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Training Young WB - Frame Suggestions?

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  • Training Young WB - Frame Suggestions?

    Hello everyone!

    I am seeking the advice of my fellow horse lovers.

    I have a three year old dutch warmblood x by Pacific Star STV and she tends to have a higher head carriage.

    I started her at 2 1/2 very lightly on the lunge, backed her and then gave her the winter off to grow and be a baby.

    Had her legs xray'd, vet ok'd for light riding.
    I am now riding her lightly about three times a week for 15-20mins. Nothing strenuous. But she holds her high quite high.
    She does occassionally drop down for a few seconds.
    (Tack fits well and I am using a french link snaffle).

    My coach who rides P.S.G dressage suggested I use draw reins to help encourage her to come onto the vertical.

    I plan to bring this filly up as a hunter in future.

    I have trained several young horses, none quite this young but I have used the draw rein method and it seemed to work but.... I am hesitant about using them again due to my filly's age.

    Can anyone give me any suggestions on how to begin training her to frame? Or should I let it go until she is more mature?

    Thanks everyone!

  • #2
    at this point I'd personally ignore the head and just work on straight and forward, rewarding her when she drops it.

    I personally wouldn't use draw reins at this stage. Maybe try lunging with Vienna reins making sure you keep her moving with impulsion and off the forehand? They are fairly easy to rig with some small rope/sturdy twine. Or try a chambon?


    • #3
      I'd find a new trainer...


      • #4
        Originally posted by RougeEmpire View Post
        I'd find a new trainer...
        agree, when i read that i was like this . draw reins after barely backing a horse?!?! worrying about head placement at this young age? again, .


        • #5
          Just work on forward, relaxation,steering and stopping. Don't worry about her head. Once she is moving from behind you will be able to add a little contact and she can stretch into it. I personally wouldn't use draw reins on one this young and with this little training. Good Luck.
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          • #6
            Oh my. I'd have concerns about this trainer too. Wayy to early in the game to be considering draw reins. Headset is the last piece of the puzzle. I'd just work on what Jumper_girl221 said. At this age your horse is still developing the muscles and fitness required.


            • Original Poster

              Thank you everyone!

              I was a bit worried when she mentioned the draw reins.

              I feel much better knowing that my view on training (very basic's), is what we should be working on.
              I felt my coach was training at my level rather than the horse's.

              I have been riding in basic tack .. should I use a loose martingale?

              Any suggestions for what we should be concerned on? (by means of good excercises for 3 year olds)
              I have been focusing on transitions, impulsion and tons of circle excercises...


              • #8
                I'd do serpentines as well as the circles, and some figure 8's. The change of rein (IMLE) really helps prevent them from bracing, and relaxes them down into the contact.

                I wouldn't use a martingale on a baby, really thats only going to help if she's throwing or flinging her head.

                Also throw some random ground poles out there. Weaving around randomly going over a ground pole here and another there will sometimes help since they are paying attention to the ground a little more.


                • #9
                  No Draw reins!! draw reins are for correction not training and even in the deparment of correction they are only to use if there is no other way.

                  With your horse i would work it on the longe with viennesse reins (i am not quite sure if thats the right word). Be careful the first time and make sure she moves forward. If she is okay working this way she will probably accept and understand what you want while riding. Dont forget she has to find her balance.

                  There are some really good books i can recommend
                  - The rider forms the horse by Udo Bürger abd Otto Zietzschmann
                  -Training the mondern jumper by Elmar Pollmann-Schweckhorst
                  -Principles of riding
                  -and the first book of Michel Robert

                  In these books you will always find an way how you should work and whats okay for your horse.

                  For Tack: I ride all my young horses with a double broken loose ring snaffel. I have a kinda heavy one that works wonderful with most horses.
                  A running martingale in the correct lenhgt can also help.

                  Once the horse learn to bring up its back up she will progress so much fast

                  Have fun the young ones are the best


                  • #10
                    just so you know what we are talking about, these are Vienna reins


                    • #11
                      excatly what i meant!


                      • #12
                        I typically put a VERY loose standing martingale. She should only hit it if she flings her nose above her ears.

                        It isn't for putting her head down but it will protect your nose....and give you a nice handle to grab for those baby moments (which then keeps you out of her face too).

                        Like others....no draw reins, no trying to get her "on the bit". At this stage...forward, stopping, turning. Getting her to move off your leg. Ideally...if you can get her out of the ring and do some trail riding (great for her mind).

                        This is a three year old....I wouldn't be lunging a lot either. If she moves forward easily, does her transisitions when asked (up and down)...usually turns when asked...and picks up the leads most of the time you are well ahead of the game and could probably turn her back out for a couple of months (give the early time year).
                        ** Tact is the ability to tell someone to go to hell in such a way that they look forward to the trip. ~Winston Churchill? **


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Cavalo View Post
                          Oh my. I'd have concerns about this trainer too. Wayy to early in the game to be considering draw reins. Headset is the last piece of the puzzle. I'd just work on what Jumper_girl221 said. At this age your horse is still developing the muscles and fitness required.
                          Yup, I would be worried about the trainer too. Headset comes as a result of where the rest of the horse is at, and that comes about as a result of strength, fitness, and knowledge. Given her age and activity level u/s there's no way she's got the strength and fitness required to carry herself correctly in a correct "frame". It's important to develop PUSHING power at this point - with that you can LATER develop CARRYING power (collection) ;P Pushing power in a young horse takes a lot of time to develop (preferably, a year or two). Trails/hills, poles/cavelleti, lots of long, loose, relaxing forward work will build the appropriate muscles she needs to balance and (LATER) collect.

                          Think about the Training Scale. Circular patterns and exercises really help inducing relaxation and suppleness, which will create rhythm. As the horse progresses, they naturally start to pick up contact (read: ON THEIR OWN). Impulsion is important (hence the need for developing forward NOW - both for strength and for the actual impulsion) so you have energy to actually flow into your hand and into contact. Straightness ensues, and collection develops as a result of the entire pyramid. Your mare is NOT FULLY relaxed and supple when her head is in the air - she's got some level of tension. Don't focus on the head - it is a symptom of her emotions and a reflection of what is going on in the rest of her body (including balance and strength and lack thereof). Instead, focus on relaxing her entire body and mind. The rider's job is simply to guide and encourage the horse gently via progressive exercises and patterns. Then they can tweak and refine what the horse offers. As far as the circular exercises, they not only discourage bracing and encourage relaxation and suppleness, but they also force the horse to track up (to an extent) to balance. Thus you then have something to build and refine as the horse progresses.

                          If you are only riding her 3x per week for 15-20min you are not going to develop much strength, but a bit. Definitely develop that pushing power, and work on other basics such as moving off your leg and seat (sideways, turns on the fore/hind, leg yield, transitions up and down, etc etc). There is a lot of basic work a person can do as far as desensitization and basics - she should be to the point where you can ride her off your seat on patterns, in various gaits, without reins When she's cleared for more than just light work and is say working 5x a week for 30-60min, then I would really focus on developing the strength for carrying power. Once she's sufficiently strengthened (which will take MONTHS), THEN start focusing more on refining collection and developing a "frame". "Frame" is developed by the horse as per the rider's guidance, it's not created by the rider.

                          Personally I wouldn't turn to draw reins or a martingale. Why? You can achieve the same or better (imo) via relaxation, which is the foundation of the Training Scale pyramid anyways. If she is not relaxed or lacks the appropriate strength for balance, she will be bracing against the martingale or the draw reins anyways, which builds underline as opposed to the topline (especially at the base of the neck) that you ultimately want as (ultimately) a part of her carrying power/strength. If she is relaxed, her head will be down. She doesn't need a gadget to teach her she can carry her head lower. She already knows that, it's innate. She's a horse, she knows how to lower her head. Since she's young and with limited experience, she shouldn't have a severe habit of holding tension, either, so your job is just to KEEP her relaxed, not to actually TEACH (ie, re-introduce) it specifically. In the mean time, she is not going to lower her head yet when she a) NEEDS it raised so as to balance (especially considering current strength) and for visual acuity (especially since she is still learning how to move under a rider and to trust a rider's guidance and direction) and b) when she is not yet fully relaxed u/s. It would not be fair to strap something on to just keep her head down. Instead, it will come when she is ready.

                          Just my two cents Good luck!
                          ....horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
                          ~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by LowerSaxony_Jumper View Post
                            - The rider forms the horse by Udo Bürger abd Otto Zietzschmann
                            I've been meaning to read this book!! It was suggested and quoted in the book "Tug of War" by Dr. Gerd Heuschmann. OP, Tug of War is another good book that briefly outlines how best to (and not to!) develop a young horse and explains the biomechanics involved.

                            I forgot to mention a few schooling books I often recommend:
                            101 Dressage Exercises
                            Progressive Schooling Exercises for Dressage & Jumping by Islay Auty

                            Ooops sorry OP I get carried away sometimes - I forgot we were on the H/J board as opposed to the Dressage board. I still stand by the above though. A strong foundation is a strong foundation, regardless. Put some classical dressage in there, keep in mind the Training Scale, and you will have a strong foundation for a H/J later.
                            ....horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
                            ~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.


                            • #15
                              Agreed; no draw reins & I LOVE draw reins

                              Lungeing in side reins is helpful but I'd only do it a couple of times a week for a couple of minutes each way (& very loose) at the beginning of a ride just to give her the concept of contact (and only at the walk/trot) & giving into it.

                              I may get flamed for this but I feel like there is so much pressure in dressage for the horse to be in a frame right away. I did some riding for a breeder that had a dressage background & we eventually had to part ways b/c of this exact issue. She wanted her 3 yr old to be working in a frame just months after I had started her - she was destined as a hunter as well.

                              My philosophy is less is more with a young hunter - simply riding properly (from back to front with leg to keep straight) & not fussing with them produces the best results in my opinion.

                              But, I don't crank out show ring hunters at the age of 4. Not that I think there's anything wrong with that per se; I just tend to take longer with mine.

                              I just wanted to add - I don't think there's anything wrong with using training tools (draw reins, martingales, different bits) - I just don't think a 3 yr old with a month of riding under her belt is ready for any of that.
                              \"Don\'t go throwing effort after foolishness\" >>>Spur, Man From Snowy River


                              • #16
                                Czar, I couldn't agree more with you, so no flame suit needed here! Less is always more, and slow and easy gets you there ahead.
                                ....horses should be trained in such a way that they not only love their riders, but look forward to the time they are with them.
                                ~ Xenophon, 350 B.C.


                                • Original Poster

                                  Great comments, thank you!

                                  Czar made a great comment which likely relates to why my coach wanted the frame now rather than later.

                                  My coach trains and shows her 3 year olds training level and 1/2 by age 4 or 5.

                                  It is amazing to see her 3 year olds that have a gorgeous frame and looks like a 5-7 year old but there is something to be said about that when I think about it.

                                  I start to question longevity at that point... but I cannot say I do not envy how it appears.


                                  • #18
                                    I've been riding a friend's young WB for her since the horse was about the same age as yours. My friend's horse also tends to carry her head higher.

                                    For the longest time, my friend's horse was so gangly that all we did was hack and do some trail rides. Whoa, go, back, turn... she wasn't ready for anything else. Our sessions basically served to continually remind her that when a person is working with her (in the saddle or on the ground), the person is the boss. Full stop.

                                    Horse is now 4 (will be 5 in August), and will likely end up being a hunter. However, she's just now finally starting to grow into herself and figure out how to make her pieces work together. We have just now started doing very basic dressage to encourage her to bend and use herself correctly. As she has learned to bend laterally, her head carriage has come down, and she is starting to learn how to go in a lower-level dressage/hunter frame. It's not pressure to go in a frame, per se, it's asking the horse to step up to the next level and use herself correctly. The frame is a by-product.

                                    I'm going to have to go with those who say "find a new trainer." It's easy to slap draw reins on, but as pwynnnorman said in another thread, we use draw reins to get quicker results than the horse is ready to give. This doesn't mean they are not sometimes of use... but I'm gonna go ahead and say, "no," for such a young horse.

                                    Feel free to PM if you want more info on my particular experience.

                                    Good luck, and have fun!
                                    If we have to nail on talent, it's not talent.
                                    Founder, Higher Standards Leather Care Addicts Anonymous


                                    • #19
                                      Ufff.. trainer said reach for the draw reins? That is a really bad idea.

                                      The head comes from behind. My youngster stuck her nose out in the air at first. Work forward and balanced, you will be surprised, they will start offering to stretch into the bridle.

                                      Right now, concentrate on working the horse off of your legs, and soft soft hands. Think about lengthening the horse from front to back, encourage forward with the neck (not cranked up in draw reins!!).

                                      I will admit, I am not an “expert” but here are photos of my young filly. I ride her in a very light contact and just ask for forward.
                                      3 year old under saddle
                                      APPSOLUTE CHOCKLATE - Photo by Kathy Colman


                                      • #20
                                        Originally posted by pryme_thyme View Post
                                        Great comments, thank you!

                                        Czar made a great comment which likely relates to why my coach wanted the frame now rather than later.

                                        My coach trains and shows her 3 year olds training level and 1/2 by age 4 or 5.

                                        It is amazing to see her 3 year olds that have a gorgeous frame and looks like a 5-7 year old but there is something to be said about that when I think about it.

                                        I start to question longevity at that point... but I cannot say I do not envy how it appears.
                                        I hear you; I feel like this when I see some of the baby greens warming up at the A shows - they have way more training on them then mine do BUT I do think mine are happier. We do not have issues with our young horses (ulcers, quirks, unsoundness) & we've had several show horses come to our farm with the above & in a few months are happy & healthy again.

                                        We have a horse right now in our barn that was at the best hunter barn in our province as a young horse & was used up by the age of 7 Just didn't want to play anymore.

                                        I do think it's about picking the right ones though as well - if you choose something that is natural in the discipline that you have intended for him - it's so much easier to do the "training".

                                        Just for comparison's sake...this is a 3 yr old TB I had in the spring of last year:

                                        http://pets.webshots.com/photo/20381...97913210LUNpTl (please excuse the tank top - I didn't know I was going to be taking pics this day)

                                        She'd had about 3 months in this pic of re-riding after being broke for the track & laid off for the winter (while I had my baby!).

                                        I was perfectly happy with her "head set" in these pics - her biggest problem was not wanting to work from behind as she was quite lazy.
                                        Last edited by Czar; Apr. 7, 2011, 05:24 PM.
                                        \"Don\'t go throwing effort after foolishness\" >>>Spur, Man From Snowy River