Behind the vertical?

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Behind the vertical?

This is a discussion on Behind the vertical? within the Dressage forums, part of the English Riding category
  • Dressage nose behind the verticle
  • Horse slightly behind verticle when stretching topline

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    01-17-2010, 10:25 PM
Behind the vertical?

I need a little help with my TB. He really likes being on the bit, but sometimes I find him falling behind the vertical and I have no idea how to fix it. I don't have a regular trainer right now (stupid cow town!) so I need some help from you guys.

He raced for 7 years and then was a dressage horse for 3 years and then retrained as a hunter/jumper for the last 10 years. He's an old man but doesn't know it. Anyway, I can get some lovely collection out of him, but then I feel like I lose the contact and sure enough he is behind the verticle. When he is nice and collected and on the bit, I can throw away some rein and he maintains the frame so I don't think I am artificially pulling him on to the bit without actual collection, and he is rounding very nicely under me.

So what am I doing wrong to cause this and what can I work on to help fix it? All help is appreciated and I continue to seek a trainer in the area. Thanks!
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    01-18-2010, 01:08 AM
He sounds like my dad's old boy. He sucks back behind the vertical and you can throw the rein at him and he'll just sit in that position. If your horse is sucking back like that then holding the position when you drop the reins, he has not accepted a contact. I have two main things that seem to work with our old boy. He is 21 and has apparently dropped behind the vertical for his whole ridden life. The first is to warm him up on a long rein with lots of leg, and once he is waling briskly forward with a stretched neck, I'll start taking up some contact while keeping that marching pace, and everytime he drops back, I'll throw my reins at him and kick him forward again.

What I finds works best however, is shoulder in. I warm him up like usual, then put him into shoulder in in trot for as long as it takes. So basically I'll ride half the long side, then we he takes up the contact I'll ride a 1/2 20m circle, then shoulde rin again etc. It gets them active behind and encourages them to take up a contact.
    01-18-2010, 02:14 AM
That is very helpful, thanks.
    01-18-2010, 02:30 AM
If he is not maintaining contact then he can't be collected. Contact is third on the training scale for a reason.
It sounds to me like he is sucking behind your leg and not truly pushing up to the bit from behind. A video would be helpful. If it were me, I would be doing lots of transitions and work on getting him to really reach over his topline and into the contact.

Good luck!
    01-18-2010, 02:42 AM
Originally Posted by ~*~anebel~*~    
If he is not maintaining contact then he can't be collected. Contact is third on the training scale for a reason.
It sounds to me like he is sucking behind your leg and not truly pushing up to the bit from behind. A video would be helpful. If it were me, I would be doing lots of transitions and work on getting him to really reach over his topline and into the contact.

Good luck!
Can't get a video at the moment, sorry. Now I will defer to your experience and knowledge here, but what seems to be happening is that he feels very nice, very round and pushing up to the bit, but then I ask him to do something he doesn't like (usually a C/T transition, he just wants to run and run) and he hollows out and sucks his head back, he'll carry his head really low while doing this. So I think he is evading me. My general tactic is to keep asking until I get it and that is the end of that particular issue for that ride. I'm not trying to collect him (I am no where near ready for that), but I am trying to get more engine from behind, and more swinging through his back at the walk, he just really likes it when I shorten the reins and have a strong feel of his mouth. I say he likes it, because that is when I start to feel a nice, loose forward walk from him. Perhaps I am misreading this?

Today when he sucked back, we did a lot of transitions- have been working on them lately, and it did seem to bring him forward more. I will focus on this, as well as the shoulder in exercise Kayty described. Hopefully I find a trainer in the near future. It is very frustrating to be stuck somewhere trying to improve your riding on your own!
    01-18-2010, 07:24 PM
I recently watched a dressage clinic where one of the horses was sucking back. The clinician used shoulder-out to solve it. Her logic was to stuff up the shoulder that was collapsing. In this case, the horse was collasping his inside shoulder, so she had the rider ride shoulder-out on a circle to keep that inside shoulder stuffed. The horse was not at all amused about it at first, but once he gave in and stretched his neck out toward the bit, he looked fantastic. A lateral aid is definitely in order. It's just a matter of finding out where his void is and filling it in.
    01-18-2010, 11:46 PM
^^this makes a lot of sense to me, thank you.
    01-19-2010, 01:00 AM
I would combine anabel's and kayty's suggestions... think "MARCH" forward onto an "englarging" circle and do transitions in the middle of your circles. Does that make sense? Collection starts in the hind end and when you ride that "enlarging" circle you're encouraging that inside hind to come further underneath him and asking him to engage that hind in a little more... asking him to step into that outside rein. I also see more sucking back when the rider rely to much on their inside rein for everything... think about your outside rein a little more and lay off the vertical flexion a bit. Don't throw away your inside rein just soften more and encourage him to look for it.
    01-19-2010, 01:39 PM
Great advice, SS. Yes, the outside rein is so good for so much, yet I seem to forget it is even there sometimes. He loves that inside rein so much (I think from racing), I really do need to work more on the outside, and of course on the marching forward. Thank you!
    01-19-2010, 05:59 PM
A good tip to help you rely less on your inside rein. When you're riding a turn/shoulder in/travers/circle, move your inside hand towards the palce where you want the horse's inside front leg to land ;) It makes you give your inside rein and shows you that you don't need to rely on it. Plus it's great for green horses as it opens a 'door' to where you want them to go, while the outside rein blocks the other side of the neck, giving them a very clear indication of the direction you want them to go.

I highly doubt he hangs onto the inside rein because of racing if he is so old and has done so much after racing. It takes two to hang onto a rein, he takes the inside rein because his rider does, and it may not be just you, maybe other riders/owners in the past have also had a tendancy to rely on their inside rein, which as said above, can contribute to him sucking off the contact.

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