specialhorses.org
        a 501(c)3 organization helping 501(c)3 equine rescues

        Comment

        • Original Poster

          #5
          Thank you!

          I love the 'step it up' idea, thanks! I use something like it in the saddle...never thought of it on the driving lines.

          I'm nowhere near too proud to admit i'm green working on lines -- and so i have a very hard time managing a whip as well. He does understand a lunge wip and respects it very well; i'm simply not comfortable wheelding it and also managing both reins. I always have a helper about when i'm working, is it a silly idea to ask my helper to 'drive' him with the lunge wip for me while i'm still on his reins? Or do i just simply need to bite the bullet and practice it until it comes? I have a mare who is VERY good on the lines and i could likely practice better with her as i know she wont shy from the whip at all.

          I do tend to make that mistake of not keeping adequate contact on the outside rein, unless i'm asking him to "leg yield" to the outside, or am easing off the inside pressure and asking him to take a straight line. I will need to work harder on that, thanks!!
          AnnMarie Cross, Pres, Crosswinds Equine Rescue, cwer.org
          Sidell IL (near Champ./UofI/Danville IL/IN state border)

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by Crosswinds Rescue View Post
            I'm nowhere near too proud to admit i'm green working on lines -- and so i have a very hard time managing a whip as well. He does understand a lunge wip and respects it very well; i'm simply not comfortable wheelding it and also managing both reins. I always have a helper about when i'm working, is it a silly idea to ask my helper to 'drive' him with the lunge wip for me while i'm still on his reins? Or do i just simply need to bite the bullet and practice it until it comes? I have a mare who is VERY good on the lines and i could likely practice better with her as i know she wont shy from the whip at all.
            Either will help. You should practice without any horse and again with your steady horse, and meanwhile your helper can do the little tap tap if needed.

            It will help you immensely if you use a driving whip - shorter and lighter than the typical long heavy lunge whip. Less painful for your wrist, too.

            If you have a selection of lunge whips to choose from, choose the lightest lunge whip you can. Some are so long that when you flick it up to tap the horse, you end up throwing the lash around their feet or somewhere random like that. You can hold the lash in your hand that is holding the whip handle, and just use the end of the stiff part to touch the horse. Or cut half the lash off, if its an old crappy whip.

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              Thanks, 2! I do have a buggy whip so I'll use that. It sure is easier to manage than a lunge whip! and he's quite responsive....so i wont ilkely have to tap him a bit, just move it to get him to make more power without "running out" instead.
              AnnMarie Cross, Pres, Crosswinds Equine Rescue, cwer.org
              Sidell IL (near Champ./UofI/Danville IL/IN state border)

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Crosswinds Rescue View Post
                Thanks, 2! I do have a buggy whip so I'll use that. It sure is easier to manage than a lunge whip! and he's quite responsive....so i wont ilkely have to tap him a bit, just move it to get him to make more power without "running out" instead.
                Often true. My Morgan tends to brace up against too hard a tap. I just give a little tippy tap, or make a whoosh in the air with it, when long lining.

                I had a funny moment once long lining my other, older mare, who can get right behind the bit sometimes. We were trotting, and I was using a borrowed pair of lines that were really long and heavy, and sort of forgot I needed to support their weight so the drag of them in the arena dirt didn't add pressure. So the lines were basically slowing me down and getting heavier and heavier on her mouth. I wasn't paying attention and my mare got more and more curled up and finally she got thoroughly pissed off and started basically bucking vigorously in place as if to say "I am *trying* to go forward here, but you have got me in a rollkur and I *can't* take it anymore!!!" Then I realized what had gone wrong and stepped up to give her some slack and whooshed the whip and she said "thank you for finally noticing you idiot!" and went back to her nice trot. She cracks me up with her honesty and expressiveness (and tolerance!).

                Comment


                • #9
                  I would say two things, with strong warnings. I don't think he's ready for either of them, but maybe down the road a bit:

                  1. I don't think he's steady enough in the connection or behind the bit consistently enough to worry about correcting it. In other words, he looks pretty good where he is and I'd leave him like that for awhile. If it becomes a regular issue, you can use the longe whip (perfectly ok to have a helper) at his inside hock and nip his head up with inside rein. This takes some dexterity, as you ought to be able to lift him and stretch him at will on the long lines.

                  2. Because he was still a little goosey when you crossed the reins over, I don't think he's ready for the lines to go low, over his hocks. On a horse like this that needs more oomph from behind, I use the lines low both to help keep the haunches from swinging and to engage the hindquarters. He may need more desensitization to the lines. Be sure he comfortable with a crupper or a line passing under his tail if the lines go too high.

                  All in all I think you're doing well, I like that you are working in the safety of a roundpen, I like that you are keeping your hands light and not dragging back on the reins, and I honestly think he just needs to build strength and not worry if he's BTV sometimes on the line right now. The weight of the lines alone can have incredible leverage.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    i agree that you shouldn't worry about his ducking as it isnt bad at all.... what i would do if he were mine is start work on his rhythm/relaxation. his tempo could be slower which will help him relax... once he relaxes he will soften in the back and come down in the neck/stretch forward.

                    also, you might practice with turning into the circle instead of as you did it. you can do a figure 8 to change direction, practice it at walk til you get the hang of it.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      If you are not capable of handling your long lines and whip together, by all means have a helper work with you and use the whip. your whip is your legs when long lining or driving. But also practice and develop the skill to use your reins and whip together effectively. Taking some long lining or driving lessons from someone who has a school horse who is good about these things would probably be very helpful, just like learning to ride green horse + green rider/driver is nowhere near an ideal combination, a trained horse and good instruction should help you learn a lot, even in just a few sessions.

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Nar,
                        You think so? that makes me feel GREAT!!! I am so pleased with how he is doing, esp since he used to like to be SOO hollow (he was so gangly and gawky, but everyone kept trying to push me that he's 6 now, surely he's ready to start figuring out this body of his, blah blah blah).....

                        Yes, I definitely need to do more to desensitize -- I should've been doing that this summer when he wasn't ready to actually "work" in the lines -- hindsight, sigh. right now i'm certain he would not tolerate the lines long at his hocks. I've never done that except at a walk and as a desensitizing measure with a horse who already handled it ok. Could you explain it a little more for me? do i maintain the same weight and contact in the lines but they are behind his leg above his hock to encourage him to step under?

                        I can usually lift him on the lines, but i'm still struggling to know how to stretch him and figured that's basically why he's getting BTV on me because i don't know how to drive him forward more into the bit without my legs and seat aboard...

                        RENAE -- thanks. I do understand completely what you are saying. I have two mares who are more experienced in lines at my farm right now, so I'm spending some time with them getting a 'refresher'. Unfortunately, while i have access to a competitive driver as my instructor in theory, getting time we can both manage together is rare at best. it's been over a year since we've managed to work in a lesson together.....

                        MBM -- thank you as well. I do reverse my two mares by doing half a figure 8. He gets fussy about the lines at times still -- more desensitizing, i know -- but i didnt want to add that argument into the mix just now; hence the turn on the forehand reverse where he knew exactly what's coming.

                        You've all made me feel so much better, thanks!!! I was so afraid that i'm causing him to build an aweful habit -- hiding behind the bit -- and that it would take forever to correct once i get in the saddle. I'll worry about that less, and continue to work more on his rhythm. from everyone's thoughts, it sounds like i've also been too worried about impulsion and need to let him take smaller bites at this process.

                        I'm trying to be EXCEPTIONALLY careful not to overwork or overwhelm him as well. His mom has an amazing work ethic and would work herself sore. I want to be sure that doesn't happen with him, nor that he comes to dislike his work....

                        Again, THANKS, everyone....i LOVE to hear others thoughts and ideas, especially in an area like dressage where i know so little....
                        AnnMarie Cross, Pres, Crosswinds Equine Rescue, cwer.org
                        Sidell IL (near Champ./UofI/Danville IL/IN state border)

                        Comment

                        • Original Poster

                          #13
                          Originally posted by narcisco View Post
                          All in all I think you're doing well, I like that you are working in the safety of a roundpen, I like that you are keeping your hands light and not dragging back on the reins, and I honestly think he just needs to build strength and not worry if he's BTV sometimes on the line right now. The weight of the lines alone can have incredible leverage.
                          Sorry -- one more q if i'm not being too much of a pest here...

                          I bought a different set of lines. the segment from the bit out of teh surcingle are a thinner, rolled nylon, then they mesh into the regular flat nylon lines. they seem lighter and i prefer their ersponse. the problem? they are about 8' longer than I can manage. I end up with them under my feet, etc. I'm afraid if i make them into a loop and stitch the end up, that i'll end up with a hand in the loop and get myself drug at some point (got drug with my hand accidentlaly in the handle of a lunge line once). What should i do to make them more managable? I hate to cut them down so that then i can't use them at such a length if i ever work in a larger pen...but am afraid to make a loop as said above. thoughts???
                          AnnMarie Cross, Pres, Crosswinds Equine Rescue, cwer.org
                          Sidell IL (near Champ./UofI/Danville IL/IN state border)

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Fold that last 8' over (flat) then put 5-6 big heavy rubberbands around it. There won't be a loop to get stuck in, and if something does manager to get stuck in the folds, the bands will fall off or break.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Crosswinds Rescue View Post
                              I hate to cut them down so that then i can't use them at such a length if i ever work in a larger pen...but am afraid to make a loop as said above. thoughts???
                              Figure out how long you'd like them to be. Loop up the excess (you said maybe 8'? Loop it so it's down to 2', say) and then use duct tape to band it together so you're not tripping over it. Then you can cut off the duct tape if circumstances change, but there won't be anything to get your hand caught in.

                              Wait, you wanted a classy solution? Came to the wrong store, then.
                              Originally posted by HuntrJumpr
                              No matter what level of showing you're doing, you are required to have pants on.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Crosswinds Rescue View Post
                                Sorry -- one more q if i'm not being too much of a pest here...

                                I bought a different set of lines. the segment from the bit out of teh surcingle are a thinner, rolled nylon, then they mesh into the regular flat nylon lines. they seem lighter and i prefer their ersponse. the problem? they are about 8' longer than I can manage. I end up with them under my feet, etc. I'm afraid if i make them into a loop and stitch the end up, that i'll end up with a hand in the loop and get myself drug at some point (got drug with my hand accidentlaly in the handle of a lunge line once). What should i do to make them more managable? I hate to cut them down so that then i can't use them at such a length if i ever work in a larger pen...but am afraid to make a loop as said above. thoughts???
                                well honestly - learn to hold them and use them correctly. it will take time but it is doable.

                                plus, once you get him going with the lines behind his hinds you will need the extra length.

                                fwiw, i dont hook my lines together - i prefer them separate- altho i do carry the extra line in one hand and the whip in the other.

                                eta: re: banding or taping the lines - do you guys long line or double lunge with the lines like that? if so how do you manage the lines with the big bulky ends?

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  He doesn't really look that bad.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by mbm View Post
                                    eta: re: banding or taping the lines - do you guys long line or double lunge with the lines like that? if so how do you manage the lines with the big bulky ends?
                                    No, I'm used to not tripping myself on them -- but my thought was to have the ends dragging lightly on the ground, well behind where you want your hands.
                                    Originally posted by HuntrJumpr
                                    No matter what level of showing you're doing, you are required to have pants on.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      My trainer is a long-liner extraordinaire and has been helping me learn to long line my 4yo, who also has a tendency to curl up behind the contact in the long lines.

                                      From day one, the horse has gone in a little extra attachment which is basically a metal ring on a length of leather which clips on to the inside ring that the longline goes through. So instead of going straight back and through the ring on the surcingle, the long line goes to this ring on this extra length of leather, meaning that the inside long line is more 'triangular' to the horse rather than parallel to his neck. It is like an opening rein.
                                      The inconvenient part is that you have to switch the reins when you change directions instead of just being able to flip them over without it. However, legyielding and work that gets done behind the horse works fine.

                                      Also, yesterday the horse was trying to curl up again and the trainer said, "OK, next time, we long line him in the bitless bridle."

                                      With the equipment discussion out of the way, I would spend more time doing different stuff with your horse rather than just trotting many laps around a round pen. My trainer doesn't let my horse go more than two laps (usually it is one lap) around the round pen without a downward transition to walk and immediate transition back to the trot. He also has the horse do frequent voltes (like, 2 per lap) once it is warmed up a little. When he has done his voltes, start some legyielding (it might be difficult at first if he is being trained to change direction by turning into the wall and swinging his haunches around. Can you teach him to come in off the wall, cut across the pen in front of you and turn to the new direction from there? Starting with voltes will help to teach him to come in when you ask).
                                      Gymnasticizing the whole body of the horse with this type of work is the ticket to a better contact, rather than letting him get 'stuck' on the wall of the pen.

                                      Also I would recommend holding the lines so the come up from your pinky and out by your thumbs, like reins. It is easier to have a dynamic contact with them when you hold them like reins. I am sure there is a whole School Of Thought Debate on this, but that is what my trainer, in my personal experience, has me do.


                                      All of that said, I think your horse looks pretty good! I would not have looked at that video and said, "Uh oh, horse behind the contact". You two look like you are doing very nicely together.
                                      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


                                      • #20
                                        With the lines behind the hocks, you can "flick" either rein forward to touch the hock or hip you want to engage. Again, long lining is great for a rider's hands.

                                        To get him used to the lines around the Hindquarters, I (hopefully) have a header. They make him stand. Then I run lines everywhere, under his belly, over his ears, between his legs, behind his legs, throwing them over him and under him, then gently reeling the line back in so it caresses his body. I do this every time with horses green in the lines, the first 60 times or so.

                                        I use a short whip, hold his tail up and tuck the whip under the tail (crosswise!) to act as a crupper before either a crupper or a line goes under his tail. when he will relax his tail and drop the whip, or ignore it completely, he's more ready.

                                        Then, the first time out, with a header, I double longe on the circle. I attach the inside line like a longe line, I let the outside rein hang over his hock, but I don't use it. I change sides, and change the apparatus. That way, if there is a problem, I can just drop the outside line and reel him in on the longe line.

                                        You might do this at the end of a good session when he is already relaxed.

                                        Also, in the work you're doing now, incorporate some spiral in and spiral out and you won't have to walk so far! In addition, supples him more.

                                        If you can't get him to stretch in the lines, have your header up front again, physcially coaxing him to lower his head (sugar is helpful). Do it at a standstill, then while walking. Long liner pushes the hands forward to give the reins and as a signal to stretch.

                                        Comment

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