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"more energy" "more forward"

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  • "more energy" "more forward"

    These are the comments I get most often on my dressage tests.

    I am learning that what he does isn't a collected jog, nor is it a working jog...it's a western pleasure jog. A joy to sit and have a cup of tea. But, scores between a 4 and 6.

    So, yesterday I tried to find a jog that had more energy and that I could also sit. Not bad for a start...but what does it feel like? I don't want to be bouncing along.

    The jog I found in him had me moving more side to side with his hips than up and down. Is this right? His face was slightly in front of vertical and his neck was stretch out and level...a good frame, I think.

    It felt pretty darn okay. He's Morgan, trained for the breed ring.

    What should a working jog feel like on a Morgan...assuming it's different from a stock breed. Or are they all the same.

    I take lessons from a classical trainer and she's wonderful with me. She tells me "release, more forward" and then the bouncing starts.

    How does it all come together...forward, yet smooth. Relaxed yet elastic.
    Ride like you mean it.

  • #2
    I can't answer the other questions, but I can say that when my mare is going in a forward yet collected working jog I do bounce. Quite a bit actually. When she is just cruising along at her slower more western pleasure like jog I don't bounce. I just had to learn to sit deep, grip with my inner leg, and let my ankles absorb the motion downward.

    As far as frame, I ride my mare in a more classical dressage frame. I am not sure if that is correct or incorrect. WD frames seem to be all over the place depending upon breed, but that is what my instructor has me do.
    RH Queen O Anywhere "Sydney"
    2009 Sugarbush Draft mare
    Western Dressage
    Draft Mare blog

    Comment

    • Original Poster

      #3
      Thanks. I'm the only western rider my instructor has and I believe she's doing right by me. I have the scores to prove that what I'M doing isn't right.

      I have such back pain issues that I really can't bounce a whole lot. I read on one site that posting is allowed and so is standing in the stirrups. She won't go for standing...we just got me to relax my ankles and knees, sit down and be "cooked spagetti" with my legs.

      You're right about frame...it's all over and depends on the breed I think. The ranch types are more out and down with nose out. The Morgans and Arabs are higher and face is more on the vertical.

      Of course it will take more than one ride...my manta...but just wondered how others deal with the bounce.
      Ride like you mean it.

      Comment


      • #4
        According to the USEF Western Dressage rules: WD 104 5.b

        In the Introductory and Basic tests, the Working jog may be ridden either posting. In more advanced tests from Level 1 up, the Working jog should be ridden seated5.

        Comment


        • #5
          If your horse is round and lifting through the back, the "bounce" feels like a wave, not a bounce. When your horse is flat through the back and not using itself it's bouncy. Same with the lope.
          "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in a confederacy against him."

          Comment


          • #6
            If you are able to do a posting trot, I would think that would be best for now. If not, your trainer can help you learn, no doubt.

            Posting trot often enables the rider to encourage a bigger trot and a relaxed back (for both horse and rider). This in turn should help you and your horse establish a "new normal" trot which will be easier for you to maintain later when you begin to sit that trot.

            Remember, they used to race Morgans as "trotters," so I would bet that a big, forward trot is in there!

            Comment


            • #7
              I would go for slower, but not mincing along. I ride big Sporthorse types, developing that Western Pleasure trot is something we teach them to use in their Driving. They need several trots to be "well educated" in Driving, and we do use that slow but CORRECT trot for a number of reasons.

              They can give me LOTS of air time, if I extend the trot, bounce me all over, as they are designed to move. Of course that isn't really comfortable sitting! So teaching them to move slower, lift their back while still having an overstride, but not reaching, does sit pretty well without posting. Husband doesn't tolerate them moving incorrectly, no trope, or faking the trot, going strung out.

              We can trot and NOT pass everyone in a WP class, do the "shuffle" or speed it up as needed, once they are taught how to respond to my hands and seat. DD did quite well with showing locally, 4-H, reaching State Finals, High School Equestrain Team with these horses under Western Judges.

              This is NOT correct Dressage, but a method we use because spending 4-6 hours in the saddle MUST be comfortable during that time. My horse will go with a pretty much vertical face, not behind the vertical. He moves his nose in and out, according to what the reins are asking. I HAVE contact, not thrown away as many Western horses are, because I also will need that contact doing correct Dressage in horse's Driving activities.

              Classical Dressage seems to rely a lot on having reins TIGHT, horse in a snaffle bit, so horse and rider are both pulling from each end of the rein. Western riding does NOT want horse pulling, that is way too tiring to use over a day-long ride. One of the reasons they use curb bits, horse gets corrected with a pull, reins go slack again. Horse LIKES not being held tight ALL the time, doesn't mind a little rein touch though. So horse needs to "give to the bit" when you lift the reins. You give reins, horse then hunts for that slight contract to feel you, so his head goes down and nose out forward. He likes "talking to you with that light contact" instead of being thrown away on very loose rein or constant pull of tight reins.

              So in your Western Dressage testing, you will be able to loosen for more forward, lift rein, nose comes in, You can pick him up for slower, yet still forward trot and be able to sit that COMFORTABLE trot.

              Morgans were made to be all-day-long riding horses. Stories of covering many miles, riding them for days, often at speed, were legendary in the Civil War. They ARE comfortable gaited mostly, you just have to learn to adjust his trot speed, head setting, to find what best suits your sore back!

              Western things are ALL ABOUT being comfortable. Cowboys didn't put up with bad gaited horses for all those hours in the saddle!! They rode at various speeds, gaits, to find what worked best to be comfortable. I have to believe that Western Dressage falls into that category of comfort too. Keep tweaking your horse until he works doing what makes you comfortable.

              I got some very odd looks using my big Sporthorses under Western Saddle, but horse learned to do as asked, poke along walking, trotting, cantering. It made them better, more skilled animals in their other uses. I did get some comments during our warm up time before Clinicians started. One even said he never thought I would "get that aggressive walk and trot" modified to "look Western like the other horses". I laughed and laughed later, because any other place their 3 walks and 5 kinds of trot are much admired when we compete!! Horses were fine with things, once they understood what I was asking. "I can do that!" A Morgan should have no problems with your various trots, once you make it clear what you want of him.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Palm Beach View Post
                If your horse is round and lifting through the back, the "bounce" feels like a wave, not a bounce. When your horse is flat through the back and not using itself it's bouncy. Same with the lope.
                I find that it also depends upon conformation of the horse though. For me when my mare's back is lifted and she is in a round frame I feel like I am riding on a yoga ball. When she hollows I feel like I am riding on a table. But she is also very wide with no withers.
                RH Queen O Anywhere "Sydney"
                2009 Sugarbush Draft mare
                Western Dressage
                Draft Mare blog

                Comment


                • #9
                  FWIW (maybe not that much since I'm not a Western rider), the better scoring local Western dressage horses I have seen go more like nice Training/ First level dressage horses than Western pleasure horses. And since they show under the same judges as we do for traditional dressage, that makes sense. Since you have the option to post, I would guess that would be the way to go, at least until you and the horse both get stronger.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Training of the Western Dressage horse is not about developing the different trots/jogs. That is the RESULT of the training. The training is first and foremost about developing your horse as a willing athlete--teaching him to use his back correctly to most efficient and effectively carry a rider. It would be in both your and your horse's best interest to learn to post a nicely forward, active jog first that comes through the horse's back. You say your trainer is a knowledgeable dressage trainer. I am sure she will have you on the right track. Once the horse is moving through his back correctly, you can then begin to learn to sit with movement in such a way that doesn't block or restrict. This will be a new skill set and very much UNLIKE western pleasure. It will also require you to have a very independent seat from your rein contact. The person who referenced "Classical Dressage seems to rely a lot on having reins TIGHT, horse in a snaffle bit, so horse and rider are both pulling from each end of the rein." is very incorrect. That is NOT what the goal of traditional dressage should be. NEVER pulling. Soft elastic communication. It takes time and finesse to develop. Morgans have been very successful in the WD sandbox. Good luck. Hope I can judge you on centerline sometime!
                    "Listen to your mind. It has a whole lot more brain cells than your heart does." - SillyHorse

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      Thank you all for your suggestions. I'm re-reading each to see what parts I can apply at this time and which should wait on strengthening and understanding.

                      I haven't been able to ride again...life gets in the way...but I should be able to get in more riding time after today.

                      I can do a posting trot. I'll give that a try...last time I tried a few years ago, he was a bit unnerved by the movement in the saddle. I think he might be more receptive now that I have better position and am less tense. That seems the best way to strengthen and get him moving.
                      Ride like you mean it.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        In the posting trot, let the thrust of the horse's movement push you out of the saddle and you catch yourself and control the movement back down. If you pump or thrust your body too hard and mechanically, you will throw your body and your horse out of balance. Think of it as a movement to eliminate the bounce of your behind in the saddle Happy posting!
                        "Listen to your mind. It has a whole lot more brain cells than your heart does." - SillyHorse

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Bearskin View Post
                          The person who referenced "Classical Dressage seems to rely a lot on having reins TIGHT, horse in a snaffle bit, so horse and rider are both pulling from each end of the rein." is very incorrect. That is NOT what the goal of traditional dressage should be. NEVER pulling. Soft elastic communication.
                          That would be me. I didn't mean to infer that tight reins was correct in Classical Dressage, just that is what is seen so much of the time. You could play a tune on the tight reins commonly seen on Dressage horses, no release or any kind or elastic communication.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Originally posted by ezduzit View Post

                            I take lessons from a classical trainer and she's wonderful with me. She tells me "release, more forward" and then the bouncing starts.

                            How does it all come together...forward, yet smooth. Relaxed yet elastic.
                            My mare is part Morgan, with Belgian and QH thrown in. Her jog is great, but it would not score in the ring, it is almost a pace, very very comfortable, but judges don't like it.

                            What I thought was a working jog I found quite bouncy to ride, for her it is pushing that little bit more, with a little more energy she becomes comfortable again.

                            My trainer is also Classical, and I hear "more forward" a lot, I gave up and took up a schooling whip the other day, THEN I found a bit more forward and more comfort.
                            "He's not even a good pathological liar." Mara

                            "You're just a very desperate troll, and not even a good one. You're like middle-school troll at best. Like a goblin, not even a troll." et_fig

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Draftmare View Post
                              I find that it also depends upon conformation of the horse though. For me when my mare's back is lifted and she is in a round frame I feel like I am riding on a yoga ball. When she hollows I feel like I am riding on a table. But she is also very wide with no withers.
                              Good analogy! I've never been on a yoga ball, but I have been on an exercise ball, until they all ended up in my ring...
                              "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in a confederacy against him."

                              Comment


                              • #16
                                Originally posted by Bearskin View Post
                                Training of the Western Dressage horse is not about developing the different trots/jogs. That is the RESULT of the training. The training is first and foremost about developing your horse as a willing athlete--teaching him to use his back correctly to most efficient and effectively carry a rider. It would be in both your and your horse's best interest to learn to post a nicely forward, active jog first that comes through the horse's back. You say your trainer is a knowledgeable dressage trainer. I am sure she will have you on the right track. Once the horse is moving through his back correctly, you can then begin to learn to sit with movement in such a way that doesn't block or restrict. This will be a new skill set and very much UNLIKE western pleasure. It will also require you to have a very independent seat from your rein contact. The person who referenced "Classical Dressage seems to rely a lot on having reins TIGHT, horse in a snaffle bit, so horse and rider are both pulling from each end of the rein." is very incorrect. That is NOT what the goal of traditional dressage should be. NEVER pulling. Soft elastic communication. It takes time and finesse to develop. Morgans have been very successful in the WD sandbox. Good luck. Hope I can judge you on centerline sometime!
                                We only long trot for fitness a little bit, and do a variety of lateral work exercises to get the slower round jog. The lateral work really gets them soft, using the hind end, and carefully thinking about what you are asking of them.
                                "When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in a confederacy against him."

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Bearskin View Post
                                  Training of the Western Dressage horse is not about developing the different trots/jogs. That is the RESULT of the training. The training is first and foremost about developing your horse as a willing athlete--teaching him to use his back correctly to most efficient and effectively carry a rider. It would be in both your and your horse's best interest to learn to post a nicely forward, active jog first that comes through the horse's back. You say your trainer is a knowledgeable dressage trainer. I am sure she will have you on the right track. Once the horse is moving through his back correctly, you can then begin to learn to sit with movement in such a way that doesn't block or restrict. This will be a new skill set and very much UNLIKE western pleasure. It will also require you to have a very independent seat from your rein contact. The person who referenced "Classical Dressage seems to rely a lot on having reins TIGHT, horse in a snaffle bit, so horse and rider are both pulling from each end of the rein." is very incorrect. That is NOT what the goal of traditional dressage should be. NEVER pulling. Soft elastic communication. It takes time and finesse to develop. Morgans have been very successful in the WD sandbox. Good luck. Hope I can judge you on centerline sometime!
                                  So, Bearskin, it sounds like you are a judge? Do you judge dressage and western dressage? If so, do you judge them differently?

                                  I understand that you say the goal of classical dressage should be about soft, elastic communication, but honestly I have seen a lot of pulling/holding/not-softness in dressage. I haven't seen any western dressage, but I was wondering about the contact - is the expectation to go with a looser or droopy rein at all versus in regular dressage?

                                  Regarding the OP and more energy, there's only so much a horse can or will "shine" on its own if the owner isn't giving it any assistance. By that I mean that there's got to be some sort of life/energy flowing from you to your horse for your horse to have that energy as well. Without seeing you ride I couldn't say what the judge meant. More forward could be just that - going forward with a bigger step/more pace. But there's also something about "bringing the life up" in a horse that is part of the energy or brilliance that a horse will show. If you can't bring up your own life, then it will be hard to ask your horse to do so.

                                  I've been working with a new trainer who talked about that, and I've heard it in Buck Brannaman clinics, too. I'm working on practicing that on my own right now so I can develop a feel for it and see what it means to my horse. I find it easier to do in open space where I've got lots of straight trails ahead of me. I mostly get started from halt-walk or walk-trot, and then when I'm warmed up and go trot-canter, that energy is more available to me. I've been practicing finding my "relax, we're just standing here" seat and then "rolling up" to a "let's walk" seat (without using my legs). It develops my use of my seat and my horse's understanding of my seat. Then I'll do the same from a walk to a trot and see what differences I can make to affect a change in my horse and a more lively response. I once had a friend say I have a "calming seat" - but I joke that it is really a lazy ass and so I need to improve how I develop energy in my horse.

                                  I agree that when the horse is using itself correctly, then a sitting trot is very comfortable to sit. Until you find it, there isn't anything wrong with posting, and it would probably show off your horse better.
                                  "A horse's face always conveys clearly whether it is loved by its owner or simply used." - Anja Beran

                                  Comment


                                  • #18
                                    Pocket Pony, yes, I judge both traditional as well as western dressage. No, I do not judge them differently. They both use the same training scale with the emphasis being on correct basics from a soft, elastic connection. There should not be droopy reins in WD. There must be a connection. That being said, there are some differences in the expectations.

                                    It is important to realize what WD is NOT. It is not western pleasure pattern. It also is not western tack thrown on a warmblood. WD honors the heritage of western riding. That being said, it is paramount that one recognizes that purpose-, stock-bred horses do not move like warmbloods, and are not expected to. The ultimate goal is the development of an ahtletic equine partner that is ready to perform the duties of a western horse (while prolonging his useful life and soundness): get after a cow and ranchwork.

                                    The western horse is allowed and expected to have more "earth-bound" gaits as would be expected of a horse working all day on a ranch and all that implies. Think efficiency of movement. That being said, he should move actively forward, most desirably tracking up in the working gaits, with a soft connection, suppleness through the back and malleability and adjustability.

                                    Remember that is both schools, the movements are not movements unto themselves. They are gymnastic exercises to be used judiciously to further develop the athleticism of the horse so that he can better perform his duties to his utmost potential. Traditional dressage horses are more purpose-bred for the competition arena at this point then are the WD horses. Most WD horses have a primary job and WD is secondarily used to enhance their primary job, or is a second career.

                                    I would agree that in the traditional dressage ring, some of this is missing, but that doesn't mean it shouldn't still be the training goal.
                                    "Listen to your mind. It has a whole lot more brain cells than your heart does." - SillyHorse

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Bearskin View Post
                                      In the posting trot, let the thrust of the horse's movement push you out of the saddle and you catch yourself and control the movement back down. If you pump or thrust your body too hard and mechanically, you will throw your body and your horse out of balance. Think of it as a movement to eliminate the bounce of your behind in the saddle Happy posting!
                                      Yes, this. The horse's hip will bump you forward in the saddle; it's not an up-and-down movement on your part so much as it is a forward-and-back almost roll towards the pommel and back, precipitated by movement on the horse's part. That's why I like the expression "rising to the trot," because you are rising/rolling forward to the horse's impulsion.

                                      For sitting trot, if I remember right from WTC western dressage, it does feel more side-to-side in a way than up-and-down. I was taught not to do any leg gripping at all, just keep my leg close and soft on the horse's sides, and sit soft and deep in my seat bones. The softer I got, the more room he had to come up under me.

                                      It's been a long time, though, so if I'm wrong, someone correct me on this, please.
                                      Rack on!

                                      Comment

                                      • Original Poster

                                        #20
                                        I've been able to ride a few times and WOW....talk about lightbulb moments!!!

                                        He was a bit hard to get going at first but now, with a little more conditioning, he seems to slip right into a more energetic job. It's brighter, I know just what you are talking about Pocket Pony...more shine and life.

                                        Not only is the jog brighter, without being faster, but the lope transition is almost seamless because his hind quarters are engaged. It's funny how when something improves, the rider realizes how much has been missing. Also, I was having a problem with getting him to trans c/j with just my seat. He would keep cantering merrily along until I had to really HALF HALT! I realize that was because he was on the forehand and not engaged. Last time I rode I got a beautiful, instant downward trans off seat and tiny hh.

                                        On t/w trans and c/j trans. working to keep the hindquarter engaged through the whole transition and into the gait.

                                        What a joy it is to ride him. He's such a schoolmaster...when I do it right, he's there for me. Such positive reinforcement from him.
                                        Ride like you mean it.

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