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Re-training the western pleasure horse for hunt seat...

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  • Re-training the western pleasure horse for hunt seat...

    and eventually dressage.

    I am working with a friend's champion western pleasure mare and she now wants to do dressage with her. Has anyone worked with a horse that just wants to trot and canter so slow? I am looking for any advice or tips. I am asking for a speedier trot and she just keeps going into a slow canter. The canter is easier, I am basically doing a hand gallop at this point.

  • #2
    Do you have a big field where you can go teach her it is fun to go forward?
    Rest in peace Claudius, we will miss you.

    Comment


    • #3
      Um...is friend leaving the WP word behind or is this "cross training" for fun?

      You know, some things are great for creating additional skills-and extension and collection will NOT hurt a WP horse at all if used in specific schooling situations with a competition schedual time frame in mind. But might be problematic if you ask the horse to go pitty patting around the rail with a draped rein in single file the next day. But, in general, extension and collection excercises are NBD to a PROPERLY trained WP horse.


      BUT...you got two huge issues going into hunt seat and then Dressage. First is contact, asking them to come forward into the bridle and accept light, constant contact in bridle and from the rider's leg. Second is accepting and learning to depend on constant leg and bridle support for specific guidence in what they are to do in what direction and how fast.

      The WP horse has spent considerable time, probably years, learning NOT to depend on anything more then very subtle cues mainly from shifts in body weight and do it on a loose rein.

      So your friends WP mare just does not have a clue what you want-good for her she is extending for you. But you will have to retrain her to accept rein and leg contact...do you want to do that? Friend will have to undo and redo yet again to get the mare back to that WP mindset of working independently.

      If this mare has a spur stop, it's even more to overcome.

      If your friend is done with WP, go ahead and try the conversion...but going back and forth is not going to help this one if friend is still wanting to show her...fact might frustrate both horse and humans.

      If she is out of WP for good? You are looking at a considerable amount of saddle time to, basically, unteach and reteach. Be patient, long way to go.
      When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

      The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

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      • Original Poster

        #4
        She is out of western pleasure for good and wants to do dressage.

        Comment


        • #5
          The she needs to go back to the beginning and learn everything all over from square one...probably starting with ground driving or lunging in side reins gradually tightened to allow her to learn to take the bridle and accept it.

          Then she moves to learning to "frame" (and I hate that term but it best describes what we are talking about) and learn to come up into that bridle pushing off her back end working off leg pressure.

          It's not like she bucks or anything...you are starting with a very well broke horse and it goes alot faster then with a colt. But, like I said, takes time. First get the forward part down then harness it teaching contact and acceptance of leg.

          Always remember mare does not know nuthin 'bout no contact (to her it means stop) or constant leg pressure, learned the opposite and has done it for years so be patient. Both you and friend need to be consistent and stay on the same page with where mare is and what you are trying to teach. Otherwise, mare will get really confused and everybody gets frustrated.

          There should be some materials about QHs and Dressage out there from AQHA and I bet there are some DVDs. Knowledgable help would also help all of you set a course and stay on it.
          When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

          The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

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          • #6
            You might try some trail riding and following another horse at a good spanking trot to help with the trot.
            http://weanieeventer.blogspot.com/

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            • #7
              I guess it depends on whether she wants to do hunt seat or dressage at a competitive level. Especially with quarter horses, to be competitive, I find that a horse does best at what it is bred to do. I have a nice WP mare, for her WP is easy, because she has the conformation and movement to do it. Dressage or hunt seat would be hard for her, because she is not bred to do it. Most quarter horses are good minded enough to try whatever we ask of them, but I wouldn't expect them to be necessarily be competitive. Lots of market out there for a good WP horse, why not sell the horse to a good home and get a dressage horse?

              Comment

              • Original Poster

                #8
                Originally posted by Rambler View Post
                I guess it depends on whether she wants to do hunt seat or dressage at a competitive level. Especially with quarter horses, to be competitive, I find that a horse does best at what it is bred to do. I have a nice WP mare, for her WP is easy, because she has the conformation and movement to do it. Dressage or hunt seat would be hard for her, because she is not bred to do it. Most quarter horses are good minded enough to try whatever we ask of them, but I wouldn't expect them to be necessarily be competitive. Lots of market out there for a good WP horse, why not sell the horse to a good home and get a dressage horse?
                She will never sell this horse as she also owns the mother and was there to see this one born. The owner knows that they will probably never go past training level. She just wants to do english, something that has been a desire for a while and wants to enjoy her wonderful mare. I am there to help.

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                • #9
                  If this is a really good wp horse, its neck set is probably too low to get in the "frame" that they are looking for in dressage. Also collection may be a problem. Perhaps a HUS or maybe a trail job would work?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    I have a friend who tried to change her western pleasure Qtr horse to a hunter.......She finally gave up! She kept thinking he was lame, spent a fortune on diagnostics...because he had this "hitch" in his canter (his trot was pretty). When I saw him again inWP, the hitch was there in a perfect quiet QH/WP canter. I realized it is how he was trained to . The only advice I would give to get out of that short canter stride is lots of XC cantering, perhaps in a group to get him to move out and open his stride.
                    Foxhunting would be ideal, but may be more than she wants to do!
                    www.flyingcolorsfarm.comHome of pinto stallion Claim to Fame and his homozygous son, Counterclaim. Friend us on Facebook!https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Fl...04678589573428

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                    • #11
                      Ride with a dressage whip for impulsion, do not use your legs at all for quite awhile as this horse will have to learn a whole new meaning of leg contact - to go forward, not to compress, round up, and go slower with hind end canted to the inside.

                      Some of the wining modern WP bloodlines (ie Principal Investment) do have uphill conformation.

                      I second riding anywhere but an arena.
                      Comprehensive Equestrian Site Planning and Facility Design
                      www.lynnlongplanninganddesign.com

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                      • #12
                        I think some of the advice on this thread is a little dramatic.

                        The horse will go how you ride it.
                        A newly backed horse can go decently in two or three rides so a horse new to a discipline can go the same.

                        I retrained a WP horse for the hunters and dressage and the horse was doing fine at easy hunter courses in about 2 weeks (just get in two point and let go) and, after a winter of trailriding due to no indoor, developed quite a nice dressage ride between April and August.

                        First ride
                        10 days later
                        August

                        I actually think an easy, no frills jump school like that is great to get started with right away because it really helps develop a free-flowing, forward stride and a relaxed back and really sets the horse up for further development of the flatwork in the future.


                        Just ride the horse how you want it to go and that is how it will go.
                        The horse can not learn the new aids if you avoid using them because they are new.
                        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

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                        • #13
                          This was my WP horse: http://pets.webshots.com/photo/24869...53911905KHgbsY

                          Here's another:
                          http://pets.webshots.com/photo/11209...53911905DqMtFC
                          And another:
                          http://pets.webshots.com/photo/11209...53911905PhVqrp
                          And another just starting out:
                          http://pets.webshots.com/photo/11209...53911905LTFmCr

                          Just put them in a snaffle, get on 'em and ride forward. Forward, forward, forward. Start adding in contact, riding leg to hand. Lots of praise when they get something right. They are smart and used to obeying orders, they will quickly figure it out. Don't apologize to them for the new way of going, most enjoy a little forward fun.

                          My mare would go back on the drape with a word and a tap to the withers with my rein hand. Some have a hard time switching back and forth but others get it relatively easily.

                          If you are having trouble getting her to extend the trot, try lengthening your posting to lengthen her step. I know this is old-fashioned but it can help a QH figure out what you are asking instead of rolling into a lope since some QH people do it. Also some WP trainers do two point to extend instead of posting, so try getting off the horse's back and see what she does. Then once she's rolling start posting and praising her. Never hurts to try a few tricks so you can find a way to show her what you want. She just has probably never been permitted to long trot and thinks if you want to go faster, you must want to lope. Not a bad sign at all, she's trying to please and think.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by meupatdoes View Post
                            ...(just get in two point and let go)...

                            Well, OP specifically asked about Dressage which requires the horse learn to work up into the bridle, accept contact and leg and that is going to take more then 2 weeks...and it is not her horse. Plus she is getting a little frustrated it is not going very quickly and the horse is confused.

                            What is wrong with advising patience and time and refreshing basics with the modification Dressage requires?
                            When opportunity knocks it's wearing overalls and looks like work.

                            The horse world. Two people. Three opinions.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by findeight View Post
                              Well, OP specifically asked about Dressage which requires the horse learn to work up into the bridle, accept contact and leg and that is going to take more then 2 weeks...and it is not her horse. Plus she is getting a little frustrated it is not going very quickly and the horse is confused.

                              What is wrong with advising patience and time and refreshing basics with the modification Dressage requires?
                              Yes, and one of the basics the horse must learn for dressage is to go freely forward. So you get in two point, let go, and then you find a cavaletti, and then you go find a little box, and then you go find a roll top ...ala video. That video is the first time that horse jumped around that ring and you can see the progression from the canter around the perimeter to the itty bitty cavaletti to the jumps. Personally I think the horse looks quite happy and confident and like he is enjoying himself, not pressured or bullied in anyway.

                              That is exactly what sets the forward foundation for the horse to build from when you then start introducing more contact and lateral work on a more dressage based ride. It works great, installs a nice forward button, and they can learn and have fun at the same time.

                              Does the horse look rushed or the rider impatient to you in those videos? Where did I say patience was bad??! 2'6" single jumps on a light rein and relaxed step IS refreshing the basics, which is why I suggested it.
                              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


                              • #16
                                Put the horse on LIGHT contact (as in, just take the slack out of the reins so that you can pick up contact simply by raising your hand), and when you ask for lengthening at the trot, make sure that you have slightly more contact on your outside rein than the inside.

                                This will most likely discourage her from breaking into a canter. If she does break into a canter, pick up more contact with the outside rein until she breaks back into the trot, then start adding leg again. Make sure that when you are asking for more impulsion, you are asking with BOTH legs. At first, you may even want to ask with just your inside leg. Using your outside usually encourages a western trained horse to canter.

                                Also, exaggerating your posting as someone else mentioned will encourage her to lengthen her gait.

                                Just be persistent and patient. Ask for length, if she breaks gait, bring her back to the trot and start asking again. If you get her to lengthen even a little, leave her alone! Don't ask for more until she slows back down on her own.

                                Dimes to doughnuts, she is not going to be able to do a good working trot first time out. Or the second time. Maybe not even the third. But eventually you should be able to get more and more flow to her trot. Perhaps your friend should video your rides on her, so that you have a reference to go back to if it seems like she's not going the way you want.

                                Sorry if you've already been doing this, this is what first came to mind when I read your plight.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  I agree with Ford - forward, forward, forward.

                                  Let the horse start on a loose rein, that is what they are used to and concentrate on a steady forward trot using seat and leg. You should always think impulsion and not speed. Use ground poles to help them get the idea of extension. Once they figure out forward, add more and more contact.
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