"On the bit" question...

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"On the bit" question...

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    02-05-2010, 10:59 PM
Question "On the bit" question...

First off, this isn't a thread about getting my horse on the bit as in, getting her to put her head exactly where I want it and making it stay. =]

A little bit of background, Ricci is almost 18, was trained WP, shown in Paint shows with that disgusting kicking-yourself-in-the-chin low head placement, and for the last two years or so, I've been working with her on dressage work and using herself correctly and we've come leaps and bounds from the terrible ride she was when I first got on. =D

Lately, I've been doing a lot of work on getting her to bend without any weight on the inside rein, and we're very successful at the walk, moderately successful at the trot, and... decent at the canter, lol.

Now here is where the "problem" comes in. I will take my inside hand and pat her on the neck after an amazing circle, or corner, or transition, or whatever is was that she did amazingly, or I'll try to give her a little bit of slack to see how much she is depending on the contact, and she follows the bit. It's not necessarily leaning on my hands, more that she is stretching and reaching into the contact. Which is good, don't get me wrong. I can give her rein and she will forever stretch into it without losing a "frame" for lack of a better word. I don't, because the lower she stretches, the heavier she gets, and we aren't that good yet, lol.

I'm just... confused, I guess. Is this good? Should she be following a simple thing like that or does it mean that she is too dependent on the reins? I can always praise her vocally, and I do, I'm always cooing at her over one thing or another when I'm riding, so I don't have to try to give her a pat. She does get moderately confused though, because she follows the contact and bends to the outside, and she can't figure out why I'm asking her to turn into a wall. O_O

Anywho, sorry for the novel. Any input would be appreciated, and kudos if you read the whole thing!
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    02-06-2010, 12:23 AM
Originally Posted by riccil0ve    
She does get moderately confused though, because she follows the contact and bends to the outside, and she can't figure out why I'm asking her to turn into a wall. O_O
You should be able to "drop" the rein contact for a stride or two without the horse making major changes in its head position.

In your case I would be looking at a couple of things.

First...is your inside leg contact good enough to hold the bend by that contact alone? Sounds like this could possibily be something to investigate.

Second..... is your outside rein too strong and if so with a weaker inside leg you could lose the bend.

Third....is your seat strong and firm enough to hold the horse in position. This is where your main power source is and a unbalanced, weak or insecure seat could unravel anything you are doing elsewhere.

And lastly too many tend to overbend the horse. Only a slight flexion is required. For this a video would be nice to see.
    02-06-2010, 02:24 AM
It's not drastic, she just takes the extra rein that I give and follows it to an outside bend. She isn't throwing her head around or stringing herself out.

I think my inside leg is fine, although my outside aids may be a little strong. I'm trying to soften everything on both of us, it's all a work in progress. It's easy to get stronger on an already strong horse, so the last several months have been a little new for us.

I'll have to think about my seat.

I also don't think I'm overbending, I just look for a bit of her inside eye.

Thanks for the input, I'll have to contemplate when I ride tomorrow and see if I missed anything, and if she immediately follows the loosened rein or will hold the bend a stride or two. I'll let you know!
    02-06-2010, 02:32 AM
Glad you posted Spyder :)
    02-06-2010, 12:35 PM
My western type mare did that too. She didnt get bending at all. She just kind of followed her head around, and even tried to turn instead of accept the contact. It took lots of circles, and contact with the other rein for her to get it. Not sure how long you've worked on it but it took my mare about a four or so months to get it.
    02-06-2010, 11:37 PM
It's not so much that she isn't accepting the contact as she is always looking for it. I give her slack and she takes it. We've been working for about two and a half years, and only the last several months have been really focused on bending. She used to think she was a 2X4. =]

Spyder -- What I could gather from my ride today is that Ricci forgot a circle isn't zig-zag shaped, lol. But on a serious note, my inside aids are gentle, but firm, I don't think that's the problem. It seems that with my outside aids, I have to find the right balance of strength, I think they are either too soft or too hard, so I'll be fiddling with that. I have also come to the conclusion that at this point in time, my seat is mostly just along for the ride, lol, so definitely something to work on. Is there anything else you can think of, or exercises to do with Ricci that can help us out?
    02-07-2010, 12:37 PM
To me it sounds like you are not riding with the rest of your aids. The governing thing in all this is your seat and your half halt, or circle of aids. When you are testing your connection through an uberstreigten, what you are really doing is testing your leg and seat connection. If the horse is first of all in front of your leg and second of all, on your seat and letting you half halt to balance back onto the haunches, your reins should become like decorations to the point that you can give one or both of them for a few strides and have no change.
When it isn't working it is because she is not balanced and/or in front of your leg. Unless of course, you are inadvertently asking for the stretch.

In either case, a video would be helpful, or a good lesson.

Good luck!

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