Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Do you want to be my trainer???

Allhorsestuff gave me a suggestion for an exercise to do with Steady in the comment section when I posted the last video.  This is kind of a response/question(s) about that and some other stuff.  I hope that I make sense in my questions.  Understand that I am a huge newbie and am just learning about all of this.  I have had a total of  less than 15 lessons and not all of those were dressage lessons.  So my questions may come across as if I don't know what I am talking about but that is probably because I really don't :).  I don't promise to take you advice but I do promise to take it into consideration with the knowledge I have of my horse and his abilities and the phase we are at.

Steady has a tendancy to get so low he about pulls my butt out of the saddle. Then he can also go all giraffe necked on me.  I am working toward consistancy somewhere in between. 
The canter is 100% brand new to us so we are at baby step stages with that and I may have to try that exercise at a canter.  Though if he is not in a fairly tight collected frame at all times at this stage he goes all track gallopy on me.  If you are unfamiliar with track gallopy it is stretched out and drifting at an angle with no awarness as to where I am or what I am asking.  We hadn't even cantered until about two months ago so we are babies.
I know you mentioned to use that at the trot/canter but where I really would like to make progress is at the walk.  I seem to have a very hard time getting him to stretch at a walk.  Should I maybe just concentrate on stretching him more at the trot?  Will that transfer to the walk?  I hesitate to do work troting with him stretching down because he has a tendancy to, like I said, pull me out of the saddle.   Any suggestions?


  1. I practice "horsie yoga" to teach my horses to stretch at first. Here's what I do:
    Sitting trot on a small circle (10-12 meters average, some horses need bigger, some smaller) ... make yourself really heavy. I don't worry about my equitation here, sometimes I even slouch. Open the inside rein and flex the horse's neck to the inside for 4-5 seconds ... then give it back. You will need to play with how much flexion your horse needs. Some need more than others. The trot should be slow, almost jog-like. The point here is relaxation. Some horses relax into this right away and start to lower their neck and stretch down. Others may need 10-15 minutes of this. Change directions every once in a while.

    This really works better at a trot, and then once the horse has worked a bit I find they stretch out better at the walk. That is how Hampton is. If I get on him cold he isn't likely to stretch at the walk. But he sure will at the end of our sessions.

    After your horse gets the hang of horsie yoga, then you can start incorporating stretchy circles into your dressage work. His stretching should improve with good flat work and you should only have to soften your elbows and perhaps sliightly open the inside rein and he will say "oh yeah! Stretchy time! woot!" ... :)

    As far as the rooting or pulling you out of the saddle, I would suggest putting leg on, flex him to the inside. Do a circle. Then continue. Does he root rudely? Or just get heavy in your hands? For horses that are rude and yank on the reins, I will give them a pony club kick each time and the problem usually vanishes.

  2. Karen has some excellent exercises. Just remember--the trot is the easiest gait to work in. It has enough suspension (two legs off the ground at a time) to allow you to influence the horse's way of going without getting a little crazy like the canter can right now.

    As you progress, you may find it easier to warm up in trot and canter--Izzy is half TB and she's much more loose and relaxed after a good canter than if I just try to go for it from the walk.

  3. I agree with Karen & SprinklerBandit! I am lucky that the one great thing Riva has is a natural strechy trot - but I can only get it after she is really warmed up. Same with the walk - I can not get a good stretch at walk until she is nice and loose.

    I believe the pulling you down and out of the saddle - then head up like a giraffe is an OTTB thing. Our Cheers likes to pull that move - he was raced for 3 years. My daughter's TB, Hennessy, is just learning to strech out and relax at trot & walk...and he is 15 :)

    Keep at it - you are doing great!

  4. Hiya Amy! Whew..I thought maybe I had gone too far when I read your title.

    Karen, SB and Kelly said it really well, they knowing the OTTB traits.

    Don't wish to be rude but- sitting the trot on a horse that maybe does not have enough muscle to support it- prooved ill for me and the mare as I began Dressage. Just be careful with that and his back.
    I've never had a rooting horse..just one that will look for where she wants to be above or below the bit connection. That yield rein move I told you about- was for those times of tense/hollow- above the bit.
    As the others described, circles for slowing the pace when he rushes and leg for the head to come back up.
    I was taught a slieght half halt "squeeze of the outside rein" for speed reduction, and one for the inside to indicate direction for the circle.
    Once we have done these several times..the light outside half halt is all it takes for mine to remain even tempo'd as she hates the circles!

    You are doing well!! What neat gals that have OTTB before, to cheer you! Mine is just fearful of bit connection in an arena setting plus..the saddle fit made all impossible before...
    "Horse Journal" this Mo. has an excellent article by Margaret Freeman on just that!

    Keep up the good work of listening to your lovely TB!

  5. Wow Blogger is being so weird! It said my comment was published before I ever wrote one . . . I hope they get this fixed soon.

    I can't give much advice because I'm an amateur too, but when I rode a lesson horse who used to root (very strong, rude rooting) my trainer told me to have a strong core so that he feels like he's hitting a brick wall when he roots. You can't pull back or brace though. I don't remember if I ever got it right lol! Like I said I'm not much help.

    I agree with the others though that if he's just being heavy then he needs more forward off the leg. You have to always remember to work back to front in dressage or you'll end up with a hollow back and false frame and forward is key. I have to say though, watching the video, you having only had fifteen lessons and retraining Steady yourself I am totally impressed. You guys look amazing!!


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