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What do you consider a 'hard' mouth?

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  • What do you consider a 'hard' mouth?

    I've recently switched coaches. One of my constant worries is being too heavy-handed (especially with school horses as they are angels for putting up with so many riders and newbies) and I personally feel that this trainer asks me to apply more pressure than is needed, creating tension in throughout the horse's back and creating resistance/no sense of harmony. For instance, on a scale of 1-10, if I was riding (on average) with a 2-3 before, I am being asked to apply a 6-7 in order to 'drive the horse into contact.'

    I understand seeking contact...but I do not understand 'driving' them with a heavy hand, and even heavier leg to compensate for the horse's frustration, tension, and resistance, when it can be done much more lightly by asking 'politely' (ie with half-halts, bending, etc. - doing the same thing but less extreme pressure on the 'on' of the on/off). However, I am not a coach.

    Can everyone help me sort this out, and possibly how could I speak with my new coach (without seeming obnoxious) that I would rather not force a horse into so much contact that they are clearly upset.

  • #2
    I'd find a new coach

    Comment


    • #3
      New coach for sure. This is NOT how you get a horse on the bit! Ride from the back to the front i.e. motor must be going and horse stepping underneath hinself in order for him to round his back and seek the bit/contact.

      Comment


      • #4
        Asking for more forward so the horse reaches into the contact is different from driving into the contact IMO. I'd also encourage you to find a new coach.

        Comment


        • #5
          Your instructor is not following the training scale. Relaxation comes way before contact. You can't have the second one without the first. Forcing it with heavy hands and driving legs is incorrect and a shortcut at best. Find a new instructor.

          Comment


          • #6
            You won't be able to talk this coach into teaching you differently. They have a completely wrong-headed approach for how to ask a horse to work.

            As an aside, trust your own knowledge. You state what you feel is appropriate but then state that "you are not the coach"...so because you are the student, you must blindly follow whatever the "coach" says because they are the coach? There isn't a two-legged person on this planet that I would listen to over what my horse is telling me, I don't care who they are. You've a coach telling you to be more aggressive when both you and the horse are saying "this isn't right.
            Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not. Remember that what you have now was once among the many things that you only hoped for.

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              Well the whole thing is, coaches obviously have more experience riding/training horses than me. I have always opted for a very light hand to allow the horse to relax and stretch, and then try to bring it back into frame by first getting it working forward and through its back into the bit (circling, bending, half halting etc. - this is what I was taught by other coach). Basically you warm up the whole body so the horse can then almost 'engage' in seeking contact, and you can't force it before everything else is working and warmed up. I am not a person that cares if the horse is 100% vertical with its face - if it is accepting contact and working through its whole body, it can be a little bit in front of the vertical and I am completely happy. I don't want a false frame with a nose needlessly tucked in on old schoolies. But first lesson with them I was told I was getting them on the bit 'completely wrong.'

              But as a novice rider who has been at this barn less than a year (don't want to come off as a know-it-all...been riding for about 6 years total but re-rider now) and just switched coaches, I was hoping I could try to tell them this without having to switch to privates to be able to work lessons into my schedule!

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Originally posted by Abbie.S View Post
                You won't be able to talk this coach into teaching you differently. They have a completely wrong-headed approach for how to ask a horse to work.

                As an aside, trust your own knowledge. You state what you feel is appropriate but then state that "you are not the coach"...so because you are the student, you must blindly follow whatever the "coach" says because they are the coach? There isn't a two-legged person on this planet that I would listen to over what my horse is telling me, I don't care who they are. You've a coach telling you to be more aggressive when both you and the horse are saying "this isn't right.
                All of my experience (at least in my area) has been to just follow what the coach is saying. They know more than you. This might just be my perception. But many have directly or indirectly told me/students in my groups, essentially.... this is the theory I am teaching, so this is what you are to be doing.

                Comment

                • Original Poster

                  #9
                  Originally posted by tbchick84 View Post
                  Your instructor is not following the training scale. Relaxation comes way before contact. You can't have the second one without the first. Forcing it with heavy hands and driving legs is incorrect and a shortcut at best. Find a new instructor.
                  Could you send me a resource/link for the training scale? Perhaps I could bring it in before the lesson and have a chat.
                  Basically I thought it went balance - rhythm (or those two reversed) - relaxation - forward/impulsion - straightness - suppleness/contact - collection

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Foxtail View Post
                    Asking for more forward so the horse reaches into the contact is different from driving into the contact IMO. I'd also encourage you to find a new coach.
                    Foxtail, could you please describe the difference between the two? I'm wondering if this isn't a semantics thing..

                    Also, what does OP's coach mean by "driving", as oposed to the meaning of "asking for more forward". Is it a matter of degree?
                    Founding Member: Spotted Saddlebred Pals Clique

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I hesitate to give a definite answer without seeing you ride the horse in question. Certainly, riding front to back is not correct. But I have run across a couple students who had trouble adapting their feeling of proper contact.

                      One of them had quite nicely trained her horse to go around on loopy rein (think western pleasure, but in english tack) feather light touches. The trouble is, the horse was not at all engaged behind, just dumped on his forehand taking little mincy steps. I put the student on one of my horses in training, an easy ride who goes round simply by leaving your hands still and putting your leg on. Student struggled mightily, complaining how heavy this horse was, and inconsistent in his frame. Root of the problem: this rider didn't put her leg on, and was not used to having a "conversational contact" with a horse's mouth.

                      Another student, also coming off a "light" horse, was very confused by her new horse who liked a "steady handshake." She was scared to touch his mouth, not wanting to pull on him, but this lead to opening her fingers and letting the reins out while she was trying to push him forward. I got on, sent him forward, asked for leg yield on a circle, maintain forward, kept my fingers closed with soft elbows, and the "heavy, stiff" horse was suddenly supple. The rider just needed to see, and learn to feel, how some horses go differently and lightness is a matter of the horse's preference and level of training.
                      “A clever person solves a problem. A wise person avoids it.”
                      ? Albert Einstein

                      ~AJ~

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        [QUOTE=academicequestrian;n9947148} I have always opted for a very light hand to allow the horse to relax and stretch, and then try to bring it back into frame by first getting it working forward and through its back into the bit (circling, bending, half halting etc. - this is what I was taught by other coach). Basically you warm up the whole body so the horse can then almost 'engage' in seeking contact, and you can't force it before everything else is working and warmed up. I am not a person that cares if the horse is 100% vertical with its face - if it is accepting contact and working through its whole body, it can be a little bit in front of the vertical and I am completely happy. I don't want a false frame with a nose needlessly tucked in on old schoolies. But first lesson with them I was told I was getting them on the bit 'completely wrong.'[/QUOTE]

                        I did a bit of editing in order to say that I totally agree with your method, or that taught by your first instructor, and that is what I teach. I have also been taught the other method, which amazingly, works for some horses, but when it doesn't it can be awful. I do not teach it. The "old schoolies" have learned to tolerate it, or they wouldn't be "old schoolies".

                        I am with the group that says you either need to switch back to your original instructor, or search out another who teaches the same way. The whole basis of getting a horse round should be a relaxed forward first, then with a little lateral work the horse engages naturally, and the fingers and hand, backed up by mobile elbows, and a following body gently ask for round. The "round" is never set,or captured, it must be conversationally maintained with the fingers. But Forward is first and foremost.





                        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


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by EventerAJ View Post
                          I hesitate to give a definite answer without seeing you ride the horse in question. Certainly, riding front to back is not correct. But I have run across a couple students who had trouble adapting their feeling of proper contact.

                          One of them had quite nicely trained her horse to go around on loopy rein (think western pleasure, but in english tack) feather light touches. The trouble is, the horse was not at all engaged behind, just dumped on his forehand taking little mincy steps. I put the student on one of my horses in training, an easy ride who goes round simply by leaving your hands still and putting your leg on. Student struggled mightily, complaining how heavy this horse was, and inconsistent in his frame. Root of the problem: this rider didn't put her leg on, and was not used to having a "conversational contact" with a horse's mouth.

                          Another student, also coming off a "light" horse, was very confused by her new horse who liked a "steady handshake." She was scared to touch his mouth, not wanting to pull on him, but this lead to opening her fingers and letting the reins out while she was trying to push him forward. I got on, sent him forward, asked for leg yield on a circle, maintain forward, kept my fingers closed with soft elbows, and the "heavy, stiff" horse was suddenly supple. The rider just needed to see, and learn to feel, how some horses go differently and lightness is a matter of the horse's preference and level of training.
                          Quoting this for truth, this is exactly my experience with a lot of other riders who never even consider a real contact in the horse's mouth that allows stability and communication. There is a big difference between chainsawing, holding like a heavy cement block, and not allowing any elasticity in your arms to allow for relaxation while maintaining a contact. None of those are correct but that's an issue a lot of people struggle with 1) understanding and 2) applying. It's a "feel" thing, but after relaxation you also at a certain point have to set the limits of the front end with the bridle because no amount of pushing from behind will help at a point. They have to have something to push INTO, and that would be the bridle. It doesn't mean setting a firm boundary and having no give in it whatsoever. If that makes sense!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Ditto above x100. Too many riders are seeking "light" and fall for non-existent instead. Light is not a feather.... its a hand hold, with fingers locked in constant communication... unseen by those around. Only felt by those participating. The aids of the seat and leg make the horse "light" and responsive. But he must have something to connect with to create a complete circle. The light the OP is describing is suspicious in its description as being non-existent. In addition: One coache's "drive the horse to the hand" needs context. This is an old term, and not per se "wrong". Just gives poor visuals.

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              Originally posted by digihorse View Post
                              Ditto above x100. Too many riders are seeking "light" and fall for non-existent instead. Light is not a feather.... its a hand hold, with fingers locked in constant communication... unseen by those around. Only felt by those participating. The aids of the seat and leg make the horse "light" and responsive. But he must have something to connect with to create a complete circle. The light the OP is describing is suspicious in its description as being non-existent. In addition: One coache's "drive the horse to the hand" needs context. This is an old term, and not per se "wrong". Just gives poor visuals.
                              What I'm talking about is not "non-existent" its more akin to 3-5lbs of pressure (or what I perceive to be that) and not a 20-25lbs of yanking the horse's head into a false frame while pressing it on with heavy leg. With my normal 'light' hand, I can independently feel what each side of the bit and mouth are doing, and feel every movement of the front of the horse. I don't think I need to apply more pressure than that if I can both listen, and 'speak' to the horse instantly and quietly using very light pressure.

                              I'll try to give a visual. Also please note we are not a dressage-only barn. I am on lesson horse (first time riding that horse) and after warming up through walk/trot with my normal allow for a stretch and then allow the horse to work towards contact (with about 3-5lbs pressure), I am told that even though the horse is working really forward for an arthritic, old school horse who is always hard to move, she is not "accepting contact" because - I guess - the head is just in front of the vertical. This is odd to me because I can feel her mouth! She is seeking my hand! So, when told to I apply the coach's desired 20-25lbs range pressure and the horse immediately tenses up, loses all impulsion and is clearly aggravated + does not want to accept my hand. I add more leg than already did as per instruction...horse gets even more angry as I am holding her head up and backwards and then being told to literally pony-club-kick her on. Am told I am 'doing it wrong' when I bring this up as horse went hollow through the back when I YANKED ON HER HEAD AS PER INSTRUCTED (wonder why?)

                              So. I am glad to hear I have some understanding of dressage...enough to know what wasn't working.

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                25 lbs of pressure? That's insane. I'd want out of that if I were a horse too.
                                I spend my days explaining to people how important it is to NOT pull on the horses. I've even lost students over it since they wanted to pull because they think it's easier. I can't imagine telling someone to do it on purpose.
                                Some horses like a little more contact feel, some horses like less but they all want the contact to be soft and elastic.
                                Just go find a different instructor. You couldn't convince me to change to pulling on horses. You won't get this trainer to start teaching giving.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  You are right, new coach is clueless. Leave!
                                  A horse develops a hard mouth when a rider 'hangs on' the reins for balance. You are wise to be aware that the mouth is for communication, not balance.
                                  Jeanie
                                  RIP Sasha, best dog ever, pictured shortly before she died, Death either by euthanasia or natural causes is only the end of the animal inhabiting its body; I believe the spirit lives on.

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by tbchick84 View Post
                                    Your instructor is not following the training scale. Relaxation comes way before contact. You can't have the second one without the first. Forcing it with heavy hands and driving legs is incorrect and a shortcut at best. Find a new instructor.
                                    Exactly!
                                    Jeanie
                                    RIP Sasha, best dog ever, pictured shortly before she died, Death either by euthanasia or natural causes is only the end of the animal inhabiting its body; I believe the spirit lives on.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Abbie.S View Post
                                      You won't be able to talk this coach into teaching you differently. They have a completely wrong-headed approach for how to ask a horse to work.

                                      As an aside, trust your own knowledge. You state what you feel is appropriate but then state that "you are not the coach"...so because you are the student, you must blindly follow whatever the "coach" says because they are the coach? There isn't a two-legged person on this planet that I would listen to over what my horse is telling me, I don't care who they are. You've a coach telling you to be more aggressive when both you and the horse are saying "this isn't right.
                                      This is very well said. Original Poster already knows more than the new coach.
                                      Jeanie
                                      RIP Sasha, best dog ever, pictured shortly before she died, Death either by euthanasia or natural causes is only the end of the animal inhabiting its body; I believe the spirit lives on.

                                      Comment


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by merrygoround View Post

                                        I did a bit of editing in order to say that I totally agree with your method, or that taught by your first instructor, and that is what I teach. I have also been taught the other method, which amazingly, works for some horses, but when it doesn't it can be awful. I do not teach it. The "old schoolies" have learned to tolerate it, or they wouldn't be "old schoolies".

                                        I am with the group that says you either need to switch back to your original instructor, or search out another who teaches the same way. The whole basis of getting a horse round should be a relaxed forward first, then with a little lateral work the horse engages naturally, and the fingers and hand, backed up by mobile elbows, and a following body gently ask for round. The "round" is never set,or captured, it must be conversationally maintained with the fingers. But Forward is first and foremost.

                                        Awesome description. Conversation with the mouth, not a 'hold' is the goal.
                                        Jeanie
                                        RIP Sasha, best dog ever, pictured shortly before she died, Death either by euthanasia or natural causes is only the end of the animal inhabiting its body; I believe the spirit lives on.

                                        Comment

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