The art of coming into the bridle without being heavy on the mouth. - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 17 Old 09-06-2013, 01:55 PM Thread Starter
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Circles are our friends, as are serpentines. We've been doing better the past few rides (sorry for the lack of video yet- having tech difficulties with the camera :/ )

What my trainer and I have found is that riding on te 20m and asking for a bend and counter bend every few strides really encourages him to get his neck stretched long and low, then half halts and lengthening the stride to keep him listening to my seat really supples up the contact.

I'm loving all of these tips and ideas!

And I promise I'll post a vid as soon as I can find a friend that has a better relationship with technology than I do ;)

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post #12 of 17 Old 09-06-2013, 02:06 PM
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post #13 of 17 Old 09-09-2013, 12:14 PM Thread Starter
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Haven't had luck with the video yet.. But I'm still trying!! I love me some constructive criticism!

Thought I'd give an update- Max is doing good, we have good days and so-so days. For our short session the other night he stayed forward and stretchy and coming into the bit softly the whole time! I even got a hug from a VERY experienced little old lady at our barn- and that is quite the highest of compliments!

Next day wasn't too great for us- tempo was off and Max was all over the place, it's very hard to keep him focused and listening when the barn is busy (he's a very looky horse) so his head was up one minute, down the next, under the vertical then up again... It's hard keeping contact with his mouth when he has such quick, drastic changes like this, I feel like it's all I can do to focus on adjusting my rein length.

Any tips on how to deal with this?
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post #14 of 17 Old 09-09-2013, 12:57 PM
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The horse I ride for my dressage lessons does the same thing - he is always more interested in what's going on in the barn then what's happening in the arena. He will even start calling out to the other horses in the middle of the lesson!

As soon as he starts acting that way, I throw in unexpected schooling figures...such as a small circle, and I shorten my reins and try to reconnect him with lots of half halts.
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post #15 of 17 Old 09-09-2013, 02:29 PM Thread Starter
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See Max will come back to me and listen when I ask him to do different things like that, but the second we're back on the 20m or full he's back to only listening when I'm constantly asking him- which is no bueno. But small serpentine a does seem to help the most with it.
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post #16 of 17 Old 09-09-2013, 02:47 PM
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I guess that I never really appreciated that all of the hours my old herd spent in lessons developed their muscles to the point that when I asked them to perform movements, it never hurt.
Dressage movements, INCLUDING basic collection, takes a LOT more muscle than you realize. Horses develop a buildup of lactic acid just like we do, and they don't like to work if it causes any pain.
I suggest that you also cross train. I'll bet you can find some trails or terrain with hills and work him on a loose rein while he has to ascend and descend, developing his HQ's, and giving him something interesting to look at.
I also like downward transitions between gaits using half halts. He will feel them coming and use his head and neck to help slow down. Be very gentle with the bit. I'll bet you can find more than 3 speeds/tempi at the trot and the trot is the most balanced gait to use for training. I like to push into a working trot after I half halt to a walk, then repeat.
You can also find several speeds/tempi in the walk, ESPECIALLY the extended walk, that speed where he almost wants to break into the trot, but doesn't. This creates a LOT of swinging motion and that keeps your horse limber.
Remember to use a long, relaxed, medium walk to warm up AND to cool down, in case you don't already do this.
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post #17 of 17 Old 09-09-2013, 11:52 PM Thread Starter
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Very well put Corporal. Thanks for the words of encouragement! I'm lucky to be at a ranch built on a hill so we have that at our disposal :)
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