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On the buckle

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    On the buckle

    In a nutshell, I was having some issues with my OTTB mare. Lots of anxiety/spooking/acrobatics. Did the ulcer med/vet workup/supplement train... nothing helped.

    In a last ditch effort I started doing some NH type stuff (Warwick Schiller videos). I was skeptical but the groundwork stuff really did help a lot. I swear her body got longer (sounds dumb I know but her back and neck were so tense and compact before).

    Anyways, hes got some things you can do undersaddle to get the horse to relax but basically he says if you can't WTC on the buckle you shouldn't be working on anything else. And I mean one hand on the buckle, horse goes wherever they want. Only use your leg for upward transition.

    Mare was great at the walk. Ask for the trot... within a handful of strides she was cantering. The whole time I have been riding her she has never broken into the canter. I rode her mostly with light contact, but still there was always half halts and serpentines to slow her down. I could feel the explosiveness building in our rides and couldnt figure out why... well apparently its because anytime we were trotting she wanted to be cantering.

    Anyways I still have a lot of work to do but it was a real eye opener. Have you tried/do you think your horse could go around relaxed at all 3 gaits without ANY input from you?

    I tried it with my old gelding and it was no problem.. however I guess I always saw that as the end goal, rather than a prerequisite before really starting to train.

    Thoughts?

    #2
    I rode Western for 20 years before switching to HJ and my Hunters, leased, owned or hacked for somebody else, all went on the buckle with no special prep. Mind you, not dead fresh on a cold, windy day but in normal situations. Western does teach the rider to use their whole body and I used to astound my barn mates by halting my own Show Hunters on the buckle as well as slowing a strange horse by dropping to the buckle and just using seat and soft voice. One horse I had for many years I could even trot a wide serpentine and do a few steps in reverse after that loose rein halt. All mine were TBs, all but one RRH and it even worked on the....ah....denser...WBs.

    And watch some of our best Jumper riders blasting thru the timers like a rocket after completing a 1.45 or more course. Within a few minutes, quietly walking or trotting out of the ring on the buckle. They know they can relax and are in a safe place to do so. Same elite riders warm up with a lot of laterals, leg to hand and transitions...but they also drop to the buckle to allow the horse to stretch neck and back and relax between exercises. It’s a great tool to have. I found that having that skill translates to being able to relax a horse for just a second between fences, Obviously you don’t drop to the buckle but the horses seem to understand a quick release of contact and relax for that second if they know how to go on the buckle. Hard to explain in text only.

    Not to start a debate on confusing the horse here and like any tool, it can help but a also hurt. It takes time to learn to work it into your routine . Use your head. And think about picking up your reins softly, not abruptly, when you do resume full contact or they light up every time you pick the reins to resume thinking they are immediately going to do something. Take it easy.

    Patience and consistency pay off. Eventually. And congrats on having an Edison (lightbulb) or “ I get it” moment. Doesn’t mean you can do it but you understand.

    When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

    The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

    Comment


      #3
      OTTBs often need a long canter before they can calm down. It’s how they’ve learned work should go. One of mine did a long slow trot up a hill of about a mile, with a canter at the top before walking down for his dressage work. He was so muscular along the top line and much happier with that routine.
      Last edited by Xanthoria; Jan. 5, 2020, 04:39 PM. Reason: Typos

      Comment


        #4
        I agree with most of this, but I have had horses that were so quick to react to distractions when hacking out, that on the buckle was seldom a option. In the arena at the end of a work session, sure, drop the reins and walk, bend, circle and turn off the leg.

        This is where temperament comes in.
        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


          #5
          Originally posted by Xanthoria View Post
          OTTBs often need a gallop (or long canter) before they can calm down. It’s how they’ve learned work should go. One of mine did a long slow trot up a hill of about a mile, with a canter at the top before walking down fro his dressage world. He was so muscular along the top line and much happier with that routine.
          That's not how TBs are worked on the track. Actually, it's backwards.

          First they leave their barn and walk to the track (calmly). Then they enter the track and stop and stand for 2-3 minutes on a loose rein. Then they jog clockwise (against traffic--and again calmly) for however long they're supposed to that day, maybe half a mile. Then they might stand again (calmly) depending on the trainer's preference. After that, they turn around and begin their gallop.

          The idea that TBs are lunatics who can't settle unless they're galloped down is a delusion.

          As for OTTBS--you can train them to behave however you want. If your horse won't calm down without being galloped first, then your horse has trained you.
          www.laurienberenson.com

          Comment


            #6
            I think any reasonably well trained horse should be able to do walk and trot patterns on the buckle from just seat aids. It's even more important in a jumper because the more you ride off the seat rather than the reins the less you risk unbalancing them by hauling on their face.

            A horse should not be automatically changing gaits either up or down until you ask. If your horse will not hold a trot on the buckle then you have identified a training hole that you need to fix.

            Also it is possible to ride with no contact but not actually on the buckle. That might be more productive at this point than tossing the reins away. You can still follow the mouth with your hands just with no contact. That makes it easier to fix a problem.

            I ride my mare on no contact alot on the trails but rarely truly on the buckle. My hands follow her head but there is no touch on the bit. You only need to let the reins out an inch to have no contact. Of course if the horse is stretching to the bit you may effectively be at the buckle.

            Comment


              #7
              Originally posted by LaurieB View Post

              That's not how TBs are worked on the track. Actually, it's backwards.

              First they leave their barn and walk to the track (calmly). Then they enter the track and stop and stand for 2-3 minutes on a loose rein. Then they jog clockwise (against traffic--and again calmly) for however long they're supposed to that day, maybe half a mile. Then they might stand again (calmly) depending on the trainer's preference. After that, they turn around and begin their gallop.

              The idea that TBs are lunatics who can't settle unless they're galloped down is a delusion.

              As for OTTBS--you can train them to behave however you want. If your horse won't calm down without being galloped first, then your horse has trained you.
              I didn’t say that TBs were lunatics that need to be galloped down. I actually describe a long slow trot followed by a canter and then a walk. Which is similar to what you described.

              Comment


                #8
                FWIW, I have had a TB that needed to canter first to do useful work, because he was so darn lazy the canter kind of woke him up. Sort of.

                there are several reasons to canter early! Fit the program to the horse.

                I tend to do a long walk to relax my current young OTTB, Denny Emerson style. Gradually getting him soft and relaxed and accepting the bit without stress. Same with trot and then canter (with decreasing success as he is green). But I have had OTTBs who had much different preferences.

                Comment


                  #9
                  Xanthoria I believe LaurieB was responding to the first part of your post where you stated "OTTBs often need a long canter before they can calm down. It’s how they’ve learned work should go." Yes, you describe a long trot after that, but given how the post started, one can infer that your horse could not do dressage without that canter work, which is not the case. Especially not the case once they are off the track. I help give horses off the track training for a new career and about 1 out of 10 needs canter work initially to relax. One I'm riding now needs the stick just to keep trotting! I rode a highly successful racehorse who turned into a school pony almost immediately upon retiring - everything from pulling to the grass to plodding around the indoor to loping in the back of the pack on a hack.

                  As far as walk/trot/canter on the buckle, it is a goal for me for all horses I ride. My mare can most definitely walk/trot/canter/turn with just seat aids but similar to findeight, I did a lot of western work growing up, along with hunter and equitation. My eventing trainer was impressed with how quickly I picked up dressage and stated most hunter riders have trouble sitting up at first since hunter discipline calls more for forward seat. When I told her I did Western also (pleasure/equitation/trail), she understood. Growing up, we learned how to use our seat and leg a lot so aids were subtle enough the judges shouldn't notice, including slowing our posting down to slow the horse down. It's weird to go "off beat" at first but it works.

                  All the horses I started under saddle learn how to carry themselves first - which means work on the buckle. One of my biggest challenges is picking up contact....though I'm much better than I used to be!

                  Comment

                    Original Poster

                    #10
                    Tried this on the buckle exercise for the 2nd time ever today (yesterday was the first). The walk was good as normal. First trot attempt she picked up a canter after a couple dozen strides. Second trot attempt she trotted around and around in a nice steady rhythm wherever her heart desired until I brought her back to a walk.

                    ...Not to mention she trotted into the "scary" corner several times, the dogs were running around, DH was cleaning out the garage and making a racket. Oh and it was windy. I am a believer haha

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Good food for thought. I'm going to try this with my greenie. He has such straightness issues, it should be rather interesting.

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Originally posted by ClassyJumper View Post
                        In a nutshell, I was having some issues with my OTTB mare. Lots of anxiety/spooking/acrobatics. Did the ulcer med/vet workup/supplement train... nothing helped.

                        In a last ditch effort I started doing some NH type stuff (Warwick Schiller videos). I was skeptical but the groundwork stuff really did help a lot. I swear her body got longer (sounds dumb I know but her back and neck were so tense and compact before).

                        Anyways, hes got some things you can do undersaddle to get the horse to relax but basically he says if you can't WTC on the buckle you shouldn't be working on anything else. And I mean one hand on the buckle, horse goes wherever they want. Only use your leg for upward transition.

                        Mare was great at the walk. Ask for the trot... within a handful of strides she was cantering. The whole time I have been riding her she has never broken into the canter. I rode her mostly with light contact, but still there was always half halts and serpentines to slow her down. I could feel the explosiveness building in our rides and couldnt figure out why... well apparently its because anytime we were trotting she wanted to be cantering.

                        Anyways I still have a lot of work to do but it was a real eye opener. Have you tried/do you think your horse could go around relaxed at all 3 gaits without ANY input from you?

                        I tried it with my old gelding and it was no problem.. however I guess I always saw that as the end goal, rather than a prerequisite before really starting to train.

                        Thoughts?
                        YES. Everything and I mean everything should be able to W/T/C on a loose rein without going up (or down) a gait before beginning anything else or contact IMO. Its the very basic building block of self carriage and relaxation. If the horse NEEDS a contact, you are containing *something*, whether that be rushing, anxiety, or tension.

                        If you are continuously having to use your contact to hold, or your leg to drive, it both muddles other refined aids, and reveals underlying tension.

                        I got an OTTB from the track with zero self control, massive ball of tension. Sounds like yours. I was told "prefers contact" which translated to "you better have contact if you want to live" which I soon found out. First thing I did was teach it to stop off one rein, and then walked on a loose rein until the walk was good + relaxed, followed by the other gaits. If they break up from trot to canter, slowly and softly bend them around to a stop, wait, then restart. This can take weeks, but keep going, it is worth it, and once they learn it, that self control is forever there.

                        Schiller is actually a really great resource for this foundational work, and then once you have that down, you can branch off into your discipline.

                        I don't buy into this whole "OTTBs need to canter right away to burn off energy and settle". Their former lives were conducive to an ADHD and tension filled mentality, but this can be undone with the above work.

                        Comment


                          #13
                          A long slow trot and a canter on the trail won’t intrinsically stress a horse out - it’s very relaxing for some. “Rhythm breeds relaxation” as the old dead guys of dressage used to say. Each horse is unique but I’ve read many posts on COTH from others who agree getting an OTTB moving helps them settle. Conversely I had a non OT TB who got massively overexcited by cantering. Go figure. Anyway I was just offering what worked for me with several horses who competed successfully at dressage and eventing.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            It sounds like you were blocking her with the inside rein. You were probably also riding her from front to back. I get this from you saying she had never broken into canter but she is now and you seem to think that is good, so wanted it before.

                            Yes all horses should be able to walk, trot and canter in long and low for dressage. That will not help her when you pick up the reins and block her again. You need to retrain your hands.
                            It is better to ride 5 minutes a day than it is to ride 35 minutes on a Sunday.

                            Comment


                              #15
                              Warwick Schiller is my hero.

                              Comment


                                #16
                                Originally posted by LaurieB View Post

                                That's not how TBs are worked on the track. Actually, it's backwards.

                                First they leave their barn and walk to the track (calmly). Then they enter the track and stop and stand for 2-3 minutes on a loose rein. Then they jog clockwise (against traffic--and again calmly) for however long they're supposed to that day, maybe half a mile. Then they might stand again (calmly) depending on the trainer's preference. After that, they turn around and begin their gallop.

                                The idea that TBs are lunatics who can't settle unless they're galloped down is a delusion.

                                As for OTTBS--you can train them to behave however you want. If your horse won't calm down without being galloped first, then your horse has trained you.
                                Reposting this because it is very useful information. And I will add that a wise OTTB owner told me that OTTB’s expect you to tell them what to do. Every time you ride, you should have a plan rather than waiting to see what they are like that day.

                                Comment


                                  #17
                                  I would just like to say, Thanks OP, you inspired me to resubscribe to Warwick Schiller! He is amazing

                                  Comment


                                    #18
                                    Originally posted by Torre View Post

                                    YES. Everything and I mean everything should be able to W/T/C on a loose rein without going up (or down) a gait before beginning anything else or contact IMO. Its the very basic building block of self carriage and relaxation. If the horse NEEDS a contact, you are containing *something*, whether that be rushing, anxiety, or tension.

                                    If you are continuously having to use your contact to hold, or your leg to drive, it both muddles other refined aids, and reveals underlying tension.

                                    I got an OTTB from the track with zero self control, massive ball of tension. Sounds like yours. I was told "prefers contact" which translated to "you better have contact if you want to live" which I soon found out. First thing I did was teach it to stop off one rein, and then walked on a loose rein until the walk was good + relaxed, followed by the other gaits. If they break up from trot to canter, slowly and softly bend them around to a stop, wait, then restart. This can take weeks, but keep going, it is worth it, and once they learn it, that self control is forever there.

                                    Schiller is actually a really great resource for this foundational work, and then once you have that down, you can branch off into your discipline.

                                    I don't buy into this whole "OTTBs need to canter right away to burn off energy and settle". Their former lives were conducive to an ADHD and tension filled mentality, but this can be undone with the above work.
                                    Once again for those in the back.

                                    If you need your hands for pace control, your problem is that your horse isn't broke.
                                    The Noodlehttp://tiny.cc/NGKmT&http://tiny.cc/gioSA
                                    Jinxyhttp://tiny.cc/PIC798&http://tiny.cc/jinx364
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                                    Comment


                                      #19
                                      Originally posted by meupatdoes View Post

                                      Once again for those in the back.

                                      If you need your hands for pace control, your problem is that your horse isn't broke.
                                      Well, I ride a 15 yr old Belgian/TB X who is slowly learning to slow down. But for most of his life, with previous riders, he has been allowed to just go as forward as he would like. He can blow through a halfhalt like nobody, and sometimes sitting trot will slow him down, but not always. I'm finding that I have to continually (like every stride sometimes) halfhalt, and constantly really yank to stop him because he completely ignores me. I'm using my body, but often he does not listen. He is much better outside, and we have had some beautiful rides, but indoors he is way worse. I've tried just dropping him on his head, long reins ( he just get super fast), any ideas?

                                      Comment


                                        #20
                                        Originally posted by Seagram View Post

                                        Well, I ride a 15 yr old Belgian/TB X who is slowly learning to slow down. But for most of his life, with previous riders, he has been allowed to just go as forward as he would like. He can blow through a halfhalt like nobody, and sometimes sitting trot will slow him down, but not always. I'm finding that I have to continually (like every stride sometimes) halfhalt, and constantly really yank to stop him because he completely ignores me. I'm using my body, but often he does not listen. He is much better outside, and we have had some beautiful rides, but indoors he is way worse. I've tried just dropping him on his head, long reins ( he just get super fast), any ideas?
                                        Use the 10 m circle to slow him down or a smaller circle than you are on if he is not up to that yet. A proper circle with no speed boat turns.

                                        Yanking on the bit is not helping anyone. A bit is only as good as the hands on the other end. Yanking hands are not good hands. Do you have an instructor?

                                        Sometimes a thinner bit is kinder than a fat bit as the horse responds to it better so no yanking. I really think a good instructor is what you need though.
                                        It is better to ride 5 minutes a day than it is to ride 35 minutes on a Sunday.

                                        Comment

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