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Training: what would you do

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  • Training: what would you do

    I have a 4.5 year old green ottb that I've been working with and I would like to try some small beginner events this spring for fun. I'm working with a trainer who specializes in dressage, and she has been starting a lot of the sessions with her riding him working on collection etc. Then I usually ride him after that. I'm pretty green myself. My question is, when you start a young horse in training for eventing which discipline do you start with, is switching to dressage and jumper training giving mixed signals? Is it better to let the experienced trainer ride him more? I'm hoping to try some late winter indoor h/j schooling shows to get him used to the show setting. That is another reason I want to emphasize the jumping in my training as well. I would love to hear how everyone starts their young ones.

  • #2
    Work with an eventer

    Hey there,

    I would recommend you work with a knowledgeable eventing trainer. For horses to be successful and happy in eventing they have to have a well rounded education. With all of the young horses I ride, I do a ton of work out in the woods, hacking, jogging, and popping over little logs we come across. I try to incorporate cavaletti work in with my flatwork, so they become aware of where their feet are. Keep your riding sessions short and sweet. You don't want the horse getting tired and therefore ticked off.

    I don't think your trainer should be working on collection with a 4.5 year old horse. At that age the focus should be going forward in balance. Also, teaching the horse to be light and responsive to the aids. Trust me, if you start with those objectives in mind the jumping will be so much easier. When a horse is at this stage, you want to make it seem like everything is easy and effortless for him. This will create a happy and willing partner.

    If she is working on collection because he is a little to quick or fresh, I would suggest working long and low allowing him to stretch down. Its amazing how this relaxes and focuses them. Correct long and low work should be where the horse is stretching down his neck, but not yanking the reins out of your hands. This should be done gradually and never forced. You want him to take the contact down lightly, staying in the same trotting rhythm. (Control this with your body and your posting speed). He should feel springy, floaty, and relaxed when this is done correctly.

    Yes, I do think that this level of dressage training at this stage in your horses development would be sending him mixed signals. There is a difference between going steady and balanced (which should be the goal of dressage training right now), and actually collecting the gaits. If this is pushed on the horse too early in life he could get frustrated and backed off and be hind your leg. (Not good for a future event horse).

    I think it is a great idea to take him to some h/j and dressage schooling shows. This is a great way for him to get used to the atmosphere in a low-key environment. Since he is off-the-track, he might be pretty amped up when he first arrives at the show. Focus warming up relaxed and as easy as possible. With young greenies, I always take them for a long walk hack around the show grounds before I do my real warm up.

    Sorry for the long post! Greenies are my favorites! Hope this helps!

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Thanks for the advice. He is not fresh at all but he does tend to invert a little and needs to improve his topline. She's definitly not cranking him in by any means and she's pretty gentle with him. I will say his flat work at the walk and trot is improving greatly. However he is having a terrible time picking up his right lead. He came to me extremely unbalanced.
      My horse loves to go on the trails and he is very brave. The weather has been horrible so I've been inside the last month.
      I'm limited with my trainer choice because my farm is very strict about it's insurance policy and most trainers will not pay the extra money for the addition to the insurance.
      I've been trying to watch all these horse training videos but noone ever shows you how to start from scratch. It's always a horse that is pretty well balanced and understands what it's suppose to do.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by equinkel View Post
        I have a 4.5 year old green ottb that I've been working with and I would like to try some small beginner events this spring for fun. I'm working with a trainer who specializes in dressage, and she has been starting a lot of the sessions with her riding him working on collection etc. Then I usually ride him after that. I'm pretty green myself. My question is, when you start a young horse in training for eventing which discipline do you start with, is switching to dressage and jumper training giving mixed signals? Is it better to let the experienced trainer ride him more? I'm hoping to try some late winter indoor h/j schooling shows to get him used to the show setting. That is another reason I want to emphasize the jumping in my training as well. I would love to hear how everyone starts their young ones.
        If the horse is 4.5 and green I am wondering why she is working on collection?

        All of mine do many jobs.
        In my experience a "hunter" foundation is a nice place to start: the youngsters learn to go straight with a relaxed topline and a steady rhythm and to carry themselves to a jump without too much help.
        Then when they are older they start getting asked for more in the dressage dept.
        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


        • #5
          I was going to say the same thing.

          So many trainers go right to collection. In reality, a 4 year old does not any of the skills needed to collect.
          I mean geez, when does collection come into pay in the pure dressage test? 2nd level?
          And at what point does the horse have the skills and knowledge to accept a true half halt? Not at age 4 or 5 I can tell you that much.

          1st level has lengthen gaits but a lengthen comes from a working gait.
          Dressage trainers seems to forget basic math, algebra and trig--they go right to calculus. No better way to sour a horse.

          So I would go to an event trainer. Seems as though eventers do not lose the purity of the horse and the most fundamental part of training--that is impulsion. Babies need to be sent forward.

          To comment on your second post:
          The lunge line is a great place to start when you have raw material.
          First start with basic side reins and work up to a vienna rein. I love the vienna rein. Lunging will help the horse with balance and self control--not to mention strength for that right lead.

          I 2nd the idea of hunters. I love the hunters. People make fun of them but hey, a good hunter is relaxed, goes straight! and jumps around in a great rhythm.
          http://kaboomeventing.com/
          http://kaboomeventing.blogspot.com/
          Horses are amazing athletes and make no mistake -- they are the stars of the show!

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by equinkel View Post
            I'm working with a trainer who specializes in dressage, and she has been starting a lot of the sessions with her riding him working on collection etc. Then I usually ride him after that. I'm pretty green myself. My question is, when you start a young horse in training for eventing which discipline do you start with, is switching to dressage and jumper training giving mixed signals?
            As to "switching" that is generally not a problem. In fact mixing up the program with different activities is usually more of a plus. It tends keeps them fresh and interested--especially with smart ones that OTTBs often are.

            I can only tell you what I'm doing with my youngster. I currently have a coming 4 year old (in March) TB. I've been riding him for almost a year in a pretty light schedule. As the weather warms up we'll be ramping things up a bit. He walks, trots, canters, knows his leads, has brakes, got some lateral stuff working, but he is not yet officially "on the bit." Although as his balance has improved and his back has started to lift he's developing a correct frame. Right now its just about having nice moments. All that happens because I'm working on balance, straight and forward, NOT because I'm asking him to be in a frame!

            He was never raced trained so we've only been working on general fitness and core strength all of which have been developing along with his balance as those are pretty basic things I want in place before we begin to jump. I am just starting him over cross rails. We'll do a flat school and at the end of it pop over a few cross rails, or we'll hack a around and pop over a couple things. In fact "jumping" is never the main focus of any of our schools at this point--just another element he does for a few minutes--no big deal. The "no big deal" part is very important at this stage!

            Comment

            • Original Poster

              #7
              I appreciate the feedback. I will talk to the trainer and tell her I've heard that collecting a young horse is not ideal and see what she says. She's pretty cool so I think she will be happy to explain herself to me without being totally offended. I will admit that my horse has definitly improved his balance at the walk and trot tremindously since we've been working with her. That's why I was kindof torn as to whether or not I should say anything. Does anyone know of any good training videos that show eventers being started from greenies? It will help me to see it first hand and compare.

              Comment


              • #8
                chances are she is really not collecting him. I bet she is just trying to keep him a little more together and leaning towards working him in a nice no strung out frame.
                ; )

                If he looks bunched up then that is a problem. When she rides him if he is in a nice relaxed (longer and lower through the neck) type of frame then I would not worry.
                http://kaboomeventing.com/
                http://kaboomeventing.blogspot.com/
                Horses are amazing athletes and make no mistake -- they are the stars of the show!

                Comment


                • #9
                  One thing that really helped my green ottb was mixing up the jumping and flat. For her, jumping was super exciting so doing just a few small cross rails mixed in with the flat work helped it become less of a big deal. Trotting them also helped bring her front end up, a big help for some of the ottbs that tend to be heavy on the forehand.
                  RIP Charlie and Toby

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by equinkel View Post
                    I appreciate the feedback. I will talk to the trainer and tell her I've heard that collecting a young horse is not ideal and see what she says. She's pretty cool so I think she will be happy to explain herself to me without being totally offended. I will admit that my horse has definitly improved his balance at the walk and trot tremindously since we've been working with her. That's why I was kindof torn as to whether or not I should say anything. Does anyone know of any good training videos that show eventers being started from greenies? It will help me to see it first hand and compare.
                    IMHO, your description of your trainer's efforts to "collect" your horse does not raise questions about whether or not your horse is being started correctly as an "event horse." Good basics are good basics, across all disciplines, and your horse either has the foundation required for collection, or it doesn't.

                    A GOOD hunter trainer will start a green horse on the flat in much the same way - using very similar, if not the same exercises - as a GOOD dressage or eventing trainer. Differences in approach will typically arise later, after the foundation has been laid.

                    You need to ask yourself if you trust this trainer and, if not, why not. I tend to think that you have to go with your gut on this, given that no one on the board knows who you are working with.

                    I do recommend that you have a conversation with her about your concerns though. My guess is that she is either using the word "collection" as short hand of sorts, to convey to you in a crude way the VISUAL results of riding your horse from the leg into a soft hand, which can and should produce a more uphill, balanced, rounder horse, even if the horse is green. Correct riding will produce this quite naturally, without the rider ever forcing the horse into what may appear to you to be a "frame" (a word that dressage purists REALLY hate). This would be an incorrect usage of the term "collection," but is, truthfully, one that many, many people employ for this purpose. Or, alternatively, you have heard the word "collection" and are making the assumption that this is what your trainer is working toward, without really understanding that there is a distinction between a green horse that looks to be learning to carry itself and the true collection that would be exhibited by a schooled horse at the 2nd or 3rd level of dressage (a collection, which would at that stage, btw, be quite rudimentary from a technical standpoint).

                    I'd give your trainer the benefit of the doubt, at least until you have that conversation, because you sound as though you are basically happy with the way your horse is beginning to go...and at the end of the day, that is what is most important...

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Hopefully you're trainer is looking for and actually talking about balance at this point and not collection.

                      I think that one thing to remember about ottbs is that while they're on the track often their exercise riders unwittingly encourage them to invert so that by the time they come off the track they've developed muscles that support this posture. You just have to take the time it takes for one set of muscles to weaken while developing the muscles they need for the new posture your're working towards. That takes at least a year and then I usually add another year to develop the strength they need to hold (or stay balanced) in that new posture for any amount of time.

                      Comment

                      • Original Poster

                        #12
                        Collection or Contact?

                        Originally posted by SEPowell View Post
                        Hopefully you're trainer is looking for and actually talking about balance at this point and not collection.

                        I think that one thing to remember about ottbs is that while they're on the track often their exercise riders unwittingly encourage them to invert so that by the time they come off the track they've developed muscles that support this posture. You just have to take the time it takes for one set of muscles to weaken while developing the muscles they need for the new posture your're working towards. That takes at least a year and then I usually add another year to develop the strength they need to hold (or stay balanced) in that new posture for any amount of time.
                        I don't know if my idea of collection is different then the posters, but I do know she has used draw reins. She is trying to get his head down, nose in, and back up. I can tell my horse is bumping up against the reins or draw reins trying to figure things out and find his balance. He does the same thing in side reins so what would the difference be as far discourageing forward movement?

                        I rode my horse today with a very light contact, he stayed forward and still responded well. He use to be constantly flexed to the left no matter which direction we were going, now he is fantastic at the walk/trot both directions... canter is still pretty horrific but we are working on that.
                        Now I need to find a happy medium. I swear I feel like the more I learn about horses the more confusing it gets. LOL!

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          WORKING GAITS1

                          Bag the collection, and just work on school figures and transitions between working gaits!
                          Last edited by Carol Ames; Jan. 15, 2010, 09:54 PM. Reason: typo
                          breeder of Mercury!

                          remember to enjoy the moment, and take a moment to enjoy and give God the glory for these wonderful horses in our lives.BECAUSE: LIFE is What Happens While Making Other Plans

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            help mounted help

                            at least a year and then I usually add another year to develop the strength they need to hold (or stay balanced) in that new posture for any amount of time.

                            You can help by raising his back whenever you see it's hollow In fact, there is a whole group of unmounted exercises I do with horses before ever mounting, end again while mounted; get him used to going over poles in a "thinking/ reasoning mode" It will pay dividends later
                            breeder of Mercury!

                            remember to enjoy the moment, and take a moment to enjoy and give God the glory for these wonderful horses in our lives.BECAUSE: LIFE is What Happens While Making Other Plans

                            Comment

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