Dressage Potential/Critique
   

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Dressage Potential/Critique

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  • Critique potential upper level dressage horse
  • My horse constantly flicks his head when doing dressage

 
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    08-14-2010, 01:38 AM
  #1
Yearling
Dressage Potential/Critique

I've been really debating giving up on jumping at this point in my life - for one thing, I don't want a new horse, and my horse is 20. I have terrible luck in most aspects of my life and I don't want anything to happen to him. For another, our jumping was getting out of hand - we competed in it together for 6 years and he was all go and no whoa. This summer we took it back to the basics and have been working extensively on dressage.

Prior to mid-May, Cody hadn't been ridden since August, and hadn't been REALLY ridden since a year before that. He was headstrong, pushy, hollow, quick and skittish. I have ridden him once a week in lessons (plus 3-5 times a week at home) since mid-May.

Some notes about this video:
*it was hot as the hollows of hell today and he was lazy lazy LAZY. He is typically tracking up. Also, we typically do not have to 'encourage' canter.
*the video is 8 of 60 minutes of footage - I thought it represented my lesson well. The good, the bad, and the ugly is all in there.
*he is Arab/Welsh and has spent his life jumping 3' courses at breakneck speed.
*I am coming off of a 2 year hiatus from riding.

Now, if you please, I'm looking for a critique of both him & I, as well as what you think his potential is? I'd really really love to take him to first level. In the past we've only done training.
Thanks guys :)

*also, the video is kind of crappy quality, and there are no transitions (I'm not very fancy haha). I'm going to try uploading it on facebook in the morning and seeing if it improves the quality. I realize what is here is kind of hard to critique.

     
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    08-15-2010, 12:55 PM
  #2
Trained
Boy he sure does like to mess around with the contact! With a bit more dressage training, and a few zillion half halts to keep him off his forehand, I'm sure he'd make a nice dressage horse. He looks like he's got plenty there to offer and just needs to have it packaged so to speak. Once you're feeling good about your basic gaits, take him to a few training level shows and see what the judges offer up for areas of improvement. If he used to be a spooky goofball, dressage would be a very good fit for him since it tends to engage their minds and get them channeling their energy in a more productive way.
     
    08-16-2010, 03:58 PM
  #3
Yearling
When he flicks his head/nose up what do you do with your hands?
     
    08-16-2010, 04:01 PM
  #4
Yearling
Quote:
Originally Posted by MyBoyPuck    
Boy he sure does like to mess around with the contact! With a bit more dressage training, and a few zillion half halts to keep him off his forehand, I'm sure he'd make a nice dressage horse. He looks like he's got plenty there to offer and just needs to have it packaged so to speak. Once you're feeling good about your basic gaits, take him to a few training level shows and see what the judges offer up for areas of improvement. If he used to be a spooky goofball, dressage would be a very good fit for him since it tends to engage their minds and get them channeling their energy in a more productive way.
Yeah, he really does love to mess with contact. He has improved so much though, he used to just run with his head in the air (I think because I didn't do enough muscle developing exercises with him [because he was a tool] that he found it easier to balance with his head up).
The forehand thing is weird to me. When I jumped him, he was never on the forehand because he had to use his rear end so much for power and speed. Now, he thumps around on the forehand because he's learning how to carry himself. I swear, one thing comes and the other falls apart.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FoxyRoxy1507    
when he flicks his head/nose up what do you do with your hands?
One thing my coach says is that I have great hands - they stay very quiet, and when his head goes up, they stay low. I give him a second to work himself out, then flex him for 2-4 seconds one way, then the other, and his neck relaxes and he goes back onto the bit.
     
    08-16-2010, 04:07 PM
  #5
Yearling
What I would try is as soon as his head flicks up vibrate ur inside rein and squeeze a bit w ur inside leg if he doesnt listen to the rein.. it kind of reminds them to put their head down but its also a little irritating so eventually they stop doing it bc they don't want you to mess with the reins. He's very nice and quite adorable
     
    08-20-2010, 03:44 PM
  #6
Weanling
Nice start. What I saw:
1.) His head up and down requires more consistent rein contact. When he starts the bobbing push him forward into the contact when he gets there allow your elbows (which should be planted on your waist) to come forward about 1/4 of an inch (just a LITTLE to reward his complaince). If he starts bobbing again elbows go back to waist, if he stays in stady (lower head with arch in it) then gradually bring elbows back to waist.
2.) Bring (lift) your ribcage. This makes you straighter and allows him to start carrying himself more.
3.) Thumbs up, hands slightly away more apart so reins barely touch (or don't touch) horses shoulders.
4.) As you rise in trot open elbows (or push hands down), as you sit close elbows. Helps keep a steady connection.
5.) Use more outside rein aides. He pops his outside shoulder so taking rein away from withers and keeping straight line from mouth to riders hand will help prevent popping. Once you do that use your inside hip bobe/leg at girth so he bends his body around your inside leg. So going right use right leg at girst, inside seatbone slightly in front of outside seat bone, left rein away from shoulder and low to keep shoulder from popping. That will help straighten horse and improve steering so you're not using too much inside rein. If horse doesn't bend enough to turn/circle use outside leg to help him bend (passively not actively or you'll get a canter).
6.) Watch your toes - they turn out. Dressage riders have them straight ahead for more effective use and a deeper seat.
7.) Ditch the martingale (unless you need it for safety) and get a whip. Ask for canter using leg first, if he ignores leg immediately pop him behind girth with the whip.
8.) Think about lengthening your leathers at least 1 hole - appears you have a bit too much bend in the knee.

He should be able to do first level, maybe more if you consistently work hard at it.
     
    08-20-2010, 07:33 PM
  #7
Yearling
I was so hoping you would be one of the responses Valentina!! I'm going to ask you a few questions about what you suggested.

Quote:
1.) His head up and down requires more consistent rein contact. When he starts the bobbing push him forward into the contact when he gets there allow your elbows (which should be planted on your waist) to come forward about 1/4 of an inch (just a LITTLE to reward his complaince). If he starts bobbing again elbows go back to waist, if he stays in stady (lower head with arch in it) then gradually bring elbows back to waist.
Ok. He starts to bob but if I increase my aids (either stronger or keep them on) he breaks into canter and then he falls apart in my hands. Is this just a more consistent work thing or should I be doing something else?

Quote:
7.) Ditch the martingale (unless you need it for safety) and get a whip. Ask for canter using leg first, if he ignores leg immediately pop him behind girth with the whip.
He does the head-flip to evade contact. I could ditch the martingale but I'm afraid I might end rides really frustrated. Now, I'm confused. If I continue to ride in a martingale, who is to say that he won't fall apart when he loses the martingale? If I take it off now, will he fall apart? Do I just have to try it and see?

Quote:
8.) Think about lengthening your leathers at least 1 hole - appears you have a bit too much bend in the knee.
My coach suggests them going down 2 actually, and if I took a picture, you'd see why. But I used to get way off his back jumping to allow him to really fly, and I was UP a hole from what I am now. I'm just adjusting myself to use my legs a lot more then I used to (I used to depend on my stirrups to keep my legs on). I'm also doing no stirrup work to build up my legs.

Quote:
He should be able to do first level, maybe more if you consistently work hard at it.
Thank you, thank you, thank you!! :) And thanks Foxy too! I really appreciate this!
     
    08-20-2010, 09:35 PM
  #8
Super Moderator
Quote:
Originally Posted by Valentina    
He should be able to do first level, maybe more if you consistently work hard at it.
I'd say more than 1st. My trainer said my qh is able to go up to the 1st level (although to my shame I don't believe that much ), and he looks much more "dressage type" than her (and definitely way more advanced in his training). Very very cute looking horse!
     
    08-20-2010, 10:01 PM
  #9
Yearling
Quote:
Originally Posted by kitten_Val    
I'd say more than 1st. My trainer said my qh is able to go up to the 1st level (although to my shame I don't believe that much ), and he looks much more "dressage type" than her (and definitely way more advanced in his training). Very very cute looking horse!
Thanks Val! I worry a lot that his movement isn't good enough for dressage but then I let him loose in his pasture and I watch him and I know for sure he could be winning at high levels. The amount of progress we've made this year has been amazing, so I'm hoping next year (I go to school Sept-May) we can bring it farther and bring him up the levels.
     
    08-20-2010, 11:12 PM
  #10
Trained
Ditto Valentina.

Ditch the martingale. If you can't ride without a martingale, you shouldn't be off the lunge line.
What I see is a stiff rider and a stiff horse, the balance is lacking. You are off balance, he is off balance and neither of you are really helping each other out. He's lurching around and throwing your balance off and every time you do that he's lurching around to stay on his feet too. It's a vicious circle.
What's going to help a lot is getting into a proper dressage saddle and taking some lunge lessons without stirrups or reins and finding your balance in the full seat. As soon as you can be balanced and anchored in your position, the training of the horse starts. Until then you aren't doing dressage, you're "flatting" or "hacking".

Also, the head should be the last thing you're thinking about. When the rest of the horse is going properly, guess what? The head goes in the right place and stays there quietly.
Until you can keep the horse going around quietly and in some semblance of a straight line without counter bending I wouldn't take him even into training level. Only when the horse is consistently in front of the aids and you can comfortably do a good sitting trot in the working gait, along with working on the collected and medium gaits, I wouldn't attempt first level. I think that you should give it a year or until you are consistently scoring in the mid to high 60% at training before attempting first. I think that some of the movements requiring the beginning or development of collection in the first level will be demanding for him and he looks like he has the tendency to become very tight and peg legged when challenged. Keeping the rhythm, the suppleness and the relaxation are going to be your challenges with him.
For right now, you do need to introduce a lot of transitions into your work just to get him to relax and stretch into the contact instead of simply yielding to rein pressure and curling up into a little ball. Every time you feel tension creeping in, half halt and if he runs through, do a full transition down and get the relaxation and rhythm back before going back up.

Good luck!!
     

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