Is this a bad habit?

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Is this a bad habit?

This is a discussion on Is this a bad habit? within the Dressage forums, part of the English Riding category

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    11-23-2013, 09:59 PM
Green Broke
Is this a bad habit?

Cinny is getting more and more relaxed, and working better each time we ride in the arena. People are saying that he looks more round, more relaxed, etc. But I think I may be "cheating" to get him that way.

About a year, maybe longer there was a knowledgeable member here who would occasionally put out some little dressage tutorials. She is no longer here, but one of the tutorials was about a half halt, and a few other exercises. I've sort of adapted one of the things mentioned to my rides with Cinny and he is really liking it.

Basically instead of just having my reins steady yet following I instead incorporate a tiny squeeze with his leg movement (while still keeping my arms, elbows, shoulders soft and following of course). When the front right shoulder moves forward I give a tiny rein squeeze, left shoulder, left squeeze, etc. He really stretches and goes into the bridle when I do this as long as I have correct leg on him too. If I stop the squeezes, his head will pop back up, his back will hollow and sometimes he grits his teeth. I start doing the little squeezes and his back comes up and he quietly puts his head into the bridle and "flips" his front legs higher and flashier.

Is this a bad habit or cheating in any way?
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    11-23-2013, 10:22 PM
If he goes better and you feel his back come up, how can it be " cheating"?
    11-23-2013, 10:30 PM
Green Broke
I just wasn't sure. I've always been told to keep my reins as quiet as possible, and that seemed to be the way to go with him before with his sensitive mouth. But now he's liking this, I don't know why and I've never heard of anyone else doing it before so I thought maybe I shouldn't have started doing it. I thought maybe it was akin to "see sawing" though I barely do it, and it's not enough to make his head move side to side he stays relatively straight unless I tell him different with my legs.
    11-23-2013, 10:53 PM
My trainer used to always talk about " receiving " on the rein on each side, as the horse steps forward, into the bit, in the walk. Maybe this is what you are doing
As the horse walks, there is going to be a bit of a shift , from side to side , in the neck position, that will mean a minor increase in pull on the side where the neck is a tiny bit longer ( the outside of the bend for each step) as the neck moves to counter balance the legs in the walk. The lateral nature of the walk is why it feels different than trot (paired diagonals).
    11-23-2013, 10:57 PM
Green Broke
Originally Posted by tinyliny    
My trainer used to always talk about " receiving " on the rein on each side, as the horse steps forward in the walk. Maybe this is what you are doing.
Maybe but we do it at the trot too. He only likes "silent reins" at the canter but I think right now it's because he is concentrating so hard on everything else I ask in the canter which is mainly to move his hind end under him and we are also doing a lateral canter with a bend (not sure what it's called). Again, if I don't ask him to make even a tiny lateral movement in the canter up pops the head and he braces. If I ask for a slight bend and make him think we are going to go lateral he stays quiet in the bridle and pulls his hind under him in anticipation of it.
    11-23-2013, 11:12 PM
I work for a reined cowhorse trainer. He says when riding in a snaffle, keeping steady pressure with both hands will often cause them to brace, but doing as you are (Right, left, right, left) works on the bars of the mouth and makes them much softer. That's a similar experience to what I would say, and what Tiny is describing sounds similar.
    11-24-2013, 10:16 AM
Green Broke
Thanks Guys. I won't worry about it so much then and instead perfect the "invisibility" of doing it. There is just so much that Cinny is teaching me these days.
Lexiie likes this.
    11-24-2013, 01:09 PM
There is a difference between a steady and consistent outside rein, and holding it. You cannot expect a horse to be working with you if you hold that chunk of metal or nose pad straight and firm.

You have to learn to be "elastic" and go with the movement. I am not talking about hands up and down, back and forth, as this should come from a straight but relaxed shoulder, not from the wrist.

As for squeezing for every stride, I don't, because if you are elastic and time your half halts and engage the horse, you shouldn't need to niggle your horse in to the bit.

It would cause issues with straightness, and probably give him a shaky head.

You say from and older thread that he is fine on a longer rein, but if you try and shorten he throws his head. This may be because he finds it more comfortable to drop with rein movement as he has something to play with rather than something solid, but if you shorten your reins you are putting a whole load more pressure in his mouth and a constant nag, nag, nag, nag, nag, nag, nag.

Do you have any dressage trainers that can help? Half halts are all about timing, correct timing and how to best prepare your horse and communicate with him.
WhyAHorseOfCourse likes this.
    11-24-2013, 02:29 PM
Green Broke
I have two well known, excellent trainers helping me, they work together (one trained the other).
When I talk about holding the rein steady, I mean elastic...moving with him versus the gentle squeezes. He just doesn't seem to like it at all. The more experienced trainer that road him told me that "he prefers to be talked to with your reins instead of quiet hands."
    11-24-2013, 02:38 PM
I do the same thing with my gelding. It's a little reminder for him that he needs to keep focused. My dressage trainers have told me that some horses like it/need it for reassurance. As long as your getting the desired effect and your horse is comfortable doing it then by all means it's correct. (My gelding doesn't have any issues with straightness or head nodding... well except for when he's trying to sight see ) It's not a one method fits all or black and white. Whatever works for your horse is correct. :)
Cinnys Whinny likes this.

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